Being an industry disruptor is not as sexy as it sounds even if headlines everywhere infer otherwise. Forbes, The Guardian, Equities.com, and others talk about the disruption of industries from two points of view. From the disrupted: “Oh, s**t! We’re f***ed! What do we do?” From the disruptor: “Here we come. Watch out, World. Early investors who managed to hang on are so gonna wanna kiss our feet.” In all these instances, disrupted and disruptor are sexy because of having big bucks and making even bigger promises, teams of under-30-somethings roller blading from one fancy office to another as they read their quarterly stock option reports, and planned IPOs or looming layoffs making them beg for government bailout. (Note the cover to the left: I’m surprised the art director didn’t throw on a cowboy hat and snake skin cowboy boots and have him twirl a lasso the graphic designer would have made Continue reading Being an industry disruptor is not as sexy as it sounds.
“Too many cooks spoil the dish.” Creatives instinctively know the truthfulness of this. Wisely, though lonely, they squirrel themselves away in order to focus on the vision. Sometimes the loneliness can be overwhelming and we cry out, “Where, oh where, is anybody who cares?” Personally? I love working within a team environment. It’s nice to have people with whom to celebrate the successful conclusion to a project. As a DIY/Indie creative, though, I find most of my work begins, continues, and ends alone. For my books and music — sure, of course — editors, musicians, singers, production, and so forth, come into play. But these are usually work for hire whose only interest in the project is to do a thing for this amount of money. In other words, they are not part of the project as a stakeholder. And nothing wrong with that. I do the same thing when I Continue reading Working Alone: A DIY/Indie Creative’s Lot in Life
Everybody will tell you that to be successful, you find a need and fill it. So, yeah. I did that. Of all things, in the music business. How I found that need was because it was my own. Pure frustration at the lack of organization or a common basis for documentation and communication within a mature industry was anathema to me. I came up with a simple, technology based method to improve both those and, possibly, save an industry. Big thoughts these were, but I had them nonetheless. What everybody doesn’t tell you is that just because a need is defined and the method to fill it is offered, does not in any way mean others will use it immediately. So, the long view comes into play. The long view takes patience and faith. The long view is not easy. I can think of others with a long view. Churchill Continue reading Talk about a fearsome journey
A young man and woman discuss their expectations about promises made to them. Will our young man see the light? Will our young woman convince him of his worth? Stay tuned for the next exciting installments of “What Is He Drinking?”
What true sacred cows exist in the music business are few and far between, yet there are many who are calling themselves that and fooling a lot of people. One asks about the newest sacred cow on the block — Aggregators. Are they, in point of fact, the new pyramid schemes wherein a vast majority of the power and money flows to the top with some coins trickling down to keep the underlings from screaming too loudly? Are they playing fast and loose with others’ properties, money, careers, and, carried to its logical conclusion, their lives? As with all pyramid schemes, there are levels of earning potential. Those potential levels are held out to newbies as accessible if one does things the approved way. In truth, these levels are not accessible. As the old saying in the music business goes, “It isn’t who Continue reading The New Pyramid Scheme
Having read the previous blog, let’s get into it. Your hanky is handy, right? There are a few select investors and international companies whose money is tied up in selling magic snake oil to content creators. What is that snake oil? Let’s see if we can ascertain that from these sample headlines, shall we? “CDs ARE DEAD! ALBUMS ARE PASSE!” “STREAMING IS GOD! SINGLES ARE KING!” When I read an article with those conclusions, I ask myself if that writer has been hired to enthusiastically encourage those beliefs or if he is a dupe. Moving on. Suffice it to say, I am not the only one calling BS on those headlines. The problem though, is something I run into time after time after time of consultation sessions with artists, DIY/Indies, and singer/songwriters, and when talking with other content creators/owners/marketers in the music business: Content creators and performers sign up and upload everything without reading the contracts. “But, Angela,” they whine, Continue reading Which are you? Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?
