Category: Music and Business

What Does Your 360 Deal Really Mean?

The earth is you, the label is the universe. Thus you, and everything you do, is part of the label. Pretty deep.

We at L4M have written quite a bit about 360 deals.  The 360 deal has become the standard recording agreement.  Gone are the days of multiple album deals.  (Who records and releases full length albums these days anyway?)  Artists today must be multi-faceted.  Income has to be generated from a bunch of sources.  The old system of paying back advances via record sales has gone the way of the DoDo bird and Eagle Eye Cherry.

The origin of the 360 stems from the steady decline in album sales over the last decade.  Labels were funding artists with advances and would recoup based on record sales and royalties.  All other income would go straight to the artist or her affiliate.  While record sales have plummeted, concert ticket sales and merchandise sales have stayed fairly strong.  The result was strong earnings for artists and pissed off labels who were not able to recoup their initial advances.   Not surprisingly, the labels dropped a lot of artists and repositioned themselves (slowly) to adapt to the changing music economy.  Savvy investors also came on board, sometimes replacing labels, and presented more mainstream, non-music industry, proposals that work more as a partnership rather than a label/artist venture.

While each 360 deal is different, you can pretty much bet that each will contain the following core elements:  The label/investor who funds a band, either with an advance or an investment, will receive a percentage of income from:

1.  Royalties (publishing/sometimes writer’s share)

2. Record Sales (all formats)

3. Tour Income

4. Merchandise Sales

5. Licensing Income

Some 360’s go even further and give the label/investor a share of personal appearance income, solo (if it is a band) performance income, dj income, book/tv/movie income etc.  Basically income from anything that a band or an individual in a band may earn while under contract could theoretically be collected by a label/investor in a 360 deal.  If there is any hope of a 360 deal working, you  must negotiate certain removals or certain untouchable categories as well as negotiate the percentages of income shared.

As I have written before, a 360 deal is not the worst thing in the world if it is drafted and enforced in a fair manner.  This may come as a surprise to my readers as I tend to be a bit slanted toward artists, but if you think about it, a 360 may just work for some bands.  If you get a label or investor who is looking to share in all streams of revenue, then you must have an agreement that certain benchmarks or obligations of the label must be met.  If the label plans on sharing in your tour income, they should also be spending money on tour support and promotion.  If a label wants income from your personal appearances, the label should help secure such events.  The principle behind the 360 is that without the investment made by the label/investor, the band would not succeed.  Typical of many labels, they will sign a band to a 360, supply them with a small advance and then disappear.  Then the band works its collective ass off to get gigs and sell gear and the label still collects its share.  That just plain old sucks.

If however, you have a fair label that wants to share in a 360 deal, they will expect to help you earn more money by promoting all aspects of your career.  Whether it is hiring a PR company, street teams, securing world wide distribution, etc., a label that works with and for the band has a much better claim that sharing in all of their artists income is fair.

So do your research, advocate for yourself and your band and make sure that if a label or an investor wants a piece of everything you do, they are helping you achieve everything you want to achieve. (FYI:  360 deals are beasts and should always be negotiated by an attorney)

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Unique Methods to Fund Records and Films

Websites that serve as independent fund raisers for artists are not new.  Over the past decade several sites using the fan funded model have popped up (some have subsequently disappeared).  The sites are natural offspring of some entrepreneurial and creative musicians and film makers realizing that the label/studio system probably is not going to work form them.

The basic premise is that you offer your friends, family and fans (the 3f’s)  an opportunity to participate in the creation of your new album or film.  In exchange for buying a piece of the project the 3f’s will get extras that the general public will not get.  Examples of the extras that participants get are: exclusive tracks, t-shirts, signed copies of vinyls, screenings with the cast and crew, etc.

Some models have tried to take it to the next step and share income with the 3f’s who go from participants to investors when they provide money to a project.  Sellaband.com is probably the most well known band investment models (now in bankruptcy, this concept obviously has some issues to figure out still).  On the film side of things sites like kickstarter.com and indiegogo.com have had success in getting independent movies with fairly small budgets into production via fan participation.

But what happens when you want to raise more than $5,000 or even $50,000?  I guess it depends on how wealthy your 3f’s are.  For most of our clients we are trying to raise money in the several hundred thousands or millions for their projects.  Their 3f’s are typically not looking to get a t-shirt or dvd out of their participation when they are putting that much money into a project.  In most scenarios a participant becomes an investor and will want to see a monetary return on his investment.

