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Monday, November 11, 2013

Music Industry Predictions: Labels, Concerts, Licensing and More



This guest post is written by Jeff Rabhanartist manager, music-industry executive and international consultant. His clients have garnered twelve Grammy Awards, sold more than one hundred million records and generated over one billion dollars in global receipts. Rabhan currently serves as Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music atNew York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Fire up the crystal ball folks because it’s time to look and see what the future holds for many areas of the music industry and ultimately for many of you who are pursuing a career in the business. We’ve seen more change in the last decade then the previous 50 years combined, leaving many of you befuddled and wondering what tomorrow will bring.  While there’s no such thing as a sure thing in the music business, read on to see how today’s unanswered questions get answered tomorrow…
The Future of Record Labels
Can you imagine a major record company that only has a roster of 10 international superstars instead of 60 acts in various stages of development? It might not be so far-fetched.
Record companies are adept at doing three main things: getting songs on radio, effectively distributing records to countries around the world simultaneously, andmarketing worldwide successful artists on a grand scale.
Not a week goes by where I don’t hear some young artist knock a major label for not developing artists. It’s not what they do anymore so why blame them? It’s like blaming a shoe store for not selling underwear.
It’s on you to build a story for yourself that makes you appealing to them if that’s your goal, and a catchy song is no longer enough to grab their attention.
What does this mean?
You will see label rosters shrinking down to their core. Look for labels to “specialize” in certain genres or styles of music. Imagine a Sony Music that only releases female pop records like Beyonce, Adele, and Shakira. Or an Interscope that becomes a hip-hop only label.
One thing is for sure: if it isn’t fit for radio, chances are you will not find it on a major label roster in the next five years. Which creates an opportunity for… independent labels.
Independent labels grabbed 32.6% of U.S. album sales in 2012, according to Soundscan stats.
Indie labels are experiencing a resurgence of visibility within the marketplace, mostly due to a successful recipe of mixing a clear vision, likeminded artistry, and a tight geographic radius, in a way that’s very similar to the success of labels like Sub Pop, Matador, and Mammoth Records in the early 90s.
The new normal is to be the big fish in a little pond and success continues to come for those labels with laser focus.
Bottom line is that there’s a lot of good music out there and most of it is not right for major labels anymore. There used to be a time when consumers bought releases from particular labels simply because the releases were so heavily and successfully curated that fans felt an allegiance and a belief that that label’s brand stood for quality. The best example of this was Def Jam in the early days. In the next several years look for indie labels to continue to pop up, grow their fanbase, and happily own their little piece of the world.
What does this mean for artists looking for a record deal?
Continue to think global but start by acting local. Take a look a the labels in your area that may be a good fit first and truly assess if you belong on a major label. Chances are you don’t in the new world.

The Future of Live Concerts

It’s no secret that most popular artists are making most of their bucks from concerts and brand partnerships. But what does the future of concerts look like and will this affect the artists as well as the fans?
Newsflash: we are already experiencing a shift in the way we see concerts. All of you are buying tickets to a show online — soon the hard ticket stub will be a thing of the past as you simply swipe your phone and go about your merry way. It’s not just concerts — we already use the same technology to get many other goods including movie tickets, airline flights, and many others.
That’s not news, you say! That’s just technology making the purchase easier.
You want to know what happens to that fan experience? You know, when you’re standing so close you can feel the artist sweat? If you are one of the lucky few to be that close, you probably waited all day and stood on your feet for hour after hour for that prized spot.
But many fans no longer want that live experience, especially in the cases of larger arena and stadium shows. I get it — by the time you buy the tickets, shlep to the venue, park your car, and buy your beer and t-shirt before finding your seats fighting the sea of other people doing the same thing all along the way, your wallet feels empty and the experience has lost its luster.
Festivals like Lollapalooza already stream live shows on YouTube. Image: Mashable.
Look for major growth in the streaming of concerts, especially for those aforementioned arena shows for two reasons: first, many fans would rather enjoy the show in the privacy and comfort of their own home and, next, because it gives artists another income stream.
Festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza are already on board. Couple that with technology advances (holographic Tupac performances??) and you’ve got a movement. Look for YouTube and UStream to continue to lead the pack.
The live show is coming to you and you can decide just how you want to see it and wear your pajamas if you so desire.
What does this mean for the up-and-coming touring act or artist interested in touring?
Make technology your friend. Posting flyers to get the word out and making tickets available only at the venue hurts your chances of reaching maximum fan potential. Work with your venue to sell tickets online or experiment with streaming shows for a small fee either live or after the fact. Get creative with your YouTube channel and make live content a bigger part of your fan experience. It will build your buzz and bring more bodies to the venues and online events as your reputation builds a live band with surprises. Reverb Tip: Meanwhile, it doesn’t hurt to play live gigs while you get acquainted with live streaming. We recommend you try the free Gig Finder, which will connect you to the best venues in any town. 

