Archive for music business

Artists Need To Be Fairly Compensated in the New Music Industry

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by Chris Bracco

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[img courtesy of f5m-millionaires-club]

While scanning through my RSS feeds on my phone this evening, I came across a good article over at audio4cast. This article then led me to another excellent article at the Future of Music Coalition’s website called “Principles for Artist Compensation in New Business Models.” They are both a few months old, but still drive home some interesting viewpoints that are relevant to my business idea I posted about last week and that I am currently developing (which got great feedback! thanks again to everyone that contributed).

Key points from audio4cast’s article:

“While record companies may be getting paid from all the new online music services, those payments are not necessarily making their way to the artists’ pockets.”

“…there’s a significant struggle brewing between record labels and artists, which has become aggravated by declining cd sales and new online music business models.”

Key points from FOMC.org’s article:

“Legitimate digital business models and legitimate digital music marketplaces are critical to musicians’ ability to promote, distribute and earn compensation for their music.”

“The history of the music industry is littered with stories of artists who have not been paid anything for the sales of their recordings. Typical major label contracts only give musicians 10 to 15 percent of the revenue from sales, and that’s after the label has recouped all the costs of recording, manufacturing and promotion. It’s no wonder that many musicians never see a penny in sales royalties.”

“This principle simply says that revenue generated by new models for music access or delivery should be fairly shared between rightsholders and artists — after all, they created the music that provides the value for these new business models.”

“…services should be able to experiment with variable pricing and offer different marketing opportunities depending on the level of the artist or based on the size of catalogue…”

Do you think we will ever see the day when the majority of mainstream musicians and performers own 100% of the rights & control to their music? I have considerable doubts, but something’s got to give. And in some ways, it has already started happening with the advent of companies like ReverbNation, TopSpin, InGrooves and many more aimed towards helping artists reach large audiences in cutting-edge and unorthodox ways.

I am definitely excited to see what the future has in store for the music industry.

_chris

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Business Idea: The Reverse Record Label

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Chris Bracco

I am currently writing a business plan for one of my classes (COMM493, not really sure why this is a communications class…) and this is the basic idea my roommate and I are developing:

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[img courtesy of Ariel Hyatt’s Flickr account]

According to statistics provided by the New Music Seminar that I attended this past summer, there were only 5,945 artists able to sell over 1,000 copies of their albums in 2008. And only a mere 110 of these artists managed to sell over 250,000 albums (the majority of which are signed to major record labels). These numbers prove how rare and difficult it is these days for an artist to get their music heard by the masses, and how incredibly slim a band’s chances are of getting major label representation. The problem in this case works from the top to the bottom; the top being the corporate interests with the money and control and the bottom being the artists. Often is the case that the talent works for the talent agency – this situation should be reversed. Record labels shouldn’t have artists on their payroll; instead, the artists should have a slew of passionate, focused and talented people providing services for them based on their individual needs and desires.

Artists are becoming smarter and want to be more proactive about the business decisions surrounding their music. There are a wealth of artists out there recording great quality music for cheap in their basements, garages, bathrooms, friend’s houses, etc. Once this music is recorded, however, many of these ambitious young people don’t have a clue how to spread the word and start living their dream. Instead of sending their music to record labels in hopes of “getting signed,” artists can opt to have a team of motivated individuals work for them; all the while maintaining complete creative control over their music.

Empower

To reverse the tides and help empower artists, the business idea is an all-inclusive service team specifically geared towards unsigned and independent musicians and performers. Essentially, the business provides unsigned musicians with many of the services they’ll need in order to achieve their professional goals. These include consulting, marketing, booking, promotion, public relations, and much more.

The concept fundamentally functions as a record label “in reverse”. The business is working for the artist(s) and not the other way around. Traditionally, a label seeks out artists who can potentially sell a lot of music and solicit a large fan base. The traditional label will produce, promote, sell and distribute the artists’ music and give them a small percentage of the profit. In many cases, that percentage is less than 10%—which is a very small payout considering the effort put in by the artist to create that music. I mean, the music wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the artist in the first place.

The reverse record label’s primary revenue stream would come from the payment plans negotiated with each artist/band. The payments can be made upfront, in monthly/yearly installments, etc…whichever model seems to serve the relationship best. These prices would be flexible depending on the artists’ financial situations. In turn, the reverse record label provides the services (with some sort of a guarantee) and receives no further compensation. The artist collects 100% of the benefit from that point on. Most importantly, however, the artist maintains full control of the rights to their music regardless of the service(s) they seek—which is rarely the case at the typical “record label.”

