Tag Archive: Music Business

  1. Is DIY the Way To Go?

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    Many artists are turning to labels in the hope they’ll become the superstars they dream of. But sometimes going for a label isn’t the best option. That’s what singer-songwriter Milow thought before he jumpstarted his career. He made the very wise decision to go DIY on everything. This is not only smart, this is also very positive for your career.

    Is DIY the Way To Go?

    Milow is pretty small compared to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. They started off DIY with the knowledge of how powerful the internet can be.

    The Good

    Distribution: You can use an online distributor to distribute your music to the digital and physical stores. This means that you maintain your rights as a musician and get a lot more income than in a label deal with royalties.

    Direct to Fan: You can also build a very close relationship with your fans. Just like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis believed that the power of the internet would be strong enough to build a fanbase. They connected to the fans through YouTube and Tumblr, which was their ‘label’ they used to do their marketing.

    Crowdfunding: This is connected to the last point above. If you’re willing to give your fans an exclusive view of what you’re doing, you can invite them to your crowdfunding website. Just don’t forget that crowdfunding (like Kickstarter, GoFundMe…) isn’t a charity. It’s a pre-sale of the actual work you’re going to deliver.

    Marketing: This can be a good and a bad thing. You have everything in hand if you do it DIY. In other words, you decide what you put out there and have full control of what you want to do. But this also means you have to invest into your own brand. Bear in mind that labels will see this as an ‘advance’ and would ask for the money back at one point.

    Making cover songs can help your career. Milow made a cover of ‘Ayo Technology’ by 50 Cent in 2008 on his acoustic guitar with a videoclip along with it. The Belgian artist got his international breakthrough and got in the top charts in like Finland, Italy, Germany and even Canada.

    Music Rights: With a label they’ll ask you to sign a contract where you have to part ways with your music (giving a piece of your music rights to them). They do this so they can distribute your music etc. You don’t have to do this when you go DIY.

    The Bad

    Funding (for recordings, videoclips…): If you are signed to a label, they will have a budget to promote you or to record your songs. You don’t have this when you go DIY. But then again, this is an opportunity to be very creative with your crowdfunding page.

    Marketing: DIY is a great way to go, but it doesn’t mean that marketing will be any easier. A label has the right connections to get your music to new potential fans. But, the thing about labels is that they won’t (most of the times) sign an artist that doesn’t already have an existing fanbase. If you look at the majors doing marketing campaigns, it doesn’t really feel human and feels more like a well oiled machine.

    Is DIY Right for Me?

    Labels are there to make it easier, but it’s really a choice you have to think about.

    Do you want to invest hours and hours into thinking of strategies to get your music to your old and new potential fans, and probably invest tons of your own money?

    Or do you want to get stuck in advances and probably get no royalties for the first years of your career?

    This doesn’t mean that all labels work the same way, but you have to be careful what you sign in regards of your music.

  2. An Introduction to the Music Industry – Part 2

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    Catch up on part 1 here and find out how you can make money from the rights you own.

    An Introduction to the Music Industry - Part 2

    Live Performance

    Unlike copyright, which can be harder to understand, the are two other forms of revenue streams that artists will use. These two forms of making money are Live Performance and Fan Relationship.

    To make money from Live Performance is to simply monetise live performances in front of people. However, ticket income is not the only stream of revenue within the live performance setting, for instance money can be made from:

    • Tickets
    • Ticket commissions
    • Ticket resale mark-ups
    • Food and drink
    • Other services – i.e. cloak room, parking, VIP.
    • Sponsorships – the live sector has the most revenue wth brands (i.e. O2, branded beers at gigs).

    As a an artist’s fan base grows and have greater success and exposure, the live setting will change (naturally getting bigger). Here are the steps that most artists and bands traditionally follow as their live setting changes:

    1. Self promoted gigs, pay to play.
    2. ‘Gig’ or ‘Club’ nights, festival new bands stages.
    3. Club and pub venue touring, festival stages.
    4. Theatre venue, festival main stages – this is the stage where artists will start to make ‘real’ money.
    5. Arena touring, potentially headline slots at festivals
    6. Stadium touring, headlining festivals.

