Industry Insight

Spotify Offering Advances To Indie Artists And Managers For Direct Licensing Deals.

Spotify is reportedly offering advances and other enticements to independent artists and their managers in an effort to have them directly license music with the streaming music service, effectively cutting out the label middleman.

According to Billboard, who first reported the story, some of Spotify’s officers have promised said artists and their teams “several hundred thousand dollars as an advance fee for agreeing to license a certain number of tracks by their independent acts directly to Spotify.”

Per the Billboard report, Spotify is, in some cases, offering some artists as much as a 50 percent cut of per-stream royalty rates. While that’s less than the share labels receive from the streaming service, it amounts to a bigger percentage for artists who directly license to Spotify.

So far, Spotify seems to be limiting these pitches to independent artists to avoid complicating the company’s vital relationships with labels and the unnamed sources quoted by Billboard said that Spotify is cautioning artists to avoid saying they have been ‘signed’ by Spotify.

Despite their caution, the offers to indie artists may be thin ice for Spotify in regards to their label partners. The streamer’s deals with major labels bar them from competing directly with the record labels’ main business, or from directly buying catalogue or musical recordings. But, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek appears to be willing to test that boundary.

“I still think that there’s huge inefficiencies when you think about how hard it is for artists to break through,” Ek said during a recent keynote Recode’s Code Conference last month. “The number one thing artists are asking for is ‘help me find an audience.’”

Ek added that Spotify plans to create more tools for artists and managers to foster artist discovery and extend their marketing budgets, further developing their direct relationship with content creators.

Under Spotify’s licensing terms, the company isn’t going to own the music it’ll purchase. It’s also not demanding exclusive distribution rights — any music it acquires can still be sold through Apple and Google or any competing service. Plus, it’s only going after lesser-known acts, not giant stars who already have major label deals. Any struggling musician will no doubt find all these terms extremely attractive and reasonable.

Indeed, the music industry has been on the precipice of a radical change, and Spotify might just be the company that finally pushes it over. The problem is, Spotify still needs music labels, which explains why it’s being really careful on how it talks about its new licensing schtick for artists.

SOURCE: Carl Velasco

As artist careers grow, they need the right commercial partners to help elevate their businesses and make them more efficient.

According to Midia Research, self-releasing acts represented a 2.7% worldwide market share in 2017, with combined revenues of almost $500m. These ‘self-releasing’ artists distribute through a raft of services that offer low cost access to the world’s music digital music stores such as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer etc. However, there is potentially a false economy here driven by an inherent mistrust of the music industry – mostly caused by the major labels. It is a fact that independent artists and labels can take advantage of the best rates in the market by joining collective independent structures.

According to the most recent Wintel report, this growing community of mutually reinforcing entrepreneurs now makes up the biggest single slice of the global market with a 38.4% share by content ownership. Artists self-releasing outside of this framework are potentially missing out on key cost savings and expertise that could be helping them do so much better than they are at the moment.

This is true for any start-up driven by a creative business owner. Many self-releasing artists are all having to reinvent the wheel, spending more than they need to on essential services, wasting money in the wrong areas and not maximising the returns they get for their hard work. This is, of course, very understandable – record labels historically have a terrible reputation for forcing artists into punitive deals. Thankfully, things have evolved and two key things have changed.

Firstly, the old world verticals in the commercial landscape have largely broken down and the old-fashioned idea of a label is on the way out. There is now a much more contemporary landscape of artist-centric commercial partners who have elements of labels, publisher, management and live, with real expertise in each area and the ability to tailor each deal to suit the needs and aspirations of the individual artist.

Independents have driven this change, shoulder to shoulder with artists, where the larger corporations have lagged behind. The second key development is a keener understanding within the independent sector of where its real value lies. Independent labels may not have the cash the majors do, but the numbers show time and time again that they use the cash they do have far more effectively. It’s also worth noting that alongside this basic efficiency, the artists tend to keep much more creative control and find a sympathetic partner who works with the artist, not above them.

The value-added services of these expert businesses remain essential to long term career growth in areas such as A&R, promotion, marketing and an established global business network allow artists to have their cake and eat it. By working independently they retain creative control and expect and receive a well-balanced deal accompanied by high levels of accountability and transparency.

Ground-breaking commitments to transparent and equitable relationships such as The Fair Digital Deals Declaration (FD3) coupled with the independent sector’s continued levels of investment in nurturing talent over the long term, demonstrate that time and time again, no matter how well artists can do on their own, they should consider how much better they might do with the right commercial partnership.

Source: MBW

7 Music Business Predictions For 2018

1. Spotify finally goes public, and the going gets tougher. The time comes for Spotify to finally make the transition that’s been promised to investors for so long. The company gets listed in 2018, but that just opens it up to new challenges. Questions about expensive office space, scrutiny of its metrics, and pressure from the major labels to drop its free tier increase. Growing competition make growth more difficult than in previous years, which affect its stock price by the end of the year.

2. Amazon grows the music streaming pie. Amazon gives its stand-alone Amazon Music Unlimited service a marketing boost, and because of exclusive deals thanks to #5 below, becomes a major player in streaming distribution. The company uses its platform prowess to increase sales of physical product and merch, and becomes an increasingly lucrative sponsor/partner for superstar artists.

3. Google gets its music streaming act together. Google consolidates its confusing music offerings (Google Play Music and YouTube Red) into a single service. While less challenging to market and easier for the consumer to navigate, the new service still struggles to gain traction against the market leaders at first, but manages to show growth by the end of the year thanks to #5. The launch of the new service stifles major label protests about the low royalty payout from YouTube throughout the year.

4. Streaming networks up their game. In an effort to further differentiate itself from the competition, Apple Music finally becomes an all high-resolution audio service with no increase in monthly price. Thanks to collecting hi-res masters for the last 5 years, its miles ahead of the other platforms, which have to scramble to keep up. Some users can’t hear the difference, but many can and feel its worth jumping through the hoops imposed to by #5 to maintain a subscription with the service.

5. The lack of net neutrality changes our online media consumption. It happens gradually at first, but by mid-year telecoms and ISPs begin to exert the new power bestowed on them by the recent changes to the Net Neutrality ruling. First usage caps are put in place so that users must now pay an extra fee for higher consumption. Then they each do exclusive deals with a streaming network, making it more difficult and more expensive for the user to choose their streaming network of choice. This puts great pressure on stand-alone platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Pandora, but is just a passing cost to deep pocketed Google, Apple and Amazon. As a result, the streaming music industry consolidates even further.

6. Major labels lose the middle class artist. Lower income from catalog and physical product results in fewer and lower advances to artists. Artists and their managers realize that it’s better business not to sign with a major unless they’re on the cusp of superstardom, and opt to maintain a DIY approach with indie label support instead. The majors finally become aware that their marketing infrastructure is based on television, radio and print, media all in decline and ignored by their target demographic, and begin to place more resources online than ever before.

7. Vinyl record sales plateau. Vinyl remains a viable niche business but its growth slows to single digits. Many young vinyl buyers get frustrated with the relatively slow process of actually playing a record, and many use marginal playback systems that don’t provide a sufficient audible difference over streaming, especially since many services are transitioning to hi-res audio. Most return to online platforms for quick and easy consumption.

Source: Bobby Owsinski

8 Things Every Artist Should Know Before Signing a Deal

It’s easier than ever before for unsigned, independent artists to share their music, whether that’s directly on to platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube or via digital distribution services like Tunecore or Stem. A label deal, however, is still the dream for many artists, and they still have much to offer, from money and promotion to infrastructure and experience. But is signing a deal always the right move?

Build a great team around you first.

“I think it’s important, especially in hip-hop and R&B, that artists have that team around them before turning to a label because everything in hip-hop has to be nurtured and curated a certain way and big labels really don’t know how to do that on a lower level. It’s really important for people like us [LVRN] and other companies that are coming up to nurture and develop artists, because I think it helps out in the long run.”—Tunde Balogun

“I would say what’s most important is having a solid team around you before going into a major label situation. That’s something that artists should be focused on from the outset of their careers. Before you even think about doing any sort of a deal, surround yourself with people who understand your vision and can help you tell your story and believe in the project as much as you do. That’s anything from management to the right lawyer, attorney, legal team, to an agent and just having allies in the industry that you trust. Have a set goal and a plan and a vision that you’re bringing to a bigger platform. You want to set the tone for your story. You don’t want the label to do that for you. ”—Tunji Balogun

Timing is key.

“The first thing an artist should think about before signing a record deal is whether they need and are ready for one. When approached by a label or distributor, whether major or indie, it is important for an artist to ask themselves, ‘What can they do for me that I can’t currently do for myself?’ and ‘Do they need me more than I need them?’ A record deal should help take an artist’s career to the next level. There is no point in giving up control of your intellectual property rights if you’re just going to be in the same position you were in before you signed the deal. Depending on where an artist is in their career, it may not be the best time; it may be best to seek a deal after they’ve seen some success releasing music independently and can negotiate with greater leverage.”—Carron Mitchell

“Whether to sign is relative to your situation. I still think the labels do a good job of taking stuff globally. They are good because they infuse you with some cash up front but I think it’s only best to do it if you feel like it’s going to propel your career. I don’t think you should be doing a deal just to do a deal.”—Tunde Balogun​

Understand your deal.

“Once an artist and their team decide it’s the right time for a deal, make sure the record deal meets the artist’s wants and needs. Putting out music has become very easy and streaming is now very profitable for master owners. Given the success of many indie artists and, of course, Jay-Z dropping his gems on 4:44, a lot of artists now want to own their masters. However, a lot of artists don’t know the difference between distribution, licensing, and a traditional recording deal. Before asking for certain deal terms or a large advance, an artist should talk to their attorney and manager and get an understanding of how different deal structures can affect them now and in their future.

“Even though we’re starting to see a shift with major labels doing more artist friendly deals, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still coming after a piece of almost everything. It’s important to have an understanding of 360 rights and what that means when it is part of a record deal. If I’m an artist and I make the majority of my money in touring and merch, how can I limit the label’s right to ever see any of those profits? And make sure you have a release commitment. There’s no point in being able to say you’re signed to the record label, if your music is just sitting on your A&Rs laptop, never to be released!”—Carron Mitchell

“All the money that you receive and take is an advance to get your royalties. A lot of people want to spend, spend, spend but you have to make that money back. Always keep in mind that the money has to come from somewhere. In actuality, you’re pretty much spending your own money.”—Tunde Balogun

Work harder than anybody else.

“Once you sign a deal everyone pays attention to you and your mannerisms. Are you on time? Do you do this? Do you do that? Label people, management, they take direction or follow the artist’s lead when it comes to how hard to work. If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do, people tend to fall back and you’ll slowly see people not working on your behalf. Nobody is going to work harder than you.”—Tunde Balogun

Get to know the people you will actually work with.

“One mistake people make when they start talking to labels is that they always try to meet the head guy, but you’re not going to be working with that head guy. You’re going see that head guy maybe once a month, every quarter, on a phone call. You need to meet the day-to-day people who are going to be handling your project because they are pretty much your coach, your quarterback. So, if you don’t meet them until after you sign your deal then you may be paired with people that you actually don’t even fuck with and you’re stuck with them for years. Whenever that situation doesn’t mesh well, you see that projects don’t turn out well because their internal team doesn’t really mesh with the artist.”—Tunde Balogun

Hire a music attorney.

“The most important thing an artist should know before signing a record deal or any type of deal involving their intellectual property rights, is to hire an attorney, and not just any attorney! The same way you wouldn’t go to your dentist for knee surgery, an artist wouldn’t necessarily want a criminal defense or real estate attorney negotiating a music recording contract. An artist should hire a great entertainment attorney, who is not only well versed and connected in the music industry, but who also believes in their music and will add value to help grow their career.”—Carron Mitchell

Work with people you like.

“Obviously, it’s important to look at all the numbers but ultimately the success or failure of projects often comes down to the personal relationships that the artists have with the teams that they sign to. I would say it’s important for artists to always work with people that they actually connect with and vibe with on a personal level. Look beyond just the terms of the deal and the numbers and the check and have an actual bond and rapport with the people that you’re making this business relationship with.

“Look beyond the numbers to the fact that you’re going to have to literally deal with and work with these people every day for the next, at least, couple years of your life, and if you’re successful, more years. When it’s time to do the deal, work with the people that you like best. I would tell an artist to take a smaller deal to work with the right people just because of the energy and the tone that that sets. You know, it really is a career. It’s not just about the check, it’s about the relationships, it’s about the growth, it’s about telling the story in the right way.”—Tunji Balogun

Be patient.

