So much talk about the success, or lack of, making it in the new music business industry. But it really comes down to treating your musician career as a business. Let’s look at some statistics. History shows that…
Welcome back to the Musician’s Arsenal: Killer Apps, Tools and Sites. In this second edition, I’d like to turn you all on to a very cool site we, here at Ariel Publicity, have been familiar with for some time now; NoiseTrade (www.noisetrade.com). Like I said, we’ve been hip to this site for a little while now, but a few weeks back Brannon from NoiseTrade came to our Brooklyn office to give us a sneak peek at their newly designed site, and we were very impressed. NoiseTrade is a platform for both artists and fans to discover each other. For the fan, it provides a fantastic and easy way to find new music. The fan is not obligated to pay for this music, but has the option of ‘tipping’ the artist when they download the tracks.
Success in the music Industry has long been measured by landing a recording contract, but with the ever-increasing digital distribution outlets available, and the shrinking physical market, the goal posts have certainly shifted. In reality, as 90% of those who had the (mis)fortune to find out first hand will testify, securing a record deal was never an indication that you had actually “made it”. It was a temporary influx of much needed cash, but any perceived luxury came with insurmountable overheads. With every limo ride and big city showcase offering free booze, your ever-expanding expense account would ensure that your musical career was never going to be a viable long-term business. A re-evaluation of what actually defines success in music is much needed. Especially as new artists take steps to build a working business model in the constantly changing digital world.
I found an interesting Blog post the other day that seemed to cause major disagreement between musicians on the subject of record deals, specifically whether musicians needed a record deal at all nowadays. The original Blog was entitled, Do Social Networks Really Help Musicians? It makes the point (in a round-a-bout way) that social networks create so much opportunity for musicians that overcrowding, by and large, negates the benefits for the masses.
So you’ve finally saved up the money to record your masterpiece. You’ve found the perfect producer that “gets you” and you’ve set the date to start recording. Life is good! Now what? You know there is more to it. But what is it that you should be doing from now until your project starts? Do the people who make amazing albums just get lucky? No they don’t. Being prepared means everything. Football player and Super Bowl champion Ronde Barber has this to say, “There is no such thing as luck. Bounces go either way. Every day and you have to take advantage of those situations. You call it luck and I call it being prepared”.
Recently music industry strategist, consultant, teacher and original MusicThinkTank co-founder Andrew Dubber helped launch an online music project that deserves our support – Music Basti’s ‘Monkey on the Roof‘ album.
In essence, Monkey on the Roof is an album featuring recordings of Delhi street children singing songs with professional musicians. We’re selling the recording online to raise money for the Music Basti charity. The album was produced by our own Ian Wallman and was made possible through a research project by the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research.
Best thing about it is that the website is full of videos where you can see how the album was made, meet the children, learn about the amazing work that Music Basti do, and learn just what an incredible impact that music has on the lives of these kids affected by poverty.
Go explore the website and make sure you get yourself a copy of the album – for whatever you think it’s worth. And if you can help spread the word, we’d really appreciate it – and so would they.
One of the interesting aspects of the Rethink Music conference back in April was hearing MOG CEO David Hyman and (separately) Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy discuss the present and future of online music subscription services.
MOG is all about access. Outside of the usual holdouts, MOG’s catalog contains just about everything, including most of the releases on our Static Motor imprint. For fans, it makes for an intelligent (Echo Nest-driven) music discovery experience that seamlessly blends the mainstream and the independent. For artists, getting your music onto MOG is a cinch. As long as you’re distributed via an indie aggregator (CD Baby in our case) your music will soon pop up on MOG. For fans and artists alike, MOG is an excellent platform. Easy access for all, with top-notch audio quality to boot (and no ads!).
A different business with a very different model, Pandora certainly talks a similar talk, which is why I was struck when Joe Kennedy commented (paraphrasing):
Pandora is all about connecting people to new music.
Innovators are a strange breed. What makes them move ahead against all odds? Especially hopping over the road blocks and avoiding the potholes placed there by zealous department heads who are managing according to company policy and frameworks, plans, etc. The very fact that a plan is notated and written places it firmly lying down in the past, while the innovators are working in the present, edging toward the unknown of a future.
