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Focusing on your music vs. focusing on your business
Old 20th November 2007
  #1
Gear nut
 

Thread Starter
Focusing on your music vs. focusing on your business

Derek, Patrick, and Peter,

Thanks for participating in the forum!

If a musician must choose between making great music on one hand, or being their own interactive ad agency, distributor, PR person, and booker on the other ... what should they choose?

More specifically, it seems that there are increasing opportunities for musicians to handle their own business. There are many businesses built around catering to this market (Sonicbids, CD Baby, etc.) If someone sticks to a plan, and works tirelessly to execute that plan, good things will come their way if the music is decent. Sure, you wont be popping open Crystal in your Humvee, but things will be ok.

That said, the DIY approach seems to suck a lot of life out of people. You spend a great deal of time being a business person, and less and less time actually making music. Anyone who has replied to 300 MySpace emails knows what I'm talking about

So, as business people what do you think? If someone's time is better spent programming their website, or booking their shows, or doing PR, should they make music a hobby and become a programmer, booker, or PR agent? Or put another way, do you think DIY is what happens to musicians when they can't find enough people who believe in them, and don't want to screw them over?

Thanks in advance

John
Old 21st November 2007
  #2
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
 
PeterTuneCore's Avatar
 

There's no one answer to this, Astorian, everyone has different levels of free time, tolerance for "sleeves up" work and available cash. But that's a good thing, because each service, each "element" of a traditional label's service, from CD replication/duplication to posters to booking to digital distribution, has become available from many different sources.

So you can DIY the things you want, and work with services for others. Best of all worlds indeed.

--Peter
peter@tunecore.com
Old 21st November 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
 
dan p's Avatar
 

I ghost write for someone else's biz.He hires me for the styles he cannot do and hires whoever else he needs as subcontractors.Imo his music he does by himself is never as good as when we work on it together,but he certainly wraps his mind around the biz first and puts his best foot forward when he works by himself.That is why he is successful.The biz is a larger part of being successful.Music accounts for a small percent of the big picture unfortunately.

Dan p
Old 21st November 2007
  #4
Founder CD Baby
 
Derek Sivers's Avatar
 

Smile spend all your time on the stuff on YOUR unique contribution to the world

Ooooh, John you hit on a favorite topic of mine.

How you choose to spend your time makes ALL the difference in the world.

Please read my thoughts on this, here:

CD Baby: Be a novice marketer, not an expert

CD Baby: If this is draining your energy, please stop!

CD Baby: Compass in Your Gut

This was my biggest inspiration when starting CD Baby : that I wanted to help my fellow musicians spend as much time on the music itself, and as little time as possible on the boring monotonous stuff that someone/something else can handle for you.

As a musician, you should spend as much time as possible doing the things that only you can do.

You've got one life to live, and it flies by fast. Don't waste it clicking a mouse. Don't waste it doing monotonous things that someone else can do for you.

Somewhere there is someone whose unique contribution to the world is that they're a great webmaster, or promoter, or programmer, or road manager. Find them, and let them do that for you, so that you can spend all your time on the stuff on YOUR unique contribution to the world : the stuff that excites you the most.

Sorry for the rant, but I think about this every day of my life.
Old 23rd November 2007
  #5
Lives for gear
 
chet.d's Avatar
 

This very topic and the incongruity that the business side of music presents to all musicians, especially these days, is what continually thwarts my ostensible well being.

I don’t mean to get all dramatic but I have not been able to find a way (or should I say the money) to be able to find the “balance” between the music and the business.
Also, the means to pay for services such as people that do promotion, getting music to publishers / music supervisors, media, radio, etc. has been an allusive part of my budget.
I simply suck at the business part of it all, and yes I’ve really tried though that “drained” feeling quickly comes over me that Derek spoke of.

It’s around this time that I remind myself of the life of the writer Spinoza and how he wrote at night and worked his lens grinding job by day. Being satisfied to feel the rewards of his writing without the accolades of many…though his friends of influence made sure his writings in his desk did not die when he did….An advantage of having friends of influence that most of us don’t have.
Also, his stuff was “that good”.

And after all, doesn't the meaning ultimately ensue the sharing of good art?

