Check out one of the latest episodes of “This Week In Music” with host Ian Rogers as he interviews Debbie Cavalier, the newly-named CEO of Berklee College of Music. Ian and Debbie talk a lot about what Berklee can do for students that want to study music, music business, and so many other topics in the music industry.
It looks like MySpace is trying to now get its swagger back. In a Vimeo video that was recently released to the public, the owners of MySpace previewed a roll out of the newer, slicker format that has more of a focus on music and entertainment and not just social media. Many of us remember that at one point, MySpace was the go-to place for everything social media based, but was quickly taken over by Facebook in that respect. But now, this new and seemingly improved MySpace does look like it has some potential. But the main question is, with a bigger focus on music, as well as having to compete with sites like Facebook and Twitter being integrated into everything, as well as tools like Instagram and Pinterest gaining momentum everyday, where will MySpace fit in? Well, at least there seems to be some sort of plan. We’ll just have to see how this pans out. Take a look at the video and judge for yourself.
“Brandom” and “Fandom”. Maybe they’re not necessarily words, but they are definitely ideas that so many people, companies and organizations are buying into. The 21st Century has thus far proven that the old model for Marketing and Brand Development is evolving into something a lot more interactive, more social and much more engaging. People that are “fans” of something these days are not sitting idly by as businesses tell them what to consume (at least not consciously). They want to be involved in parts of the process of developing and consuming something, having exclusive access that they did not have before. And this point is illustrated beautifully in a new 30-minute short film entitled “FanCulture: The Evolution of Influence”.
Created by British-based Amplify, an agency that specializes in “brand strategy, experiences and amplification” the documentary looks to delve deeply into what makes a fan and a brand these days. I wanted to share the whole thing, but you guys will just have to peep the trailer below:
Of course, the ideas of being a fan of a brand reaches far beyond music, but it’s also perfect for it. With so much in the way of social media, social networking, technological advances, and advances in business, marketing, PR and communication, it’s only natural that musicians and artists would try to use the idea to their advantage to gain more and better fans. It’s almost as if an artist would HAVE to be involved in these practices if they want to stay relevant, because one way we can look at it is that same artist or musician having their fans, supporters and followers do some of their work for them. But in another sense, it’s an opportunity to connect with your supporting community as a musician or artist that’s trying to make it in an evolving music economy.
These days, it’s basically all about who and what you can get to spread your message most easily, but also most effectively. Maybe music artists of all genres would do well to take a page from this new documentary. If you’d like to check out the piece in its entirety, visit the Amplify website. And be sure to check out the Hypebot article on this documentary, as well.
Like I said before, I love “This Week In Music” for all of the great information and interviews it presents week after week. In the latest version, Ian interviews Nashville Singer and Songwriter Jamie Lidell, and they talk about everything from his musical history to his use of the “direct to fan” business model for his music. Yet another great TWIM interview…keep it up you guys!
I’m gonna make this a really short post, mainly because I want to read it and then go out and get the actual resource that I’m referring to. We all know TuneCore as the premiere outlet for digital music distribution, especially for independent artists. Well, some of the creators and original founders of TuneCore have been gracious enough to put together a digital eBook called “Music Industry Survival Guide”. In this eBook, The company gives a bunch of down to the nitty-gritty, basic but much-needed information for any indie artist in the game today, from areas of promotion, distribution, sales & marketing, getting heard on the radio, and a whole lot more. And the best part of the book is that it’s not very long at all! At only 15 pages, the TuneCore creators made sure to give only the most basic information needed.
And even more good news: TuneCore has put out a series of these manuals, as the latest version, available on the TuneCore Music blog, focuses on thirteen ways of making money off of your music (here’s a link!). I’d definitely suggest “Music Industry Survival Guide” by TuneCore for anyone that’s getting started in the indie music business and is looking to not only make a name for themselves, but wants to make a good living off of their art. Check out the cover art below, and visit THIS LINK for more information on getting the latest “Music Industry Survival Guide” from TuneCore.
Here is a discussion on the web series “This Week In Marketing” from just over a year ago featuring journalist, educator and author Dan Charnas, who authored the amazing book “The Big Payback: A History of the Business of Hip Hop”. I personally read the book cover to cover and thought it was awesome how Charnas gave a running timeline of the beginnings of Hip Hop business practices, from the birth of Sugar Hill Records to the ascension of Def Jam via Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, to the importance of KDAY to Hip Hop radio in Los Angeles and throughout the country, to the business of Hip Hop journalism, and even the ideal of the branded, business-minded Hip Hop artist that we still see to this day. Anyone that counts themselves a fan of Hip Hop should read this book for a better sense of how the business of Hip Hop has taken hold of the entire world. But check out the video first!
