For more and more musicians, the idea of stardom seems to be further and further away. While some still see stars in their eyes, a great number have come to the realization that the goal is now a lot different, since just making a living in music can now be considered a success.
Entries in music business (63)
So the big day is fast approaching. You are leaving the ivory tower of college in a few weeks and are about to enter the work force. Most likely the only thought on your mind is how to get a job.
The ideal is to have a job locked up and waiting for you before you graduate, so you can enjoy your last month at college. This is what all your friends in other majors are doing. The computer scientists are getting flown across the country and eating lobster. The engineers are meeting with on campus recruiters. The management and business students have already found a good position at the bank where they interned.
The music industry does not work this way. Very few companies hire in advance. Music companies are not structured to wait several months for an entry-level candidate to graduate college. They hire when they need a body, not because there is an influx of new talent every spring, like some other industries. While this is frustrating, it actually creates a new opportunity.
Your goal as you enter the music industry should not be to find a job, but rather to develop a career. Getting your first job will be a byproduct of this process, but jobs are temporary and a career lasts a lifetime.
Think of your career development in four levels
Recently music industry analyst Mark Mulligan presented his plea for a serious adoption of a new music format. He claims that most new business model ideas in the music business are retail innovations, but not format innovations. In short, he argues that the new music format should be Dynamic, Interactive, Social and Curated (DISC). For the full vision, check out his speech at midem 2012, or read his full 15-page ‘manifesto for the next generation of music products’.
In my thesis about marketing music through non-linear communication, I wrote a case-study about a record label called Twisted Music and their remarkable adoption of an excellent business mentality for the digital age.
I often like to compare business practices of other industries and to take the lessons learned to apply it towards a music career. The other day, I was thinking about the food industry and it was so much like our world in music. I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family and started helping my parents’ restaurant business when I was still in elementary school so many of these lessons came quite early in life.
Here in Portland, OR, most people are starting their food business in the form of a food cart. It’s less expensive, there’s less risk, and you’re often grouped together in a “pod” of other food carts so often times you’ll just get crowds of hungry people who would like some food but are unsure of what they’d like yet (or you can be exposed to the customers of other carts). Picture yourself as a chef who wants to make a living doing what they love for a living: cooking. Not much unlike the music industry isn’t it?
We read so much doom and gloom about the record business every day that it’s easy to think that pretty soon the whole thing will come crashing down. Cheer up. It’s not as bad as you think.
You don’t need to be an industry insider to know that the ticketing segment of the music business needs a major overhaul. Concerts are more relevant to the industry now than they have been in a very long time, but there’s a lot more to be done if we are to see them reach their full potential — for artistsand their fans. Thankfully, movers and shakers like the innovators behind new school ticketing platform TicketFly still exist.
Every now and then, I go on an open mic binge and discover new little spots and new artists honing their craft. There was this one girl who was absolutely amazing. I told her what I did and she started asking questions. Our conversation came around to how one can get the right exposure and further their career. I shared with her a lot of things, but one of them was about reaching out to industry insiders and building a professional network that will help propel her career forward. It’s not enough to play live. You have to also work hard at building your professional network in the music industry. Finding contact info is easy. There are directories and registries out there you can buy. However, there are some realities concerning industry people that you have to understand before you reach out to them. Or else, you’ll only annoy and alienate them. Here are those realities.
So how hard is it really? You write songs and sell them, that’s all there is to it, right? Unfortunately the music industry isn’t quite as simple as we’d all like it to be. There are many different sectors through which an artist must pass and even more ways in which these sectors can be negotiated and traversed. To successfully navigate the music industry one must learn what happens in each of these sectors and how they inter-relate. To help you get started we have a ‘Map of the Musical Universe’ courtesy of PRS (click to enlarge).
This essay is neither for nor against subscription music services, and will focus on answering four questions. 1) What is the revenue potential for subscription music services? 2) What are the most likely rates per stream? 3) How much money can an artist expect to make from subscription music? 4) Is a compulsory rate a sustainable business model?
Future of Music Coalition (FMC) has launched a groundbreaking research project called Artist Revenue Streams, where we ask US-based musicians and composers, “How do YOU make Money from Music?” Project Co-Director Kristin Thomson from FMC explains in this MTT post where they idea came from for this research and why it’s so important that every musician or composer in the US takes this online survey, which is available at http://futureofmusic.org/ars until October 28, 2011.
Originally written by David Greenberg for Berklee College’s Internship Blog and reposted during the Summer Re-run season on Greenberg’s own blog, tapedave. More about Greenberg follows this article.
In your first job (out here in the business world) there will be times when people are not going to listen to you. Many times. Or worse, tell you how wrong you are to your face, if not in an all-caps email that gets circulated throughout the company. Get used to it because it never ends, even when you get that so-called “experience” under your proverbial belt. For whatever reason, and there are multitudes of them that I could not possibly list here and stay within my allotted 400 words. Let me just say the personal successes and failures of your co-workers and, most importantly for today’s blog, YOUR FUTURE BOSSES, gives them their own specific, personal tunnel-vision that you cannot expect to fully perceive, much less fathom.
Kurt Cobain blew his head off, even Martin Mills has a Maseratti and Amy Winehouse’s blood is not on Island Record’s hands.
The music industry is a strange thing. Full of a lot of mushy stuff that just loves being squished into its tight little cubicle alongside all the other mushy stuff.
James Blunt is the suburban front lawn of artists – there’s a song, there’s an album a cover, there’s a hit, there’s a car.
Most great artists are like the annoying neighbour that ignores your invite to the neighbourhood barbecue, the one that keeps letting his garden grow slightly wild, the one who ‘doesn’t care’ (but really does).
It amazes me that after being in the industry long enough to be considered a veteran by many that I have come to respect over the years, that there are some artists and companies industry related out there that think they are going to “GET TO THE TOP” by backstabbing or undercutting other musicians, agents, managers, producers, etc. That being said, they are “Playing Games” in our Industry!
Derek Sivers revolutionised the way music is distributed when he created CD Baby. Since then many others versions have popped up. Is there scope now for another CD Baby-esque venture?
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(Updated January 13, 2016)