Derek, I really appreciate what you provide for artists and I am thankfully a part of cdbaby. I often have thought how nice it would be if there was a “promotion” type of equivalent / counterpart to cd baby. i.e.: a service one could pay for that would provide specific promotion services, though these services would inevitably be governed by the quality of the music of course, and perhaps be challanging to define.

I like to think if something is really that good it will become realized and appreciated though it’s got to at least reach an appreciable number of people somehow, some way.
Old 24th November 2007
  #6
Founder, CEO, President - Tunecore
 
Jeff Price's Avatar
 

Peter is right. I wish there was an easy answer and we could just say "if you play it, they will come", but that would be wrong.

You have to work to reach goals. Nothing of value comes easy. So the question is, how do you get there.

Well, the first thing to do is define the goals you are trying to reach. Do you want to make a living doing it with music? If so, what are the possible income streams - gig income, merchandise sales, master use licensing, public performance royalties, digital streaming royalties, pure net popularity, music sales, mechanical royalties etc

It's VITAL to learn how the industry works as this will direct your path and choices.

Once you have decided what your goals are (i.e. I want it all vs. I want to make money on the road vs. a combination of some or all of these choices) you can then move forward with a plan.

Keep in mind, in the old days an artist had NO CHOICE - they HAD to go via a record label to reach most (if not all) of these goals. These days this is no longer the case, you now have a choice and can do it on your own (look at Eric Hutchinson as a recent example. Unsigned artist that used TuneCore and went to #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in the third week of September. Now one of the top selling unsigned bands of all times on iTunes, selling over 100,000 songs in three weeks)

BUT - here is the BIG difference. In the old days, you HAD to accept deal terms from a label for its services where the label would take ownership or control of your master recordings AND each time your music sold it would make money ( a "backend" model" ). However, they provided access and services you could not gain access to.

This is no longer the case - you can now get all the services and, via TuneCore etc, worldwide distribution into the top digital stores while keeping all your rights and all the revenue from the sale of the music via a non-exclusive agreement that you can cancel at any time.

With the distribution piece set, the music created and inventory management not needed (virtual shelf with virtual inventory that replicates on demand) it now becomes a matter of marketing and promotion.

You can choose to do the marketing and promotion yourself - does this take time, YES! It takes time, it takes work. There is no way around it. However, you can now CHOOSE which way you want it to happen.

1) You can do it yourself
2) you can still try to sign to a label and have them do it for you (but be aware of the rights you will have to give up)
3)you can hire other people to do it for you (a "manager" who take a % of you money each time money is generated)
4) You can hire people for a flat fee to do certain things for you
5) You can get "free" help from fans
6) A mixture of the above

WIth the net you also now have the luxury of time - in the old days, major labels would usually give a release 6 to 8 weeks to see some results. These days, that no longer applies. You can start slowly, build friends or seed iTunes with iMixes, put up demos and email fans from within iTunes, get your music into LastFM or create an iLike page etc

Revenue will start to come in, then you can hire an on-line marketing company (i.e. Toolshed as one example) and gain more traction, then hire a publicist (i.e. Welcome: Team Clermont - Indie PR and radio promotion as one example) - with revenue coming in, and the luxury of time you can build and develop then hire people to work for you.
Old 24th November 2007
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Jeff,
What you forgot to mention : it takes money, lots of it ! (assuming you don't just want to do it as a hobby and that you want to make a decent living as an artist)

As great as services such as Tunecore, CD Baby, etc. are, it seems to me like you're simplifying what a label really does.

I'm assuming these services work well for a niche artist whose music is not mainstream, and who already has thousands of dollars required to finance the startup costs of his/her career such as touring and promo, recording, merchandising, etc.

My question is : how can Tunecore or similar services help an artist who just so happens to write mainstream oriented pop/rock and who wants to make a decent living, but does not have thousands of dollars lying around to hire the necessary people to do what he/she can't do while writing, recording, producing and mixing his/her own music, as well as playing shows ?

Do services like Tunecore spend upwards of $ 1 000 000 on radio promotion ?

Do they get you interviews in magazines and press ?

Do they give you tour support ? Try going out on tour on your own, with no money to pay a band, rent a van, sound guy, hotels, travel expenses, gas, etc. It sounds easier than it really is.

I have the impression major label bashing is popular these days but for some artists who don't have the financial means to go about it on their own, they're still the most practical way to access the mainstream market. Sure you give up something but you also get a lot in return.