“LoveRenaissance already existed with Justice, Junior, and Carlos before Sean and myself came together with them and started to put the company together, and that was around 2011. Then we started to develop Raury. Then we put out Raury maybe three years later. Patience is key. Don’t rush, find the right team and execute.”—Tunde Balogun

SOURCE: Pigeons & Planes

How Can Rappers and Producers Make Sure They Get Paid and Avoid Being Scammed?

In recent months, artists across the industry at every level have been embroiled in controversy surrounding payment and compensation.

In an effort to turn these unfortunate events into a teachable moment, lawyers Kamal A. Moo and Erin M. Jacobson, Esq give their expert opinions on how artists can avoid being taken advantage of. We do have to clarify that these comments are not legal advice, and do not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader.

Starting with the basics, Moo explains that “to have a valid contract, you just need an offer, acceptance, and consideration,” which Jacobson helps to define as “something in exchange, like payment.” Moo also confirms that any agreements made over Twitter DM or through an email exchange have the potential to be as legally binding as a contract. The problem, they both note, is how much of these agreements can be left up to interpretation.

Moo specifically states, “For example: when must the producer turn over the tracks? Does the producer need to deliver a ‘tracked out’ version of the beat or just a two-track version? How will the music publishing rights be apportioned? Who will own the copyright to the sound recording? These are all important questions that should be addressed.”

With all these fine details missing from a casual Twitter back and forth, both Moo and Jacobson “always suggest having a formal contract drafted, that accurately reflects the agreed upon terms.” Now, if you’re a young artist and the concept of a contract seems daunting—don’t worry. Jacobson suggests that “if an artist is not able to hire an attorney, they can alternatively seek a template from a site like Indie Artist Resource to have some contractual protection.”

Though both Moo and Jacobson highly recommend hiring a lawyer, Moo points out that “it isn’t necessary to hire a lawyer to draft an agreement.” Jacobson goes further to clarify that “notarization usually is not required, but signatures are necessary.” Even taking the time to write a more substantial agreement over email (which addresses the questions Moo outlined above) will put you in a better place than simply asking how much for a beat or for a feature verse.

For mid-tier artists with more expendable funds, Moo notes that if you are financially ready to hire “producers, engineers, studios, etc., it’s also worth it to spend some money to hire an attorney to properly protect [your] interests. Otherwise, the money they put toward production could be wasted.”

If you’re determined to execute your business transactions over email, there is still some crucial legal language to include, which will put you on better footing. As explained by Moo, “One important component of a formal agreement is called the ‘integration clause,’ which says that this written document is the full and final agreement between the parties and it cancels all prior negotiations.” He goes on to detail the benefits afforded to both parties when adding such a clause:

“One of the problems with an agreement that is negotiated back and forth over email is that, even though you may have a valid contract, the terms are spread out over a chain of several emails,” Moo continues. “Things can get even more complicated if the parties also speak on the phone or via text. On the other hand, if you have a formal agreement with an integration clause, then the parties are agreeing that all the negotiations via email, phone, text, Twitter, etc. don’t matter anymore, and what’s contained in this written agreement is the final contract between the parties.”

Language and clarity are key. As Jacobson explains, these contracts have “complex legal language involving copyrights and industry specific parameters that an experienced attorney will be familiar with and an artist might not.” Still, with or without a contract, you want your negotiations to be as clear and specific as possible.

An important detail to include in your emails involves ownership. As Moo explains, “if an artist is purchasing a beat from a producer, the artist would want to own 100% of the rights in the recording. If there isn’t clear language in the agreement transferring ownership, then the producer could end up retaining some rights.”

But let’s imagine you’re caught in one of these unfortunate situations where you sell a beat and don’t get due credit or pay for a verse or a beat that never comes. What are your options?

Moo explains that it would “certainly be more difficult” to seek restitution without a contract, but it can be done. The real question is the value proposition: “If an artist has spent a lot of money, then they could try to hire an attorney to represent them. However, if they only spent a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, it may not be cost-effective to hire counsel since most attorneys charge on an hourly basis.”

In the event that you’re doing business with another artist or producer across state or even country lines, Moo attests that “taking an artist or producer to small claims court might not be a viable option.” It’s better to take precautions early and not let matters reach the point of a legal battle.

With all of that being said, the moral of the story is twofold. First, if you’re an aspiring artist, we highly advise that you do your research, reach out to an attorney or utilize a template, and at the very least write up an agreement over email that offers more details than a simple DM. Most importantly, if a great artist is in your inbox, don’t take advantage of them because they’re eager and trusting.

Source: Donna-Claire Chesman

Music Investment Act aims to expand Georgia’s music industry

Georgia is hoping to create a name for itself in the music industry.

House Bill 155, known as the Georgia Music Investment Act, was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in May. It’ll go into effect next year. The law aims to build the state’s music industry by offering refundable tax incentives to music production companies.

Live music productions or projects recorded or scored in the state will get a 15 percent tax credit.

Companies that produce work in more rural parts of Georgia are eligible to receive an additional 5 percent credit.

Mario Meadows owns Platinum Sound Recording Studio in Albany.

“I could see it boosting revenue for independents and major labels,” Meadows said. “And I could also see the major labels that are based in New York, that will be an incentive for them to come to Atlanta, probably, you know.”

The Music Investment Act will go into effect in January of 2018.

Source: Desirae Duncan

Arena Music streaming service helps independent artists make a living

Independent music artists may no longer need to compete with major label artists to make a livable wage thanks to Arena Music, a new music streaming service based here in Arizona.

The innovative platform, which was originally a distribution company, was developed three years ago when founder and CEO Damon Evans realized the direction the music industry was shifting because of the ability to stream music rather than purchase it.

“The only way a music distribution company would survive is to evolve,” said Evans, a likely strategy for artists as well.

In the past, distribution companies and artists could profit from album and vinyl sales, in addition to other marketing areas such as merchandise. After the rise of streaming services, which give consumers the ability to pick and play a song at any time for a monthly fee, the avenues by which artists could make a profit diminished, said Evans.

The most popular streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music “pay artists three to six thousandths of a penny per stream,” he said. For most independent artists that rate “will net about $30 to $60 for every million streams on average.”

In order to make a livable wage, artists would need to attain millions of streams — a difficult endeavor for less well-known artists.

“We were seeing (independent) artists leave because it wasn’t a viable career,” said Evans.

Arena’s model is unique in that independent artists who are contracted with the company receive a full penny per stream. In addition, Arena markets and sells the artist’s merchandise, resulting in a more profitable option for the 700 independent artists already contracted with Arena.

The unique alternative stemmed from the realization that while people may have no interest in purchasing music they still want to buy merchandise, Evans said. Artists receive 50 percent of the revenue from merchandise sales sold through Arena.

Arena prints and manufactures a large number of artist merchandise to reduce costs. Using the revenue from printing and funds from the original distribution company, Arena has been internally financed.

“The goal is to finance Arena with as many outside revenues as possible so that our artists can take more shares of the music royalties that come in,” Evans said.

Arena offers music to consumers at no cost and without advertisements, using non interactive streaming, similar to Pandora’s radio service. “All consumers want is to press play and have an unobtrusive listening experience that aligns with their music tastes,” Evans said.

Consumers listen to a playlist designed to align with the listener’s tastes, made from Arena’s library of over 2 million tracks. The playlist combines songs from independent and major label artists, a deliberate method to help promote the independent artists while keeping in mind more mainstream interests.

The non-interactive streaming is supplemented by the Listen to Own program, in which consumers can earn one credit by listening to any song five times. Over time the credits can then be used to own music from independent artists or purchase merchandise from any artist.

Since Arena is not associated with any major labels consumers do not have the ability to own music from major label artists.

“You can hear a song five times from say Young the Giant but instead of generating a credit for a download it can only be used to purchase merchandise,” said Evans.

Consumers will soon be able to listen to music, purchase merchandise and utilize the Listen to Own program on Android and iOS devices when a new version of the Arena app drops later this week.

Source: Sayo Akao

Is The Music Industry Putting Itself Out Of Business?

There was once a time when mid-level bands with a modest following could make a pretty decent living playing music. They’d put out a record, sell a couple hundred thousand copies and then go on tour to promote it – which would drive additional sales, even as the tour itself was lucky to break even.

For the largest acts, this formula was a bona fide moneymaking bonanza, lining the pockets of all involved, including the musicians, managers, promoters and record labels. For everyone else, it didn’t produce vast riches but nonetheless supported careers and promoted the creation of new music.

Times, however, have changed. Besides a handful of superstars, it’s impossible for bands and musicians to generate significant revenue taking this approach. And the reason is simple: Consumers won’t pay much for music.

Napster jump-started this trend back in the 90s, pirating content and making it available online, producing a generation of listeners who don’t value music because they were able to download it for free. Then, streaming services basically continued the practice.

The likes of Pandora and Spotify don’t steal content, but they still offer it for free with the support of ads. Others such as Apple Music and Amazon Music obviously aren’t stealing either and do charge users, but it’s a nominal fee. Both models result in most artists getting the shaft, receiving, in most instances, less than a penny per stream.

(Incidentally, the streaming services themselves aren’t faring much better. Pandora and Spotify have always struggled to turn a profit, while Apple Music and Amazon Music are money losers, in place as part of broader distribution play that merely supports other parts of their company’s other businesses. Another irony is that music has become devalued at a time when there are more ways than ever to promote it, thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.)

Because of this, musicians have had to adjust. Some have begun to focus their efforts on brand building, using their music, in effect, as a form of advertising to hock products and services for companies. Megastars like Beyonce and Lady Gaga, and Michael Jackson before them, have always done this, pushing everything from soft drinks to clothing to fragrances.

Ostensibly, playing concerts is another way to boost the bottom line. But save a precious few, most musicians are neither able to draw big audiences nor command the type of prices that make touring worthwhile – and the ones who can are senior citizens who play to audiences that are either roughly the same age or only slightly younger.

Some probably question why anyone should care about all this. After all, the consumer is winning, since the principal fallout has been that accessing music content is cheaper than ever before. Further, large industries have always gone through difficult transformations – what makes the music industry’s struggles any more noteworthy?

The reason is that without meaningful changes to the way musicians get compensated, creativity will suffer immeasurably – and with it, the entire music industry. Consider that the revenue streams created by record sales and concerts once formed an informal infrastructure that continually bred new artists. Without such revenue streams in place – or something similar to replace them – the time will come when musicians will have no practical way to stay afloat, forcing them to give up and many would-be ones never to try at all.

All of which means that the music business may not be a much of business at all before too long.

Source: Ross Gerber

Music Industry Breaks Out Of $7 Billion Rut As Streaming Takes Over

The RIAA released its annual U.S. recorded music sales figures for 2016 on March 30. Industry revenue had been flat at around $7 billion since 2010, but the good news is that it’s finally broken out of that rut. Total revenues are now $7.65 billion, up 11% from 2015 and beating estimates from last September. (Of course, that’s still far below the industry’s peak of almost $15 billion in 1999.) The No. 1 source of growth by far: on-demand streaming from services like YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and TIDAL.

2016 represented yet another in a series of milestones in the music industry’s transition to digital. Digital revenues overtook revenues from physical products (mainly CDs) in 2011, but streaming accounted for only 18% of digital revenue. Download sales exceeded CD sales in 2012. By 2015, streaming had drawn even with downloads and together accounted for more than two-thirds of total industry revenue.

Last year, streaming by itself became the biggest source of recorded music revenue, accounting for just over half (51%) of total industry revenues. Most of that growth came from on-demand streaming, whose revenues almost doubled from 2015, while digital radio-type services (such as Pandora, Sirius XM satellite radio and iHeartRadio) kept pace with overall industry growth.

Meanwhile, digital downloads went into freefall, declining 22% from 2015. On the physical product side, CDs also accelerated their decline and now account for only 15% of industry revenues. The resurgence of vinyl slowed, with only 3% growth in that area. Vinyl (mostly LPs) seems to be topping out at 6% of total industry revenues.

On-demand streaming services have done a remarkable job in building paid subscribership. Spotify, in particular, has gotten its “conversion funnel” down to a science, with paying subscribers now numbering 50 million and accounting for an astounding 40% of overall registered users worldwide. That’s more than triple the percentage just after Spotify launched in the U.S. in 2011, and it surpassed some of the optimistic predictions of that time. Apple Music’s all-paid subscribership has exceeded 20 million.