Equally as important, the method for raising money with the promise of a financial return on investment follows very strict rules and regulations.  When you try to raise significant funds for your project you are essentially selling securities or stock in your product.  The Securities and Exchange Commission governs these type of transactions and you must follow their guidelines or risk serious consequences.  Unfortunately, the legal fees for setting up an Offering (offering of a financial interest in your project) are high and you definitely cannot create an Offering on your own (even if you find an example on line).  Oftentimes, musicians and film makers must go to their 3f’s just to get the money to pay for the Offering.

So with all of these barriers why to musicians and film makers go through the trouble?  Several reasons.  First, the old days of being discovered are over.   The quantity of product is simply too high and the methods for finding talent are too vast.  A&R departments are decimated and studio budgets are tighter than ever.  Risks are averted on all levels.  It is now a necessity for the independent to truly be independent and make their own way in the industry.  Further, most musicians and film makers feel that if they get their first project produced and into commerce, the sky is the limit.  This sentiment is justifiable.  Film makers who are able to get a movie made and actually distributed immediately create a brand for themselves and their production company.  It is far easier to sell the second feature as compared to the first.  Same for musicians.  A musician who has released countless EP’s and singles may not be interesting to an investor until she produces and distributes a full length album.

So as the annoying saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.  Whether it is strictly as a participant structure or through an Offering, a lot of work, time and money goes into the process.

I am interested to hear from those of you have used this method; whether it is through a website or on your own door to door fund raising effort.  Here are some of my friends who are using the participant method.  Check out and if you like them, PARTICIPATE!

Film maker Carey Bruce and Road’s End Films are producing Forests of Mystery and using Kickstarter.com:

Talented Singer/Songwriter Levi Weaver has funded his own projects through 3f participation.  Check him out here:

Should Performers Get Royalties?

Did you know that the U.S. is grouped with China and Ghana as one of the only countries that does not pay royalties to the performers of a song that is aired publicly (Radio/TV)?  Weird, right?  Well this odd and troubling (for some) fact may be changing soon.  Here is my fellow L4M’er, Eric Malnar with his take on the Performance Rights Act and what changes may be on the horizon:

The Performance Rights Act (the “PRA”) was introduced in the U.S. Senate (S.379) and the House of Representatives (H.R. 848) in February of last year.  So why are we talking about this now?  Well, as most of you should now, L4M was recently in Austin, Texas for the 2010 SXSW festival and the PRA was the topic of an interesting and heated panel.  Interestingly, all sides of the issue were represented, except of course the radio stations (these are the guys who are supposedly adversely affected by the bill).  Perhaps invitations were sent but nobody from the radio world wanted to appear on the panel…who knows.  It is a shame because it would have been nice to hear their perspective especially since it appears as though the Obama administration is supporting the PRA and it might actually become law.

As a musician or someone who makes money through music,  should you care about the Performance Rights Act?  Well, it depends on what you do.  As many of you know, every time a song is played on terrestrial radio a royalty is supposed to be paid to the songwriter.  However, there is no payday for the artist who appeared on the song (singer, guitar player, chime and etc).  For example, if I wrote a song for a famous pop singer I would receive the royalty not the singer.  This is currently the system for terrestrial radio.  Think of Aretha Franklin singing RESPECT.  Everyone in the world has probably heard that song, but every time it is played the royalties for public performance go to the writer (specifically his estate) Otis Redding.

Give it to me. Give it to me. Give it to me. R-O-Y-A-L-T-I-E-S!

Digital sources of music are governed under a different law.  Under the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 (“DPRSRA”) digital music providers are required to pay performance royalties for performance of the sound recordings.  Many feel that the difference in the way royalties are paid for terrestrial radio versus digital providers is unfair. The PRA would remedy this scenario by requiring a royalty for the singer as well as the background musicians.  So as you can imagine, the digital folks, like Pandora and LALA are excited about the passage of the PRA because they feel it will provide a level playing field.

Another often heard argument in favor of the PRA is the fact that other countries do not have the same terrestrial radio exception that we have here in the States.  In other words, money is being collected overseas for American artists but it is not being paid because the U.S. does not have a reciprocal system.

