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Where's the record business going?
Old 5th June 2007
  #1
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Where's the record business going?

I know it's a loaded question. My focus is most on how composers/producers will generate income in a world of streaming, downloading, internet radio, podcasts, youtube, myspace. I don't hold much hope for large record companies since their distribution network is becoming obsolete. So much content is being put out there (legally even) without any way for creatives to be paid for their work. How will royalties be paid in the new world?

Tim
Old 5th June 2007
  #2
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Mike Howlett's Avatar
 

New opportunities for Record Producers

Hi Tim - This is the question of the age! Personally, I remain optimistic because this is not the first time the end of the music business as we know it has been predicted. As long ago as the 1920's the advent of radio, broadcasting music free to listeners, was predicted to be the end of the nascent recording industry. In fact, the promotional value of radio stimulated demand for records. Nevertheless, the models that have evolved during the last century are rapidly becoming redundant. Although P2P remains by far the largest volume of trade in recordings, the iTunes model is working, partly because most people are not so computer friendly that they can be troubled to negotiate the complications involved - OK, to the current generation of youth this is easy pickings, but as the new models of home entertainment delivery evolve into one-size-fits-all boxes that will do music, TV, films, e-mail and general internet informational systems, service provider regulation and enforcement will become do-able. Other models, such as royalties based on advertising revenue are being explored. And though there are schools of thought out there who believe that, somehow, all this should be free, the benefits of rule-of-law underlie a global economic system that has provided the most material well-being for the most people in the history of humanity. It's not perfect, but consider the alternatives: Where anarchy rules, greed, graft and corruption prevail!

Oh dear, I've gone all philosophical! The point is that these are early days and the scene changes almost daily. As long as you have contracts for your work that are legally constructed then eventually you will have recourse to law. The reality is that the value has to be big enough to justify costly legal action. But this has always been the case - in the 80's I was managed by a very large powerful company and most of my productions were with major labels, but occasionally they would agree to me working with smaller and sometimes rather dodgy labels, when they would insist on larger advances, or accounting direct from distributors because they knew the chances of honest accounting were less. At least the larger companies could be audited!

The current turmoil also offers a new opportunity for record producers. Where once a high quality recording required substantial capital investment, anyone with the skills and talent can not only create great recordings, but now, no longer need fleets of environmentally unfriendly trucks and planes to distribute their product. The record producer can be the hub of creativity! Of course, you are still going to need promotional and marketing skills - there are lots of independent companies specialising in the many genres out there, though funding is an issue. And when a production takes off it could be time to go large and engage with a major. This is what they're best at - international marketing. I think that's the way the industry has gone over the last decade or so anyway - successful indies soon find it not worth the effort to keep on top of licensees abroad. And majors realised that being big makes it hard to keep up with the cutting edge, where the new scenes evolve. A symbiotic relationship at best - but a necessary evil if you really want your music to reach the most people.

As I said, this is a big subject. Undoubtedly books are being written as we speak analysing the possibilities, but the key remains intellectual property rights, and, as we now see, bigger money businesses - films and TV - are starting to hurt. You can be sure there will be measures taken!



Mike Howlett
Old 5th June 2007
  #3
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Barish's Avatar
Hello Mike,

Many thanks for this great primer. Could you please elaborate where MPG stands in this, what it can do to its members and what its members can do to help MPG achieve these targets?

Thanks.

M Ozturk
Old 6th June 2007
  #4
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>"Hello Mike,

>"Many thanks for this great primer. Could you please elaborate where MPG stands in this, what it can do to its members and what its members can do to help MPG achieve these targets?

>"Thanks.

>"M Ozturk"

Hi Barish (aka M Ozturk) - The MPG has a number of functions, one of which is to represent record producers' interests to the industry. In that role I and Robin Millar attend the Music Business Forum - a body including pretty much all of the UK music industry bodies such as the BPI, MCPS-PRS Alliance, PPL, the Musicians' Union, Equity, APRS and a host of others - which has been set up at the request of the UK government to present a unified voice to advise on government policy where it affects our business. We are a strong voice at this table and have been arguing for action to extend copyright, and defend intellectual property rights against a tide of opinion that thinks we should all roll over and surrender our livelihood.

But we also organise regular forums on topics such as selling your music on the internet, setting up a label, royalty accounting and occasional meetings with major label A&R people to hear their views on why they sign, or don't sign, acts. We also offer a free session with our music biz lawyer. We have recently come up with a guide document for development work - when you produce an artist without a label involved, but need to be protected if they get signed on the back of your work but the label wants to use the latest hot flavour-of-the-month producer and cut you out.