[img courtesy of A.S.B.P.K.]

The reverse record label aims to serve the prevalent but struggling independent music culture. Unsigned and independent artists need organized, determined, and talented individuals to help them create and sustain long and successful careers. Any independent act can have the opportunity to receive consulting and development advice through the reverse record label at an affordable rate. The core focus of the business’ services is to increase overall exposure for its clients in their target markets, thereby providing them with future opportunities that will help to enhance and uphold their musical careers. By exposing clients to their target markets, this can also indirectly enhance the quality and diversity of local music everywhere, and help the previously unknown, but truly excellent talent rise to the top.

The reverse record label would compete alongside traditional artist public relations, marketing, management and consulting firms, as well as traditional record labels. However, what differentiates it from the rest of the pack is that it provides a customized combination of all these services, geared towards individual artists and bands, in one convenient and affordable package. These packages will be unique and tailored to each specific artist. The reverse record label would take the time to research an artist’s target market and develop a strategic plan based on the services the artist requests. And if an artist does not know what to request, the reverse record label can offer them the proper consult to guide them in the right direction and give them several options to consider. With this business, artists no longer have to spend countless hours of research to find a publicist or manager that would suit them best. They no longer have to send promotional CD’s—which cost big money and rarely make it much further than the office garbage can—to record labels in hopes of getting a dream record deal. The reverse record label’s services would provide its clients with the essential knowledge to achieve success in their independent music careers. And once again, it would not take any rights away from its clients, so the artist(s) will always be in control of their most important asset: their creativity.

This is just an idea I had a few months ago. But at this point, it is just that – an idea. I’m sure somebody has thought of the same thing/something similar at some point in time. At the end of the semester my roommate and I will have written a full-length official business plan surrounding this idea. I would love to hear any feedback/discussion arise about it. Thanks!

_chris

PSU’s Music Scene is Getting Molested.

Posted in Penn State Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2009 by Chris Bracco

The State College music scene is taking another hit. A huge hit. And I thought Asher Roth was bad (he performed last night at Wallypalooza for ONLY 40 MINUTES….some headliner, huh).

Nittany Booking, one of, if not the best music promoters in State College, may cease to exist after this semester. Why, you ask? Garrett Bogden, founder, is graduating. FUCK!!

They have come a long way since 2006, booking several national acts and excellent local talent at venues throughout downtown State College. They put on some great shows here, it really sucks to see them go. Garrett said that Nittany Booking is “basically over,” it really sucks that he didn’t groom a replacement or wants to keep the company alive in some way. If I had more than a year left here at PSU I’d consider taking the reins!

Anyway, here’s some details from an article in The Collegian: Clickity Click

I’d rant some more, but there is no time! Damn finals week.

_chris

Simple Marketing Tips for Indie Musicians

Posted in Music Industry, Newbies with tags , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2009 by Chris Bracco

eek!

I just read an article that reminded me of some really basic marketing principles that may seem pretty obvious, but can definitely be forgotten over time. And they shouldn’t be! These fundamentals are extremely important, especially to indie musicians. If you are one of these musicians out there trying to do it on your own, selling albums out of your car’s trunk (props to Johnny Cash) or going door-to-door like some kind of perverted Girl Scout, then you need to be aware of these!!!

Basic assumptions as to why somebody would pay for your indie music, merch, etc:

1) They desire or absolutely need what your selling
2) They believe your product/service is exclusive in some way, or very difficult to find
3) They think there is a time constraint, and if they do not purchase your product soon they might miss the opportunity.

And far more important than the tips above: GET PEOPLE TO COME TO YOU, DO NOT FORCE THE PRODUCT ON THEM!

How many of you have ever bought a CD from some random guy running up to you on the street yelling “Yo man! I got these CDs you want one?!” I don’t know, but personally I’d tell him to scram.

People like people, so be an authentic artist by creating quality music and offering your fans something FIRST. Eventually, if what you are providing your fans is something of quality, you will see them coming back for more.

_chris

Digital Downloads — Penn State Gets It!

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Chris Bracco

As I strolled ignorantly to my theater class this afternoon, completely forgetting that it had been canceled, I decided to pick up a copy of PSU’s newspaper, The Daily Collegian. And I am SO glad I did, because I came across a very refreshing article.