Wow, so this all sounds too good to be true, what is the catch you ask?  Well terrestrial radio stations are not happy about the PRA.  They argue that this will drive up costs and either put them out of business or force them to change their format to talk radio.  Thus the dilemma, is it worth receiving new rights under the PRA to the potential detriment of your opportunity (as an artist) to have your music played on terrestrial radio?  Back in the day when my band was struggling to get exposure we would have done almost anything to get played on big radio.  If the radio industry, which claims to be struggling, pulls music from most of its stations, another avenue for musicians to get exposed is closed.

Regardless of what happens it is important for every artist to understand his or her rights as a songwriter, performer or both.  As recording contracts morph into more intricate deals (e.g. 360 Contracts) artists need to be versed on all avenues of revenue.  It is no fun talking about music and money in the same sentence but at the end of the day, you need to pay the bills so you can live to play another day.

Stay tuned for updates on the PRA and more insight into some of the hot topic areas of music in film.

Hot Topics in Music and Film

Here are the Hot Pockets or Topics in Music and Film

The hangover from SXSW has subsided and deals are actually getting done in the world of both music and film.  There are several hot topics which are been written, blogged, tweeted and plain old talked about in the music and film industry.  Over the next several entries we will try to explore several of those topics.

A new contributor to L4M, Mr. Eric Malnar will update everyone on the public performance royalties debate that is garnering attention from the House, Senate, White House and musicians all over the world.  We will also explore what is a standard 360 deal these days and continue to share our experience of working with musicians (both label musicians and independents) in the ever changing industry.

On the film front; just when I thought it was safe to celebrate the passage of Section 181…President Obama seems to have lost the legislation somewhere between health care reform and his next pack of Camels.  We are still waiting for his signature on H.R. 4213 and eager film makers are anticipating the one year extension that should have come on January 1, 2010.  In other film news, state tax incentives are ever changing so we will try to keep you up to date on the best places to film.  Plus, we will walk the newbie film maker through the process of raising funds for an independent movie by explaining all of the paper work (stupid lawyers) that is necessary before you can even accept a check from your mom.

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION OF THE WEEK:

One thing I take a lot of pride in is introducing talented people to other talented people.  As a lawyer for creative people, I am able to make introductions to some gifted artists which then results in some pretty cool stuff.  I always tell my clients to view us as a resource; whether it is introducing managers to artists, labels to artists, licensing companies to advertisers or musicians to other musicians, our clients end up with the same contacts and connections as we have.

Possibly the best example is this song.  Our clients, Database, French Horn Rebellion and Hey Champ collaborated to bring you a Remix of Beaches and Friends.  The song is doing great on a worldwide level.  Enjoy:

LAWYER4MUSICIANS 2010 SHOWCASE WAS ACES!!!

If any of you read my ramblings you or are fans of any of my clients, you already know that we had our second annual showcase in Austin last week.  Our showcase is a way to promote our clients and let the music community know that not all lawyers suck.  We at L4M strive to help artists (not just musicians) treat their art as a business.  We routinely help protect work product, form entities for bands, review and draft label and license agreements and, overall, act as the left brain aide to right brain thinkers.  Our showcase is just a way to get that across to a wider audience and to thank our current roster of clients.  NOW ON TO THE SHOW:

It is now Wednesday, March 24, and I have still not completely recovered from our showcase which took place on Saturday, March 20.  To say that it was an amazing show is a huge understatement.  Obviously I am a bit biased, but our lineup which included You, You’re Awesome, French Horn Rebellion, Hey Champ, Kidz in the Hall, Bad Rabbits, 88 Keys, Cool Calm Pete, The Cool Kids and Rakaa actually got better on the day of the show!  Travis McCoy dropped by to perform a new song with 88 Keys, Tenille blessed us with her vocals on a couple of Cool Kids’ tracks and The Alchemist and Evidence reunited with their Dilated Peoples mate Rakaa to take the show to the next level.

None of this could have been possible without the amazing work and dedication of CATHARSIS NYC.   Thanks to Justin Kim, James Kim and Tonia Kim (no relation) who put on yet another seamless show.  All of the artists were amazed at their efficiency and organization in running such a giant event.  Several commented that it was the best show they played for the entire showcase.  If you are even thinking of hosting an event, you need to contact them at business@catharsisnyc.com.