Here is the 31st episode of This Week in Music, featuring host Ian Rogers interviewing Andre Gaccetta, VP of G7 entertainment. Ian and Andre talk about the connection between bands and brands, especially focused on the country music industry in Nashville. Once again, the interview is done at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville.
I read this Op-Ed piece on Hypebot today and thought that I would go ahead and try to repost it here on my blog. It’s authored by Hypebot special contributor Charles Alexander, songwriter and founder of artist services firm Outside The Box Music. He’s also director of the music marketing learning series ‘Rock Your Net’, and has some pretty strong beliefs on the current treatment of indie artists by the mainstream. Take a look for yourself!
This year the mainstream music establishment was preoccupied with letting the indie/DIY community know they were “Not Good Enough.” In fact, some gatekeeping factions of even the DIY/Indie community seemed to reinforce this theme (more on this later).
Who’s A Grammy Darling?
The rumblings started in February at The Grammys when Esperanza Spalding won Best New Artist over better known names like Mumford and Sons and Justin Bieber. So much so, A member of Bieber’s Army hacked her Wikipedia site to say “Who Are You Anyway?”
Bieber also labelled the night “a failure” because he didn’t win.
In the same month, The Civil Wars released “Barton Hollow” that promptly became the #1 downloaded album on iTunes and #1 on the Billboard Digital Albums chart.
Yet some folks still have a tough time accepting their success.
The Grammys didn’t even consider them for Best New Artist. Although, they have been nominated for Best Folk Album & Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Oddly without much major country radio airplay when it mattered.
And this year at a major music conference, an established music manager all but called them a fluke. I was right there in the audience. I had this feeling the rockstar manager was just bummed that he wasn’t the one who “broke” The Civil Wars. So props to TCW management team, Sensibility Music.
Seems like all the critical acclaim and all the commercial success is still “Not Good Enough.”
If You’re Not Making Money On Spotify, You Suck
Earlier this year, Spotifystruck a deal with the majors. With the majors reportedly pocketing a cool $60-100 Million dollar advance. While independents got to rely on the hundreths of a cent per stream model. Don’t get me wrong – as a consumer, I love Spotify. But as a musician/artist, I think it sucks.
The labels very likely have equity in Spotify as part of the deal. But who knows what they get in return, cause these deals are not transparent and are covered by (sometimes multiple) non disclosure agreements (NDAs).
This of course prompted some indie acts to cry foul and pull their catalog off Spotify. Which in turn resulted in Jay Frank formerly of CMT and now DigSin to make the observation:
Zoe Keating rebutted this statement with a very eloquent and well thought out response.
Other artists have made the same observation. Even commenting that they make more money on giving away music or even encouraging piracy of their music.
It’s fine to say that Spotify is a great discovery platform. I don’t necessarily disagree. But discovery only helps if you have the opportunity for creating and nurturing long term relationships with prospective fans which Spotify doesn’t offer.
All this reflects a larger attitude in the mainstream where so called “power players” have decided that indies or DIYers are not worth bringing to the table in formulating decisions about the future of music. As Ariel Hyatt observes, independents don’t get invited to this party. Because the perception is that the content generated by indies is simply not good or valuable enough.
Should also be noted here that I know Jay Frank. He is a good guy. He is also an author who has a book out about writing hits based on prevailing trends in hit songs. This algorithm can then presumably predict the possibility of a song becoming a “future hit.” Not sure where prior knowledge regarding song craft or God forbid, emotion, comes into play.
SOPA – Piracy vs Parity
This fall some members of Congress introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The bill is being pushed by the RIAA & the MPAA. After reading much of it at Open Congress (follow the money trail), I’ve decided that this bill is a bad idea and bad policy.
So I joined forces with a small but dedicated group of artists and tech innovators to work against this bill. One of the first things we heard from folks on the other side was how we don’t represent artists and creatives. I’m not sure who gets to decide who does or doesn’t represent any particular segment in the halls of Congress – but I’m pretty sure the entities espousing this bill on behalf of artists, songwriters and creatives don’t represent my views and those of forward thinking artists. Just ask Janis Ian.
This bill has very little to do with protecting IP and everything to do with keeping a stranglehold on the channels of distribution. Loss of control of channels of consumption for the old school music business means loss of revenue from traditional income streams that feed an obsolete business infrastructure.
Because artists who have learned to leverage free and open forms of communication suddenly find themselves in a position of power over traditional power brokers who have gotten used to being in charge. They want to keep it that way.
One of the ways to do this is to control what you get to see and hear online. The Stanford Law Review published a position paper on this. Read their take:
Piracy is bad. Censorship is worse. The above by the way is an analysis of rev 2 of the bill. Which is the “less bad” version of the bill.
