Music Artists Have Control Now

Inspiration by Mitch Santell

vu meters 2018

There has never been a better time to take back control of your career. You can be a solo artist or a group. The time is now. Not only is this the time to push your music career, but the truth is also that you can have one now because of all of the tools that you could ever need are right online.

In future postings, I’ll be sharing with you some basic strategies for forming your music company. This is an exciting time for YOU! This is YOUR TIME so go for it!

The future of music is about power for artists, no matter the medium.

The music industry is at a turning point, with artists demanding more money and power. The problem? There are so many ways to accomplish these goals, to the point where no one quite knows which form it will take.

This leaves us with questions about the future of the industry. How will we purchase, listen to, and support music made by artists? How do we give them the power they demand, while ensuring that consumers are also getting what they want?

At TNW Conference this week, our Music Summit track will highlight some emerging trends in the industry. Our lineup of speakers will share their take on the future of music, to shed some light on the confusion we’re currently facing.

Let’s dive into some promising tech mediums that might give artists the power and money they want.

Giving artists full music rights

Forbes recently showcased a new company on the block: Kobalt. As a service provider, it’s giving artists 100 percent of their music rights. As it currently stands in the industry, this is a big change. Kobalt acts as a centralized database where streams from Spotify, for example, directly give money to the artist. It eliminates the middleman that’s so common in the industry, with record labels taking a big cut.

Kobalt has already attracted some big names — most recently, it’s been working with Childish Gambino and ZAYN. It seems like the concept makes a lot of sense to artists, as immediately receiving profits for music is one of the biggest problems that the industry faces.

Companies like Kobalt could be a way forward but as it’s still relatively new, we’ll wait and see.

Blockchain, blockchain, blockchain

This leads us to another — quite similar — innovation that we’ve been talking about for years. Artists like Imogen Heap and Pitbull are advocating for the same change in the industry, but through a different medium.

By harnessing blockchain and their own cryptocurrencies, artists can take back money and power. Fans can purchase songs directly from the artists through their own version of Bitcoin, effectively cutting out the record labels from the equation.

This isn’t new information. The infrastructure of companies like Kobalt seems to do this in a different way, and doesn’t require listeners to change their consumption habits. That might be why blockchain (in the music industry) is all talk, and no action.

As some critics have already said, if blockchain was the answer it would have happened by now. There’s also a larger concern: the cost of purchasing music via blockchain would be much more expensive than a monthly subscription to Spotify Premium — so where’s the incentive for consumers?

So where do we go from here?

It seems like a real coin toss at the moment. The exact medium or method isn’t clear, but it seems to me that there’s a defined theme that we can expect in the future of the music industry. Artists are crying out for more money and power. This seems to be the case whether technology is involved or not — Taylor Swift recently won a lawsuit against a radio host who had sexually assaulted her. Change is clearly happening in the music industry, and the underlying theme is power and money.

The medium, then, seems secondary — a conduit to achieve these goals. That doesn’t make it redundant, as tech is a huge driving force in turning these ambitions into reality. Not to mention the fact that we have no idea which form it will take — if it’s blockchain, how do we deal with surging costs for consumers? If it’s a company like Kobalt, does that give artists the power they’re looking for?

Read more here:

VUmeter black and yellow and red

Last year was a transformative one for both Royalty Exchange and the music business at large.

We’re not big on milestone-type posts, but allow us to share a few internal numbers for the sake of illuminating what we think are some broader, macro-industry trends we all should be following in the year ahead.

In 2017, Royalty Exchange saw quantum leaps forward in virtually every performance metric we track. We saw a nearly 100% increase in the number of auctions held (144) and an 84% increase in average auctions per month (12).

In total, we helped artists using our platform raise over $8.8 million dollars, nearly 110% more than the year prior.

That’s new money coming into the music industry being reinvested into creative community. After more than a decade of digital/hardware companies pulling money out of the music community, that’s got to be a refreshing change of pace.

But we can’t take all the credit for these results, as much as we’d like to. The fact is that these results are just as much a factor of broader industry trends just now starting to align. 

Here are the main ones we think play the biggest role…

New Industry. New Rules

The music industry has changed. Nearly every rule has been broken or reinvented. Fans consume music differently, and as a result artists get paid differently.

But if the way fans pay for music has changed, it only stands to reason that the rules dictating how songwriters make a living should change as well.

First, that means properly recognizing songwriters for their contributions to the music we all love. Songwriting credits shouldn’t be a secret. Over 70% of songwriters’ income is regulated in some fashion by a government entity. The better these regulators understand the crucial role songwriters play, the better informed their rulings will be. 

Second is the need to end any artificial restrictions on how songwriters choose to earn a living. The Music Modernization Act is a great first step to address the regulatory challenges. Equally important is to update the conventional wisdom around “acceptable” ways to finance a career. (UPDATE: The MMA has been updated based on the input of several songwriter organizations. Additionally, there’s an effort to bundle it into an omnibus bill that also includes the CLASSICS Act, AMP Act, Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, and CASE Act.) 

Twenty years ago it was considered “selling out” for artists to license their music for a TV commercial. Now it’s not only an accepted revenue-generating move, but it’s considered a smart marketing/discovery move.

The same is becoming true to the concept of selling royalties. The old adage of “never sell royalties” is a rule for a different age… when selling royalties meant giving up all your rights and all control.

Today’s deals are more flexible, allowing artists to sell only a portion of their royalty income, while retaining all their copyrights, all their control, and all the future income from what they don’t sell. This gives songwriters the options they need using a strategy that public companies have used for decades.

Catalog Demand

Music industry trade “bible” Billboard said it best: “The songwriter catalog market is booming.”

More here:

reel-for-front-3 TASCAM

The music industry continues to consolidate: 

Sony is paying $2.3bn to take control of EMI Music Publishing, cementing its place as the world’s largest music publishing company, with rights to songs by the likes of Queen and Pharrell Williams.

The deal adds a catalogue of 2.1m EMI songs to Sony’s 2.3m. EMI’s catalogue ranges from 20th-century classics including work by Motown artists and Carole King, to more contemporary compositions by Kanye West, Pink, Sam Smith and Drake.

The agreement is Sony’s first major deal under its new chief executive, Kenichiro Yoshida, who noted that the music business has enjoyed a “resurgence” in recent years due to growth in revenues from streaming services provided by companies such as Spotify and Apple.

Read more here:

Streaming Is A Fad That Will Pass ~ Mitch Santell / May 2018

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