Am I completely out of touch here ? Anyone who has experience with major labels vs doing it on their own want to chime in ?
Old 24th November 2007
  #8
PDC
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dantheman360 View Post
Jeff,
What you forgot to mention : it takes money, lots of it ! (assuming you don't just want to do it as a hobby and that you want to make a decent living as an artist)

As great as services such as Tunecore, CD Baby, etc. are, it seems to me like you're simplifying what a label really does.

I'm assuming these services work well for a niche artist whose music is not mainstream, and who already has thousands of dollars required to finance the startup costs of his/her career such as touring and promo, recording, merchandising, etc.

My question is : how can Tunecore or similar services help an artist who just so happens to write mainstream oriented pop/rock and who wants to make a decent living, but does not have thousands of dollars lying around to hire the necessary people to do what he/she can't do while writing, recording, producing and mixing his/her own music, as well as playing shows ?

Do services like Tunecore spend upwards of $ 1 000 000 on radio promotion ?

Do they get you interviews in magazines and press ?

Do they give you tour support ? Try going out on tour on your own, with no money to pay a band, rent a van, sound guy, hotels, travel expenses, gas, etc. It sounds easier than it really is.

I have the impression major label bashing is popular these days but for some artists who don't have the financial means to go about it on their own, they're still the most practical way to access the mainstream market. Sure you give up something but you also get a lot in return.

Am I completely out of touch here ? Anyone who has experience with major labels vs doing it on their own want to chime in ?
I too wish that some Indie Rep network would make his/her services available to us at a reasonable cost (assuming that the radio, TV and industry could have reasonable lusts for cash/gifts). For now, WE are responsible for routing everyone to TuneCore, CDBaby, etc.

What would it take to make your companies as visible as iTunes? Do your companies strive to move as much product to the consumers? Would there not be a way to coop advertise, with the artists buying in, making for a better investment/return on marketing?
Old 25th November 2007
  #9
Founder, CEO, President - Tunecore
 
Jeff Price's Avatar
 

Here's the fun part...no, it does not take a lot of money and yes you now have access!

This is what is so exciting about what is going on - and its really happening.

This is going to be a long post so please bare with me (and I am cutting and pasting from a Remix Magazine interview with me - just want you all to make sure you know I am plagiarizing myself )

Just to provide some context, I ran spinART Record for 20 years - I released The Pixies, The Eels, Boo Radleys, Apples In Stereo and 200 more titles. Marketing and promotion was a big part of my job. spinART really educated me on how it all worked.

Record labels provide very specific functions for artist

- Advance money to record
- Contribute towards the recording process (find a studio, find producers, have input into the recordings/song creation)
- Manufacture the inventory (make the CDs)
- Market and promote the music
- Provide accounting information (sales/returns)
- Get the CDs into retail stores so they can be purchased by the fan

One of the most important thigns to note is that the traditional music industry is about distribution. Record labels make the CD to give to the distributor. The distributor puts the CD in the store. If a CD is not on a shelf, it cannot sell. The record label then markets the album on the CD to create demand. The physical distributor works to get the CDs on the shelves and keep the album in stock. Stores have a finite amount of shelf space and can only have a limited number of CDs in stock. Physical distributors, amongst many things, warehouse, insure and pick/pack and ship CDs. They also have a sales staff that travel around the country trying to convince retail stores to take in copies (or replenish inventory) of particular CDs.

A band gives up rights to their masters and revenue from the sale of their music to a label in return for the services from the label.

The question becomes, is that relationship still equitable? In other words, does and Artist/Musician need a label in order to have access to all of the things listed above? The short answer is “no”

- Advance money to record

Home recording has never been cheaper and easier. Yes, it still takes some cash outlay, but a high quality multi track mastered, mixed and sequenced album can be made on a home computer very inexpensively

- Contribute towards the recording process (find a studio, find producers, have input into the recordings/song creation)

There is no substitute for experience but with home recording there is no studio clock ticking – you have unlimited time to have your music sound the way you would like it to. In addition, software programs enable you to recreate sounds that you might not otherwise be able to reproduce.

Programs like Amplitube allow you to create guitar sounds without needing the actual amp and/or mic. It might not sound exactly like a Vox AC30, but it is damn close.

There are also programs to change pitch, get your vocals on key and a lot more.