More kudos goes to our firm of Stahl Cowen.  If you become a client of ours, you are a client of theirs.  Without Stahl Cowen’s support, there would be no show.

Finally, thanks to the newest members of L4M, Eric Malnar and Brian Troglia.  Both of my partners have made L4M bigger and better by bringing their unique music industry and legal experience to the team.  Watch for new entries and articles from both of these guys.

So, if you were at the show, thanks for coming.  If you were not there, you missed a great time.  While it is impossible to replicate the live show experience (there were about 800 people there and a line around the block at 2pm on Saturday!!!), here are some pics to help bring you a little bit closer to the action.  Special thanks to Justin Kim and Tonia Kim for the pictures (All Rights in the following pictures are reserved to Catharsis, LLC).

The Venue: Aces Lounge, Austin TX

L4M Pre-Show Interview: Brian, Josh and Eric

You, You're Awesome was Awesome

French Horn Rebellion got into a fight (with each other)

Robert won the fight.

Hey Champ got everyone going, per usual.

Then Bad Rabbits got it really hopping (sorry)

88 Keys!!!

Travis McCoy surprised everyone with 88 Keys

Kidz in the Hall. Get their new album. Trust me.

The Cool Kids. Nuff said.

TCK rockin in it.

Aces loving it

Special Thanks to Cool Calm Pete. The coolest and calmest MC ever.

Rakaa wrapped it up

with help from the Alchemist!

Team Building 101: DIY artists, you are not alone…

NEW MUSIC TEAM:  SUIT UP!

NEW MUSIC TEAM: SUIT UP!

Ever since Napster and its sinister brethren appeared on the scene a lot of my peers (even those with the purest of hearts) have added to their music collection without spending a dollar.  In addition to getting music for free, the actual method of creating and distributing music has fundamentally shifted.  Threats of lawsuits from the RIAA may have slowed the free music exchange sites, but social websites, blogs and China have continued to make music available to the masses au gratis (that’s french for free or with cheese, not so good with the franscais).

It is far from original to state that the way the public obtains, shops for or even listens to music has changed over the past decade.  Countless reporters, bloggers, industry experts and politicians have noted the fundamental shift in the music industry.  Your humble author has also contributed to the rhetoric.  But now it is time for musicians and their respecitve teams to stop talking about the change and adjust their own business models in order to succeed in this “all-access-all-the-time” era of music.    Here’s my roadmap:

THE NEW TEAM MODEL FOR MUSICIANS AND THEIR MUSIC

1.  Amazingly good music.    If you don’t have number 1, there is no point in reading past this point.  Because of the ease of getting music out to the public without the cost restrictive hurdles of cd manufacturing, warehouse and transportation costs there is more music available to the public than at any time in history.  While the digital shift has seen many positives, the overhwelming result is an overly saturated market full of average music.  No one likes to think of their music as average, so I’m assuming that you are still reading to see what else you need for your team.  I don’t want to belabor the point, but seriously, if your music isn’t good, you are not going to get far (except for the aboritions of people like Lady Gaga, Soulja Boy and Nickleback).  It all boils down to the music; and that’s a good thing.

2.  Hire A Lawyer.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a lawyer and I’m telling you to hire an attorney.  But it doesn’t have to me.  As you will see in steps 3 and 4, you will be consistently entering into contracts.  Hand shakes are cool, especially funky ones with fist bumps included, but they are not cool for agreements that will involve money and your career.  A lawyer who understands new media, intellectual property protection and more importantly contract interpretation and law is essential.  The new music model involves, digital distribution of music, corporate partnerships, website policies, copyright and trademark protection, royalty collection, license deal, etc. etc.  A lawyer who you trust should be step number 2.  (If a lawyer tells you she will “get you a deal”, you need to politely excuse yourself from her office and never look back.  This old school model is as dead as Chris Brown’s Drink Milk ad campaign.)

3.  Hire a Manager.  Your buddy might be a fun guy and is good at working a guest list, but you need a professional that will not only manage your day to day career but find new opportunities for your music.  The manager needs to think as creatively as the musician, but instead of making music, they should be making deals with new partnership opportunities, tour deals and promotions.  A manager should get a percentage of the money that the musician makes for the work that the manager actually does.  DO NOT sign a manager agreement that blindly gives your manager 20% of everything you make unless that manager used to work for U2 or Jay Z.  Another old school tactic, managers should get paid for what they bring to the table and not just feast on all of the opportunities that come to the band without the managers’ help.  Your agreement with your manager should spell this out in great detail (NOTE, having a written agreement with your manager is a mus.  See point #2).

