Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Is My Band Not Signed Yet?

~ Here is an interesting post originally penned by music attorney Martin Frascogna. You can read the entire article HERE.

1. There’s Nothing Unique About Your Group
At this point everyone knows music alone doesn’t get you signed. Music is indeed the lowest topic on the totem poll. Labels are looking for a unique hook, a hook which enhances the groups musical element. More so, labels are looking for something which they currently don’t have. Bands need to show they’ve penetrated a niche in the market which labels don’t have access to. Show you’ve got a niche, and labels will recognize you’re the vehicle to take them there. Don’t show a niche and you’ve placed yourself in the same category as the other thousand bands standing outside the label’s office looking to take your head off.

2. Attitude
Never under estimate the power of a good attitude. Labels are essentially entering into a business relationship with artists and the last thing they want to do is enter into a relationship with a group who feels entitled to being signed or someone who's arrogant. You won't find a person in any industry who wants to do business with an asshole. More often than not, bands enter negotiations with this attitude of “what could you possible do for me.” Wrong. In their defense they think this is the way business is done. Hard noise negotiations tactics are for the insecure and entertainment wannabes. Rather, have your entertainment attorney negotiate. They negotiate for a living, understand subtle negotiation tactics and know which buttons to hit.

3. Funds Aren’t Flowing
Contrary to any preconceived notion, labels don’t have money. There is a small percentage of labels who are in the financial position to take on new acts. On top of this daunting nibble of information, there is even a fewer number of legitimate labels. Record labels are everywhere but the numbers means nothing. Musicians should only sign with labels who (a) are legitimate, (b) have money for development, and (c) have distribution in place. Today this is the equivalent to finding a unicorn wearing a diamond saddle who’s sitting in a pot of gold while smoking fountain of youth cigarettes with a leprechaun.

4. Timing Is Everything
Simply put, some bands don’t get signed based on timing. You may have the right package, the right deliver system, unique music, and a solid niche market but the label says “no”. If the label tells you the timing isn’t right, they are telling you the truth. Cycles in the music business make and break sales. If you aren’t falling in the right cycle in terms of market demand and genre success, hold tight, the cycle will more than likely rotate back in your favor. At this point, stay ahead of the curve and approach the label when the timing is rights.

5. The Delivery’s Wrong
Bands rarely get themselves signed and A&R is dead and has no pull. Unless a label approaches you, which is a rarity, labels hear about musicians from entertainment attorneys. Entertainment attorneys know how to structure label proposals and better yet, work with label executives on a personal and daily basis. They know which labels have money, which labels are signing, and which ones will bite on particular clients. Like it or not, attorneys can navigate past the gatekeepers and get straight to the decision makers. Rejections are common when bands pitch their products inappropriately. You get one shot. Pitch incorrectly, the door closes. Attorneys know how to pitch, when to pitch it, and where to pitch it. Use them and maximize your chances of getting signed. Not to mention your attorney should be the consistent figurehead who helps you navigate all levels, indie or major. Use them on the front end and allow them to grow with you throughout your career.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

10 Tips for '11

~ some good tips here from The Future of Music Blog. Check it out HERE.

1. Living a life in music is a privilege. Earn it.

There is very little more satisfying then spending time making music. If you make this your life’s work, then you can be truly joyful. However, the chances of being successful are extremely low and the only people who are going to get there are going to have to work hard and earn the right to be a musician. Respect the privilege of being free enough to have this choice (if you do) and honor the opportunity.

2. No one is in charge of your muse but you. Be happy and positive.

People can be their own worst enemy. Countless times I have heard artists tell me the reasons why their career is not working out. Most of the time they are putting blocks in their way and pointing fingers at people and things that are holding them back. Stop whining and blaming other people and make the conscious decision that you are going to be successful and that things are going to work out in your favor. You are creating your own reality every day, so make it a good one and excel.

3. Practice, practice, practice – then go for it. Over prepare.

You can never be ready enough for opportunity. Your live shows can always be better, your songs can be more amazing, and your playing can only improve. As the CEO of your own musician business, you can learn how to run the company more effectively, reach out to more fans and be an more effective social media marketer. Don’t hold yourself back by not being ready. Be a professional.

4. If you suck, you will never make it. Find a way to be great.

Lets face it, it is really hard to be amazing. Some people have the natural talent and you can see it in the first 5 seconds of meeting them. They are truly blessed. The rest of us have to find our niche, our passion, our calling and then reach for it. Ask people around you for feedback. Find what you are good at and focus on that. Get other people to help you. If you don’t stand out and rise above the pack, you will struggle forever. Be amazing.

5. Learn how to breathe and keep your focus. Stay calm.

There is nothing more pleasant than working with someone who knows who they are and what their goal is. Remember the old adages of thinking before you speak, and taking a deep breath before you lay into someone. Most of us have a lot going on in our lives and we can all benefit from staying focused on our goals and remaining calm in most situations. Learn yoga, exercise, run, meditate, sit still, breathe, learn who you are.