The RIAA has added two categories to its revenue tallies. One is “Limited Tier Paid Subscription,” which covers paid-subscription services with features and/or music catalogs that are more limited than the full on-demand services. These include “radio plus” services that offer personalized Internet radio with no ads, unlimited skips and limited downloads such as Pandora Plus, Slacker Plus and Napster UnRadio. They also include paid on-demand services with limited catalogs such as Amazon Prime Music, the service that Amazon offered to Prime members before launching the full on-demand Amazon Music Unlimited service last October.

Source: Bill Rosenblatt

Unsigned Artists Need To Operate Differently in 2017.

Things have changed in the music industry, especially over the past decade, and going after a record deal is not the only goal an unsigned artist should have anymore. The goals should be (in my opinion), to create awesome music, gain exposure, and create/grow a fanbase. Once these things occur, the process of getting a record deal changes. Because now it is no longer the artist whom seeks the label, but rather it is the label whom seeks the artist. Furthermore, during this glorious time period of writing your own ticket, an artist can make themselves rich and famous, without ever signing a recording contract. But let’s be realistic, how often does this happen? After you see one or two artists do it and start collaborating with superstars, you would think it’s happening all over, Does Chance The Rapper ring a bell?

Well the answer is, it still does not happen very often, but that does not mean that it can’t happen more often. Artists like Chance The Rapper, Young Savage and The Migos (before the deals) were lucky enough to make music that just popped off on its own, becoming a viral sensation and a tool of free publicity/exposure for the given artists. But in fact, it didn’t just go viral on its own, it was the fans, who learned of the music and shared it, all the way to the top. This catapulted those artists to the heights of the stars (if even only online in the beginning), and they were able to charge the celebrity rates for bookings, enriching themselves. They sold music downloads and made millions. All smart moves. Publicity is so important, it can make or break an artist. And publicity online is the same as publicity in the streets. One can turn into the other simultaneously.

Because once people know who you are, they know who you are. And so the discussion of YOU begins. So why not use the same techniques that major corporations use when they want to introduce a product to the public, do Press Releases. Not just one, but make PR a part of your whole strategy. Use PR to generate a buzz, gain exposure and grow your fan base. If the music is good, this is your best shot at landing it on thousands of websites and headlines. I have personally generated over 200,000 headline impressions by writing one news story for an artist. Imagine if you did that every month. How far could it go? Who knows. It could go national or it could simply go local. But it will certainly go way further than it would have if you didn’t do a press release at all. Also, don’t just do one and be done, you have to do one initial release and at least 2 follow up releases if you want to see good results.

Finally, don’t do a crappy press release. Don’t write it yourself or have someone whom has never written a release, working on your PR. Because that my friend could cause some serious damage if not worded and written correctly. Put out something that is interesting, witty and engaging!

And that along with the music, will be the first steps in your writing your own ticket…Don’t buy views when you can win viewers, with your story.

SOURCE: Steven Michael Jennings

Why Indie Artists Can’t Afford to Skip Streaming

It was the year its artists’ lifetime gross earnings crossed the half-a billion-dollar mark (yep, $500,000,000). But the most important trend was that revenue from streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music overtook downloads as the number one source of artists’ sales.

We’re pleased to see that independent artists are now making more money from their music thanks to the growth in streaming. Of all digital revenue, streaming represented only 32 percent of gross earnings in 2015. In 2016, that ratcheted up to almost half. And including ad-supported YouTube monetization, streaming and YouTube combined represented 52 percent of artists’ revenue.

But other sources of revenue are still important as well — both to the artist and the consumers whose preference favors other formats. We saw vinyl sales grow again last year, but more slowly in 2016. We saw CD sales decline by about 12 percent; the third consecutive year of contraction. And downloads, while also declining by 12 percent in 2016, still makeup more than a third of artist revenues. Our common-sense guidance to self-distributed artists and small labels is to monetize their music everywhere they can, which brings us to an important point.

What’s really behind a shift in earnings is not ‘big tech’ that doesn’t care about the artists; it’s the fans who are choosing to consume music via streaming. It’s a shift in consumer behavior. There are tens of millions more people consuming music via streaming every year. But there are also still consumers for physical and download formats. Shifts in format preferences take time. They never happen all at once but are inevitable once started. That’s why we think artists should get their music everywhere the fans are willing to consume it.

Understand that some artists are concerned about the viability of streaming services. But we shouldn’t ignore the fact that in 2016 there are now profitable streaming services. Rhapsody attained profitability last year. Streaming at Apple, Amazon and Google are likely profitable as the large firms already have the scale and scope to sustain a service. As long as artists are growing their earnings with these services, they should consider focusing on how their fans are choosing to experience music. If any of the large digital service providers fail in the next several years, there will be another in its place to pick up their clients. Consumer behavior is the only thing that matters.

It’s no secret — some songs earn more than other similar songs because they are being promoted. Art isn’t entitled to an equal share of income from any source just because the art is good. To succeed in any format requires artists to actively harness the tools of promotion, especially those tools available on these new platforms that are reaching the incremental millions using subscription services. These tools, from analytics to playlists, are powerful and more available to independent artists than ever before, leveling the playing field for independent artists.

There are a vast number of platforms and tools accessible to artists who want to drive their sales themselves. We greatly admire the work that Bandcamp does for indies — according to a recent letter to the industry, CD sales on its site were up by 14 percent and downloads by 20 percent in 2016. This bucks the trend in the rest of the industry and shows a growing share of a declining market.

On the promotional side, the free tools the DSPs offer, such as Apple Connect, Pandora AMP and Spotify, are a great way to claim a profile, connect with fans and command the data. Tools like can help artists manage a promotional campaign and HearNow is a simple, low cost tool to promote releases. These are just a few tools a click away from artists willing to invest the time.

SOURCE: Tracy Maddux


While many musicians have understandably had mixed feelings towards Spotify, due to the amount of money that the streaming giant pays to record labels and artists in royalties, there is no denying that the platform is now one of the main ways in which millions of people discover music.

Though several established artists like Prince or Taylor Swift have publicly decried the platform and refused to have their music available on it, the potential for independent musicians provided by the company is quite large. As with most technological tools, it’s all about making the product work for you.


For independent artists there are a few ways that you can get your music onto Spotify, but the easiest is to use a digital aggregator. There are several of these available, the most widely known being Soundcore and CD Baby, though several smaller agencies have appeared in recent years, such as the Melbourne based Ditto Music, who are able to offer a more tailored and hands-on approach than the larger companies.

Once you have submitted all of your artwork, information and audio files to your chosen aggregator you will be able to select which companies you would like your music to be distributed to, including iTunes, TIDAL, Spotify and many others. It is important to get all of the information right, as it would be extremely difficult to change song titles or sound files once they have been submitted to all of these companies.


Now that your music is on Spotify, it’s time to take control of your artist page so that you can get the most amount of use from it as possible. When set up correctly, a Spotify artist page can be just as useful as a website, with links to sell music, merchandise and tickets, as well as automatically updated listings of upcoming shows.


It is therefore important to present your artist page as you would present your website or Facebook band page; you want it to look good and represent the image of your act correctly. Though the cover artwork for the releases is supplied by your digital aggregator or record label, Spotify sources the artist images it uses at the top of the page, in other words the banner, from Allmusic. Anyone can submit their information, including images, to, which is also a useful database to be listed on for when people are searching for information on your act or releases in general.


So now you have supplied Allmusic with the correct images and your Spotify page is looking good, and hopefully starting to attract traffic. Since we know that there is not much money to be made from streaming royalties, it’s time to monetise that page by adding purchasable items.

This is easily achieved by using BandPage, a platform that is also easily integrable with Facebook. Once you have signed up to Bandpage and created an artist page there you can use it to ‘create offers’, that will appear on your Spotify page once the two accounts are linked. These ‘offers’ can take the form of anything you would like to sell, most usefully merchandise, such as vinyl, CDs or apparel.

As this is linked to the Bandpage, unlike with music sales you can set the price and receive the full amount yourself. You can use this tool to not only sell physical copies of your latest release, but to promote specials such as box sets or bundled packages, such as a record and t-shirt deal.


By utilizing the popular concert listing database Songkick you can have all of your upcoming shows listed on your Spotify page. This is a really useful way of turning those who have discovered you online into real life fans, as anyone can see when and where you are performing next, with dates located close to the listener appearing first.

All you have to do is create an account on Songkick, enter the details of your shows and link the two accounts. Then bingo – you have once again turned music streams into actual money through ticket sales.


Another useful tool that is included in Spotify is its included analytics, which are available through their Fan Insights. Anyone with music on Spotify can access this, which can be done by following this link, allowing you to see the demographic information of the people who are spinning your tunes. Some of the other information available through Fan Insights include a visual breakdown of how many times your tracks have been played and playlisted, as well as what other artists the people who played them listened to. You are also able to compare your statistics to any other artist on Spotify, so you can keep a close eye on the competition. The potential this offers for learning who and where your fans are is extremely useful for building future publicity campaigns, tours and releases.


It is no exaggeration that Spotify playlists are now just as important as radio for helping audiences discover new artists. The triple j unearthed playlist is very popular not just in Australia but also overseas, and so the potential offered to unsigned acts is extremely valuable.

Many people now treat the many regularly updated playlists that is offered both by trusted organisations such as Pitchfork, and by Spotify themselves, as radio stations. Several aggregators now offer playlist placement as part of their digital distribution services, which is something to consider when planning your music release.

Another simple and effective way to build followers is to create your own playlists and share them through your social media channels. This is not only an engaging way to keep your listeners interested, but can also be a great way of creating cross promotion with other bands that are feature on your playlists, and helping to lead their fans to your Spotify page.

Source: Alex Watts

How Snapchat will change the music industry in 2017

It started with a Twitter video, announcing: New music coming Friday. Then, an Instagram video—revealing a beat, and some lyrics.

But when globally famous pop star Ed Sheeran wanted his fans to experience the first true listen of his new music, he turned to Snapchat. With an augmented reality lens, people could put on a pair of sunglasses, surround themselves in lights, and listen to the first 30 seconds of Sheeran’s new track.

Fans who uncovered the hidden surprise along with fellow artists like Shawn Mendes (who isn’t a stranger to the power of social apps) helped hype the track before Sheeran released it later that night.

Sheeran’s use of Snapchat is just the most recent example of how the app—and its community—have emerged as powerful distribution tools for new music. Where other digital platforms are plagued by piracy issues, Snapchat has taken on the role of a DJ, with artists hoping to partner up, and get their song played within innovative, fun, engagement-heavy formats.

For example, over the last two months, Snapchat users have been able to wear a different pair of shades, and bob their heads to a clip of rapper Sage the Gemini’s song “Now and Later.”

But unlike other marketing rollouts, for both Sage the Gemini and Ed Sheeran, there wasn’t even any mention of the artist on the Snapchat filter. But users eventually found their way to the name of the song:

“This type of partnership had never been done before with an emerging artist,” said Chelsea Gavin, director of marketing at Artist Partners (who works with Sage the Gemini).

“Together we were able to enhance a lens sonically,” explained Gavin, “maximizing user experience, which translated into a lot of curiosity around the artist.” In other words: They knew they had a good song on their hands. They delivered it to Snapchat’s users. And Snapchat’s users then went looking for the song. The plan was simple. The results? Substantial.

From November to December, Sage the Gemini’s “Now and Later” jumped from 1.1 million to 5 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Snapchat’s been getting deeper into offering a wide variety of different types of media, including news, politics and sports. In some cases, Snapchat is paying a licensing fee for the content. In others, there’s an ad revenue split between publishers and Snapchat.

Entertainment and music are perhaps the most lucrative to (and in line with) the company projecting itself as a lifestyle brand as they convince influencers, publishers and advertisers to spend more time and money in the app. It’s all the more important to the company’s fate, as Snapchat prepares to go public later in 2017.

While other digital networks like Facebook and YouTube combat the wrath of the music industry hoping to secure more rights, Snapchat has cemented a good reputation with the artists and label—for now. In order to keep its place of prominence, it’s building more experiences that cater to the discovery and sharing of new music—a promotional machine for an industry that needs all the help it can get.

An overdue duet

Snapchat’s embrace of artists isn’t that surprising, given Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s publicly evident passion for music. His tastes are available to peruse via his Hype Machine account, where you can see he’s a fan of Goldroom, Chance The Rapper and The Chainsmokers.