- Manufacture the inventory (make the CDs)

The CD is simply a delivery device that allows someone to hear sound waves if they put the CD into a CD player. The CD player reads the information on the CD and coverts it into information that can be translated into something a speaker can output. People purchase CDs not to have a 5” circular piece of plastic but to be able to hear the music on it. Despite this, the CD is the most important part of the financial equation, without the CD, you cannot sell your album to the fan.

Problem is, there is no guarantee once you make a CD it will sell. And if it does not, you still need to pay for the cost of making it.

Manufacturing inventory up front in hopes that it will sell can be a very financially risky proposition. In addition, you always need to have more sitting in stock to replaces the inventory that does sell.

Enter the digital age. Deliver your album once to a place like Apple/iTuens via a broadband pipeline and the 3rd largest seller of music in the United States today has virtual unlimited inventory that never runs out.

- Now to marketing and promoting the music and band

Music marketing and promotion for a label is either giving your music to someone, or letting someone hear it, in hope they will talk about it to others or buy it.

Traditionally, music was discovered from the top down. That is, there were three ways people could discover music on a mass level: commercial radio, TV and Viacom owned properties (i.e. MTV, VH1, BET) and print magazines like Rolling Stone.

These three outlets would have bands/music pushed to them from the labels. If you were not on a label the possibility of getting exposure from one of these three outlets was virtually impossible.

These outlets would then play / expose the music and then fans would discover it – from the top down.

And success in all three of these media outlets required a lot of money (i.e. make a video, grease the palms of the programming directors at commercial radio stations etc) and took direct relationships and connections.

Once again, enter the digital age. The internet has allowed anyone to have global reach to others. Via a blog, MySpace, YouTube, Pandora, LastFM or countless other sites, any person can spread the word to anyone else that has net access.

Each person in and of themselves has become their own commercial radio station, magazine and/or TV network that can reach tens of millions of people. This allows fans to network with fans – and things spread virally. As an example, TuneCore customer Liam Sulluvian put up a video onto YouTUbe for his song “shoes” (cost to make under $350) and ended up with over 40,000,000 views (more than most tv shows) and sold over 150,000 copies of his song in three weeks. He was asked to appear on TV shows – from the bottom up.

In other words, you no longer need the label to present your music to media outlets to get the exposure, you can create the same opportunity the label can. You have the access AND you can't buy "organic" support.

More examples - OK GO and the Treadmill Dance video. The band did that with $300 and YouTube. Went on to enter the BillBoard Top 20.

Look at TuneCore customer Eric Hutchinson - the best selling unsigned artist of all time within iTunes and #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers charts the third week of Sept., 2007. No radio campaign, no print ads, no video... the blogosphere picked up on him and he went on to sell over 120,000 copies of his songs in just THREE WEEKS!

TuneCore customer Secondhand Serenade - 7 song demo delivered to iTunes by TuneCore for just $20 - with just a few local San Fran tour dates, no publicist, no ads, no radio campaign etc he sold over 200,000 songs in three months. He became one of the most popular MySpace bands out there.

Jeffree Star is a dance music artist. He used TuneCore to deliver a 4 song EP to iTunes. 5 days before he announced its availability, and with no label, no publicist, no tour dates, no radio it went to #1 on the iTunes dance chart and into the iTunes Top 40 most sold albums. He received 100% of the revenue. He then went on the True Colors tour with Cyndi Lauper, Erasure, Dresden Dolls, Debbie Harry and more.

Catherine Feeny, signed to Tallgrass, a small independent London label. She used TuneCore to get her music delivered into iTunes globally and went on to sell over 17,000 songs in the US in just three months via TuneCore. No US campaign, no US tour dates at the time, no radio play, no publicist.

In late April of 2006, New York singer songwriter Jaymay used TuneCore to upload her homemade 5 song EP 'Sea Green, See Blue' to iTunes. Soon thereafter, her EP attained the #1 slot in the iTunes Folk section for both song and album and cracked iTunes’ Top 100 Albums overall - Jaymay has since sold over 60,000 songs around the world.

And the list goes on and on.

This is what is so exciting about what is now possible. Prior to the Net and access to distribution NONE of this was possible for the reasons you outlined. But now they are. Yes it takes time, effort, work, follow through and in some cases you need to make your luck. But it no longer requires money and "connections" to acheive your goals.