Almost four years ago I began researching how to make money in the music business. My friend said, “Oh, it’s easy to make a million in the music business. First, you start with a two million…” Can I get a bada-bing-bada-boom drum roll, please? The problem is: he wasn’t far from wrong. Which of course was a conclusion and methodology I could not accept since I did not have one million, much less two. Anyway, as I was looking at income streams in the music business, everybody — and by everybody I mean everybody — kept telling me that the future was now: Spinning, physical media, and albums are out. Streaming, singles, and downloads are in. There’s one thing about me you should know: I do not make a business decision based upon what everybody says. So I began digging into the music business and asking: Who. What. When. Where. And though listed Continue reading Which is being sold: Songs or Delivery System?
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Whether it is a song, a coffee cup, tire rim, books, or anything else…if that product is entering the retail environment wherein anyone other than the creator or owner will distribute, place, and otherwise track sales or usage of a product, the creator and owner absolutely must understand that retail pipeline and provide the proper documentation to it. Now, here is where it gets interesting. Of all the industries I’ve been involved in (through my manufacturing and retail customers), I have only met one industry that does not absolutely require documentation of proof of ownership throughout the pipeline. That industry is Music. The question is why. Could it be profits are low and so where it is possible not to send royalties and other distribution and sales checks, then checks are not sent because “hey, not our fault we can’t find these people”? Continue reading Paperwork: The New Sexy, Y’all
START: Condo Log. Star Date: 6790-1225 (06:05 Post Meridian Earth-time) Mother ship’s journey through the year has been successful. Though mostly friendlies have been encountered, some protective measures were needed for other interactions with inhabitants met on the journey. The Team met with unexpected delays. This captain for one had her foot broken when a friendly was thrown onto it. A six-inch steel pipe of a high-heel shoe landed square on it and — crack! — broke right there. Other members of the team were attacked in various fashions as well — we lost a few, sad days, and some were injured. We had several others join us on the journey, though, thus necessitating realigning of time allotments. But, as all excellent teams do, they did not quit, they did not cry Uncle. There was no whining. Shoulder to the wheel, and push. Here we are almost 365 days out and infinity has been challenged. Continue reading Condo Log: 6790-1225
When one writes their memoir, one writes their own personal journey. Through the stories one challenges their personal assumptions, either disproving or verifying the reasons for the path taken by them. My memoir will soon be out, so I’m quite familiar with this process. But when it comes to a business book, especially one in an industry that is undergoing rapid changes and entrenched players are invested in keeping the status quo, a writer cannot rely on anything any one person says. I’m writing such a book now. I’ve started with generally accepted methodologies and reasons for using them and have spent the last two and a half years challenging each and every one of those before anything is written about it in the book. All facts found by or given to me have been treated as opinion and challenged. Which were disproved? Which were verified? Which need updating? Why is this Continue reading Challenge and Disprove or Verify
Get the book by Angela K. Durden by Clicking Here Listing your song with your performing rights organization (BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC) or SoundExchange.com, does not mean the copyright has been registered. Performing rights organizations (PRO’s) are not agents for Copyright.gov. But where does a copyright begin? Not at registration, that’s for sure. Instead, copyright begins the moment you put your idea into a tangible form. Registration of your song with both the government and with your PRO should only be done in these instances: When the lyrics are final, register your copyright with the government When the song has been recorded, mastered, and is ready for release, register the master of your recording. But these are only part of what you need to know. You can pay Angela a lot of money for her time and have a phone conversation, or you can get her book for a much lower price and find Continue reading Registering Your Copyright
Anyone in power is there by virtue of two things. One: The people entrust them with doing what’s best. Or, two: Brutal application of force of law. Power to the people is not an idle concept. That being said, in the music business, the system that now exists came to be in bits and pieces. Each bit, each piece, was put in place at various times. Some were put there to protect content creators and were welcomed by them. Most were put in place and brutally shoved down the throat of content creators with spoonsful of sugar, i.e., false promises. And when the people have had enough, then the people take the power back. That is happening now in the music business. And what do we see when the people attempt to control their own property? We see the deep pockets frantically — oh, yes, I use the word frantically Continue reading Spoonsful of Sugar
Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s former manager and mogul-in-the-making, said music can be used to sell everything…except music. Music gets attention on products and services, and motivates a buyer to purchase. But how do you sell music? Sure, it’s the song, of course. But fans don’t just buy songs. They buy the experience of the song as sung by the artist they care about for one reason or the other. Artist, what experience do you bring to the listener that will make them a fan that will buy more of your songs and stuff? Think about it. Plan marketing accordingly.