“Sometimes there can be challenges as a platform grows, but [at Snapchat], they’re all passionate music fans, and have the interest of advancing the artist,” said Chris Mortimer, head of digital marketing at Interscope Records.

Regarding opportunities, Spiegel was once interested in buying a record label and partnering with video hosting site Vevo, as revealed in leaked emails by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton from the 2014 hack.

Those deals haven’t come to fruition, and perhaps that’s for the better. Running a label “means taking 100 shots and hoping you hit a couple, and focusing in on that,” said Scott “DJ Skee” Keeney, founder of Dash Radio.

“Evan has a great idea around cutting through the noise and focusing on talented artists to promote on his platform. However, this isn’t what a record label does. This is what radio does,” Keeney said.

This isn’t the first time Snapchat’s shown interest in promoting music. They featured a Goldroom song in the promo video for Stories. It was a partnership that began via a “cold email” from the Snapchat team to Goldroom.

Snapchat’s latest promo for its new video-camera product Spectacles used “The Less I Know The Better,” by indie rock darlings Tame Impala.

Snapchat works with each partner to make sure any music used in a lens or in a promo video is properly licensed. Specific terms are confidential. But typically Snapchat pays artists to license songs. For now, that doesn’t mean you should expect a bidding war for access like you do with a traditional ad buy, according to someone familiar with the program.

“Snapchat is very supportive of artists, and I think they’d always rather support someone they believe in over the highest bidder,” the person said.

For lenses, in particular, it’s unclear if Snapchat pays per stream or for a one-time license fee.

Sheeran’s lens had the prime placement from Friday to Sunday. That’s more than $500,000 worth of real estate per day, according to people familiar with Snapchat’s ad pricing.

These experiences are organized by Snapchat’s music partnerships team, which is led by VP of Partnerships Ben Schwerin and Head of Music Partnerships Glenne Christiaansen.

As evidenced by the Ed Sheeran and Sage the Gemini rollouts, the company’s beginning to build serious, productive and personal relationships with artists and record labels, offering them custom experiences within the app. They’re also a new kind of effective, viral experiences other social networks have yet to come close to rolling out—at least for the time being, Snapchat is in a league of its own.

Authenticity by design

Snapchat’s positive relationship with the music industry is also to the credit of the specific design and core functionality of Snapchat itself. The service has been able to cater to artists’ needs, without being burdened by conflicts over the piracy issues that plague their contemporaries.

Facebook and YouTube, where videos can last for an unlimited time and are saved permanently, both struggle with substantial piracy violators, and have devoted massive resources to fighting the uphill battle that is curbing these issues. Snapchat, on the other hand, has a core offering that consists of 10 seconds of video, which later disappear.

As the app expands from messaging to media, Snapchat’s weaved music across its business. By showcasing concerts through the Live Stories tab, premiering songs and music videos, and connecting viewers directly to artists, Snapchat has melded the advantages of the old (radio and MTV-like visuals) with real-time conversation and cutting-edge tech like augmented reality.

“Using Snapchat to connect fans with a music experience is like editing a real-time documentary,” Chris Williams, chief product officer for iHeartRadio, told Mashable. “Unlike the other social platforms where you curate posts, with Snapchat you are capturing and editing what you want to share on the fly, so there is an immediacy and authenticity to what we post.”

Again, these projects have yielded the kind of demonstrable results that’s made music industry insiders frothy to form a relationship with the app, the company behind it, and its user base. For Snapchat’s Live Stories of the Video Music Awards, MTV generated 12 million unique viewers in 2015.

For 2016’s VMAs? 21 million unique viewers.

Snapchat’s also taken on a similar role to MTV by premiering and debuting music videos from Madonna, Goldroom and The Weeknd. While the company may be encroaching on the traditional fame of MTV by securing its own exclusives, MTV and other music-focused media companies have vied for and secured coveted positions on Snapchat’s Discover network as well.

“What’s great about Snapchat Discover is that you can tell a story around the music video premieres, and add context,” said Bruce Gillmer, executive vice president of music and talent programming and events internationally for MTV.

MTV’s also producing original shows on the app—something Snapchat has prioritized for its partners going forward, and reportedly, one of the reasons Warner Music Group was removed from the platform.

“We are second to none when it comes to giving fans access or exclusive interviews with iconic artists and emerging talent,” Gillmer said, “making us truly stand out on this platform.”

Both MTV and iHeartRadio have remained cheerleaders for Snapchat.

“The future of music on Snapchat relies on great partnerships with recording artists who love the platform and trust iHeartRadio,” said Ina Burke, vice president of original content for iHeartMedia’s Entertainment Enterprises.

Keep the artist happy

Record labels and artists see mutual value in using Snapchat personally and professionally. Artists, just like any social media user, can be fickle to jump to the next platform, yet Snapchat’s lifestyle culture and cool products are convincing them to stay.

“It’s one of the last places where it doesn’t feel like you’re curating a persona with every post,” said electronic musician Josh Legg, aka Goldroom. “Snapchat is still my favorite platform for interacting directly with fans. They aren’t burdened by character limits, and because it all feels more private, I think people get a better opportunity to see the real me.”

DJs were some of Snapchat’s earliest big creators. While Vine was a somewhat demanding and confusing network for creation and discovery, Snapchat offered them authenticity and simplicity.

“When I started to realize the demise, the Vine influencers weren’t the first to go. They obviously had a lot to invest. The ones that were first to go were the celebrities like Diplo and Skrillex,” said one long-time former employee at Twitter, who used to work closely with Vine.

“Vine asked celebrities not to repurpose content from other platforms and only create original content, which just wasn’t realistic,” the insider continued. “Snapchat allowed them to create daily, lower production value content, which didn’t live forever, and that just ended up being way more appealing,”

Searching for the next hit

Snapchat has transformed into a new way to discover music. The latest integration with Shazam—where you can use Shazam at any point within Snapchat to identify the music playing around you—points to the potential for Snapchat to connect with other music apps like Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube and Vimeo.

“Music is an inherently social activity, and Snapchat’s incredibly popular platform seemed like a perfect fit,” said Shazam CEO Rich Riley.

Shazam declined to disclose if Snapchat is now taking a cut of the referral fees Shazam generates from music download stores. Yet: Even if Snapchat is now pulling some of Shazam’s profits, the partnership with Snapchat’s more than 150 million daily active users surely helps generate enthusiasm around Shazam, which is 18 years old, and last year, reported it had more than 120 million monthly active users.

Legg said he hoped for more integrations with music platforms in the future. “Personally I love to play music in my snaps, and I think I get asked more about the songs than anything else. I’d love to have some sort of simple connectivity with Spotify,” he said.

Mortimer of Interscope Records said he predicts a strong future of Snapchat, based on its past successes: “Snapchat has helped move mainstream adoption of two technologies: QR codes and augmented reality. I think what’s next is Spectacles, offering a perspective that nobody has except the artist themselves.”

Those artists are exactly who Snapchat must continue pleasing if the company wishes to thrive—via continued user engagement and via sustainable revenue offerings—and avoid the fate of Vine.

“As artists continue to innovate on Snapchat, fans will continue to follow it,” Mortimer said.


Why the music industry is poised for explosive growth

After a long, long metaphorical winter, the music industry is finally growing again in 2016 for the first time in over a decade, thanks to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

And it’s just the beginning, according to analysts at Macquarie, who predict that global recorded music revenues will double over the next 10 years.


In a note on Wednesday, the analysts wrote that they expect recorded music revenue to grow 5% in 2016, to ~$15 billion. By 2025, they predict that number will be $30 billion. That’s still down from the $40 billion it sat at in 1999, but it would be a monster comeback for an industry that’s been rocked for the last decade.

According to Macquarie, the driver of this revenue growth will be the continued ascendance of streaming services, from Spotify, to Pandora, to Apple Music, to Amazon’s new service. “ Streaming will grow to 50% of the market by mid-2019 and to 80% in 2025, based on our forecasts,” the analysts wrote. It will envelop the industry and pull revenues up with it.

As to the more immediate future, Macquarie thinks recorded music will grow 7% in 2017. And that’s a conservative estimate, according to Macquarie.

“We see upside to this level if Spotify’s launch in Japan, the second-largest territory and the one with the highest percentage of sales from physical, is successful,” the analysts wrote. “Amazon Unlimited Music (including mid-tier price point with Echo) should also boost growth in the UK and Germany (also a large physical market). Pandora Plus may also support even higher growth in the US.”

Paid streaming services provide a big boost to the music industry

Streaming continues to play a bigger role in music industry revenue and now it’s starting to provide some real help offsetting declining album sales in the US. In its mid-year report, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reports that the industry saw its biggest growth in the first half of 2016 since the 1990s, up 8.1 percent year-over-year to $3.4 billion. In terms of music streaming as a whole, revenue from those services was up 57 percent during the first half of the year and it now makes up 47 percent of the music industry’s total revenue. That’s up from 32 percent of the total revenue this time last year.

Streaming was already the biggest money maker for the music industry in the US and now it’s starting to make a real difference in offsetting the decline of album sales. First half revenue from streaming subscriptions hit $1 billion for the first time, showing 112 percent growth. Both physical and digital downloads continue to slide (down 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively), so the streaming boon will need to continue to add customers to make up the difference.

RIAA chairman and CEO Cary Sherman took to Medium to explain that while the music industry saw some growth for the first time in more than a decade, the compensation rates from streaming services are still lower than they should be. “Despite the massive consumer demand for music, the damning reality remains that music is fundamentally undervalued,” Sherman said. “Many services rake in billions of dollars for themselves on the backs of music’s popularity but pay only relative pennies for artists and labels.”

Sherman also called on Google to do a better job taking down unauthorized material that’s posted to YouTube. The RIAA CEO said that with all or the things that have been achieved in Mountain View, surely the company can do a better job of policing unlicensed songs. Sherman noted that Congressional reform won’t be the only answer to make up the revenue gap. He explained that cooperation between the industry and the companies running streaming services could go a long way to ensure everyone is fairly compensated. The music industry needs to make the most it can out of streaming as album sales continue their decline, so fair compensation will be a hot topic for the foreseeable future.

Source: Billy Steele

BitTorrent Helps Independent Artists With New Discovery Fund

BitTorrent has pledged to lend a helping hand to independent artists with The Discovery Fund, a new venture from the company that aims to provide cash grants to those working independently in the creative industry.

In a 2015 survey, BitTorrent asked 200 independent artists to weigh in on the present and future of creative sustainability, with 59% of those surveyed saying that getting their work discovered was the biggest challenge they faced in their career, closely followed by fan outreach. BitTorrent have therefore set up a scheme that looks to help them solve these issues.

With The Discovery Fund, BitTorrent has pledged to partner with 25 artists, musicians and filmmakers in order to offer them with financial and promotional support, providing between $2,500 to $100,000 in marketing and distribution funding to use at the creator’s discretion. It is BitTorrent’s belief that this collaboration will allow independent artists to take their work to a wider audience.

According to Straith Schreder, VP of Creative Initiatives at BitTorrent, “the rules are simple. You make something awesome. You own it. We back it, and help you find a global audience for your big idea.” The Discovery Fund follows the launch of BitTorrent Now, a free and ad-supported streaming service similar to Spotify, albeit one that offers its artists a 70/30 split in revenue generated by each stream.

The mission statement on The Discovery Fund’s official page reads: “You create it. You own it. We back it. We back creators. We don’t buy content. Because fuck content. Because music and film is more than that. Because outside voices need to be heard. The BitTorrent Discovery Fund is an open initiative dedicated to supporting a diverse group of creators seeking global distribution for uncompromising, original work.”

The Discovery Fund has a rolling call, meaning that there is no deadline for applications.

You can apply right here.

Apple Music plans to significantly increase songwriter royalty rates.

In a recent proposal to the US Copyright Royalty Board, Apple suggests that the royalty rate for publishers should be set at 9.1 cents per 100 streams of a song. Though an Apple Music official confirmed these reports, the filing is private and no other details have been shared. If the proposal is accepted, the new royalty rates will be set in stone as of 2018.

What does this mean for Apple Music?

At last count, Apple Music had surpassed 15 million paying subscribers, which is half the amount of major rival, Spotify. Having only entered the streaming music market last year, Apple has achieved massive success, and hit milestones that took Spotify significantly longer to reach.