In regards to touring, heck yes its expensive! Now you can put together a plan that allows you to roll out your music, art and band presence over time in an affordable manner, generate some revenue and actually learn where your fans are based

A great site to register with is called Eventful - Events, Concerts, Tickets, Festivals, Kids, Singles, Sports, Music - it allows fans to "demand" you play in their city. This can help set up gigs with some decent income to offset tour costs.

Next up for TuneCore- before the end of the year, we expect to launch the first version of public band pages, free to any TuneCore customer.

Over time, the band pages will feature streaming songs, a MyDiscography page with a link to buy songs on iTunes, a music discovery tool, a band photo, tour dates and an option to become an official fan (and you get the email address).

As time goes on, we are working to build the technology to provide daily information as to how many times a day your song is being sold and streamed as well as where the streams and sales are occurring (for the iTunes sales, we will be able to provide the information by the actual zip code of each and every individual buyer!)

All of this goes to you data mine and utilize to your own betterment.

Only have 100 fans at the moment, record a demo, upload it into iTunes then use the email a friend option within iTunes to let them know the song exists. 50% of them buy it, there is $70 in your pocket. Put up a 4 song EP, quadruple your money. Use that money to tour or reinvest in yourself.

And only to round it out, the rest of the label functions:

- Provide accounting information (sales/returns)

Sounds unimportant, but honestly this is one of the bigger pains in the butt of the music industry. Having someone do it for you is a god send. However, with services like TuneCore, this service is now provided for free due to the creation of software programs that provide this function.

What's so frustrating for me (and incredibly exciting) is at spinART we spent a LOT of money, time and effort on the very things you articulated - be it The Dears, Clem Snide etc. Yet unsigned bands are selling more and making more money then we, or the bands we worked with, ever did. And they are doing it without spending money, without needing to take the risk and without needing two decades worth of nuanced knowledge.

And now the other side of the equation - let's say you are signed to a label. You take a $100,000 advance and $50,000 in tour support. The label embarks on a radio campaign, half of the costs of hiring the indie radio promoters is usually recoupable against the artist (minimum campaign spend $50,000) and you hire a publicist (1/2 of which is also recoupable against the artist - another $15,000)

This means the band now has a $215,000 advance it needs to recoup. The album goes on to sell 200,000 copies. The band gets paid $1.40 an album. This means the band grossed $280,000 and has to pay back the $215,000 leaving them with a Net of $65,000. They do not control their masters.

Now lets have the same band sell 15,000 albums on iTunes using TuneCore. They receive 100% of the revenue from the sale of the music as TuneCore takes no backend. They keep all their rights. They make $7.00 per album sold. Let's also assume the band spent $3,000 to record and $3,000 to market. The Gross is $105,000, the Net is $99,000.

Now add on the individual song sales on top of the album sales. Assume something modest like another 7,000 songs sold. Now they make all of the money from the songs sales - another $4,900

Now put CD Baby into the mix to pick, pack and ship physical CDs.....

Point is, you can sell less and make more

Jeff Price
TuneCore
TuneCore: Welcome
Old 25th November 2007
  #10
Lives for gear
 
j-uk's Avatar
 

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for sharing your experience in this forum.
I agree with some things in your post (but not all) and I believe that you are absolutely right in saying that unsigned acts do not need major labels in the same they did before.
However your argument makes the assumption that an artist is also capable of creating this form of revenue stream. This is so often not the case. Most acts spend their time making the music and have no interest in business and the only marketing aspect they're involved in is handing out gig flyers and setting up myspace accounts so they can chat up cute girls/guys on the web.

Acts like this have two options either learn how to sell them self via the web and outlets like yourself or get someone to do it for them.

If a band can do all the music, recording, marketing etc for no money and little time then good on them and yes then it's absolutely true that you can sell less and still make more money then if you would have a label deal.
But if the band wants to make this in to a viable business then it suddenly becomes trickier.
What if one person is taking care of a bigger chunk of the marketing side. Should he still get the same amount of the profit as say the drummer who has only done, well drumming?
If said drummer gets a smaller chunk of the profit who's paying for his meals, instrument, drugs etc
What if the band only has one songwriter? If the band is only selling albums via then net it's unlikely that they have much airplay, and youtube ain't paying **** in royalties.
Let's face it without him/her there wouldn't be anything to sell so should he get a bigger slice of the pie?
What if, and this is probably a given, they all have day time jobs? Anyone who's been involved in breaking an act knows how time consuming it is.

