Music: 4 Biting Realities / 10 Things to do
1../4 Biting Realities
Internet is a photocopier. That’s its own nature. The Internet was created in the 1960s by U.S. defense to decentralize and duplicate military information, in order to protect it against nuclear bombs. Ironically, this « information-copying machine » has become the new vehicle of music.
2../4 Biting Realities
Music is no longer a commodity. Once, music was enclosed in plastic and counted as inventory, distributed and paid for during a transaction. It was a rival good; each disc could only be read by one turntable at a time. Today, dematerialized music has become a non-rival good, meaning a good that can be simultaneously consumed by several consumers, without its owner giving up its possession.
3../4 Biting Realities
The creator now has absolute power. “Content is King”. The creator doesn’t need his work to be profitable to motivate its creation. The creator can now bypass the entire old industry; technology today allows music to be made at very low costs; the Internet allows reproduction and direct distribution of one’s music, all for free if one so chooses. This is why there are more and more content offerings in an environment where one has less and less control of the distribution of content and its profitability.
4../4 Biting Realities
The real value of the creator is image (branding). The creator must first win popularity (Band Brand) before selling “what one controls”, if he wants to someday quit his job at McDonald’s.
= = = = = = =
1../10 Things to Do
Create. Record yourself. The creator must get his works out of his head. No one will be able to appreciate his music if he’s the only one to hear it in his head! There is future in creators and recording studios.
2../10 Things to Do
Surround yourself with people who know how to surround themselves. The creator must appoint a trustworthy person who believes in his potential (manager, editor). This person must surround the creator with a support team (e.g. agents), who will represent the creator in all avenues (publishing, concerts, discs, derivative products, media, Web, etc.). This team will ensure visibility and will allow the creator to continue creating and interpreting his work to the public. Remember, chances are, your first team was probably the best that you will ever have in your career, because it was there for the right reason: out of pure passion for what you do. There is future with managers (he who manages the artist’s delivery) and publishers (the manager of the artist’s work).
3../10 Things to Do
Use your music to build your “Band Brand” or your “perceived value”. Music is only worth the number of ears that listen. Any unknown creator must use his music to gain popularity. It’s natural for people to talk about what they like; you must allow your fans to share your music with their social circles without effort nor barriers. The more people you know, the greater the value of your image and your music. “Freebies” in music works efficiently and pays off in the long term.
4../10 Things to Do
Trigger a music virus to find your request. People buy what they know. Avoid putting barriers to your music (which is unknown from the get-go) behind an unavoidable transaction. Those who discover your music have immense power: that of recommending your music to their friends. Your music can easily be propulsed from one end of the world to the other through your fans and through their love of your music. Therefore, your music must travel quickly, easily and freely. Your market segment will find itself through word of mouth. Thus, there is future in sharing. The Creative Commons is an extraordinary tool to prepare the groundwork for this type of sharing. Societies of collective management rights will have a future if they adapt to the trend of sharing.
5../10 Things to Do
Fasten yourself with your demand. If your fans like your music, they will also recommend it to others. They thus become “re-transmitters” in a relevant network, that will grow slowly but surely. It’s important to exchange your music for your fans’ email addresses. And if your fans want to pay for your music, allow them to do so on their own terms. There is future in gathering information about your fans. Same thing goes for your Web programmer.
6../10 Things to Do
Maintain customized conversations with your fans. Communicate with your fans by email (or by other direct means), while always offering the possibility to unsubscribe from your list. Customize your send outs; avoid promoting your show in Sidney to people living in Moscow. Communicate with them through ways that will reach them, where they can be found (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). There is future in conversing with your fans.
7../10 Things to Do
Sell what you have control over. During your communications with your fans, offer them to pay for the products and services that they want and that you control. Do not offer them something that they will be able to find for free on P2P sharing and Torrents. Give your music away in dematerialized form in order to sell derivative products of your music (or of your Band Brand): concrete and tangible products. Rival goods. Any services that you have 100% control over, such as access to concerts and private parties (with a security crew that will ensure everyone was paid). Listen to the needs of your fans: 1.8% of them want vinyl? Then produce one! You will sell it sooner or later. There is future in physical products, concert access and privileges and everything that can be controlled.
8../10 Things to Do
Avoid “prostituting yourself”.In the era of Communications 1.0 (a music director or programmer for millions of listeners), radios and TVs had a monopoly over communication. Those days are almost over. Notice how radio and TV are at the tail-end of topics that arise on Facebook, Twitter and other interactive tools (where everyone is both transmitter and receiver for one another). In this context, there will always be someone who likes what you do and how you do it. The compromises to make are no longer the same as before: you can choose to maintain integrity in your artistic endeavors while remaining open to criticism from those who want what’s good for you. The “auto-tune” that tries to sound like everyone else on the radio surely does not have much future. In the same vein, avoid choosing a type of music or adopting a particular form of business to please funders. It’s their responsibility to adapt to the culture that they’re supporting, and not for artists to confine themselves to funding criteria.
9.//10 Things to Do
Get involved. The absent are always wrong! Be present at general assemblies of Collective Rights Management Societies (SOPROQ, AVLA, ARTISTI, UDA, ACTRA, SOCAN, SACEM, SODRAC, SDRM, CMRRA, ASCAP, etc.). Be in tune with your needs as a creator. Be vigilant and don’t let others decide for you. To change the world, you have to take part in change. Avoid leaving decisional power to others and you will better off. There is future in decisional power.
10../10 Things to Do
Keep your rights to monetize them. You don’t need to give your rights to anyone else but yourself. Share the possibility of exploiting your image and derivative products of your music with those who have a deep desire to work and monetize your image and your work. Opt for revenue sharing, rather than irrevocably giving up your rights. There is future in the revenue sharing.