4.  Get a PR/Marketing Firm.  A firm that understands the music business is obviously important.  But what is more important is a marketing team that understands your music and your niche.  If you are trying to cross over from a hip hop audience to a more mainstream pop market, look for a PR firm that has both clients on its roster.  PR firms can be expensive but if you have a budget to spend they can typically tailor their efforts to match it (see point #2, again).  Posting your music on popular blogs and on social sites  is definitely worthwhile.  However, if you want to take it to the next level, you need the network and reach of a competent PR/marketing firm.  Yes Fakeshoredrive.com is cool, but spin.com is better.

If you have the “new team” assembled you are in a good spot.  This team should be able to act in much the same way as the archaic labels once did.  One remaining step is physical cd distribution.  While the CD is dying it still makes up a large percentage of music sales.  However, unlike the old days, your team can approach physical distributors  after you have enough buzz and digital sales racked up.  If a distributor sees good numbers, a deal can be inked for small distribution of physical copies of your album.

The DIY artist has a lot of opportunities now.  But like many experts have noted, (click here for a great article on the perils of a DIY artist)   just because an artist can produce and publish her work for the public to hear, does not mean that she will succeed.  If your music is good (and your mom thinking it is good does not count), start building this team and you just may be able to achieve success in the music industry.

Good job team

Good job team

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION OF THE WEEK:  FRENCH HORN REBELLION

Speaking of a DIY band, check out French Horn Rebellion.  Originally from Milwaukee, now embedded in Brooklyn, these guys have made their own opportunities and have worked hard to get a foot hold on the indie electro pop scene.  Good music and a sense of humor make them a popular band with cross over appeal.  Now with a good TEAM behind them, you are undoubtedly going to hear a lot more french horn in your music.

Do Due Diligence

Do your due diligence or you may never end up on the big stage.

Due diligence is a phrase that is thrown around the legal world on a daily basis.  “Is that borrower credit worthy?  We’ll have to do our due diligence.”  “Do we want to purchase that gas station?  We will only know after we complete our due diligence.”  Does the concept of completing due diligence in the music world ever come into play?

The answer is that it should.  Just like a business looking to buy out its competitor or a bank trying to figure out if it should issue a credit line to a borrower, a musician should always complete due diligence before making any decision related to his career.

In my quest to get musicians treat their music like a business, I have often compared a music career to any other type of business.  However, even though being a musician is similar to being a manufacturer of tires or a having a shoe store, there are different rules and procedures in the music industry.  These different rules and standards are due partially because of the slick talkers and stereotypical music industry professionals but mostly from a successful system that has been in place for decades.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it has been the mantra of the major label music industry for years.  In this system, the typical scenario played out as follows:  a musician breaks onto the scene or discovered by an A&R rep, the musician blindly signs a multi-album record deal, a manager is provided by the label and the label would control the musicians career for the length of the contract and beyond.  As we all know, this system is no longer the norm.  Due to the failures of the record industry over the last several years, the system has changed and the process for building a career as a musician has changed along with it.

While a musician was happy to sign the first contract that came from a “reputable” label in the past, that musician now has the ability to conduct her own due diligence.   For a musician his or her music is her work product.  Today, when that work product gets to a level where it is ready to share with the public and the public wants to hear it, several doors may open for the musician.  Behind every door, however, is another business who wants to make money off of the musician’s work product.  A manager, business manager, lawyer, label, publicist, publishing company, etc. etc. are all examples of businesses who make money off of your work product.  But just like a business owner who is looking to hire a new CEO, a musician must conduct diligence before making a long term committment which may direct the musicians career and check book for the next several years.

