One of the best ways to grow is to look at what’s worked for other indie musicians and adapt it to your own career. Here are 5 great strategies with real examples to get you going. A lot of musicians think they can’t start making strategies to move their career forward until they’re making money, until they take some business classes, or until they get a manager. The coolest thing about these strategies is that you can start using them TODAY.
1. Make a Plan from the Start
Making a great plan is one of the best ways to get to that music success you deserve. Not only do concrete goals give you something to aim for, they also help you decide what your first step should be.
Try to make your goals as specific as possible. Instead of saying “I want to be rich and famous,” try something specific like “I want to be able to be a full time musician with a yearly salary of at least $75,000 and be able to tour outside my home state.” Break down your lofty goal into smaller tasks like “gather contact information for local venues,” “contact 5 venues this week,” and “connect with another band to share a gig.” Suddenly finding a way to reach that goal becomes more manageable.
In the past 14 years, music industry revenues plummeted from $14.3 billion to $7 billion. People listen to more music than ever, but they do it on platforms like Spotify and Pandora, which pay artists fractions of pennies per play. Things aren’t much better on YouTube, where ad revenues for creators continues to fluctuate. With little monetary incentive, some worry that musicians will simply stop creating altogether. Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne went so far to say, “The Internet will suck all creative content out of the world.”
Is the state of affairs for musicians really so dire?
Not according to Pomplamoose singer Jack Conte. Last year with $2.1 million in funding, he launched Patreon, a platform where musicians, writers, cartoonists and other creators can solicit donations for their work. What makes Patreon a little different than Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that users subscribe to creators, paying them monthly for as long as they wish. Creators can offer small rewards for donations, but the focus is less on rewards and more on supporting artists for its own sake.
For the third time this year — and only the fourth time ever — the year-to-date total sales of digital albums have exceeded those of CDs.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, so far in 2014 through the week ending Feb. 2, a total of 22.99 million albums have been sold. Of that total, 11.18 million were downloads while another 11.10 million were CDs. (An additional 710,000 were vinyl LPs and other physical configurations, like cassettes.)
Year-to-date sales of albums on CD have only trailed downloads in three earlier times — and two of those were this year. Before 2014, it happened in just the first week of 2013 (week ending Jan. 6).
While it may seem counterintuitive to some, digital albums have yet to consistently surpass physical album sales. Up until now, only when track equivalent album (TEA) sales, whereby 10 songs equal one album, are factored in do digital album sales surpass CDs. Digital albums plus TEA first surpassed physical albums in 2011 when physical albums accounted for 49.7% of albums while digital albums plus TEA accounted for 50.3%. The market has yet to have a year where digital album sales without TEA surpassed those of CDs, but 2014 might be the year where it finally happens.
The divide between the two configurations has grown closer in recent years. Last year, CDs represented 57.2% of the album market, while downloads were 40.6%. In 2012, CDs were 61.2% of the pie, while in 2011, they were 67.6%. So far in 2014, CDs are 48.3% of all album sales, as compared to its 50.3% share of the market at the same a year ago.
Worth noting: when vinyl, cassettes and DVD albums are added in, physical albums account for 51.38% thus far in 2014 versus digital’s 48.62%. Vinyl itself is nearly 3% of all album sales so far this year.
Source: Billboard (by Kevin Caulfield)
Getting a record deal is the musician equivalent of a high school ball player making it pro, only with fewer head injuries and lower odds of an overdose. Two albums into my career as a rapper, I had a hit song, and the recording industry whisked me off to Hollywood. My fairy tale lasted 11 months before they abruptly dropped me from my recording contract without ever releasing my album, despite my first single going gold (selling over 600,000 copies in just a few months).
In that short time, I got a crash course in the recording industry: how it works, how they exploit and manipulate young talent, and how to go from having nothing to everything to nothing again in a very short period of time. My name is Spose, and this is an inside look at how the sausage is made.
An intriguing new music discovery app has popped up on Apple’s App Store. It’s called Rewind Radio, and pitches itself as “the world’s first radio time machine” while promising that “music rediscovery is possible”.
The app, which we’ve been playing with this morning, prompts you to choose a decade, a year, or a season (e.g. Winter 1987) and then play music from that period, saving tracks as ‘moments’ for later access.