The Future of Radio

Terrestrial radio is still the #1 way that people discover music, but that may be changing as we speak.
Local radio vs internet radio: which is better for indie artists?
The real question facing radio is: will it all become digital or will good ol’ AM/FM still have a presence? We know that if you aren’t driving, don’t have a car, or live in a major urban center like New York City, YouTube has become the destination for listening to music. Pandora and Spotify both have fairly robust internet radio presences, yet there are few things to consider as we look forward.
For those of you paying attention, have you been following the Internet Radio Fairness Act?  The IRFA wants to reduce the royalties being paid by internet music streaming services like Pandora.
On the other side, record labels and artists feel that the act will deprive rights holders of deserving income. The bill hasn’t been passed and my crystal ball tells me it won’t when nicknames for the bill include the “unfairness act” and the “paycheck reduction act.”
When the majority of the music community is against something, clearly there’s an issue, but it brings up many questions that will impact the future of radio.
Currently there are several ways that people use Internet radio services. From niche playlists to sites dedicated to discovering new artists.
Internet radio has the potential to break even bigger barriers than it has; yet copyright laws are hindering this evolution. Also keep in mind that in over 85 car models there is some form of Internet radio service integrated into the cars entertainment system. This issue needs to be figured out ASAP. Internet radio operates under a completely different rate than other forms of digital radio and everyone is taking notice.
Bottom line: There will always be radio, yet the way we access it will continue to change as wireless gets better and networks like 4G have more power.
Look for smarter recommendation-based software and more interactive and personalized experience — a theme that will repeat itself over and over in the growth of digital media and the technological advances that accompany it.
What does this mean for new artists looking to get exposure on the airwaves?
Don’t get your hopes up unless your music is ear candy for terrestrial radio and you’ve got a major label promoting your song. The sea of artists found on Spotify makes a breakthough difficult and new artists are rarely “discovered” via recommendation-based software platforms like Pandora. Look for local radio, specialty shows, college radio and a strong, creative Internet presence to get your music out. Reverb Tip: We recommend two great ways to get your music heard by more people: 1) Submit topportunities — everything from festivals to online radio play; 2) Run a Promote It campaign on top music sites.

The Future of Licensing

Before you lament all of the changes or fear the demise of the traditional business, hold onto your hat because the future of licensing looks bright.
The opportunities for artists to get their songs placed on other outlets such as television, film, and video games are exponentially increasing. TV and film license fees have been decreasing and video games are allowing artists to make up for that loss. Video games are giving artists what’s known as performance-based royalties, which allow them to reach a new type of audience.
How does this impact the ever growing and evolving Internet?
Internet outlets are getting smarter! They’re creating exclusive content and licensing music for only online usage. Artists can now have their songs placed on everything from a Hulu original series to a series on Netflix. It used to be extremely difficult for new artists to get placements on TV/film. Now with all these new outlets, artists have many more opportunities to get heard and seen.
And when you speak about online content, you must bring YouTube into the conversation.
Will it remain an outlet for fly by night, flavor of the moment quasi-stars to reach critical acclaim, or is the future of TV at stake?  YouTube is undergoing a giant makeover within the next few years as premium content and niche channels are about to take over. YouTube has the potential to become the go-to platform for building business media in the future. They aim to develop channels that are topic specific and interactive — meaning viewers will get exactly what they want. The company has already invested 100 million dollars in developing premium channels that range from education to fashion.
This will also allow YouTube to form deeper integrations with the other companies and products like Google. Count on YouTube to remain on top and in control.
What does this mean for you?
Put down the guitar for a minute and get your fingers working on the computer to develop lists of outlets, shows, gaming properties and online networks to pitch music to. Unsigned, up-and-coming acts regularly get placements on networks programs these days and that trend is going to continue. Make music licensing a centerpiece of your story.

Welcome to the future

Looking for "Management"? Please read.