By implementing these royalty rates, Apple hopes that it will not only win over artists, but also result in more exclusives. In its short existence, this isn’t the first time Apple Music has tried to rattle Spotify. Indeed, this is a constant battle: Apple Music has been securing back-to-back artist exclusives with the likes of Drake, Chance The Rapper, Snoop Dogg and several others, in a direct bid to compete with Spotify. By exclusively releasing content by big name artists, Apple has sparked a surge in signups, with many continuing well past the three-month free trial expiration.

With the strategy translating into huge success for the platform, Spotify has apparently decided to do the same. The first move in that direction was hiring Troy Carter, who insiders say is tasked with securing exclusive content. Carter’s cred comes from heavy-duty industry and tech experience, including a high-profile managerial relationship with Lady Gaga.

But let’s see what happens next: Spotify previously indicated that artist exclusives are ‘bad for artists, bad for fans.’ And we haven’t seen any major exclusives from Spotify as of yet.

But back to the current battlefield: publisher royalties. And the first strike by Apple is a strategic no-brainer. Increasing songwriter royalties will get the attention that Apple wants from content creators, and paint a stark contrast to the confusing, frustrating royalty picture at Spotify. Indeed, Spotify has been spending the last months battling mega-lawsuits from songwriters while desperately negotiating with publishers over unpaid mechanicals.

Apple, striding into that messy scene on a pristine white horse, is now offering a comfy, guaranteed payment that simplifies it all — with a simpler, fatter check for everyone.

What does this mean for Spotify?

Well, we know Apple can afford to pay out more, hence the proposal. But will Spotify be able to keep up with the payments, and is this going to be detrimental to the future growth of the service? Indeed, Apple is eyeing a hearts-and-minds victory while starving its over-leveraged enemy.

Bear in mind, Apple has the ability and scale to inject large amounts of cash into funding artist videos, revamping the platform, and adding more features without the need for debt financing. Spotify, on the other hand, is tending a dangerous cash bonfire, with a recent $1 billion convertible debt tranche required to maintain its ambitious expansion. Apple knows quite well that increasing royalty rates may result in Spotify struggling to keep up. More cynically, some are now speculating that despite trying to promote themselves to rights holders, this was just a simple tactic to drain Spotify’s cash supply.

All of which brings us back to Spotify’s battle against massive litigation over non-payment of mechanical licenses, which is part of the publishing payout. When it comes to Spotify, songwriters and publishers have been complaining over a lack of transparency in payouts. They simply can’t make sense of what they’re getting paid. By advocating a set royalty payout, the service is giving songwriters and publishers the transparency that they’ve longed for. And the villagers rejoice.

Yet another layer of complexity comes from ‘freemium,’ a controversial free tier that Spotify believes is a critical pipeline to premium. Perhaps, but Spotify is under heavy pressure to make artists believe and support their business model, one that includes both a free ad-supported and a premium paid tier. Unlike Spotify, Apple Music doesn’t have a free tier, and this is what sets the two services apart. It’s also what artists find appealing about Apple Music — their art remains valued and served to paying customers. That alone has helped Apple Music secure its reputation as a more artist friendly platform.

With this, and an increased royalty rate, Apple Music may well have the ability to expand quickly and overtake Spotify.

Big Data May Soon Be the Next Big Boss in the Music Industry

Once upon a time, music industry insiders and observers believed that technology and the Internet were slowly destroying the music business. Between illegal music downloads and high prices for CDs, music consumers had turned away from the age old successful model of paying for music in favor of a cheaper and more convenient way. Music companies tried to change with the times but were late to do so. Apple made some headway with its now- famous iTunes and streaming music services offered still more promise as a means to the end of distributing music to any electronic device at any place and time. Yet something was still missing that the music industry desperately needed to truly make online music both efficient and profitable, as these downloading services like YouTube and Spotify were free or mostly free.

Enter Big Data and technology, which have come riding to the rescue of the once-beleaguered music business and model. In their wake have come numerous changes to the business, not the least of which is the fact that the stogy-smoking record company executives have given way to coffee swilling techy kids. Technology and the world of music are now joined at the hip once again, thanks in no small part to this transfer of power from the old guard to the newer generation, and also to the capabilities brought to the table by Big Data and its constant ally analytics.

Big Data has been utilized to totally transform the ailing music business so much that a person who looks back on the industry only twenty years ago would no longer recognize it. This is not just about online music downloads and streaming music. This is a total metamorphosis in the way that listeners and record labels both connect and interact.

A great example of this is the way that Big Data has enabled the music industry to finally understand who exactly purchases their CD’s (or in the past, cassette tapes or LP records). Downloading, long considered the enemy of music and artists as it took revenues away from them, has now become a savior of sorts. Thanks to downloading of music tracks, the record companies now can say with certainty for the first time ever who is listening to what and what their listening habits and preferences are, as Amazon has long done with books and reading habits and interest.

The streaming model of music opens up the proverbial information gates to those interested in listening to the big data. Thanks to the power provided by programs like OLAP on Hadoop, data including who, how, when, and where everyone is listening to music is now available. Big Data makes it possible to understand both the customers and their interests, and also the music and how it relates to other music. Using this technology, algorithms are able to predict what musical tracks listeners would like to hear or buy next, and even to predict what particular music will be popular in the future.

It works like this. Music is digitizable, which means that it can be tangibly analyzed and measured with sufficient computing power and Big Data. A project called the Musical Genome Project that began in 1999 structured the data of music manually and with computer automated algorithms. With 450 different data points gathered on all 30 million songs in the database, they have been able to compare tracks against each other and make algorithmic decisions about what other specific musical tracks the listener will want to hear next, and also in the future. Pandora developed this groundbreaking Big Data-powered musical project and prospered for years as a result with their market-leading Pandora streaming music offering.

Pandora’s long-term rival Spotify has furthered this technology another step. By purchasing The Echo Nest and its technology, they are able to perform this musical data analysis with an almost entirely automated protocol. Besides the useful process of working with powerful algorithms to deconstruct, analyze, and categorize music, it also crawls through the Internet to gather information on bands and artists and their recordings to consider in the analytics.

Predicting the future is the name of the game in music. This is not just about what the listener wants to hear and download next, but more importantly what he or she will like in the future. The next hit band, artist, and song may be discovered by this all-important ability of Big Data.

Already at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, researchers have demonstrated that an algorithm they created can forecast with relative accuracy the number position of where various dance records will finish on the chart Billboard Dance Singles. Using its potent analysis of every record that charted from the years 1985 to 2014, Big Data took this thirty years of musical interest to come up with a forecast for the records that would chart in the top 10 for 2015 with minimally 65% accuracy. For seven of the charting 10, the algorithm demonstrated 70% certainty for which of them would achieve this coveted status.

This speaks volumes for the future decisions of which artists and bands will receive the nod for having records made, released, and marketed by the major players in the music industry. Thanks to the Internet, unheard of artists are now able to build a fan base, then perform, and even sell their music online. Soon these algorithms will be predicting which artists should be backed and become the next big stars. Look out world; Big Data is about to become the next huge hit artists’ big boss.

How Unsigned Artists Are Changing MP3s To Cash

In 1999, when file sharing sites like Napster started to change into standard, the music trade was a thriving market with over $14.5 billion in annual U.S. gross sales alone. Quick forward to right this moment and music sales have declined by almost 50%-a catastrophic loss by any standards. The ease and comfort with which music fans can get free music has completely modified the principles of music advertising and promotion. Whereas this bad news for main report labels, it has created large opportunity for unsigned artists.

Because the music trade fights for its life, many internet-savvy artists are beginning music blogs and advertising their music directly to fans. Ironically, the key to their success is just not in promoting new music blog, but making their songs available as free downloads on their very own blogs. Taking a web page from entrepreneurs like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (who amassed a fortune of over $ 4 billion gifting away “free” internet pages), these artists have discovered the best way to become profitable in music by giving it away. This is the way it works:

The first step is beginning a music blog. Utilizing free WordPress software–a powerful, but extraordinarily ease to make use of running a blog platform–artists can easily create a blog on their very own domain names with out having to be taught a single line of code. For the reason that software and domain names are free, their solely overhead is the month-to-month fee charged by their web hosting company (typically less than $10 per 30 days). The whole course of might be done by a whole novice in lower than 10 minutes. After another 1/2 hour or so spent selecting a free theme and putting in free plugins, they’ve a fully-functional, skilled-trying blog.

Next, they arrange a number of internet pages. An artist bio, a contact page and web page the place followers can listen to and obtain MP3s are fairly standard. Photos and videos are optionally available, but positively recommended. Depending on the amount of content material you need to add initially, this could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Finally, they set up a number of income streams on their blogs by signing up for various promoting networks and online marketing programs. This enables them to earn cash from the actions of followers who visit their web site to obtain the artists’ songs.

With this fundamental framework in place, all that’s left to do is start publishing and selling more music-related content. If properly executed, the artists can start generating net site visitors (and money) in a matter of few days.

It’s a near-excellent enterprise mannequin for unsigned artists. Music is used as a form of social foreign money–“MP3 money”, so to talk–which artists can use to “buy” fans. The more fans they will attract by giving freely free MP3s, the more passive revenue they’ll earn by followers clicking on advertisements posted by varied firms in their advertising network or shopping for products from the affiliates.

With a strong understanding of internet/music marketing and promotion, even mediocre artists are managing to earn a dwelling from music while fully bypassing commercial radio, mainstream media and main report labels.

Clearly not every unsigned artist might be successful with this approach. Most do not have a clue how one can go about it. However for the ones that take the time to study, they stand to make so much more money on-line than many standard artists earn from file sales these days.

Bandcamp Has Paid Artists $150M Since It Launched

Bandcamp has become a beloved ally of artists. But how much is this platform actually paying?

Bandcamp launched in 2008 as an artist-friendly platform, a move that quickly changed the space while edging out then-contenders like Topspin. The privately-owned company has grown from a modest two people in a local library, to a team of 28 who pride themselves on compensating artists fairly.

Now, the company boasts approximately 1 million registered fans, and since 2012, Bandcamp has been operating profitably and remains entirely self-funded. In total, Bandcamp now says they’ve paid artists a hefty $150 million over the past 8 years, and $4.3 million in the last 30 days.

That works out to more than $50 million a year, and represents a slow, steady growth.

Bandcamp sells everything from artists merchandise such as clothing, vinyl, posters and tickets. The company offers independent artists more control and flexibility as they choose their own price points, and even the conditions around free streaming and download giveaways. Of the products it sells, for artists Bandcamp generally takes a 10 percent cut of physical sales and 15 percent cut of digital, which is in line with companies like CD Baby.

Bandcamp started in a digital download era, an environment that has been quickly turned upside down. The rise of streaming subscription services, which skyrocketed in 2015, has now transformed the way fans consume and pay for music. That is eroding interest in downloads, though dedicated fans always want more. In that context, Bandcamp is growing and has managed to stay afloat despite the enormous wave of streaming services entering and dominating the market.

Part of Bandcamp’s durability may be due to the fact that independent artists are treated more fairly and have the capability to be compensated for their music on the platform. That is far more difficult to achieve on streaming services where per-stream plays are low.

Time and money are biggest worries for artists

A survey of over 300 independent artists has revealed key concerns but also offer a sense of possibility and prosperity for the future.

Inspirations, worries, habits and goals are shared in the latest report from Auspicious Art Incubator whose latest survey received over 300 submissions from independent artists.

Research found that independent artists are among the lowest paid, with a mean annual income of $18,000 and a median income of just $7,000 from their creative practice.

Compiling responses from artists working across painting, ceramics, digital, graphic design, printmaking, theatre, dance, circus, comedy, poetry, literature and more, the Auspicious Arts Incubator report represents a ‘voice of the independent sector.’

Seventeen per cent ​of respondents reported ‘trying to do this all alone’ as a major worry. Lack of income, support, and the devaluing or limited understanding of creative work outside the arts sector perpetuates the feeling of isolation for independent artists.

‘Not surprisingly money, time and business skills stand out as things that are worrying all of us,’ said John Paul Fischbach, CEO, Auspicious Arts Incubator. ‘The interesting thing is that money is only slight in front of “trying to do this all alone”. We are really “inter-dependent” artists as well as “independent” artists.’

Time was also a major concern, and learning how to value our time as creatives can present a challenge when the boundaries between passion, work and life are blurred.

As previously reported by ArtsHub, creating a ‘bank account’ for your time, learning to say no, and recognising time is a precious resource are some strategies to improve time management.

Common challenges and shared destructive habits also included procrastination, working for free, and making time for art-making.