The caveat is that the music comes in the form of 30-second samples rather than full tracks, with a shopping-cart button to buy them from Apple’s iTunes Store. However, Rewind Radio also has a ‘Listen to Full Songs’ button, which prompts users to enter their Rdio login to stream full tracks via that service.
It’s thus the latest app to be built on Rdio’s platform, with that company competing with Spotify and Deezer to build an ecosystem of mobile app developers. The app is slick, social features are built in too, and the nostalgia angle isn’t one that’s been over-mined by discovery apps in recent times, so feels quite fresh.
Can it cut through the App Store clutter to find an audience, and then find a successful business model? That’s a challenge, as it is for all music apps, so we’ll watch Rewind Radio’s progress carefully.
Source: Musically (by Stuart Dredge)
We’re gonna tell you a lot of things that you might not want to hear (especially if you’re doing or NOT doing some of these items). A lot of mags and industry professionals (mostly those who want your money) don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they patronize you and talk to you like children when it comes to these things. I’ve seen some God-awful, condescending nonsense in print when it comes to career advice for musicians.
We respect you more than that. We think you’re adults (for the most part) who can handle a dose of reality every now and again if it means making some positive changes in how you conduct your business. And if your band isn’t a business, maybe you should re-think seeking out press in the first place.
A healthy majority of these list items come from discussions we’ve had with editors and journalists from around the country, and some of them are our own pet peeves. Take everything with a grain of salt, if you must. We’re just telling it like it is, giving you a peek behind the curtain.
OK, no more preamble, no sugarcoating, no bullshit. Here (in no particular order) are about two-dozen plus reasons why your band isn’t getting anywhere with press. So, if you’re ready for some harsh truths, read on. We start with…
1. You look, sound or act like the ass-clowns in Brokencyde. See Exhibit A below.
Music and sound recognition app Shazam had its biggest night ever during Sunday night’s Grammy Awards telecast. The company notifies its 10 million app users to tune in for exclusive content. They then Shazamed the show more than 1 million times, with 54,000 purchasing music by artists featured on the program.
Not Beyonce’ or Jay Z, but rather Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons saw the biggest spikes in Shazam activity, according to the company.
- More than 85 million monthly active users
- Shazam is available in 33 languages
- More than 15 million new fans added every month
- More than 15 million tracks are tagged, on average, each day
- Surpassed 12 billion tags
- More than 35 million tracks are currently in the Shazam database
- Drove more than $300 million in the sale of digital goods in the last 12 months
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
Beats Music is not the same old song and dance.
The new music service, which launched today online and for mobile devices, does let you stream and download 20 million-plus songs just as you can on Spotify. And it provides music based on your mood, as does Pandora.
But Beats, which made its industry-changing Beats by Dr. Dre headphones a fashion statement, brings swagger and style to the music marketplace. Some critics chide Beats — founded in 2008 by Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine — for emphasizing style over substance.
With Beats Music, the two are suitably intertwined.
The new service has pretty much the same catalog that Spotify has. Both services had the latest from Bruce Springsteen and Jennifer Nettles when their new releases hit. Not available at launch on Beats Music is Led Zeppelin — a get that Spotify ballyhooed last month — or the Beatles and AC/DC, for now found only on iTunes.
That could change, as Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers says it “will be adding more and more artists on an ongoing basis.”
Where Beats Music differs from the competition is that it serves as a music-loving older brother or sister who turns you onto music you may not have heard, or have forgotten.
There’s a popular business acronym that says goals should be S.M.A.R.T., or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Your music career is no different. Unless you have a target that you are reaching for, you’ll just continue down random pathways hoping to get somewhere.
Oftentimes, artists tend to limit their music sales to iTunes only, which is a crucial mistake considering the surge in popularity of streaming music services. It’s extremely important to get your music onto various platforms to accommodate fans that prefer to stream rather than download, as well as the fact that some services are more popular or non-existent in some countries.
EPs are a fan favorite these days! There is more music being released than ever before, and EPs sustain the listeners attention span by offering a taste of what a band is all about. In addition, creating EPs is a much cheaper route to take and allows for you to put out something new and fresh more than once a year.
One of the best ways to acquire email addresses from potential fans is to offer them something for free. Probably the most easiest solution is to offer a free download of one of your tracks. You can accomplish this using widgets and other tools that are available on ONErpm.
It takes quite a bit of time to handle the day-to-day social media aspects of a band. Ideally, you should find 2 or 3 prominent sites and build out your audience on those platforms. This will ensure that you put in the quality work that is needed to be successful on each one.