Digital Downloads: City Lights, other music stores wary of future

To be honest, usually most of the articles that come out of our newspaper aren’t the highest caliber. But the author of this article really surprised me with her knowledge of the music industry! It was definitely an eye-opening experience for me because until today I had yet to meet someone at PSU with as much interest in the music industry as me. If you get me rambling about the music industry up here in Happy Valley, I usually get incessant nodding or eyes rolling from listeners — frankly, it seems like they would rather do a kegstand. Not that there’s anything wrong with kegstands… 🙂 Oh, college.

Anyway, here’s what I took away from the article (with occasional comments by me). Hopefully it is useful to you guys as well:

Digital Downloads
In the first article, author Alexandra Fletcher points out that the impact of digital downloading has finally struck good ol’ Happy Valley (aka Penn State University for those of you who had no idea what that meant 3 seconds ago).

The only local brick-and-mortar music store in the downtown area, City Lights, is predicting it will go out of business by next year due to the rising popularity of digital downloads.

Knowledge Drop:

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There were 428.4 million albums sold nationwide in 2008, down from 500.5 million in 2007, according to Nielson Sound Scan. As for digital music, 844.2 million tracks sold in 2007, and in 2008 that increased to almost 1.1 billion…meanwhile, 65.8 percent of the 428.4 million albums sold in 2008, were purchased digitally, according to Nielson Sound Scan.

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I’m sure most people reading this are already aware of these trends. Clearly the value of an album has diminished. DRASTICALLY. Why, you ask?

Alexandra goes on to quote local Roustabout! concert series promoter Jesse Ruegg, who believes that album value has decreased due to the recording industry’s business strategies throughout the 80’s and 90’s:

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The art form of the album was abused as the industry ‘padded out’ an artist. The industry produced albums of 12 to 15 songs with mediocre songwriting, forcing consumers to pay ’18 bucks to find a few good tracks,’ Ruegg said.

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An upside to consumers purchasing/stealing music via digital downloading is the leveling of the playing field. Indie artists & labels can distribute their music & merchandise through the same digital mediums the pro’s use!

Chenjerai Kumanyika, a Penn State grad student in entertainment & media studies, and former member of hip-hop group The Spooks, had some very insightful things to say about this:

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This isn’t the first time the entertainment industry has had to change mediums. This is a time when listeners have more freedom to discern what’s good rather than have the music industry tell them what’s good…this is a time that has the potential to empower artists. Artists should try to use that power, and fans should recognize this as a time to choose.

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I concur, Chenjerai. I concur.

Anybody remember the transformation from sheet music to vinyl records? Well, if you’re reading blogs then you are probably a bit too young. But you get the point. Change has occurred before, the industries have endured, who’s to say we cannot endure again?

_chris

101 Band Promotion Ideas

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2008 by Chris Bracco

I stumbled upon a great article for those of you interested in promoting a band. It really offers some great advice on how to get your band heard and appreciated by the public.

101 Band Promotion Ideas

I manage and play in 2 bands and have used many of these techniques successfully.

Here are the top 3 ideas that i believe can really boost a band’s recognition:

1. Join MySpace, add friends, leave comments, send messages!!!

   – Myspace is, hands down, the best way for an artist to get his/her music heard!!! So simple too! Just register, throw up some tracks, and add a zillion friends!! Send messages & leave comments asking people to commit a few minutes of their time to listen to your tracks and give feedback. People WILL do it, and you will see substantial results.

2. Put your myspace website link on EVERYTHING.

   – From t-shirts to stickers to demos to your friend’s arm, expose your myspace URL everywhere you can!! Best type of promotion, hands down.

3. Ask your local record/music shop to give away your free demo.

   – If you have a demo that you are trying to get heard, it is an excellent idea to give a bunch of copies to as many small, local music shops as you can. Ask the workers to hand them out for free as a “free gift” to complement whatever a customer has just bought. And make sure your Myspace link is on the demo somewhere!

These 3 marketing strategies will get your music heard and your band out there, and maybe even into the right hands.

_Chris

The Mighty Beard of Rick Rubin

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2007 by Chris Bracco

Rick Rubin has recently been recruited as co-head of Columbia Records. Apparently Columbia does not enforce the dress code when it comes to musical geniuses, because Rubin looks pretty much like a homeless person. But don’t let his persona fool you – the man really is a genius. He has produced epic songs like “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” by The Beastie Boys, and “Walk This Way” By Run-DMC/Aerosmith.

Columbia is hoping that Rick will solve all of their problems, and then some. He’s got some big ideas, just take a look at this great article:

The Music Man

_chris