We here at L4M are known for a few things: useful information to musicians and musid industry professionals, witty banter and throwing killer shows in Austin, TX.
The last two years in Austin have been “bananas”. We have moved from Momo’s to Aces with our hip hop oriented unofficial showcase. Last year at Aces, we packed the place with about 850 fans who seemed to instantenously decide to forget their weeklong festival hangover and party once more. Dialted Peoples, The Cool Kids, 88 Keys, Travie McCoy, Bad Rabbits, Kidz in the Hall, and others helped to make a day party spill over into the night.
L4M has expanded since 2010. We’ve added a couple more lawyers who generally do not suck. We have also partnered with a pretty bad ass music venue here in Chicago, The Bottom Lounge to host more shows here in our home town. Naturally, we felt the need to expand our showcase for Austin.
While details are still being put together, we can put a muzzle on some of the rumors and answer some of the questions we have been getting about this year’s festival. L4M, The Bottom Lounge and some otherh sweet partners will be sponsoring a two day unofficial showcase featuring one day of hip hop and one day of rock. As the kids say: that’s what’s up!
Confirmed artists include: The Cool Kids, the Doomtree crew, Pac Div, Blah Blah Blah, The Idle Hands, Empires, Elephant Stone and more. The hip hop show is slated for Friday at Aces (again) and the Rock show will most likely be in the same vicinity on Saturday. Obviously, more details will follow. Stay tuned!
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.
I’m on the way to CMJ music marathon in NYC. CMJ and other similar music events are good barometers for the industry as whole. Who will be the next band? What are the labels going to do know? How has piracy effected music sales? Etc. Etc.
In the past this indie music conference and pseudo music festival has proven to be a great place to find new music talent and network with creative industry types. This year, the line up is more representative of the changing music scene: a lot of bands that are great, but that you probably haven’t heard of yet. The Antlers, Pitbull, Japanroids and Das Rascist are recognizable names to those in the know and will hopefully CMJ will take them and the hundreds of other bands to the next level.
The networking that had gone on in the past was between labels, pr firms, distributors and radio folks. This year, many of those people are looking for jobs. Perhaps CMJ will have a job fair day?
I’m looking forward to seeing if the unprecedented ease of getting music to the masses (i.e. the Internet) has truly watered down the musical talent or if it has afforded those that never would have had the opportunity to perform in the past to have their talent seen and heard. I’m obviously hoping for the latter. I’m also curious to see what pearls of wisdom the overly entrenched New York industry types plan on sharing at the various panels. My prediction this year is that a lot of the label types have new jobs with smaller (both in size and revenue) companies. So, chances are that the theme will be battling piracy and identifying new ways of getting paid for making music.
We shall see and I’ll report back after my trip.
SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION OF THE WEEK:
Speaking of new ways of getting music to the masses in a creative way, check out my friend Whatzisface’s newest project (click the link below). In the past hip hop artists have been found via the mixtape. Mixtapes were and still are to a large extent, full length albums without a particular theme or concept. They are given away for free usually on a burned cd or now, via myspace download. The hope is the same: someone with decision making power and a budget will listen and choose to develop the artist. Why not change it up? Why not re-invent the mixtape so that people look forward to it like a new album release? Add a concept to it. Make it funny and release it in a cool way. That’s what ‘face has done. Here is one of his latest installments in the White Chocolate and… series. Enjoy.
Welcome back to my multiple part series on how to make money as a musician: Volume 2, Licensing.
No point dwelling on the past, making money selling records has gone the way of the 8 track, the ferbie and the Hummer SUV. The antiquated system of big advances and platinum record sales has died (or is at least on life support) along with the major labels. So while it is harder to make money the old fashion way, there are new and, more importantly, more ways of making money as a musician.
Performing live at concerts is still the best way to make money. It used to be that bands would perform to sell albums, now the musicians give away their music to sell concert tickets. However, not everyone can sell out stadiums, concert halls, or even high school proms. So, what is another great way for musicians to make significant income or supplement their concert income? Licensing!
Think of how many commercials you heard or saw today? Consumer Reports estimates that the average American is exposed to 247 commercial messages a day. The vast majority of the radio and television ads, as well as a growing number of internet and new media ads, are accompanied by music. Whether its Budweiser, which spends approximately $90 million a year on advertisements, playing the newest Dodo’s or Santigold (See Above) song or Apple promoting the newest IPhone with Feist, music is an integral part of advertising all over the world. Musicians can lay their claim to the billions of dollars spent on advertisements each year.
Licensing does not end with advertisements. One of the most common terms of art used in license agreements drafted by folks like me is describing the use of a song in “any medium now know or hereafter discovered”. This industry phrase means that a song can be used or synched to movies, television shows, internet programming, video games, radio programs, or any other programming or format which hasn’t even been discovered yet. Think about, when is the last time you watched a movie that didn’t have a sound track, a television show that didn’t have a theme song, or a video game that didn’t have background music? Watching old silent movies does not count.
As satellite and cable television expands and internet programming continues to grow the opportunities for music licensing grow proportionally. Budgets may vary, but mechanical royalties (the statutory rate that must be paid every time a song is broadcasted) must be paid. Licensing music can be a quick substantial pay day or a long term and consistent money maker.
The dollar figures for global music licensing are staggering. According to a 2007 report by eMarketer, the projected budget for music licensing in 2010 will reach $4.4 billion! How many artists would be happy with just a teeny tiny percentage of that huge pot?
Just knowing that the licensing money is out there does not make it a reality for most independent artists (I’m anticipating your questions). For independent artists who are not signed to a publisher, it is still difficult to get your music in front of the licensing decision makers. There are several services out there via the web which offer solutions: Pump Audio, Taxi and my favorite (bias added) Music Dealers. These sites allow artists to upload their music to catalogs with the hope that a music supervisor seeking independent music visits the site and selects their song. Some sites are non-exclusive, meaning you can upload your music to more than one, while other require exclusivity. Always read the contract (even the click through contracts)!
Other options for getting your music licensed is to attend music seminars, panels, events, conventions. Research where the industry people are going to be. Buy a badge to CMJ, SXSW, Midem, etc. Music supervisors and a&r types are always at these types of events networking and trying to find the right sound for their project. If you don’t run into the right folks there you can start networking on your own to find managers, lawyers or other independent licensing reps of music. A lot of times these types have the inside track (which is usually a coveted list of contact info for music supervisors in all types of media like movies, tv, and video games) to the decision makers. For a split on the fee, independent reps will submit your music for your. While there is no guaranty, your chances of having a supervisor actually listen to your music is much higher when it is submitted by someone like this.
Just like everything else in your career as a musician, you will only go as far as you and your talent take you. Having great music alone is not enough. You have to treat it like a business. Licensing opportunities will not just come to you. Go out there and sell it. Network, meet the right people, create a buzz and capitalize on every opportunity (no matter how small) that is presented to you.
Please check out the Future of Music Coalition’s: “What’s the Future for Musicians?” 2008 conference at the Old Town School of Folk Music on September 22, 2008. Go to https://www.futureofmusic.org/events/chicago08/regform.cfm to register. There is a scholarship (free admission) for musicians and students.
It is a day long seminar that will look at all of the issues that I generally blog about: new ways of getting your music out there, different mechanisms for artist’s to make money, new technology and its influence and a whole lot more.
Lots of people from every side of the music business will be there to participate and answer questions. I think there will be refreshments as well, perhaps punch and pie…