So what should you look for as a musician who is looking to sign with a third party (a label, producer, manager, etc.)?  How does a musician conduct his own due diligence?  First, conduct your own research:  google the hell out of the company or individual that is looking to work with you; talk to people in the industry to see what their experience has been with that company or individual; and spend a lot of time talking and observing what that individual or company is really like to work with.  A label might have a good reputation, but that reputation could have been built on a success 10 years ago; what have they done lately?  Ask for a specific plan for you and your band.  How will the label help you get tours?  How will the manager deal with finances?  How will the lawyer bill you?  We know that Sub-Pop has been successful with many of thier artists, but how do their contracts work?  Will they enter into a license deal or maybe they are only a 360 deal label?  Just because a label or management company has a good name doesn’t mean that they are a good fit for you.

It is always exciting to have someone interested in working with you and in some cases offer you money to work for them.  But in today’s music world, you have to ask: is it worth it?  Maybe you can do it on your own.  Maybe you make your own start and then go with a label.  Maybe your best friend is ok to work as your manager for a regional tour.  All of these things must be thought about before signing on the dotted line. In the business world if one business is looking at buying out another business, the due diligence period may take months (years even).  Lawyer pour over the existing contracts, the amount of money coming in and out of the company, the people working at the company, the systems in place that are working or need to be fixed.  Why should your music career be any different?

Musicians should focus on music.  That is what they are inherently good at and why they have the exciting prospect of people paying them for what they create.  However, saying that “I only want to make music” and ingorning the decisions that effect your career as a musician can have devastating results.  Do your due diligence before you make decisions that will effect your ability to continue to make music for a living.  Once you have made smart decisions on who makes up your professional team, you can go back to what you are truly meant to be doing:  making music.

A New Type of 360 Deal or Old School Meets New School.

Old School Meets New School (sort of)

Recently I was asked to write an article about anything currently happening in the new music industry.  Not really an exciting proposition for most, but for me, my heart went a flutter.  Should I write about fair use, the death of the CD (again), the exploitation of copyrights (again) or current trends in the indie scene?  I decided to write about something that is current and personal to me and my clients.  A new model (which is not so new) for a band/label contract.

Using a combination of the current 360 deals and traditional investments into start-up companies, a fair, equitable and potentially lucrative partnership can be formed.  Realizing that the industry is not what it used to be and that the old model is “old” for a reason, there is a potential to do something new that will benefit the artist as much as the investor or label.

The playing field has leveled to a certain degree.  If a band has done much of the hard work to start out and has a competent management team and lawyer on its side, the need for the old school label is not as necessary as it once was.  Using the same model that many start-up companies use, a band can attract investors and forge a partnership that will allow the band to reach new heights and the investor to realize attractive financial returns.

Please check out my article by clicking here.  Also, please support my friends at the new NYU School of Law IP and Entertainment Ledger by adding their publication to your bookmarks or favorites.

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION(S) OF THE WEEK

Check out my favorite jewelry designer at her exclusive Steven Alan Trunk Show by clicking here.

After you are done shopping for jewels, check out the latest offerings from one of Chicago’s top indie bands:  Empires by checking out their latest plans by clicking here: Bang PR

CMJ Recap and Proof of Change

french_horn_rebellion_01

French Horn Rebellion Ripped it Up at CMJ 09

I’m finally fully recovered from my week in NYC.  While many of the topics discussed by panels at CMJ this year were slightly on the negative side (not too surprising when your industry is in constant flux), there was an air of renewed hope and positivity that musicians and those who are dependent on music to make a living may be turning the corner.

Huge issues, such as how to compensate musicians who have content ripped off or used without permission on Goliath’s like You Tube, do not seem to be any closer to being resolved.  One lawyer from a large internet file sharing site expressed her frustration that it took her client 8 years to work out a comprehensive license deal with the labels.  The labels countered that with a complaint that the country’s Anti-Trust laws prohibit the labels from meeting in the same room let alone coming up with a unilateral price for licensing music and come up with a fair price for licensing; music.  The result will be years of musicians losing out on mechanicals and licensing revenue.

But, like I said, the weekend was not without some optimism.  Focus groups discussed new ways for musicians to make money and reach their fan groups.  Several of the methods they discussed were ideas that this site previously discussed (Click Here and Here).  Using new and creative ways to get your music to your fan base (USB drives, t-shirts, treasure hunts) and utilizing social media were stressed by those in the know.  Creating an interactive experience with the buyer should be the ultimate goal of musicians.  With all of the utilities currently available, the one on one fan/artist experience is easier to achieve.