Many bands will simply opt out of scenarios like this and instead sign with a management/production company.
This is all and well but it will mean that more people needs to get paid and that means more record needs to be sold and that means more marketing and marketing takes money - Hey why don't we license this to a major label!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Price View Post
Eric Hutchinson - the best selling unsigned artist of all time within iTunes and #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers charts the third week of Sept., 2007. No radio campaign, no print ads, no video...
You mention this guy and other artists and you underline that they've all had little or no marketing which implies that luck has played an considerable part in there success.
I think we all know the importance of being in the right time, right place and that's all well and good but I refuse to go into a business venture where my potential paycheck is simply luck dependent.
What about all the artists out there who are musically as good but lack in the four clover department?

Jeff I'm excited about the web revolution and I hope and think it will even out the traditionally top heavy music industry allowing more artists to make a living on their art.
But.....having been involved in all kinds of musical enterprises and seeing how hard it is to cut through the white noise without money and clout I doubt we're even remotely close to see the demise of major label record companies and besides I'm not so sure I want them to disappear.

Cheers

Johan


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Price View Post
Programs like Amplitube allow you to create guitar sounds without needing the actual amp and/or mic. It might not sound exactly like a Vox AC30, but it is damn close.

There are also programs to change pitch, get your vocals on key and a lot more.
Ehr a somewhat redundant comment metinks. Jeff this is Gearslutz after all hehheh
Old 26th November 2007
  #11
Founder CD Baby
 
Derek Sivers's Avatar
 

Smile make your own success first

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
how hard it is to cut through the white noise without money and clout I doubt we're even remotely close to see the demise of major label record companies and besides I'm not so sure I want them to disappear
Johan : I think you're right-on.

See these quick links, please:
CD Baby: Test. Improve. Perfect. Announce.
CD Baby: Was 10%, now 90%
CD Baby: DIY = Decide It Yourself
CD Baby: Be a novice marketer, not an expert
CD Baby: Have someone work the inside of the industry
CD Baby: Business is Creative

Record labels' role has changed. They used to look at a piece of wood and say, "We can make that into a great chair." Now they only look at finished chairs to say, "We can get that in Wal-Mart."

Of course it's tough! It's incredibly fkkking tough! And once you "get signed" it's even tougher. You still have to spend hours a day doing interviews, meet-and-greets, in-stores, travelling, and soundchecking, all just to make a living doing your music.

Best career-path is:
  • do it yourself FIRST ...
  • ... with the aid of as many people as you can get to help you (don't forget to ask everyone for help!)
  • test the market. improve and repeat.
  • learn how to not less the business-side overwhelm you: how to turn off your computer and shut out the world to improve your craft every day, despite outside pressure.
  • once you've got something that is a proven success on a small scale, THEN show your success to the pros in the business-side, so they have a low-risk gamble to take it to the next level.
  • (and you have more negotiating leverage when you've proven you would be a success without their help)
It's not just music. Same goes with writers, artists, actors, and even small businesses. J.K. Rowling writing at night while doing a day job and raising 3 kids. Small business owners that put in 18-hour days for 5 years before things start to take off. Etc.

Make your own success first, to prove you're a winner, then have others take it to the next level.
Old 26th November 2007
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Jose Mrochek's Avatar
 

Awesome Thread!

There is one very important, if not the most important reason of having tons of cash to do a record that is kinda being ignored here. And that's hiring an A-list producer. Not the guy that will give your record a specific sound, but a person that will take your songs to the next level. I'm a firm believer that the music you make, is the #1 thing makes it or breaks it for you, no matter how much promotion money you put into it, if the songs don't cut it, it won't happen. My ultimate dream as a musician/songwriter is to be able to work with a guy that takes my songs to a different level, and unfortunately it's only through the majors that I could access the money needed to hire a person like that. Am I wrong here ? I don't believe in self production if that's going to take my time and effort to making better SONGS, yes.. there may be some geniuses out there that can, but I certainly can't and I am sure most of us cant. Not for massive release anyway... any thoughts on this ? Thanks guys!
Old 26th November 2007
  #13
Founder, CEO, President - Tunecore
 