“With this system and these products, you too can be [fill in the blank].” “In this business you will meet fine people who want you to be successful.” Every multi-level marketing company there is uses the exact same key phrases when it comes to enticing you to grow your own business, develop a strong downline, make lifelong and true friends, and become financially independent. The above are but two. Through the years I’ve looked at several of those whose products I loved. But the interesting thing is this: None of the business models actually work for the majority of those involved. You see, there’s all that fine print that somehow you didn’t see when you signed up. I truly wanted only to sell the products. When I came up with interesting and profitable ways to do it, I was told I couldn’t, that it “wasn’t allowed.” Oh, that fine print Continue reading The Curse of the Multi-Level Marketing Mentality
Big buzz doesn’t make the money. One-hit wonders proved that. You want to know why most one-hit wonders are one-hit wonders? Paperwork wasn’t done correctly. Everybody was blowing and going, man, thinking the money would just somehow magically disperse itself into the right pockets in the right proportions. Hahahaha. Not. Who gets what and in what proportion must be documented. One-hit wonders usually weren’t. So, if you get the big buzz, you better have a solid business plan that comes after it. Big buzz is something to build on, it is not the money maker itself. Specialization is the music business will make you go broke all day long. Diversify your offerings. SESAC, BMI, ASCAP, and SoundExchange are necessary in order to collect royalties. It is a complicated explanation that I won’t go into here other than to say this: If you want to collect money from radio airplay and Continue reading Big Buzz Doesn’t Make the Money
“I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.” Have you ever heard that? Forbes magazine just had an article about that concerning the Madeline books. Remember those? The cute little Parisian girl and her adventures? I loved those. But the author died many years ago and left everything to his wife and daughter. The wife is now dead. The daughter had three sons and they all own little bits of this and that and now… Oh, it’s a mess. I won’t even go into it, but you can read all about it here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/11/27/madeline-and-the-family-business-2/ The daughter said she doesn’t know what to do, so she’s done nothing. And the problem is getting worse because of her inaction. How many of us live like that every day. We are confronted with something confusing on which we must decide, but because we are overwhelmed with that lack of understanding, we Continue reading So, I did nothing.
I have so many projects going that, if you saw the wall in my office, you’d just say whoa. Books. Songs. Movie and TV stuff. A software company start-up. All moving forward into finished or pitchable states. Most of these I’m working on with others, such as song collaborators and business partners. I once had a man tell me I should finish something before I started something else. I was incredulous. I told him if I did as he advised, nothing would ever get done. He was very used to starting a project and finishing it, then being assigned another by a boss. He didn’t understand that his boss was just like me. He thought of projects, worked on them, then sent them out to others so they could do their part. If he didn’t have a boss like that, then he wouldn’t have a job. I think of my Continue reading Shuttlecocks in Flight and Marching Armies
Labels: Labels should have physical distribution already set up, as well as other deals in place where your music may play (such as radio). 360 deals are common, but unlike not too many years ago, these are now much more realistic, but you should not sign with a label just because they offer you a deal. Take a copy of the contract with you, and see an attorney. Run the numbers mentioned in the contract. Understand your deliverables to them, and their deliverables to you. You are not becoming an employee of the label, and the label does not work for you. The contract formalizes a working agreement for a certain period of time. Labels can own the master recordings and monetize that particular version of your song. NOTE: These days, labels do not develop artists. You are on your own on that. Remember, you are You, Inc. Labels want Continue reading Labels, Managers, Publishers: What Are Their Roles in Your Career?