I’m pissed. Here’s why: music “industry types” (and you know who you are) believe that because the MUSIC BUSINESS has the word MUSIC in front of the word BUSINESS, there are different rules to follow as compared to any other legitimate type of business. “Its entertainment, so we get to use our special industry standard terms and terminology.” I don’t get it and I’m done putting up with it.
I have suggested the advantages of treating your musical career as a real business not just a hobby; setting up an LLC or an S-Corp, hiring professionals to guide your career, using written agreements to memorialize your contracts. If you have followed these suggestions, you may be surprised at the attitude (or disbelief) you encounter from the industry when you are attempting to handle your business as a business. Industry executives and their lawyers are typically dumbfounded when you try to enter into an agreement with them under your corporation rather than in your own name. They don’t know what to do if you would rather sign an independent contractor agreement or personal services agreement rather than their form recording agreement that they have been using for the last 23 years.
It has to stop. The major labels are reeling as the music industry changes. New deals like Madonna’s 360 deal with Live Nation and Radiohead’s pioneering free release via their website have finally got the attention of the majors. According to recent articles and conversations I have had with some industry types, they are open to all types of new arrangements; they now see that the old way of doing business with musicians is dead.
So what does that mean? It means that artists must take advantage of this shift. Artists who are on top of their game realize that they are not just a one dimensional business who can only make money by selling cd’s. Now, more than ever musicians can capitalize from creating a life style brand in their name or their band’s name. Licensing deals which synch music to commercials, on-line ads, tv-shows, or movies bring in a ton of revenue for artists; sponsorship deals for tours, promotional concerts, web content and videos is another great route to make money. Getting people to be into the culture that you or your band identify with should be a goal of any musician today. This means more business to business opportunity for musicians everywehre.
Music business unlike any other. A business that can make money selling its product to a wide variety of other business, not just one customer (the label). If treated properly and insisted upon by the musician (or their lawyer), the musician’s business will get the same fair shake that any other business gets when entering into an agreement. Don’t let the “Industry Standard” dictate how you operate your business.