‘Working outside of the art business means I don’t always make time for the art business,’ reported one respondent.

Forty per cent of artists reported having a part-time day job outside their practice, with 21% working a full-time job and 39% solely working on their practice.

Knowing how much to charge and fielding what feels like an onslaught of requests to work for free is a perpetual challenge for creatives. One respondent described wanting to commit to the habit of ‘charging for my time and not doing anything for “exposure”.’

Respondents also came back with possible solutions to making changes to their work habits such as ‘Devote specific time to my art making and don’t let other work get in the way,’ and ‘Say yes to work and artists/employers who are respectful of my work and time.’

Finding a mentor was also mentioned as one method of overcoming challenges and navigating a career as an independent artist.

Looking ahead to what is most needed to grow their business and practice in 2016, artists reported common areas ​requiring development as help with the bigger picture, running the business, marketing and resources.

Proactive solutions are reflective of the innate optimism, sense of possibility and courageousness found in the independent sector.

‘The vibe I picked up from this year’s responses is one of possibility. In 2015 we set and achieved goals. We felt creative, inspired and alive, while at the same time feeling doubt, dependency and recognising that we were a bit undisciplined,’ said Fischbach.

What may appear to be a precarious time for the independent artist is also one of opportunity, Fischbach believes.

‘This is our time. All of the structures have been disrupted. Independent musicians and writers have taken back the power from the labels, visual artists can reach their customers without galleries and performing artists are building audiences outside of the mainstream venues,’ he said.

‘We are living at an interesting time when we can choose to play “inside the system” and get recognition and validation from the established order and be entrepreneurial and set up our art as a business operating on our own terms with our own measures of success,’ concluded Fischbach.


‘Sync’ Revenues Quietly Earning Millions for Indie Artists…

Great news for indie artists: Tunecore has revealed a 47% increase in publishing revenue last year, fueled by a handsome 57% jump in sync revenues.

Conventional methods for earning revenue from music dried up ages ago, and the industry’s magic time machine is showing little promise of revitalizing CDs and iTunes downloads. That means trusty mechanical publishing licensing is also down the toilet, despite the ongoing legal wars involving Spotify and other streaming services.

But other publishing licenses are showing modest growth. That includes video-related publishing earnings, with the licensing fees from TV, commercials and movies one small growth story.

Synchronization, or ‘sync’ licensing, has been a niche-but-growing revenue stream for independent artists for years, and lucky bands can earn handsome payouts on the right deal. It’s ‘all or none’ in many situations, unless it’s stock audio or background music. But thankfully, top-level cash is increasing in this sector: according to Tunecore, one of the largest digital distribution services for indie artists, sync revenue improved a sizable 57% in 2015, thanks to increased inclusion of lesser-known works in a number of video categories.

This has been going on for some time, with up-and-coming artists appearing in iPod ads and Super Bowl commercials since the early 2000s. Indeed, it’s not just the mainstream artists that can gain healthy payouts from sync deals, though there’s certainly cash for established acts as well.

Outside of Hollywood films, commercials, and TV shows, there are plenty of other avenues to explore for indie, established, and legacy artists alike. iGaming is another industry where musicians can and are earning royalties, with plenty of different players licensing music or generating original scores. Net Entertainment is one active player in this space, with the company just announcing the release of its mobile-based Jimi Hendrix Slot, just one of a growing selection of legacy artists that also includes Motörhead.

And if you’re connecting strongly with a coveted demo like 18-24 males? Watch out: brands and advertising agencies will be very receptive to your pitches, or even contact you themselves.

What is The #1 Problem in the Music Industry?

What is the #1 problem in the music industry? Is it a lack of music talent? No. Is it a lack of creativity or innovation? No. Is it a lack of artist development? No. Is it a lack of smart and competent people to promote and market the music? No. The number one problem in the music industry is: Lack of transparency.

In July of 2015, the prestigious Berklee College of Music released a report entitled “Transparency and Money Flows.” The 28-page report gave details about what it called a “lack of transparency” in the music business.

The report made a shocking discovery: “That anywhere from 20% – 50% of music payments don’t make it to their rightful owners.” In other words, up to HALF of the money owed to Artists is not getting to them.

Why is this happening? The reason is because the music industry is “not transparent” when it comes to business and money. What is transparent? Transparent is when you are able to see through a thing. Transparent is when something is easy to notice or understand. Transparent is being honest and open.

Transparent is not being secretive. Transparent is being free of deception. Transparent means information is visible or accessible concerning business practices. From the Latin words “Trans” + “Parere” = To show oneself.

So if the Music Industry is not transparent, then what is it? The Music Industry is the opposite of transparent. When something is not transparent it is described as: cloudy, hazy, imprecise, murky, nebulous, sketchy, vague, illegible, undecipherable, unreadable, ambiguous, cryptic, enigmatic, mysterious, not obvious, obscure, unapparent, unclarified, unclear, incomprehensible, unintelligible. And as the rapper Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest would say: “Music Industry Rule number 4,080: Record company people are SHADYYY”

Is this lack of transparency intentional? Are music industry people trying to keep things unclear, on purpose? Why is it rare to find “errors” that go in favor of the artist? Why do “mistakes” with money usually benefit the record labels, managers, lawyers, everyone but not the artists? Regardless if it’s done on purpose or not, the end result is the same. By keeping business matters unclear, it makes it easier for an artist to be taken advantage of and not get their money.

Robert Greene, the author of 48 Laws of Power and The 50th Power, is famous for writing books about power, politics, and getting ahead in cut-throat environments, by any means. His books are extremely well researched, spanning hundreds of years of history, different cultures, and countries. Mr. Greene was once asked what he thought about the music industry. His response was:

“There is not a single more Machiavellian environment than the music industry, on this planet. It makes Hollywood look like kindergarten. It is ruthless. It is the Game of Thrones times five… it’s a shark infested environment.”

He’s right. It is hard to survive financially in the music industry. It’s like a horror movie. Monsters and vampires. Vampires out for your neck! The vampires I am referring to are manipulative people who drain others of their money and fulfill no apparent purpose. Vampires nourish themselves at another’s expense: One person gains, and the other person loses. The vampire metaphor describes a person who takes another’s energy to sustain their own life. Vampires must prey on others.

You must be able to identify an enemy in order to win the war. This enemy is no different. You must know who is attacking you, so you can be able to mount an effective defense. Many of these vampires will give you material things (recording advances, cars, jewelry, drugs) to keep you in debt and make you feel you owe them something. These are traps. These material “gifts” are very attractive, but you will ultimately find yourself paying way more than it’s worth. What they take from you does not compare to what they give you in return. Just like the rapper Drake says, these are enemies, a lot of enemies, a lot of people trying to drain you of our energy. Vampires are thirsty for blood. And the life blood of any business is cash. In the music industry, artists are getting their blood (cash) drained out of them by these vampires. So what do you need to do to Protect Ya Neck?

What Is The Solution To This Problem?

If shadiness, lack of transparency, and darkness is the problem, then what is the solution? Vampires need the darkness, the shadiness, the murkiness, to do their attacking. Vampires can’t attack you in the sunlight. The one thing vampires fear the most is sunlight. Sunlight is the solution.

Across many cultures sunlight is a symbol of knowledge. And in this case, knowledge is the only thing that will protect an Artist. The vampires in the music industry can’t attack you, and drain your blood (cash) if:

You have Knowledge of how the game is structured
You have Knowledge of how the game works
You have Knowledge of what duties and roles people play in your career
You have Knowledge of the most common ways vampires attack
You have Knowledge about how to implement your goals

The Light of Knowledge is your defense. Artists without knowledge about the Music Industry get exploited and drained of their money. It’s that simple. The vampires draining an artist are not, all of a sudden, going become transparent on their own. Why would they do that? They have no incentive to change or be transparent. The only way to get results is if you know what you are looking for, if you know what to ask for, if you know what you are entitled to get, and if you know what steps to take to get what you want.

Do you think someone would be successful if they opened a car dealership, with no knowledge or understanding of that business? It takes more than being able to drive a car to run a successful car dealership.

To be successful in the car dealership business, a person has to have Knowledge of how a car dealership works.

Same thing with the Music Industry. You may love music. You may be really good at playing an instrument, singing, or rapping. You may be able to produce an amazing beat that gets everyone in the club dancing. Does that mean you are now also equipped to be successful, as a business, in music? The answer is clearly no.

Having talent in music does not translate to talent in business. Just like talent in business does not translate to talent in music. It’s tough to be successful in any business, when you are not informed about that specific business. It’s tougher when the people around you, whom you have hired to be help you run your business, are also not informed. It’s even tougher when the people you hire to advise you, are not giving you advice that benefits you. It’s most tough when your business partners are not being transparent, and not giving you the money that is rightfully owed to you.

Record labels, music publishers, managers, talent agents, and other players in the music industry have some of the best business and legal minds working for them on their contract negotiations. These guys have very smart, sharp, aggressive lawyers and business executives on their team. And there’s usually more than one of them. This is who an artist is going up against. You may think the music industry is not a competition. But I guarantee you that someone else does view this as a competition, and they will use whatever tools they have to win.

The vampires come in all forms. And they are usually closer to you than you expect. It has become normal to read in the news about artists suing their record labels, suing their managers, suing their business managers, suing their own family, because of abusive business practices. The proof is in the headlines:

“Rihanna sues her Accountant for $35 Million for mismanaging her money”
“Beyonce fires her Manager for stealing money from her tour”
“Lil Wayne files $51 Million lawsuit against his Record Label for unpaid royalties”
“Eminem is suing his Record Label for miscalculating digital sales of his music”
“Ronald Isley sues his Booking Agent for taking $300,000 in concert deposits”

Are you prepared? Is your team prepared? If you are not in this to win, then why are you playing? Inevitably, an artist without knowledge of the business will get abused. They will have their money drained. They will cry to the world “I got screwed over by the music industry!” Playing the victim role is lame. It’s never good to be a loser in a game. It’s cool to be the winner. The music industry is no different.

In the information age, the side that is more informed, wins. The winner gets the prize, which is financial freedom. There are a lot of people making money from the work of an artist. As mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, 20% to 50% of money due to an artist goes to someone else. If you are an artist and worked so hard to create your art, don’t you want the money that is rightfully yours? To be one of the best in any business, you must be informed and you must have a strong team on your side.

The most successful artists are the most knowledgeable about the business side. Smart Artists know how to keep the best advisors around them. Smart artists know how to select business partners, they know what those partners are supposed to be doing, and they know how to keep everyone accountable.

SOURCE: Chris Farrad

6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Music Industry (That Actually Apply to You)

1. You cannot copyright a song title

“Copyright law does not protect names, titles, short phrases, or expressions. -US Copyright Office”

2. You have the right to record any song that has previously been released

This falls under Compulsory Mechanical Licensing Law. Of course, you DO need to obtain the proper licenses to release and sell covers.

3. There is money in the music industry

The internet gave us access to hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people with a click of a mouse. This was never available to previous generations, and if you can figure out a way to monetize this, it can be highly profitable.

4. You are protected by copyright law as soon as a tangible copy of your song has been made

If you want to be really, really safe, email yourself with your song, therefore there’s a traceable record of your copyright.

5. You are not going to be discovered

We are responsible for creating and nurturing our own audiences.

6. The best musicians are not always the busiest musicians

One of the weird things about music is that it’s really hard to get satisfied with your playing. There’s no real achievement or moment when you’re ready to head out into the world.


Deezer, for example, suffered a failed IPO bid last year after admitting it had just 3.8m ‘revenue-generating’ subscribers – and it actually lost total subscribers in the year.

Rhapsody/Napster is growing by around 100,000 paying subs a month, but still finds itself around 20m subscribers behind Spotify (which is somewhere between 20m and 30m) and around 5m behind Apple Music (estimated to be at around 8m subs).

Not that it’s only the independents at risk.

The likes of Microsoft, for example, might have billions in resources to keep their music project afloat, but if it’s not making the numbers, corporations can easily quit music.

Just looked at Sony, whose own Music Unlimited was unceremoniously scrapped last year, and closed. A partnership was signed with Spotify instead.

The reality is that streaming music is a very expensive business, especially for those not at the top table.

According to Rdio’s recent bankruptcy filing, it was spending an unthinkable $4m in monthly operating expenses when it went bust – across 140 staff, tech costs and royalty payments to rights-holders – while bringing in just $1.65m every four weeks.

That adds up to inevitable disaster.