The byproduct of the new methods of reaching and interacting with fans is the steady decline of the traditional album (Something I mentioned in last week’s post:  See White Chocolate and the Soul Berries).  Rolling Stone is picking up on this trend as it is reaching beyond the indies and making headway with some major artists.  In Issue 1090, October 29, 2009, David Browne cited to the death of the traditional album in his article entitled “Artists Break Free of the Album”.  In the article, several artists, including Billy Corgan, Modest Mouse, Sppon, Blitzen Trapper and Radiohead, are testifying to the need and the appeal of a new model for getting music to the masses.  Finally catching up to the public trend (or disease, depending on how you feel) of severe Attention Deficit Disorder, the music industry is coming to the realization that if you are going to get new music out and grab the public’s attention, you better do it quickly and in a new and interesting way.  EP’s are becoming the new LP’s and on-line releases, once deemed leaks, are becoming a cheaper and easier way to reach the entire world and not just the big box store customer. 

The industry insiders and taste makers at CMJ were not necessarily revealing any new or earth shattering information that the informed musician did not already know.  Yet, it is important to realize the significance of the simple fact that these industry and label types are finally catching on to the truth.  If you really needed proof that the industry is not what it once used to be and the old model of releasing a cd, touring, sitting back and living off of royalties is dead, then hearing it from a label owner, label lawyer and label A&R executive is all you hopefully ever need.

blog-deficit-disorder-badd

Did A.D.D. kill the LP?

 

 

How to Make Money as a Musician (Volume 3: Creative Merch)

Those Guys

Those Guys

Most people don’t want to be that guy.  You know the guy that rocks the Iron Maiden t-shirt to the Iron Maiden concert.  However, that guy, has helped musicians generate additional revenue for decades.

Today there are many more outlets and many more products that an artist may peddle.  While t-shirts and posters still rule the merch tent, new (and cooler) band merchandise is being developed seemingly every day. Recently one of my clients put out an entire mix tape on a  bracelet.  The LiveStrong looking bracelet ingeniously connects via a USB drive (see below).  This allows a band to sell something that looks cool, is unique and includes the band’s name, logo, design AND their music.  It’s brilliant.  There is even software available that would allow the band to continuously update the USB drive so the fan who purchased it will have updated music and band information and the ability to purchase new music every time the fan plugs the device into her computer.  (contact Vadim at http://www.customusb.com for more info.)

face usb

Picture Your Band's Name and Logo on a bracelet/album!

T-Shirts are not what they used to be anymore either.  If you remember this post:  Mos(definitely A Great Idea, you know that I am a big fan of including music on non-traditional media.  Computer codes and affordable USB drives can be included with all sorts of merchandise that fans are more apt to buy.  Mos Def included a code on a designer tee which enabled the purchaser to download his entire new album.  Magazines have used this idea for years; purchase the an issue of Spin and you can download the new single from Jack White’s new band, The Dead Weather.  Even beer purchases include mp3 downloads.  Obviously, indie artists do not brew their own beer, publish their own magazine or manufacture their own t-shirts.  However, with a little bit of research and some creative marketing, partnerships with content starved companies can be forged.

Not only are there new products, but with band websites, myspace, facebook, sonicbids, amazon and other e-stores, there are countless new ways to sell the products.  The back of the tour van will always be the primary way that a true indie rocker sells his burned cd’s, but for a couple bucks more, that indie rocker could sell you an mp3 from his couch.  Internet partnerships work just as well, if not better, as partnerships to manufacture and sell physical products.  If you align yourself with a like minded or themed website that has an on-line store, than you can offer exclusive gear to that site.  You take a chunk of the sales and share the rest (and all of your users that visit the site) with the partner website.   Everyone is a winner.

Music is quickly becoming a “value add” to products that people already purchase.  In the battle to grab a consumers attention, companies will pay a bit more to make their product stand out.   “Free” music is a great way of doing that.  And for musicians, the deals that can be struck with these type of forward thinking companies can be fairly lucrative; or at the very least serve as a great way to get music out to a whole new audience.

Creativity has to continue after the music is recorded.  In today’s era, where the only type of music sale that is increasing is vinyl, artists have to think creatively in order to make a profit.  If the public will only pay for select albums and download the rest of their music for free, new income streams must be forged by bands.  Selling your music in a non-traditional way may increase a band’s merchandise sales as well as “album” sales all at the same time.