This guest post is written by Jeff Rabhanartist manager, music-industry executive and international consultant. His clients have garnered twelve Grammy Awards, sold more than one hundred million records and generated over one billion dollars in global receipts. Rabhan currently serves as Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music atNew York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
After 20 years in the business and hundreds of showcases under my belt, I’ve seen a lot of aspiring artists who have two things in common: They’re all looking for a manager and all trying to get signed. But for the great majority, that’s a pipe dream. The odds are against you. I know it sounds harsh, but in truth, many artists miss their opportunity by not being prepared.
Finding a proper manager can be a painful and frustrating process for many artists; the seemingly endless amount of pitching, sending out unsolicited material and inviting seasoned pros down to showcases only to be met by rejection on the other end can be debilitating. Many musicians blame the managers — it’s easy to convince yourself that their blind eye and stone ears can’t see and hear your musical greatness. But in truth, artists often are not properly prepared for management, nor are their careers in shape to the point where an experienced manager would be interested. So how do you know the right time to get a manager and what are the best ways to secure proper management?

DIY until you no longer can

If you’re sitting at home on the couch right now, chances are you don’t need a manager. You should be your own booking agent, publicist, marketing exec and radio promotion person before anyone else. For one, you’ll learn about all of the different aspects of your career and become educated. Second, you’ll build the relationships yourself instead ofhiring a manager based upon who they “know.” Hopefully, by the time you’ve reached the point where you are so busy that you can no longer handle the tasks, proper management will have taken notice. After all, if you have a lot going on, the buzz of a band finds a way of reaching music execs.
In fact, there’s a funny saying amongst music industry people: “If you’re unsigned and great, I’ve heard of you;” meaning, if all of the pieces are put together and you’re ready for the major leagues, managers will find you, as will labels, and lawyers too.
Trust me. Rock bands are famous for handling their business correctly. They split up the chores, handle the tasks and operate their band like a business. This is one sure way to impress a possible manager. I remember before Incubus was signed to Sony Music, they had a strong relationship with their fanbase in southern California, kept meticulous fan lists and had plenty of merch to sell so much of the groundwork was done. The rest is history. Remember: If you’re a new act, no one is waiting for your music to come out. So get all the elements right first.

Get your online presence together

Any manager worth his salt will want to see an organized online presence. That doesn’t mean a website with a few old songs and bad pictures! Managers, labels and executives alike will want to know that you are part of an active community that includes a destination website for your project or band, as well as Facebook, Twitter, a ReverbNation profile, or even a Tumblr. The website should be updated, platforms linked, and the artist active. This is the bare minimum! In today’s market, artists are getting deals with labels and managers based upon the strength of their online presence alone. You could be one of them if you “work” your social media fanbase. Just ask Justin Beiber if YouTube helped him….

Know who you are

Very few managers are interested in figuring out who you are for you. Without a strong sense of identity, a sonic footprint, and a dialed-in look you are wasting time pursuing representation. Take the time to experiment and know exactly who you are, who your audience is and how you communicate with them first. A manager can help you execute but only you can determine those key points. Stepping forward without these three things intact is like a guitar player leaving his instrument at home the night of a gig. Branding is the phrase that pays and every artist needs to be in the branding business.
Some artists take offense to the term “branding” and feel that it goes against their artistic ethos. Think again. As a wise manager once said, “No one wants to manage the greatest band you never heard of.” Branding is music.

Captivate a following in your hometown

A manager friend of mine once told a band looking for management “Don’t call me until you can sell out the best club in your hometown!” I believe that message holds true. If you’re not popular where you are, how can you expect to be in demand anywhere else? Work on establishing yourself in your hometown and making yourself a household name at clubs, radio stations and the musical community. Bands that are making noise locally are usually the ones that get snatched up long before projects that have no local development.

Master your live performance

These days, an artist with no live following looking for management is like a tree falling in the forest. With so much income reliant upon touring and merchandise sales in today’s market, most managers will want to know that you are capable of earning on the road and building a fan base every time you get out and perform. This means that if you’re a band, you are tight and know how to sell it from the stage. If you are a solo artist, you should have a band together that showcases your talents and they are prepared to perform your material at any time.
I can’t tell you the number of times I was hyped on a band that I went to see and they couldn’t deliver it live. It’s a deal-killer every time.

Avoid “Uncle Joey Syndrome”

Many musicians fall prey to this horrible disease! Rarely is an artist served well by having a family member or close personal friend as their manager. More personal relationships are destroyed in this scenario than successful careers made. Plus, opinions are so subjective that often family is blinded by the reality of your situation. Hire the best person with the most experience you can find. Occasionally you meet the artist who believes that their career is the family business. I’ve managed artists who have insulated themselves with family and do not have the ability to see themselves clearly. Objectivity is the key to great management and blood rarely possesses it.
Having great songs is truly just the beginning. Without building your base and utilizing all of the tools available, you may find yourself in the unpleasant situation of waiting to be heard. So get off of that couch and know that success is in your hands. If you build it, they will come. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Jeff tweets daily at @JeffRahban.