Not only for the company in question, but its creditors: Rdio, remember, went under owing Sony Music more than $2m.

17 Myths Of The Music Industry

1) Getting A Record Deal Means You Will Be Successful

Did you know that 98% of all acts that sign to major labels fail? Meaning 98 out of 100 artists who actually get the deal don’t recoup enough money to pay for their advance and get dropped before their second (or even first) album is released. Getting a record deal is much riskier than going at your career on your own. Success doesn’t need to mean getting on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, selling out arenas and getting hounded by the paparazzi. It can mean making a comfortable living as a musician. And you don’t need a record deal for that.

2) Windowing Is An Effective Strategy

Windowing means holding off putting your album on streaming services for a window of time to maximize sales. It may have an been effective strategy in 2012. Or not. Taylor Swift windowed. Ed Sheeran did not. Adele did. Mumford and Sons did not. They’ve all done just fine. And broke sales/streams records. But it’s almost 2016. You can’t put your album on iTunes and not Apple Music. Not, you shouldn’t. You literally can’t. Apple won’t allow it. YouTube Red is launching and will kill windowing dead in the water.
If people can’t listen to your album they will move on. All the release day hype and marketing money will be for naught if when people go to check out the album, they can’t. They will forget about you. They aren’t going to spend $10 just to see if they like it. Unless you’re Taylor Swift or Adele, it’s not going to work. If you want a successful touring career, break down the access barriers. And remember, fans aren’t going to pay for music anymore. And that’s Ok!

3) Streaming Is Bad For Music

A CD or download sale is treated equally no matter how great the album is. It’s a one time payment never to be earned on again. Contrast that with streaming. If a song is great it will get played over and over again for years and years. Earning MORE than just a single sale ever could. Streaming pays less initially, but much much more in the long run – if the music is good of course.

4) Getting Your Song On A TV Show Will Shoot You To Stardom

Yeah, it’s cool to get your song on TV. But do you know how many shows there are? And how much music is placed? This isn’t 2007 Grey’s Anatomy. Very few TV shows actually break artists anymore. Commercials on the other hand can help (as made clear by American Authors and Imagine Dragons). And they also pay loads more than TV placements. Like $100,000 more. Yes, licensing can help pay your bills. And give you a bit of exposure. Definitely. But don’t bet the house on TV placements. It’s just one part of the equation.

5) Playing Well Known Venues Will Enable You To Play Other Well Known Venues

Putting on your website that you played The Whiskey means nothing. Everyone knows that if you have $400 you can pay to play any venue on the Sunset Strip. It’s much more impressive if you brought 100 people to a basement house concert than just playing a well known venue. No one cares what venues you’ve played. Except your uncle Joe. And he still thinks you should go on The Voice.

6) You Will Have A Music Career If You Go On A Singing TV Contest Show

Name 10 American Idol finalists. Not even winners. Finalists. There have been 14 seasons. That’s 140 top 10 finalists. And you can’t name 10. Well neither can anyone else. And how many The Voice contestants can you name? These are TV shows. Not career builders. Yes, if you’re smart, you may be able to use it as a launching pad. But most likely you will be locked into horrendous label deals with zero negotiating power and even if you do succeed will probably try to sue them like Phillip Phillips did.

7) Major Record Labels Develop Artists

Hilarious. Labels only want to sign artists who are already successful. Already proven. And even if you pay some lawyer loads of money to ‘shop’ you at labels and convince some hot A&R dude to sign you, you’ll be lucky if you get an EP out. Most labels put out a single or two and if that doesn’t do well (and don’t think they’re going to put Rihanna money behind it), you’re dropped. And even if your album comes out, if it flops, you’re done. This ain’t 1973 where Columbia Records will allow two complete flops because they believe you have Born To Run in you. Labels demand instant success. If you don’t bring it, bye bye.

8) Major Record Labels Are Leading The Music Industry

Sure, they have loads of money still. But leaders, they are not. Their album creation and marketing strategies are paint by numbers. Songwriting camps. Release plans that haven’t changed in 5 years. Today’s album marketing plan should not be the same as last year’s. But at most labels, it’s identical. Labels are the last to come around on everything from downloads to streaming. Labels fight tech in court instead of innovating creative ways to work with the technological developments.

9) If You Book A Show, People Will Show Up.

If you don’t promote your show, heavily, no one will come. Plain and simple. One Facebook event ain’t gonna cut it.

10) Record Sales Matter

Sales are done. Streaming is now more profitable than physical or download sales at Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. And they were done for indie music lovers awhile ago. Indie artists should be working the subscription angle via BandCamp or Patreon along with pre-order, crowdfunding campaigns via PledgeMusic, Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. Sell experiences, merch and other offers on streaming services with BandPage. And of course, diversify the revenue stream. There are so many more ways to make money with music these days above just album sales. Get creative. Take your head out of the f’in sand!

11) If People Stop Paying For Music, Musicians Will Stop Creating It

That was the argument 15 years ago when Napster hit. There is more music now than ever. Musicians create music because we have to. It’s in our soul. You want to pay me $20 for a concert ticket, $20 for a T-shirt, $35 a year for a BandCamp subscription, $250 for a PledgeMusic pre-order package, and $50 for a BandPage offer, but don’t want to pay $10 for a plastic disc or digital files of data? Fine by me!

12) You’re Either A Struggling Artist Or A Superstar

Middle class musicians are the fastest growing group of musicians out there. Just because Uncle Joe hasn’t heard of your band means nothing. Have you heard of his plumbing company? Does that mean he’s not successful? For some reason music is the only profession where people define success by fame. There are thousands of musicians making a living doing what they love who aren’t famous, but are incredibly successful. Success is defined by happiness. Not income. Period.

13) Social Media Is More Important Than Email

Social networks come and go. Email has been the only constant. If you aren’t building your email list, you’re doing it wrong. Kevin Hart attributed selling out Madison Square Garden to his email list. Not Facebook or Twitter. Yes, it’s important to have a presence and engage with your fans on a daily basis on the social networks you feel most comfortable on and where your fans lives, but don’t prioritize it over your email list.

14) If Fans Want To Buy Merch, They’ll Find A Way

Bands b*tch all the time that their fans don’t buy merch. Bull. Maybe yours fans don’t buy merch because you aren’t selling it to them in the right way. Or maybe you have crappy merch. You can’t throw a couple CDs in the corner of the venue and expect people to buy them. If you don’t have a bright display, someone selling your merch (from when doors open to when they close), quality items, and a credit card swiper, you’re missing out on your number 1 tour income generator.

15) ‘The Music’ Is The Only Thing That Matters

Yes, the music, first and foremost, needs to be great. In the streaming age, you can’t throw loads of marketing cash at a pile of shit and expect people to gobble it up. But, unfortunately, great music without promotion means nothing. Indie artists without a team around you have to work extra hard to get your music out there. Just posting it on Facebook and sending it to your email list will not turn your album into a chart topping success. You need an interesting story. You need a cohesive image. You need a marketing budget. You need to tour and/or work YouTube.

16) It Matters What Studio You Record In

The only thing that matters is what your album sounds like, not where it was recorded. Recording vocals through a U47 in Studio 1 at Abbey Road Studios is going to sound nearly identical as recording vocals through a U47 in your bedroom. Pay for the talent, not the room.

17) You Need A Publicist To Get Press

Bloggers prefer being hit up by artists and managers over publicists. Traditional press outlets like newspapers, magazines, radio and TV shows may respond better to publicists with whom they have a relationship, but a manager or artist can be just as effective. Save yourself money, do your own press outreach.

Fame Is Purchased – Why You Need To Pay Professionals In The Music Industry

No I can’t make you famous. No one can. That’s not how this works. So why do people like me need to explain this to musicians all the time? Fame is a very intangible thing – and in this day and age it’s largely purchased. By hiring a producer, manager or promoter you’re probably not going to get famous right away. In fact, even having rad music and an entire team behind you does not guarantee that you will make it. It’s only one step forward. Here’s the thing – we live in a world where fame is bought – and anyone who tells you otherwise, or that it was ‘better back in their day’ is woefully misguided.

Here’s the thing – even bands you love for their underground roots only made it because they dumped tons of money into their art before ever getting big. Black Sabbath never would have made it if they hadn’t all given up their jobs to rehearse full time and lived with their parents. Meanwhile Nirvana couldn’t have released Nevermind if they hadn’t all saved their money by living in shitty apartments and touring all the time to promote their debut record Bleach. Maybe you don’t want that kind of fame – but even self sustaining bands require ridiculous personal investment – personal investment that no one can really give you – you have to do it yourself. Music is hard because you need to put in a ton of money to even reach stability – and more bands need to realize this.

In fact, and I can not emphasize this enough, if you’re just in a band you’re probably never going to make any money at this. Even if you tour Europe and Asia – you will probably only end up self sustaining – or maybe making a couple hundred bucks a year. A guy like Chuck Billy, the singer of Testament, a man who has sold hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of records and headlined tons of festivals realizes this and runs his own management company to compensate. That’s just the nature of the beast – and the sooner you accept that the easier your life will become. Can you build your band with the goal of it being a career? Of course – in fact I would even recommend that. It will help you to establish something special. But don’t think that it will ever come true.

Now a lot of this stuff you can do yourself for free – but you have to realize that it requires a diverse range of skills and will require a ton of your own time. So much so, that it probably isn’t humanly possible after a certain point. Just the level of networking required is so high that in most cases it could drive you insane. Again – such is the nature of the beast. Even with the right sort of friends you’ll probably find yourself forced to take buy-ons and end up on incredibly long tours that are simply punishing both physically and mentally – but that’s a huge part of what makes the triumph at the end of the tunnel so great.

I’m sure you’ve had that old lecture a million times. That the music industry requires hard work and rarely pays off. But here’s the thing – even your friends who are professionals in the music industry are probably barely scraping by and can’t bring you up ‘just because’. They are going to need some money too. They can introduce you to people and help get your name out there – but even your manager is not going to be able to invest a grand into you with the hope that one day it will somehow pay off. Getting professional people around you is just the start of your music career. It’s the baseline that everyone else who does this full time has. It doesn’t mean that you’re superior to anyone, outside of perhaps the local bands you originally found yourself competing with.

These things cost money – this industry is a struggle for a reason. And to be honest – people who are willing to do stuff for free probably shouldn’t be trusted. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t occasionally step up and take one for the team, just to get some connections or life experiences – but as a general rule – if it sounds too good to be true (Or too cheap to be true) then it isn’t. The reason that not everyone is an artist is because it’s a lot of fucking work and the people who have the passion, love, and incredible sense of dedication that you need to have are extremely rare. As Tomàs Doncker likes to say “Everyone is full of shit. Until they’re not.” As I’ve written in previous articles the music industry is capitalism in its purest form – and if you’re not ready to embrace that, then you might as well turn around and go home.

So what does this mean for you exactly? Well, really it just means that you need to take the time to really think about the consequences of your actions and remember that the people doing this professionally need to be paid accordingly. The music industry is no place for coward and it requires a very real sense of ballsiness to make this entire thing work .So be ready to embrace a darker future and one that requires a lot of work to really get going. Be grateful to everyone – they are almost certainly doing the best they can. They are more than just a service though – they are a person too, and they need to be respected, even if they are giving their all for the art. If you conduct yourself with a spirit of maturity, respect and friendliness in this industry then things can only go well – I guarantee it.


Independent or Contract?

Record labels have no problem taking chances on superstars like Beyonce who can release a secret album and make a guaranteed profit but many aspiring artists have to scrimp to even get a single released.

Times are certainly changing though, because with social media providing artists with a platform to promote their music without the push of a major record label, struggling singers are finding that they can actually make it on their own.

Are famous labels like Universal, Sony and even smaller imprints like Young Money and Roc Nation needed as much as they were in the pre-Internet era?

Undeniably, it helps to have the security of a major machine pumping money into all the different areas such as distribution, promotion, studio sessions and music videos.

However, once you delve into the inner workings of major record labels and the contracts these artists sign, it becomes clear the musicians most likely are not reaping the financial rewards themselves.

IBTimes UK recently attended a roundtable hosted at London’s Real Deal Store where a panel of industry insiders discussed the urban music scene and the pros and cons of being an independent artist.

A&R manager at Island Records, Benny Scarrs, stated that while many aspiring musicians may be under the assumption that it is impossible to succeed without the backing of a major label, they are wrong.

He explained: “There are lots of people making music and they get frustrated because they feel like ‘I need a label and [I] need a deal’. You don’t really need a label or a deal.

