Waiting on Royalties? Get Comfortable.

This guy didn't have a beard when he started waiting for his royalty check

This guy didn't have a beard when he started waiting for his royalty check

In the old days (about 10 years ago), artists would get fat advances from labels who would cash in on the traditional sale of music.  Bands with one hit song could sometimes even afford to pay back the advance and make even more money from the royalties earned via record sales throughout the world.  Labels would give away small fortunes to successful bands with the security that they would make far more money than the band ever made through lopsided royalty rates.

Today; not so much.  Labels have crumbled under this model (thus the 360 deal).  Royalties today account for a very small percentage of the total earning potential of a successful band.  Don’t take it from me, here’s what Irving Azoff said in his Business Week interview with Jon Fine: Today, ‘recorded music is down to less than 6%’ of major musical acts’ revenues.   6%!  that’s it.   Think about that; a big name band like Coldplay or Greenday who still sell hundreds of thousands of albums still make about 94% of their income from sources outside of royalties.

So where is the rest of that income coming from?  Number one is still touring.  The concert scene seems to be recession proof as thousands are still packing arenas, clubs and festivals.  Europe, Asia, and Austrailia continue to pay top dollar/euro/etc. to see popular acts.  Corporate partnerships and sponsorships are also huge money makers.  Corporations realize the marketing value that music can bring.  Partnering a popular band with a product is nothing new it is just more prevelant today.  Christinia Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Britney, P-diddy, J-lo all have fragrances in partnership with established cosmetic companies.  Even Weezer just recently announced that they are going to partner with Snuggle (the fabric softner).  Redbull consistently sponsors up and coming artists across the country.

Merchandise is also still a big money maker.  The web makes it easier to sell more stuff to more fans in more areas.  Cheap manufacturing and easy distribution create high profit margins for everything from hats and t-shirts to ipod cases and cell phone apps.

Finally, licensing takes up another chunk of that 94%.  Licensing can go hand in hand with corporate partnerships, but also expands to movie, tv and commercials.

You cannot wait for your music to sell itself.  More importantly, you cannot to sustain your career through the strenght of traditional record sales.  Remember, you create your own market. Just like a savy investor, you have to diversify and look for all possible money making avenues for the business that is your music.

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION OF THE WEEK:  LEBRON V. KOBE COMMERCIAL FEATURING THE COOL KIDS

The Cool Kids are one of the best examples of the new music business model.  Their plan of primarily giving their music away for free has paid off.  Great music, working hard and creating a good team have led to incredible opportunities.  One of those opportunities was to have their music featured in the most recent version of the Nike commercial series featuring the puppet version of Lebron and Kobe.  Check it out:

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