Malcolm Gladwell’s latest New Yorker article, “Creation Myth - Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation” is a must read for all those in a business that fosters creativity for both fun and profit. While Gladwell details the failings of the day-to-day managers who ran Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), and the bigger corporate brass of Xerox, to fully understand the future of personal computing as a mega-billion dollar industry, the article does impart a different view to the oft-held idea that Steve Jobs stole his future Macintosh while the giant of a Xerox slumbered away. Basically, Gladwell asks, what did Xerox know about computers and building a whole new industry based on the cool things their engineers had created in Palo Alto?
This is a response to Dan Morgan’s post “Do Social Networks Really Help Musicians?”, a post questioning how useful social networks really are for musicians. Funnily enough, I was actually planning on writing a similar post on my own website just days before. After seeing Dan’s post however, I thought I would share my views on the matter on Music Think Tank instead. There were some very good points raised both in the article and in the comments, but here’s my take on things. In short, I think social networking websites can be useful if they are used right. Having said that, I don’t think a lot of musicians use them right. Let me explain.
This past week — completely by accident — I discovered a surprising way to use Facebook to share and sell music. I’m sure some of the more astute Music Think Tank readers already know about this, but I bet most of the musicians who browse these pages have no clue. So as an author, teacher and fellow musician, I feel a duty to pass on this valuable tip. What’s this all about? Well, if you’ve used Facebook at all, you know that the site allows users to easily upload and share photos and videos. That’s great. But there’s no built-in mechanism to easily share audio files — meaning your music!
We test a lot of Apps and tools and look at a lot of websites. On behalf of our artists and me and the Cyber PR team are going to start featuring them here at MTT. I’m thrilled to introduce you to Jason Loomis. Jason has worked at Ariel Publicity for a year this week, first as an intern, then as my assistant and now as our Director of New Media Maker Relations. Enjoy this first installment of The Musician’s Arsenal: Killer Apps, Tools and Sites
The purpose of this article is to cut right through to the heart of why it’s so hard for musicians to benefit (in any meaningful way) from social networks. The social network provides new and exciting benefits for musicians, which is why most embrace new social networks as a way to expose their music to thousands of potential fans and music industry reps. The only trouble is overcrowding. What always struck me as strange is the myspace mentality. It appeared that musicians actually thought that having a million friends was a good thing on myspace, despite the fact those friends were all musicians who only ‘friended’ you so that they can get more ‘friends’ for themselves. Perhaps myspace’s tag line should have been, “Join myspace, an endless circle of incestuous pleasantries probably amounting to nothing”. I guess that wouldn’t have been snappy enough.
Logic would suggest that the most talented musicians would get the best work. The better you play the more people will want to hire you, right?
The validity of university music programs - especially the ones that focus their curriculum exclusively on performance and completely ignore business, entrepreneurship, or career-building - seems to be predicated on this talent myth. Become the best and you’ll succeed. Why else would you pay $100,000 for a fancy conservatory education?
But we all know the truth. We’ve all seen overwhelming evidence that the most talented musicians do not, necessarily, have the most success as working musicians.
How’s that fair? What’s the deal?
What bands tend to forget, not everyone at the show knows who they are. Some people are just there to hang out and could care less about the bands. Knowing this, you have to use every tool at your disposal to get your band recognized. It’s no good to entertain a crowd of people and then let them leave not even knowing the name of your band. (It happens…trust me…)
1. Large banner on stage
Displaying your band’s logo prominently while you’re playing has to be the number one way for everyone to know who you are. At any point during your set, people will immediately see who you are.
Simply announcing the name of your band during your set is not enough. You never know at what point someone will or will not be in your audience. People wander in and out the entire time: getting beer, smoking, going to the bathroom, just got to the club, etc. There is no gaurantee your new, potential super-fan will be in the room when you say your band’s name.
Yes, even if someone really digs your band, they can still wander out and miss who you are. Why? Well, there are usually two things that trump your show: alcohol and getting laid.
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(Updated April 6, 2015)