The entrenched old guard want SOPA because they want major labels and big business to control distribution. In turn indie/DIYers are denied an equitable market share. If anything this year has proven that indies need to be awarded more opportunities. Not less. A larger segment of indie content creators deserve the right to be heard and seen in the marketplace. Even on major commercial distribution channels in primary markets.
Consequently they are also entitled to a larger percentage of income streams generated by content they have helped create. Not just 9 cents. Or the bare minimum.
It’s worth noting here that while the RIAA and everyone in their camp have been complaining about piracy and declining music sales, CD Baby and TuneCore the main aggregators for digital music distribution used by indie artists are reporting sales in excess of $350 Million dollars in just the last 3 years. In each of those cases, there was no “down” year.
Finally the largest volume of static this year was generated from the roots based indie/DIY ethic driven Americana genre. Linda Chorney, a NJ based indie artist, managed to leverage the Grammy 365social network to get herself nominated for a Grammy in the Americana category.
Her music isn’t my cup of tea. But at least she sings on key and performs with conviction. And without any pyrotechnics or electronics to mask her deficiencies. That alone deserves some kind of award…
Even the egalitarianism espousing Americana community seems to be upset about someone leapfrogging over their place in line and picking the lock that christened gatekeepers have so carefully guarded. My friend, Paul Schatzkin, details this saga over at his blog at Cohesion Arts. Kim Ruehl over at No Depression also goes the distance with a look-see at this nomination. She also turned me on to the fact that Eddie Vedder has been nominated for Best Folk Album. What???
So you know where I am going with this, right? All of this “You’re Not Good Enough” messaging is hogwash.
It’s just that it’s in the best interest of the mainstream music establishment to perpetuate this myth. In spite of the successes of The Civil Wars’, Arcade Fires, Julia Nunes’, Pomplamooses, Louis CKs and Amanda Palmers of the world.
You see if these acts are acknowledged as being legitimate, reproducible accomplishments then those reverberations echo through the offices of the RIAA, MPAA and the hallowed hallways of The Grammys.
Suddenly highly paid gatekeepers and tastemakers become obsolete. Entire belief systems begin to crumble. The entire musical arena becomes a level playing field. There is no distinction between premium and low grade. There is only good and bad. And either can come from major labels or independent entities. The fact that they are pre-labeled as being one or the other is no pre determinant as to the quality of the content. The people consume and they get to decide.
This isn’t a paradigm shift. It’s a complete tearing down of the curtain to reveal what is real about music. All that is left is emotion, truth and the experience. Though having capital to invest and market in any business is critical, it’s not about how much money is spent behind an act. The main criteria for success will be how audiences respond. In fact to some extent, it will be all that matters. The monetizing will happen after the fact. Not before.
So in this season of gifts and miracles and new beginnings. Give yourself this gift. Know that you are good enough. Embrace it.
Then go knock out another brick in the wall…Happy New Year!
Go to Hypebot for the original post, and feel free to share your thoughts here, as well. Thanks!
I thought I’d begin this new blog by highlighting an organization that’s been in the business of providing real, true and great content and information to artists that are very much interested in being successful not only as artists, but as their own business and brand. That organization is ArtistHouse Music!
The main tagline for ArtistHouse is: “Helping Musicians and Music Entrepreneurs Create Sustainable Careers”. We all know that these days, there are even more opportunities for musicians, artists, bands, music marketing professionals, managers, etc. to make a descent living without having to bend to the will of the majors. Many of us also know by now that being an independent artist/label/professional comes with its own set of worries and issues. And this is where ArtistHouse comes in.
Visit the site at http://www.artistshousemusic.org/ and you’re immediately exposed to a number of informative videos, articles, news clips and other resources ranging on topics from marketing, law, education, production and strategy, among other things. Aspiring musicians and business people can get prime advice from experience professionals from all walks of the music and entertainment business at the click of a button! Dig even deeper, and you might just find much-needed guidance on specific subjects like touring and merchandising, retail and distribution, publicity and promotion, and even a few ArtistHouse Master classes at your disposal. If you’re a 21st Century artist, why wouldn’t you try your best to take advantage?
Trying to highlight all of the resources available at ArtistHouse would be foolish, because there are simply too many to name in one setting. That’s just how extensive the website is, and in turn, that’s how much the organization can offer to those looking to not only make their break in the ever-changing music industry, but whom are also doing their best to stay educated and successful. And nowadays, that’s more important than ever. If you’re looking to make your break, you might do yourself some good by visiting ArtistHouse Music’s site and getting started on your way to success, not just as an artist, but as a music business entrepreneur!