Another great reason for the MPG is social networking - producers tend to be lone wolves and we don't get that many occasions to meet up and just talk about what we do with others who share the same experiences. And most producers are really great people (I say modestly!) and we share a common quality I like to call audio deviants - a bit like Gearslutz! Some of our events will be based around a presentation by gear manufacturers, where we can get previews of gear and ask questions, such as why did they build it this way when they should have come to us first - which smart manufacturers sometimes do.

I've made some great friends through the MPG and got to know some inspirational producers - like the guys sharing this forum!

Just by joining the MPG, which you can do online at The Music Producers Guild UK, you are giving us strength through numbers. By the nature of our business, there are never that many producers at any one time, but we punch above our weight! And we welcome aspiring producers and engineers too!

Mike
Old 7th June 2007
  #5
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Tony Platt's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timsplace View Post
I know it's a loaded question. My focus is most on how composers/producers will generate income in a world of streaming, downloading, internet radio, podcasts, youtube, myspace. I don't hold much hope for large record companies since their distribution network is becoming obsolete. So much content is being put out there (legally even) without any way for creatives to be paid for their work. How will royalties be paid in the new world?

Tim
I can't add much to what Mike has so succinctly put!

This is a golden opportunity to come up with some exciting new ideas. I believe that the publishing and copyright elements will provide the most credible income stream for the future though.

One point that needs to be made I think is that music should not be free - it has worth and the people that create it deserve to be supported. The concept that consumers 'own' the music by buying a CD or downloading it misconceived. In fact what they are doing is buying a licence to use the music for their own entertainment - at home, in their car etc. It does not give them the right to pass it around. This fact is not being made clearly enough by the press and pundits.

I still also think that the CD (or DVD) is a very good delivery format and used imaginatively can be just as attractive as downloads but bad packaging, low quality content and high prices have put people off.
Old 8th June 2007
  #6
Gear addict
 

peter gabriel free music site

here's a link to peter gabriels latest venture (june 2007)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6720261.stm

'The former singer with prog rock group Genesis has established the We7 website as a
place that will benefit both music fans and musicians. Users will be able to download
music for free, but adverts that are "grafted" onto each track will provide a source of
income for artists.'

it's an idea but personally i could live without 'this song is bought to you by....' before
every track.

an interesting point is raised in the article...
in that it's alot easier for an established producer with credits to make these 'new'
kinds of deals with labels for marketing and promotion..

but what will happen to the young bands in this new business model?

should n't a reasonable percentage of profit be invested in other areas like dare i
say... artist development?

i have the feeling the music industry has been taken over by the need to show a
quarterly profit, which in turn forces bigger bands to deliver a production at a certain
point in the year which benefits a shareholders meeting and not when it's actually
err.. good.

but ideas are flowing and that's good enough reason for optimism.
i just hope the young bands and new forms of music that are created can be
supported as well as the 'established' artists.

tony,
Old 8th June 2007
  #7
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FFTT's Avatar
 

With so many wannabes trying to make it, where does the industry go these days to
find new talent? I mean REAL talent.

Is it word of mouth, scanning public sites like my space and soundclick.com or
dropping in at clubs and showcases?

I can't help but wonder how some of the A&R reps decide on who deserves
promotion.

With very few exceptions, most of the stuff out there now is hardly a good example
of the best available musicianship and songwriting.
Old 8th June 2007
  #8
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My big bone of contention these days is that whilst there is a wealth of places for artists to sell their music there is no one helping them to actually develop and record it.

We need to address this because we are not supporting the raw material of the industry.

I am involved with Sellaband (SellaBand) and although perhaps not the complete answer, it is giving artists a way to step up to the next level without saddling themselves with huge debts or crap contracts.

Tony
Old 26th June 2007
  #9
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lowswing's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Platt View Post
My big bone of contention these days is that whilst there is a wealth of places for artists to sell their music there is no one helping them to actually develop and record it.

We need to address this because we are not supporting the raw material of the industry.

I am involved with Sellaband (SellaBand) and although perhaps not the complete answer, it is giving artists a way to step up to the next level without saddling themselves with huge debts or crap contracts.

Tony
is there a way to get involved in the sellaband project as a producer/studio?
Old 26th June 2007
  #10
Gear Head
 

The way I see it, if you want people to buy your work, make something worth buying.
Old 26th June 2007
  #11
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Tony Platt's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowswing View Post
is there a way to get involved in the sellaband project as a producer/studio?
I suggest you contact them directly and ask to be included in their experts list.

There is also nothing to stop you from posting any artists you are working with on the site or believing in one of the artists you like and starting a dialogue with them.

I am in regular contact with several of the artists that I like, encouraging them, advising them and hopefully if they make the 50k I will be able to work with them.

Best,

Tony
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