Jeff Price's Avatar
 

here is a link to a 28 page downloadable PDF we put together called

Music Industry Survival Manual: How To Market, Promote and Make Money from Your Music While Keeping Your Rights.

http://www.tunecore.com/images/artwo..._manual_dl.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
Hi Jeff,
Thanks for sharing your experience in this forum.
I agree with some things in your post (but not all) and I believe that you are absolutely right in saying that unsigned acts do not need major labels in the same they did before.
However your argument makes the assumption that an artist is also capable of creating this form of revenue stream. This is so often not the case. Most acts spend their time making the music and have no interest in business and the only marketing aspect they're involved in is handing out gig flyers and setting up myspace accounts so they can chat up cute girls/guys on the web.
My point is you have a choice. There is no longer just one way to do things. You can now choose from multiple options on how to get where you want to go. Before you could not.

Your tool box of resources has gotten larger. Ultimately it is up to each artist/band/manager etc to choose the solution they want - and now you have more to choose from. You have ways to create revenue, paths to get noticed and heard that cost nothing. Yes, if you don't want to do it, someone else has to. No matter what the situation, this will always be the case.

In the old days you HAD to have a label to do it, in the new world you can do it, have a friend do it, have a fan do it, have a manager do it, have relatives do it, pay people to do it or still go to a label. At some point you have to make a decision.

Educate yourself on what the options are, then choose the path to get there. And if you don't want to educate yourself and only want to write songs, that's ok too, just don't expect much else to happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
Acts like this have two options either learn how to sell themself via the web and outlets like yourself or get someone to do it for them.
Yes, it used to be JUST the label that could do this, the point is, this is no longer the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
If a band can do all the music, recording, marketing etc for no money and little time then good on them and yes then it's absolutely true that you can sell less and still make more money then if you would have a label deal.
But if the band wants to make this in to a viable business then it suddenly becomes trickier.
What if one person is taking care of a bigger chunk of the marketing side. Should he still get the same amount of the profit as say the drummer who has only done, well drumming?
That's not something anyone can answer but the band. This industry has changed to allow new opportunites and access. At a certain point the band has to make some decisions on its own.

No matter what the circumstance - signed / unsigned / managed / not managed / one piece / three piece etc etc you have to make decisions that work for the collective "you"

Best way to do that is become educated in the industry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
If said drummer gets a smaller chunk of the profit who's paying for his meals, instrument, drugs etc
If I was that drummer - I would demand to be treated in a way that allows me to do what I love that I think is fair. If its not, I would move on. These same problems exist no matter what the situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
What if the band only has one songwriter? If the band is only selling albums via then net it's unlikely that they have much airplay, and youtube ain't paying **** in royalties.
If the band has one songwriter then its up to that songwriter to decide if he/she wants to share revenue from publishing or other revenue. This is a personal choice, not an industry decision. If the rest of the band feels the songwriter is being unfair they leave.

YouTube is not (currently) about paying royalties, its about exposure for the band to allow more people to get to know them. It's up to you to figure out how to benefit from this exposure ( i.e. music sales, gig dates, merch sales)

Again, this will always be the situation - regardless of if you have label/manager etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
Let's face it without him/her there wouldn't be anything to sell so should he get a bigger slice of the pie?
That's really up to the band, not up to an outsider to come in and dictate to you.

[QUOTE=j-uk;1651585]What if, and this is probably a given, they all have day time jobs? Anyone who's been involved in breaking an act knows how time consuming it is.

They need to put together a plan based on where they want to go. That plan can be "get signed and get a huge advance", it could be "get our family to MySpace for us" it could be "Get a manager to do the marketing and get us signed" it could be " save our money and tour on weekends" etc etc.

The good news is there are more ways to make money with limited to no financial risk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
Many bands will simply opt out of scenarios like this and instead sign with a management/production company.
That is true, many will. That's their choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
This is all and well but it will mean that more people needs to get paid and that means more record needs to be sold and that means more marketing and marketing takes money - Hey why don't we license this to a major label!
The risk is lower, the costs to get "in the game" are lower and the ability to generate revenue is easier. As one example, with TuneCore you can have worldwide distribution into iTunes and more for under $40 and give up no backend. There is no inventory risk either. I view it the exact other way around. You can now do things in steps, get tangible results, make money keep your rights and then decide what to do next.