Furthermore, take advantage of apps and plugins, such as ONErpm’s Facebook store. If your fans are constantly on Facebook, why not give them the opportunity to purchase your music without leaving the site?
If you haven’t got a website yet, spend the majority of your time on getting one. This is basically your online business card, and a tool that will make you look more professional to people considering hiring you for gigs, media coverage, etc. It’s also a great way to engage with your fans, encourage music / merch sales, and keep fans informed.
This is actually one of the most important tips. If you’re making good songs that can compete with other popular musicians in your genre, then it’s time to really start marketing your music…CONSISTENTLY. Otherwise, not many people will hear or purchase your music, thus making it harder to build traction in terms of getting your name out there.
You may feel the need to up that number to increase your chances of getting your music heard; that is if you’re already been spending a good amount of time on marketing efforts and aren’t seeing the results you had hoped for.
It takes very little time to set up, but once you do you can set all your videos to be monetized. YouTube selects ads to be shown around your videos, and you are paid a portion of the revenue.
Don’t create only official music videos. Make any type of quick video (at least a minute long) talking about anything, recording in the studio, on the road, etc. Sure, some of them may make you very little, yet over time the volume could start collecting into something meaningful.
Make a playlist of your videos and direct people into watching a playlist instead of an individual video. This makes it easier for fans to view more of your videos, which is a plus in that every view counts toward more revenue!
Once you have monetized your channel, you can enable your annotations to have live links to iTunes, Google Play and other retailers. This creates instant traffic to sell your music and merchandise.
Do you already have a large audience to work with? If so, you can join ONErpm’s YouTube network and we’ll leverage your audience for higher ad rates. In addition, we also bring other monetizing opportunities for your videos, as well as cross promote with other network channels to drive up views.
Make sure your music is put into a database that allows YouTube to match your song anytime it is used. What this means is, every time your music is added to a random video with or without your permission, you’ll get a piece of the revenue. If your distributor doesn’t offer this, use a multi-channel network like ONErpm!
Don’t simply include the basic information on your video in the description. Take advantage of the opportunity to sell to prospective fans by adding outbound links to everything that you’d like to sell. Be sure to include merch stores, iTunes, Spotify, etc., to send your fans to for further revenue.
Try at all costs not to use one of the thumbnails YouTube generates from your video. What’s better than a custom, eye-catching image with your band logo to encourage users to click on your video? NOTHING!
Don’t wait for someone to randomly find your song to put behind their video on YouTube. Use companies like Audiosocket and CueSongs. They allow artists to have YouTubers legally license songs for their videos for low rates, which in turn leads to more exposure and revenues for you.
With 2013 now behind us we are beginning to see the first full year sales numbers come in for 2013 and the long anticipated ability to assess the impact of streaming on the market. Until the IFPI annual revenue numbers come out we are mainly constrained to volume data which only paints half of the picture. This is especially true for streaming given the massive difference in revenue per stream for free versus paid, YouTube versus Spotify etc. But even within these constraints we have enough to start establishing a view, one that indicates the headline story may be more about transition than it is growth.
Nielsen’s numbers for the US show that digital track sales were down 5.7% and that digital albums were down 0.1% while albums as a whole were down 8.4%. In the UK the BPI reported that digital track sales were down 4.2% though digital albums were up 6.8%. Nielsen also reported a 103% rise in audio streams. Let’s assume that a significant portion of those increased streams will be coming from free users and that the impact on streaming revenue growth will therefore be around the 65% mark. That would translate into total US music market revenue growth of just under 1%, though if free usage is a bigger part of the picture then growth could be negative.
It is important to understand the appropriate context for the shift to streaming: it is fundamentally a transition of spending. Just as the download was a transition from the CD so streaming subscriptions are a transition from the download. This is because the majority of subscribers were already digital music buyers before becoming subscribers and the majority of those were iTunes customers. 50% of subscribers buy album downloads every month and 26% buy CDs every month (see figure). On the one hand this can be interpreted as the fantastic capacity of streaming to drive discovery and music purchasing. There is some truth in this, but it is an inherently temporary state of affairs. If streaming services do their job well enough there should be little or no reason for a subscriber to additionally buy music. They do so because consumers transition behavior gradually not suddenly. The fact that a third of download buyers still buy CDs illustrates the point.