    Fan Relationship

    In the digital age, as record sales diminish and the popularity of streaming services have drastically increased, using a fanbase as a source of revenue has become a major focus for new bands and artists. With the use of social media, artists now have a way of communicating with their fanbase and to get to know them better. This means that artists can find out what the core fans want, and consequently, can find out what to sell to them.

    As an artist, once you have an engaged, growing fanbase, you can start to sell them products and services, such as:

    • A subscription service (i.e. an online fan club)
    • Signed records
    • Deluxe records (with extra content such as, B-sides, demos, acoustic versions etc.)
    • Premium merchandise

    Using the combination of you (the artist), your music and your live shows, you can sell content, experiences and a relationship to your fanbase. In addition, if a sizeable fanbase is created, brands and companies may want to start a partnership with the artistic order to reach that audience, as well as exposing you to their customers.

    These three revenue streams are all built on and rely upon building a group of core fans. To provide them with content, different experiences and an ongoing, engaging relationship, artists will usually have to depend on creating partnerships with other roles within the music industry.

  3. An Introduction to the Music Industry – Part 1

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    The music industry can be a mysterious place. It’s important to what what each area of the industry does and how you can earn a living.

    An Introduction to the Music Industry - Part 1

    Intellectual Property

    Intellectual property is based around Copyright. Copyright is present in all forms of intellectual property, from film to music to journalism. Although the specifics can vary from country to country,  usually the creator owns all the rights. Unless the creator is employed to create something, in which, the employing company would own the rights. In each creative industry, especially the music industry, there are many rights that can be owned by different parties (the artist, songwriter, record label etc.).

    There are several rights involved in a singular release (single, E.P., Album). Here is an explanation to what they grant the rights to and who would own these rights:

    • Song Rights: Covers Musical Composition, Lyrics, Performance rights and Publishing Rights (mechanical rights, print rights, synchronisation rights).

    Often owned by the artist or the band. These rights can often be split amongst band music partners, i.e. Elton John (composer) and Bernie Taupin (lyricist), or have joint owners amongst a band, i.e. John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

    • Recording Rights: Covers Recorded Rights, Mastering Rights and Music Videos.

    Often owned by whoever pays for these services, i.e. the record label.

    • Artistic Rights: Covers Artwork and Photography.

    Often owned by the artist or photographer who creates/takes these.

    Making Money and Licensing

    If you own all the rights on a song (excluding artistic rights), you can control:

    • Re-production = re-recording your music.
    • Distribution = distributing your music to stores and streaming platforms.
    • Public Performance = your music being played publicly.
    • Adaption
    • Communication/Broadcasting = your music being played on radio
    • Synchronisation = your music being in film, TV, video games, advertisements and other forms of visual media.

    As the rights holder, you make money by Licensing these. Licensing means giving permission to others to use your property, and so as an artist, songwriter, record label etc. you can sell licenses (permission) for the above actions to other artists and industry members.

    NOTE: Copyright does not last forever i.e. in the UK copyright for recording rights last 70 years, becoming public domain afterwards. However, owners of these rights have found ways to renew these rights. For instance, as the recording rights for specific songs have started to run out, record labels have begun re-releasing music to renew the recording rights (which will last for another 70 years in the UK).

    Trademark

    People often get Trademark and Copyright mixed up, however unlike Copyright (which is automatically in place), to trademark something registration is required.

    There is no copyright in the name of an artist or band, however artists and bands can register their names for trademark (requesting which sector you are protected, i.e. Oasis – Band, Oasis – drink and Oasis – clothes retailer). Artists who trademark their name in entertainment can license their name to fashion, perfume, beer etc. For artists that reach a certain level of ‘success’, a lot of money can be made from trademark licensing.

    Artists and Bands may look to have the following trademarked:

    • Names
    • Logos
    • Slogans

    NOTE: Certain words cannot be trademarked, for example: swear words, key religious figures, city names.

    Part 2 covers how to make money from live performances and from an engaged fanbase.