Every year there’s a rush in the music marketplace after one trend or another, and in the past year it’s been cloud services and the concept of ‘music as water’ subscription services. While the notion of selling music subscription like cable TV may be appealing at first glance, it is proving hard to monetize on for both the companies that launch such services and the content owners who participate in them. There are several reasons why I have always been very skeptical about the future of all-you-can-eat subscription services and cloud service models:
Much of the talk about the music industry in recent days focuses on future transformative changes in the way music is consumed. Will it be streaming or downloads. Will we be listening to music files from an app or from a cloud, and if so, who will own that cloud? The possibilities for content in the future are limited only by technology we create, and there will be even more changes down the road that are hard to imagine at this point in time. It is a very interesting discussion. Lost in this discussion, however, are the possible transformative changes in the companies that develop the artists that will make music in the new system, and how they can be positioned to easily change revenue models as technology changes the way content is presented.
Odds are if an artist has to calculate their potential for success based on statistics – regardless of veracity – they are doomed from the start. Really. Think about it – the only formula known thus far to work with any predictability is BEING an act REMARKABLE enough (thanks, Bruce, a favorite word the past year or so), to spread by word of mouth. A formula NEVER out of date.
Artists are giving away way too much free music. The belief that giving away free music will result in future sales are too far-fetch. Also with the advancement of new distribution models cutting down the dollar value on music (Cloud/Subscription models), we are entering a stage where the public is becoming too accustomed to free music. Sure illegal downloads are here and will continue to be here, but artists must not fall into the trap of allowing their fans to dance to the tune of music is a free commodity.
“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write,but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” - Alvin Toffler
Music licensing is the licensed use of copyrighted music. It also ensures that the creators of musical works get paid for their work. In layman’s terms it can be viewed as leasing your property out to someone for a fee, based on how and where they intend to use it, and for how long.
What am I waiting for? As a musician you live in a hurry up and wait world. You hurry up to travel to a gig and then you wait three hours to hit the stage. You hurry up and make contact with a booking agent and then you wait 3 months for them to get back to you. If your lucky you hurry up and record and then you wait for your label to release it six months later. Plain and simple, it sucks! One of the main reasons why artists don’t have success is that they wait on others to do what only they can do.
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.
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(Updated July 8, 2015)