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.
Entries in music business (54)
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?
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…
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.
Amongst the busy chatter of digital DIY dudes and galloping gurus it’s easy to forget that there is a major, multi-million dollar music industry that already exists. That’s because we seldom hear from the major players outside the sanitized propaganda sheets of Billboard and Music Week. But this week we can read their views in a Music Tank report by ex-EMI head, Tony Wadsworth.
A general rule of commerce is this: You cannot demand money until you have generated demand, or at the very least, the perception of demand. And a sure way to generate demand is by using a loss leader. Your music is your business. And in business, in order to spike sales and increase the bottom line, you have to pick and put into play a loss leader. A loss leader is a part of your whole product offering that you will lose money on (or not make money on) in order to get potential customers through the door. Once they are in, their experience with your “brand” should cause them to buy other products you also offer as well as become repeat customers. This adds to your bottom line. This is what a loss leader does.
With the present state of the music industry, the chances of landing that entry-level, dream job in the music business is even more difficult than it may have been ten or even five years ago. As an intern in the music business working for companies that may be in the realm of record labels, music publishing, marketing or other types of social media/digital companies, you may be asked to do anything and everything.
I used to be afraid of always talking about my music to people, whether it was online or offline. Mainly because I was afraid I would annoy and lose them. I found myself in a dilemma of sorts because the promotion of my music was inconsistent as result. And inconsistency doesn’t breed success. So I had to check myself. I was taking this music thing too personally. I needed to step back and be a bit more objective with my career. I needed to think like a businessman. After all, I’ve spent 6 years building my own marketing company.
As I understood business, when you have a good product, the main task at hand is to figure out ways to let your target audience know it exists and raise your product’s profile in their lives. That is your focus. You are the owner. You are the marketer. The success of that product is in your hands. And, being in music makes no difference. If I ever want to make this passion my “9 to 5”, I had better pull things together. What I’ve found is that it took just as much creativity to be in business as it did to make music. Both requires you to take what is seemingly nothing and make it into something. Except when it comes to the business side of things, your job is to make your music, which at the start is nothing in the mind of a consumer, become something meaningful to that consumer. And the key to great marketing is one word: frequency.
I know what you’re thinking. “There’s no such thing.” That’s what I thought too. Until I started to piece together the stories and advice I heard after going to several music industry events. It all came together for me when I attended the recent ASCAP NY Sessions. The light came on. I saw a common denominator - an overarching theme in all of their stories and thoughts. There it was. Could it be? The silver bullet for music business success? Except it wasn’t the shiny silver bullet I expected to see.
I am a KISS fan, going back to 1976 when my mom first bought me Rock N’ Roll Over. I remember taking heat in the late 70s at school for liking the band, I heard the phrase “KISS sucks” more than a few times. It also took a lot of courage to wear a KISS t-shirt to school at the time… you became a instant target. I grew up with KISS and their marketing has clearly been a influence on me and business growth. I often tell people I went to the Gene Simmons School of Marketing.
Up until now, music was in a unique competitive product category: there simply wasn’t much competition (for consumer attention) between well-made songs.
Songs are inexpensive, consumed in under four minutes, easily obtained, and songs are the only product in the world where billions of users…each own thousands of ‘competing’ alternatives. In reality, uniformly-priced competitors are often stacked up and then consumed in succession, and in the age of the iPod, the stacks (the playlists) are growing instead of shrinking.
However the modern world conspires to ultimately deliver, in every product category, the greatest value at the lowest price, and songs are about to loose their long held exception.
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(Updated April 6, 2015)