6. Don’t take yourself too seriously, no one else does. Have fun.

I am amazed at how many people spend so much time looking backwards and trying to understand what people think of them. This is worrying about the past and not embracing the future. Reviews are important, but don’t run to them or let them ruin your day. Not everyone is going to like you, but more people will if you are having a good time.

7. No matter how difficult things get, move forward. Don’t give up.

The only thing that will help your career take off is forward momentum. That is how you are going to reach your goals. A lot of people are stuck in their own mud. Take action, make a move and then see what happens. Don’t spend time procrastinating or worrying about how hard it is, just do something positive to advance your cause. You will feel much better by acting instead of waiting or worrying.

8. Find a way to make money. Start small and grow. Avoid being in debt.

This is probably the most important strategy of them all and why so many artists have gotten into trouble in the past by taking label advances. All that is, is a big loan. Get some kind of cash flow happening right away, no matter how small. Sell merch, play for the door, license your songs, play sessions, teach, write, start your musician business. The biggest mistake you can make is to borrow a lot of money and then spend it on things that don’t matter.

9. Be unique and true to your vision. Say something.

The people that we remember are the ones that are unique, exciting, special, provocative, fascinating, original, inventive, interesting. Music is a basic form of communication. The really successful artists have something to say and work on delivering their message. Your chances of success go up exponentially if you have a unique position and message and create a following of fans who really listen to you because you have something important to say.

10. Work and play with people you like every day. Collaborate Often.

Music is a tribal experience. You cannot make great music alone. Surround yourself with talented people, write together, play together, try new things. Bounce inspiration off of each other and learn. Listen to each other and let the music weave it’s way around you. Find a producer, songwriting partner, other musicians and dive in together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

D.I.Y or DIE!

~ Rick Goetz rules as does his Musician Coaching Blog. He recently capped off 2010 with "The Top 5 Business Mistakes of 2010"... Music business that is, in case you weren't following. If you are setting your dreams and goals on a future as a musician, I highly suggest you read the entire article HERE. In the meantime, here is a teaser to get you going...

I will let you in on a little insider secret – since the un-bundling of the album EVERYONE is making this shit up as they go along. There is no hard science to the initial stages of breaking new artists – it is a series of best guesses. Since no one is ever going to care about your career more than you do (at least I hope not) you may as well give it a try for yourself. Even if you fail you will no more about the job and be better qualified to find the right person who compliments your strengths and weaknesses.

There will, of course, be times when you are forced to wait for circumstances to change. It happens to all of us no matter what business we are in but I urge you to find ways of making these periods productive. No matter what major event in your career is looming large – get out and play, meet people and record as much as possible and remember – there is never going to be a perfect time to start that next phase of your career. Something will always be in your way if you let it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who Is The Enemy of the Industry?

~ Happy New Year! Someone sent this gem of an article to me, and thought it might be appropriate here... and they were right!
Original article source can be found HERE.

How the Artist Became the Enemy of the Music Industry

By Jeff Price

In the 80’s when I was in high school, smoked clove cigarettes and looked like a bad reproduction of Robert Smith, musicians were larger than life. They were a persona, a style, a representation of what I was and how I wanted people to see me. I connected with them and they represented me.

I would spend hours listening to 7” singles and cassettes, reading fanzines, scouring the shelves of a record store to discover that next artist that might mean something to me and, as importantly, that no one else knew. The more obscure, self-released or “indie” the artist or label the better.

And the RIAA agreed. Music was special and the artists that created it were valued. Thou shalt covet the musician and fan. And the enemy? VHS movies and video games vying for my money and attention. The RIAA embarked on a campaign to frame music, and the artists that created it, as more important and of a higher cultural value then these other newcomers. I remember buying The English Beat’s “Special Beat Service” vinyl album with a big circular sticker on it stating in all caps, “Music, More Value for Your Money”. And I actually agreed with the RIAA. The VHS of Buckaroo Bonzai and the new Mario Bros. Nintendo game cartridge would come and go, but the song “I Confess” would forever hold a place in my heart.
The lines were drawn. The RIAA worked hard, even spent money to define music, artists and their fans as belonging to a higher cultural status that had more value than those of movies and video games.

More competition showed up for my “entertainment dollars” until new technology shifted the enemy from those competing with the music industry to those stealing from it. The problem got much larger than the episode of What's Happening!! when Rerun is at the Doobie Brothers concert with a tape recorder under his jacket (forward to 3:30 to re-live the stinging moment). Cassette recordings of albums were being mass produced and handed out or sold, CD burners chugged out crappy illegal copies of albums, smaller handheld recording devices allowed live shows to be more easily recorded and bootlegged. The enemy changed and grew in numbers.