“I can’t say unanimously because every single situation is different but definitely… There are a lot of people actually making a living and having careers without a major deal. There are pros and cons to doing a major recording deal but it’s not a necessity in this day and age.”

The A&R boss admits that while it can’t hurt to “plug into a big infrastructure”, there are “a lot of artists that are big out there and people think they are signed, but they’re not signed”.

Scarrs is right. Many artists have achieved chart success and global recognition through the use of social media, good music and the funding of their own independent label.

Hip hop act Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had one of the best-selling songs of 2013, with their debut single Thrift Shop peaking at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the first song since 1994 to reach the top spot without the backing of a major label in the country.

The rap duo are signed to their own imprint, Macklemore LLC, but reportedly have a deal with Warner Bros, which sees the major label take a chunk of their sales in exchange for distribution funding for their debut album, The Heist.

The rare partnership worked as the LP soared to number two on the Billboard 200 album chart. Speaking about the deal, Macklemore said at the time: “Warner had never done this. That’s the interesting thing about where the music industry is right now: You have major labels that are willing to take unconventional approaches because the old model is crumbling in front of us. They’re open to it.”

Recent examples of labels brushing aside traditional methods to appeal to the new wave of social media artists, includes the signing of hip hop act Trinidad James. The rapper became an online sensation in 2012 when his single, All Gold Everything, hit YouTube.

With famously very little experience in the music industry and no lucrative record deal, the song charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 and thus, attracted the attention of Def Jam Records who, controversially, signed James to a $2m deal simply off the back of that one track.

It made news everywhere and James, 27, looked set to become the “next big thing” – until there was radio silence in the sense that he did not release any new music and suddenly, he was dropped from the label.

James’s experience is sadly a typical example of the fickle music industry falling out of love with an artist when the money dries up.

Simeon Dixon, previously one half of duo MK1 who appeared on The X Factor in 2012, has also come across the rough side of the industry.

Recalling his experience, Dixon said that after he and his bandmate Charlie Rundle were eliminated from the group, they were temporarily on a high but soon hit a brick wall.

“We were inundated with shows every week, bank account was looking good and we decided to invest a lot of money into our music. We put out a single which went into the charts, but Charlie decided she wanted to pursue her indie music,” the rapper explained.

Dixon admits being on the ITV reality show has its disadvantages with trying to score a record deal due to the reputation that comes with appearing on the competition.

He explained: “Those shows have a stigma and there [are] certain people in the industry that will frown upon you. Especially if you don’t get ‘the deal’ when you come off the show. [We tried] to get single deals but [our manager] was so [bad] that we couldn’t get anything solidified.”

During the discussion, Island’s A&R manager Scarrs mentioned the Young Money label, fronted by hip hop star Lil Wayne, has been able to push the careers of rappers Drake and Nicki Minaj semi-independently.

Young Money, run by parent company Cash Money, is in charge creatively of its artists but receives funding from Universal’s Republic Records.

While it is true YMCMB is one of the most successful hip hop imprints around, being signed to the label is not completely a bed of roses.

British artist Jay Sean was hot property in the UK when he headed over to the States in 2009 and signed to Cash Money. However, each year brought hopes of a huge album with a big promotional push but Sean failed to have a single hit while signed to the hip hop label.

In October 2014, he parted ways and is now going it alone independently. Not to mention both Young Money members Tyga and Lil Wayne are trying to get off the label due to their albums being continuously shelved.

Becoming an independent artist is the direction that an increasing amount of acts are now opting for and Scarrs notes that ultimately, this means more money going directly into their pockets.

Among the perks are few arguments with labels over royalties or the fear of getting dropped without warning despite being signed to a multi single or album deal.

Plus, who needs a major label to take control of promotion when artists now have social media at their disposal to reach fans directly.

Scarrs warns that the instant nature of tools like Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud or YouTube means many artists are overselling or exposing themselves far too quickly before building experience or “amplifying their art”, but he still remains an advocate of musicians stepping out into the great unknown.

Signing to an independent label is by no means an easy route but it does give the artist more control – both creative and financially. If Arcade Fire, Lecrae and Mumford & Sons can make it alone, then surely everyone else can.

SOURCE: Alicia Adejobi

How To Start Your Music Career?

Every year, thousands of people attempt to start their music career. With new technology and online services, this is now a journey that anyone can navigate. Making yourself knowledgeable about the evolving music industry is your key to starting a sustainable and successful music career.

How serious are you about your music career? This question might seem silly, but knowing the answer is essential to defining your personal success. Do you want this to be your side job or your career? Figure this out for yourself and you can approach your career with purpose, and this will be evident in your work.

Create your own music. As an unsigned artist, you can differentiate yourself from other emerging or established musicians by showcasing your original work. Have a repertoire of original songs readily available to showcase and perform. Record your music well; either invest in recording equipment, software or time at a local recording studio. However, the quality of your production is not the deciding factor for a label or manager. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure that you provide labels and managers with the best representation of your sound.

Copyright and protect your music. If you distribute your music online via aggregators or record labels, then you must protect yourself from intellectual property theft and copyright infringement. Copyright can be conducted without a lawyer, maximizing efficiency and reducing expenses. This is a necessity, regardless of the status of your career.

Consider a membership to performing rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. They will work to ensure that royalties are distributed to you appropriately. While it might not seem important in the beginning, the foundation of legal protection is necessary for your music to flourish commercially in the future.

Analyze your current situation in terms of your career status, expectations, and goals. Should you be looking for a manager, aggregator, or label? Managers book shows, put you in contact with labels, and cover public relations, usually at the price of a retainment cost, however certain agreements result in a percentage of your revenue. Aggregators distribute your music efficiently to all the digital retailers and streaming services for a fee. Record labels assume responsibility for distribution, legalities, and marketing for a percentage of your revenue. When finalizing a contract with a label, there are two avenues to consider: Assignment and Licensing. Assignment results in the signing away of all rights to the label in return for extreme support as well as commitment from the label. Assignment ensures trust on both ends as the artist believes the label is fully capable of handling not only their music but their career. On the other hand, the other conclusion is through licensing your music to the label. The artist will be able to maintain their rights to the music, however, the relationship with the label will be weaker as less trust is evident. What you decide will depend on the size of the label that signs you, your desired relationship with your label, and your vision for your music career.

You need to be heard, seen, and constantly thought of. Create a simple webpage that describes who you are, gives upcoming show dates, and links visitors to music and social networking feeds. Your social media presence must be strong if you want to be a relevant force in an extremely competitive industry.


How to Create 5-Year Business Plan For Your Brand

The competitive nature of the music industry is why many musicians either fail to garner the attention they deserve, eventually disappearing from the scene while others give it their all for several years, but to no avail. For the few who do make it, the fame and glory is often short-lived because they failed to define their SMART goals and missed the opportunity to capitalize on their proverbial 15 minutes of fame.

What is SMART?

According to Mind Tools, the mnemonic stands for:

Specific (or significant)
Measurable (or meaningful)
Attainable (or action-oriented)
Relevant (or rewarding)
Time-bound (or Trackable)

Whether you’re a solo artist or a four-man band, here are some ways SMART goal-setting can be used in the development of your five-year business plan:


Start by asking yourself the five Ws that we all know and love:

Who will be involved in the process?
What will you achieve?
When will you achieve it?
Where will you achieve it?
Why are you doing it?
Reasoning: When goals are too vague, it’s impossible to hit the target. Simply resolving to make it big in the music industry won’t cut it. You need a specific set of goals and a detailed plan of execution.

Example of a detailed plan: “Our band (who) will secure a record deal with a major label (who) and produce an 18-track album (what) by May 2018 (when). We anticipate international dissemination (where) to increase exposure and help us generate a revenue stream of $10,000 per month through record sales, appearances and live concerts. We also hope to sell at least 100,000 copies of our album during the first month of its release (why).”


To measure your progress, it’s crucial that you track metrics.

A few examples:

How many tracks per week need to be recorded in order to compile a demo for pitching to record labels?

How many inquiries should be made each week to boost the chances of securing a meeting with a major record label?

What are the monthly proceeds from the revenue generating activities and how can these figures be improved?

How many live events are being booked each month?

What are the average monthly record sales?

Unfortunately, many individuals are tricked into believing that money is the only way to get ahead in your career and life. As a result, “we measure success most often in money and personal fulfillment,” Songhack states. But clearly, there’s more to success than a dollar bill. If your musical career generates a handsome chunk of money, that’s great for you; but if you cut corners during the planning phases, your success won’t last.

While money shouldn’t be your primary concern, it’s still part of the equation; after all, money is literally how you’ll survive, so be mindful of your finances and don’t start spending like you’re a rock star before you’re earning like a rock star.


Are your music goals realistic and attainable over the next five years or too far-fetched? It’s OK to dream big, but you should start on a smaller scale and expand your goals as time progresses.


What’s the purpose of participating in meaningless activities that don’t benefit your career in the music industry? Completing task for the sake of bragging rights is irrelevant, unless of course it adds value to your brand and helps you get one step closer to achieving your goals.


In this case, your time frame is a maximum of five years, so you want to tailor your plan of action to reflect this window. Furthermore, doing so places the pressure on you to get to take action and holds you accountable until you reach the finish line.


5 Truths About Today’s Music Industry That Indie Artists Need To Understand

In the information age in which we live, falsehoods, myths, and misnomers about today’s music business are prevalent. But if you want to get ahead and achieve your goals, you better focus on the realities of the business. Here are five universal truths that all musicians should understand.

1. If you don’t DIY, you die

Music industry professionals (managers, agents, labels, publishers, and more) are attracted to musicians who take initiative and accomplish a great deal on their own first. Given the numerous tools available today for artists to promote their music, there’s simply no excuse for bands, solo artists, and songwriters not to build a story about their careers and generate a small buzz.Remember that no one is going to come save you and whisk you from your garage to superstardom, no matter how special you may think you are. If you want to get to that next level of your career, you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Attract the attention of those who can help you by first helping yourself.

2. There’s a quicker path to wealth than a career in music

Don’t be blinded by the media hype or glamour you see and hear in music videos, magazines, and news shows. The expensive houses, yachts, carefree attitudes, and overnight success stories are often spun to make it look like the music business is an easy path to the good times. The truth is that these “riches” that artists flaunt are often leased, loaned, advanced, or purchased via other businesses and investments just to look the part. Make no mistake: if you’re in it for only the money, you’ll likely have a quicker path to success by being a money manager or a stock broker. As a musician, it could a very long time before you start making a comfortable living in the music business. Thus, be sure that you’re focused on the right things, like making quality music that you’re both proud of and can help you cover your bills. The rest, as they say, is gravy.

3. What you learn is as important as what you earn

It blows me away how so many musicians are interested in what they’re going to get paid before they even have any experience. They grumble about pre-selling tickets to their own shows, recording a song without getting paid, or playing another student’s recital for free. But as I see it, experience is a form of payment. Remember, the more stripes you have on your belt, the more respect you’ll get from more seasoned musicians and industry pros, and the greater chance you’ll have to get paid fairly. So at least in the beginning of your career, it’s not about what you earn, it’s about what you learn.

4. Music is never free

You spend several years writing your songs, thousands of dollars recording your music, and several hundred dollars packaging your album for the marketplace. When all is said and done, you’ve spent thousands of dollars and hours of your precious time. So stop devaluing your music by giving it away for free! Rather, from now on, give your music away “at no cost to the customer” and build value for it. Tell people about the high-quality producers and musicians with whom you worked, the high-tech studio in which you recorded, and the time and love you put into making your record. This way, that CD or USB flash drive you hand out in front of your local club might actually get heard. Pursuing a career in music requires blood, sweat, and money. Nothing’s for free, and you should make sure that people know it.

5. Contracts are meant to be negotiated

After years of hard work, the day will eventually come when contractual offers are presented to you. Congratulations! But don’t be so quick to jump at every deal like it’s a “take it or leave it” situation. First, you should never sign anything that you don’t understand or that you feel rushed or pressured to sign. Second, remember that most contracts are form agreements that are always drafted to favor the other party and are used as starting points for negotiations. That’s right! Most companies (labels, production companies, etc.) expect that you’re going to read, analyze, and ask for contract revisions. In fact, based on their desire to do business with you, and based on your strengths and accomplishments, many companies are prepared to make reasonable concessions. So slow down and remember this: In business (and that includes the music business), you never get what you deserve – you get what you negotiate for.

SOURCE: Bobby Borg