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).
Entries in music career (69)
At the tail end of 2005, I was sitting in my office as Digital Product Manager at Sony (BMG) working on the Take That website. The band had been away for ten years. Take That were making their comeback and this event was marked by many things - a documentary charting their career, a new “Greatest Hits” album called “The Ultimate Collection - Never Forget” and of course their first official website. Until this point in time the “Take That Appreciation Pages,” had occupied the prime real estate of web space as the number one destination for all things Take That. The owners of the “Take That Appreciation Pages,” were doing a better job then we ever could have at managing the fans. Resources at Sony were stretched between many, many artists. The Take That Appreciation Pages,were dedicated to their cause. When it came to Take That as Lulu said in the documentary you weren’t so much a fan as you were a disciple.
Last week I went to Nashville to guest lecture at my Cyber PR® Course at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). The class has 18 amazing students in it. 17 of them are certain they want to create careers in the Music Industry. I believe that they can. I told them hat the best way to do this is to follow the path of the entrepreneur and not the path of the CEO. They shared with me their visions for their own futures and I will be posting much more about them here in the coming weeks. This is the 4th installment on entrepreneurial leaders in the music business for Music Industry and Music Business students, so that they can begin to follow their paths and look to them for inspiration. This weeks inspiration comes from a man who inspires me deeply. Why? Because of him and his vision (which was born out of just one frustrating political conversation) there are now 175,000 new registered voters and a network of 8,000 volunteers working to make a difference for the future of our country. Please meet Andy Bernstein who like so many of us started as a fan…
As musicians we’re all constant works-in-progress. Picture a your favorite musical moments from even the most gifted of musicians/artists alike and I guarantee you at some point one of them will admit that during one of those times, they felt they were not performing to the best of their capabilities. It’s an inevitable facet of the human existence, and a necessary hurdle to jump early on in your artistic career. Plain and simple. We cant be “on” everyday. On the flipside, there are things we CAN do to eliminate this truth from ever obstructing our creative improvement ever again.
It’s similar to the adage of “doing the best you can,” and in the unavoidable events where things still go awry, it means cultivating a resilience that comes from being experienced enough that your “mistakes” are good ones- or not noticeably mistakes at all.
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.
Most musicians or artists think of only one or two aspects of their career; music and social networking. I find that most musicians just go through the motions not really giving it their all especially when it comes to social networking. In order to improve your skills as a musician, get more gigs and make more money you have to think outside of the box. Improvisation is a key asset to your bag of tricks and can pay you back ten fold. If you always practice what you know you will never learn anything new or improve your craft and skill set. Trying new things out and getting out of your comfort zone forces you to expand your mind with the side effect being some potential hit tunes on your hand. More importantly it will help you to bridge out of your genre of music, once you get good, and allow you to diversify your income potential by taking on other projects or gigs. This article however is not about making better music or writing hit records, it’s about doing simple steps with social networking, like improvisation, that will pay off in the future.
How Jail-Time and Cults Can Help Your Band Become Successful, PART 1: A Poll of Leaders from Bandcamp, CD Baby, FanBridge, ReverbNation, Topspin Media, and More
The founders and leaders of web-based services for the music industry have the unique opportunity to see what musicians are doing to build awareness among fans and what they are doing to amplify their story
through the media. I polled seven such thinkers with the question: Can you tell us about a band or two whose STORY has helped their careers? They told me compelling stories about jail-time, tragedy, and cults, but also about crowd-sourcing band members, using technology to answer fan questions, and giving fans ownership of a band. Here is part one of two:
“I wanna get signed!”
How many bands or musicians say that? Perhaps not as many as in past years. These days, an independent musician has access to tools that allow them to self promote through a giant web of online resources and then sell their music through the same. Certainly some musicians have no desire to sign to a label contract – their musical style is one that may not be saleable to mainstream audiences, or they prefer the self-control of handling their musical career independently. Some major artists were label signed, and having already gained a large audience share, they feel their own team can now market and sell to those same fans, without the controlling relationship certain labels may offer.
As I made my way back from Los Angeles, I started to think how many talented young artists out there have made the wrong decision when it came to their personal manager? How many of them had an attorney present when signing their management deals? How many of them involved a sunset clause? How did the contract say the manager was paid? Gross revenue stream or would the manager be dipping into “restricted areas”?
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!
It’s true that industry professionals and artist mind sets could not be farther apart. They are on two totally different sides of the game, yet working together as a team. All industry people probably receive anywhere from 15 to 200 emails or calls a week from indie artists wanting to work with them or get their advice. This is not an exaggeration. Most of these calls/emails are unfortunately misguided and are not going to get the artist anywhere just based on their approach. As an indie artist I am sure this must be incredibly frustrating… constantly sending out emails to industry people and not receiving replies. You’ve been told that to be proactive you have to mail, call, email, and send presents to industry representatives to get their attention. This is NOT true… let me help you out here.
How Middle Class Musicians Navigate the Nodes on the Network: Topspin Media's CEO Ian Rogers Says "It Just Takes a Long Time"
I recently asked Ian Rogers, CEO of TopSpin Media, about the role of the press in music careers in the new era of the music industry. Topspin Media is a direct-to-fan marketing and retail service, so Ian observes a lot of bands stepping through the stages of development from unknown to known. Here’s what he had to say:
I am a songwriter. I typically work from home using a small studio set up and have been fortunate enough to have written, co-written or produced many songs that have been commercially released.
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.
Recent Popular Content
(Updated July 8, 2015)