In the old system, what you describe is the way it was. You HAD to grant the rights of your masters to a label and get a small % of the money from the sales. A manager took a commission across the board on ALL your income. The income was LESS and you still had the same - if not more - people working for you.

Add a lawyer and accountant on top of the manager fees and small royalty from the label. With TuneCore both of these costs can be removed due to you keeping your rights and having an automated accounting system.

Now you can have LESS people do more while making more money and taking less risk

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
You mention this guy and other artists and you underline that they've all had little or no marketing which implies that luck has played an considerable part in there success.
Luck always plays a role in an artists success, but you have to make your luck. The artists I listed succeeded - as did many others. They embarked on a strategy, put together the people to do it (or did it themsleves). They did market themselves as they had access and there was no real hard costs. The "luck" was people liked them.

Imagine if Alanis Morissette was signed to a different record label then the one that signed her. Would she have succeeded on a different label? I would say no. The pieces have to line up. It was her luck to get signed to the label she weas signed to at the time she was signed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
I think we all know the importance of being in the right time, right place and that's all well and good but I refuse to go into a business venture where my potential paycheck is simply luck dependent.
And that's the beauty of the current system. It allows more opportunity at lower risk. I wish I could guarantee things for you, but I can't. No one can. Over 99% of all major label releases fail. And they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on those acts. There is no sure thing.

If you are looking to make money from the sale of the music then you are gambling that the music will sell. These days, however, you can improve your odds and lower your risk

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
What about all the artists out there who are musically as good but lack in the four clover department?
Like anything else in life, you need to do someting to make something happen

I think it is doing a large disservice to write off the thousands of artists who have had financial success in the new model. They worked for their success and it was their music and talent that allowed them succeed, not dumb luck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
Jeff I'm excited about the web revolution and I hope and think it will even out the traditionally top heavy music industry allowing more artists to make a living on their art.
But.....having been involved in all kinds of musical enterprises and seeing how hard it is to cut through the white noise without money and clout I doubt we're even remotely close to see the demise of major label record companies and besides I'm not so sure I want them to disappear.
TuneCore is not a label killer - there will always be room for an organization that provides services, the question now becomes what is the price

If it's worth it to you to give up rights to your masters and have reduced income off of sales to have someone else do work, then you should do it. But the point is, unlike before, you now have a choice - there are other ways to get to the end you want

It's up to you to decide which path you take to get there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j-uk View Post
Ehr a somewhat redundant comment metinks. Jeff this is Gearslutz after all hehheh
You are SO correct! I defer !!!!
Old 28th November 2007
  #14
Gear interested
 

Cool The Money or the Music

I find that doing everything yourself has its ups and downs. It makes things cheaper in the long run but it balances out because you may make less money since you are not a trained marketing professional. When you are putting 75% of your time into planning and marketing and trying to do the best at all of the jobs needed to get something serious working & only 25% of your time is spent playing and writing music, you become something else. You aren't given the freedom to be an artist because when you are creating you are thinking about all of your other jobs in the back of your head and how a decision that you make as the artist on will affect your other positions such as promoter. So you make less music but at least you are doing it without having to spend money you don't have. If you are rich already you should have all the time in the world to work on music and hire the right people and hopefully have some sort of emotion to pull from to write a song that I can believe. Paris Hilton did it.

Old 28th November 2007
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
BezowinZ's Avatar
My biggest concern is investing in mastering, duplication & promotion while 99% of the people I know steal music off the net.

Great post. I'm marking it for later.
Old 29th November 2007
  #16
Gear interested
 

Radio Play For Independent Artists....

Has radio started to open up to playing songs from independent artists? I remember over the last several years, it was seemingly very important to radio stations that they only play songs that were available via single and/or album to the public in record stores, etc...

With the digital age of iTunes etc..., have radio stations responded well to playing these great songs, even if they aren't on a big label?
Old 30th November 2007
  #17
Founder CD Baby
 
Derek Sivers's Avatar
 

Smile radio

Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasMusicMan View Post
Has radio started to open up to playing songs from independent artists?
Have you heard a lot of unknown independent music on your local radio stations?

Or, like everyone else who loves music, did you give up on FM radio long ago?
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