Along came the Internet and MP3 compression technology as well as a new breed of technogeeks converting the huge song files on CDs to smaller ones and sending them around via the Internet. As net access via dial-up morphed to DSL and cable, the 25 minutes it used to take to download just one song changed to just minutes (or faster). Hard drives got bigger, computer sound cards and speakers improved, broadband net access became cheaper; it began to swirl out of control. Then Napster arrived: the first peer to peer filing, with the ability to scale in an unprecedented way allowing tens of millions of people to get their hands on music at the (double) click of a button. It quickly became the music industry’s public enemy number one.

And Napster was the event that triggered some in the industry to slowly lose their minds and creep towards insanity. Some in the industry began to move their cross hairs from Napster to ISP services and they kept going, looking to find someone, something (or anyone) to blame for the looming changes in control and revenue. Publicly and privately the industry attacked just about everything – retail stores, radio, press, the internet, computers, MTV, YouTube,, instant messaging, CD burners, eMusic, Soundscan, independent promoters, all technology, but they could not slow it down. New enemies had to be found. Reason flew out the window and they went after the very thing that kept them alive, the music fan.

The RIAA, with the backing of its label members, started suing the very people that paid their salaries and made them money. Get grandma, get the high school student, get the college kids, take them all down. Sue them, scare them, serve them up legal notices, force them to settle in the hope that a message would go out to the world and stop their behavior. Use fear and intimidation to get the genie back in the bottle. Don’t bother to explain copyright or the value of it, scare the crap out of them.

But this too did not work. The shift accelerated. Someone must be blamed. This MUST be someone else’s fault – panic ensued.

Public service announcements were launched featuring major label artists stating that downloading music via peer to peer services was stealing, but there was no real educational campaign embarked on to truly, honestly explain the situation. Where was the new campaign of “Music, More Value for the Money”, the “Music is Special”, the “We love our Music Fans”, the, “Wow This is Awesome, There are More and More People Listening to Music Now so Lets Figure Out How to Take Advantage of This Great Opportunity” campaigns?

The industry started to crumble faster as the media and distribution outlets opened to everyone:

eMusic launched creating the first on-line digital music store with unlimited shelf space and inventory.

MySpace took off, every band, signed or not, could now have a fan webpage.

YouTube exploded, anyone could now make a music video and let potentially tens of millions of people see it.

iTunes launched, the iPod came out and music fans loved it. Everything could be available to buy and would never be out of stock.

TuneCore launched, every musician now had access to have his or her music distributed and be on the shelf to be bought.

And some in the old school industry lost their minds, completely. They searched for new people or companies to attack, but they had already blamed them all. With no targets left, in a last moment of desperation, these few weary disillusioned out-of-touch with reality souls attacked the only thing that was left, the artist. The very creators of the music, who were needed to fuel the machine they built, became the problem.

The artist was now the enemy.

In their minds, it was these other artists’ fault that the music they wanted to sell was not selling. These other artists just made too much music, and all this music confuses people, makes music fans not like music, makes them throw their hands up in the air and say, “There is just too much choice, I need someone else to tell me what I like. I can’t deal with other people suggesting bands and songs to me that are not working for record labels or radio stations.”

Sitting board members of the RIAA, A2IM and SoundExchange went on campaigns and made public statements to the press that “these” artists, these evil bad artists, were to blame! It was these non-sanctioned artists hurting album sales and revenue for the labels. They are the reason why the music industry is failing. We did not let them in, but here they are making and recording music. These artists are “crap”. These artists “clutter” the world with their non-sanctioned, non-approved songs. These artists are not “developed” and are failing, taking us all down with them. Through their magical ways, these artists stop the sales of “good” music. The problem is THESE artists. They have to be stopped. We must force them all back into the old model where the RIAA member record labels get to decide who gets to put music on the shelves of iTunes, Amazon and other stores.

To make matters worse, these “crap” musicians actually record music without first checking with us. It’s bad enough it’s on their own hard drives, how dare they put it on Apple’s to be found or bought if searched for. Radiohead, Justin Bieber, Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, The Black Eyes Peas, Jay-Z are being hurt by these “other” artists having their music available for people to buy on iTunes. And whose idea was it in the first place to let them have a MySpace or Facebook page or upload a video to YouTube! Berklee School of Music, how dare you teach these artists anything without first getting our approval to let them in.

A last desperate witch-hunt started. Some other old guard industry professionals started hammering in on these foul, evil, who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are artists – it’s your fault! You are now the enemy. It bubbled up and became a drumbeat to the point where other musicians in legendary bands even began to echo the sentiment.

You’re all crap. You are the problem.

Instead of embracing this new world – a world where more music is being created, distributed, bought, sold, shared and listened to by more people and more musicians than at any point in history - the RIAA, A2IM, SoundExchange complacently sit silent as their board members, and in one last desperate attempt, attack the creators of music.

But it did not work. 2010 was the year of the artist with more artists selling more music now than at any point in history. And now as these few old school guard sit and ramble insanely about how music is killing music, after they have attacked and blamed everything and everyone for the shift in power and loss of control, there is only one more thing left for them to blame…themselves.