It’s almost spring and you know what that means…TAX PREPARATION TIME! This can be a very daunting time of year for most indie musicians; however, our good friends at SonicBids has written a great article to give you a helping hand
If April 15th isn’t already circled on your calendar, then the constant barrage of TurboTax and H&R Block advertisements will soon have you sweating about filing your taxes. Until software programmers come out with a package especially for us musicians, there are some basic things you’ll want to know – even if you hire a professional to help – to save yourself time and stress with tax prep.
As a self-employed musician, you need to know more about taxes than the average worker bee. You may be earning money from several different sources (solo gigs, session work, teaching, recording, songwriting, merchandise, etc.), so it’s important to know how to keep track of everything and which tax forms you’re required to file.
So gather your receipts and check stubs, and let’s talk about need-to-know tax info for you and your band.
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.
If there is one thing that almost every musicians dreams of, it is of that first major tour. Its that feeling of playing night after night, in the best venues of all of the major cities around the world, and always to a sold out crowd. But before that will ever happen, you need to answer one major question: Do you have a plan? If not, you can be sure to kiss that dream goodbye. And if you do have a plan, is it good enough? Music is a business just as anything else, and as such it is your job to play entrepreneur and marketer. While it is your product or service you are trying to sell, it is also your job to expose your music to the public.
First we will take a look at forming a proper plan, followed by exploring different strategies for putting that plan into action. The following are very important steps to ensuring that you have a proper plan in place before you even attempt to get that first gig:
1) CHOOSE THE RIGHT VENUES
Every venue has its own style, and is known for showcasing music of specific genres. Some venues are known to hold rock concerts, other are known for hip-hop, so on and so forth. It all comes down to the location, and the surrounding music scene. Picking the right venue for your gigs is very important, as is the first step towards growing your core fan-base, which will ultimately increase the attendance at your gigs. If your not playing to a crowd who won’t absolutely love your music, then you haven’t targeted your audience correctly.
As with any well thought-out marketing strategy, the first important step in promoting yourself and building your brand is knowing who your audience is. If you are trying to build a core fan-base, you better be sure you know who that crowd will consist of. If you are playing acoustic folk/rock, don’t play in a club for people who are looking to dance to reggatone. The same thing goes for hip-hop artists- don’t play in a coffee shop filled with art students who listen to indie rock.
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.
One of the themes of this year’s Midem International Music Conference is that the music industry may finally be on a projectory towards future growth. To lay out their case, the Midem team has created the following infographic:
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
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.
The growth of streaming music services and shared playlists, and the continued strength of YouTube, unleashed new forces on the music business last year — catapulting independent artists onto the charts with growing regularity, music industry statistics show.
As the grip of the major music labels continued to loosen in the era of Pandora, Rdio and Spotify, one of the biggest indie stars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, saw its hit song “Thrift Shop” hit No. 1 in 2013, the first time since 1994 that a song without the backing of a major label reached the top of the charts.
The song, released in August 2012, was also the No. 2 streamed video in the first half of 2013, with 187 million streams.
The rise of streaming music services, where the major labels’ control is weaker, and the decline of FM radio, where the labels’ control is powerful, has had a clear effect on the power of indie.
In 2007, indies controlled 25.8 percent of the music business, No. 2 behind Universal Music Group’s 28.8 percent share. By June 30, 2013, indie — a universe that includes Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Bon Iver and Mumford & Sons — leapfrogged Universal by growing its market share to 34.5 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Universal was at 28.3 percent.
Rich Bengloff, who runs the American Association of Independent Music, believes the availability and popularity of music streaming — which grew by 24 percent in the first half of 2013, while digital sales slipped 4.6 percent in the period, its first-ever decline — is exactly why artists are opting for indie status and why their power is growing.
Not surprisingly, Pandora founder Tim Westergren has been wooing the independents. Songs from outside the major labels make up 50 percent of the content streamed on the 14-year-old service. On broadcast radio, it’s 13 percent.
“There are artists who were invisible in the music business who now get exposed to an audience that is big enough to support them,” Westergren told The Post this week. “There’s an opportunity for a really well-run band to take control of their careers.”
Pandora (which in a regulatory filing said it had 70.9 million active users as of Oct. 31, up 8 percent this year) has been working with indie artists to develop tools like letting them know where their richest concentration of fans are so they can better plan tour locations, Westergren, speaking while on vacation in Australia, said.
“Independents are supportive of Pandora because it’s a level playing field, not a walled garden,” says Westergren.
While indie artists and their labels are enjoying and cashing in during the early stages of the Pandora era, no one believes the big guys are going away.
Indies are still tied to the big labels for distribution. Macklemore & Lewis is aided by Warner Music’s Alternate Distribution Alliance.
And the majors, seeing the rise of indie labels, have been gobbling up some of the more successful ones.
Source: NY Post (by Claire Atkinson)
Did you know there’s a special six-week window of opportunity that comes once a year - every year? The sad thing is, most musicians aren’t aware of it or don’t give it much thought.
Will you be different? Will you be ready this year?
FACT: About 20 percent of all annual music sales take place in the last six weeks of the year – during the holiday season! And the demand is there consistently every year. Internet-based holiday sales, in particular, continue to grow … and there are more opportunities all the time to tap into these online consumer dollars.
Many independent artists profit simply because they put a little time and energy into creating annual holiday campaigns that gain momentum year after year.
THE PROBLEM: Most artists never tap into this holiday revenue potential.
Why? Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah come only once a year, and they are short-lived events. It’s easy to justify not putting much effort into them. Therefore, most musicians ignore this holiday music income stream.
That’s a BIG MISTAKE!
ACTION STEP: Now is the time to create a plan to share your music, do good in the world, and profit from the unique way you can help people celebrate during the holiday season.
Do what the smart bands and artists do: Think ahead and create a plan now that will serve you and your fans during the coming holiday season.
Source: Hypebot (by Bob Baker)
With over 7 million copies sold, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” is one of the highest selling singles of the past few years.
But WHY was the song such a huge success? And what can you learn from it if you want to score the NEXT big hit?
Here are 5 key insights:
1. It’s A Single
Did you know Thrift Shop was the 5th in a series of singles released from The Heist?
The first single was “My Oh My” (released December 2010). It completely failed to chart. About a month later came “Wing$” (released January 2011), but it didn’t really catch on either. Then, “Can’t Hold Us” (released August 2011) as the third, and a year later “Same Love” (released July 2012) as the 4th single…
…but it wasn’t until AFTER “Thrift Shop” (released August 2012) blew up in October of 2012, that the previous songs climbed the charts, too.
So what’s the lesson? Release and promote a series of individual songs. And: If it’s not a hit, switch. Don’t keep pushing a song that’s not getting any traction on its own. Keep releasing new songs until one catches on.