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Music Marketing

Posted By Musician Coaching on July 6th, 2013

A blog for musicians and music industry people. It is a free educational resource and it is also the way I advertise my music consulting services. I am an entertainment professional with deep roots in the music industry. Throughout my music career I have been a major label A&R representative, a music supervisor, an artist manager, a reality show producer, a bass player and the head of a digital record label.

 

Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Palmer’

Clear Channel, Amanda Palmer and YouTube News, June 9, 2012

Posted By Julia Rogers on June 9th, 2012

Last week was marked by some big wins for independent labels and artists as Clear Channel Media signed a new radio royalties deal with country label Big Machine and DIY darling Amanda Palmer hit the $1 million mark on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Also, YouTube fine tuned its licensing deal with music publishers.  

 

 

Applause for Clear Channel-Big Machine Deal

 

Indie country label Big Machine cut a first-of-its-kind deal with Clear Channel on June 5 that will pay its artists royalties and also potentially spark online radio growth. The deal – effective immediately – will finally pay artists like Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire for songs played on traditional radio stations. As part of the agreement, the artists will earn a fixed percentage of revenue on Clear Channel station websites and on its iHeart Radio streaming service, which will allow Clear Channel to run promotional campaigns to increase its online audiences without going over its budget.

 

Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta stated that he sees this groundbreaking agreement as an investment in the future of digital radio as well as the first big radio win for a small label:  “We’re going to more than double our income from Clear Channel in the short term, and they’ll make it up on the back end as digital continues to grow.”

 

Radio broadcasters and the music industry have been at odds for nearly 100 years when it comes to paying royalties to artists. Prior to this point, songwriters and music publishers were compensated, but not performers.  The chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Cary Sherman sang praises for the deal at a congressional hearing, “The Future of Audio,” on June 6:  “We’re obviously delighted that the biggest radio group acknowledged that something should be done.”

 

However, Sherman and other industry leaders said that individual deals will not be the answer going forward; an industry-wide agreement needs to be met. Jazz musician Ben Allison, who is also the governor of the New York branch of the Recording Academy (the Grammy® Awards) said, “Terrestrial broadcasters have an inexplicable ‘free ride’ when it comes to performance royalties … This makes corporate radio the only business in America that can legally use another’s intellectual property without permission or compensation.”    

 

Broadcasters also want to keep government out of the radio royalties issue. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) issued the following statement after the Clear Channel-Big Machine deal was announced:  “NAB remains steadfastly opposed to a government-mandated performance tax on local radio stations.” The radio industry’s recurring argument is that radio provides free promotion for artists that allows them to build their fan bases and sell more records.

 

Regardless, this past week’s Clear Channel deal shows the corporation is finally willing to invest in online radio and make its iHeart Radio app a priority. Clear Channel Chief Executive Bob Pittman stated, “This is a big step, but we think this investment is an opportunity worth taking to align our interests in all of our revenue streams and grow digital listening to its full potential with record labels and their artists as our partners.”

 

Amanda Palmer’s $1 Million Kickstarter Win

 

As the music industry has shifted away from the traditional label system and musicians have had to take control over their own careers, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, RocketHub and others have developed as a trend to help them raise money for their creative projects. Indie sensation Amanda Palmer (formerly of the punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls) made history this past week when she raised $1 million in one month on Kickstarter to fund her record Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra. According to Simon Usborn of The Independent, her success could be the sign of a huge shift in the music industry.

 

Palmer made the announcement she would be ditching record labels and recording a new album in April with the help of the fan-funding site Kickstarter. Her goal was to raise $100,000 from fans, who would get a variety of special opportunities commensurate on their level of investment. For a dollar, she said fans would get a digital download of the record. For ten thousand dollars, they would get a whole day to hang out one on one with Palmer herself.

 

Palmer reached her goal within six hours and in a month, had raised over $1 million thanks to 25,000 fans. This feat caused her to see fan-funding as “the future of music:”  “The industry has long needed a new system, and crowd-funding is it.”  (As a side note, a party was held for Palmer in New York City this past week where many artists played, including Shayfer James, who has been previously featured in the Musician Coaching newsletter.)

 

However, many experts continue to debate whether or not the crowdfunding model works consistently for artists, and whether or not cutting out the middle man is a new trend. Radiohead released its album In Rainbows in 2007 through its website and asked that fans pay what they wanted. And SellaBand.com was already offering investment opportunities for fans.  

 

Still, Palmer was the first to make $1 million – more than any record label would invest in an artist the size of Palmer. Manager Colin Roberts, who works at Big Life Management (Scissor Sisters/La Roux) said that while music stores used to get away with charging a lot more money for albums than artists do on their own now, fans were always frustrated about spending. They have come to see labels as rich, powerful and greedy, even though the labels are losing money. Now that fans have a new way to get music, Roberts agreed with Palmer that “the tide has turned,” in part thanks to a change in attitude among artists:  “In the past it felt like holding a cap out. Artists used to say, ‘no way!’. Now there’ll be a conversation.” Big Life is currently considering moving to crowdfunding to support some of its acts.  

 

Roberts and others continue to agree that fan funding does not work for every artist. It works best for those that have a strong fan following and a heavy online presence. Without fans, there will be no funding, so new artists will still likely have to rely on traditional models in the beginning (and throw in some money themselves).

 

Roberts also said that record companies should definitely pay attention when their big names turn towards fan funding:  “When Coldplay say, ‘We’ve just done four nights at the Emirates, do we need EMI to sell records?’ That’s when they should be worried.” He added that Palmer’s feat, while impressive is not revolutionary:   “What would really change the game is if people could do this from nowhere in their bedrooms … But unless you’ve got hype, that’s not viable. Nobody’s found that model yet.”

 

YouTube:  A Sweeter Deal for Music Publishers

 

YouTube declared it had inked a deal that “opens the door for more songwriters, publishers and content creators” in its blog this past week. The Google-owned site came to an agreement with BMG Rights Management, Christian Copyright Solutions, ABKCO Music, Inc., Songs Music Publishing, Words & Music, Copyright Administration, Music Services, Reservoir Media Management, and Songs of Virtual , publishers that represent works from artists including Adele, Cee Lo Green, Foo Fighters, The Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, etc. The deal will give these entities more opportunities to earn money and improve their copyright protection.  

 

Elizabeth Moody, head of YouTube Music’s strategic partner development wrote that the deal will bring “more of the great music you all love on  YouTube, and more opportunities for artists to make money.” What that means according to PC Mag, in layman’s terms, for YouTube users is that the next time they upload a video with their favorite song playing in the background, the Content ID system – an audio and video matching tool – might not cut out the audio track or remove the video from the site. The improved Content ID system will give content owners the option to leave the copyrighted material online and place ads next to it that will allow them to earn money.  

 

YouTube made a similar agreement last year with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and Harry Fox Agency. This contract and the previous contract will allow YouTube to monetize nearly all the user-generated YouTube videos with accompanying music. When publishers enable YouTube to run ads with videos that feature their compositions, the publishers, songwriters, record labels and artists will make money, “so they can reinvest in their careers and keep making great music, and the music industry can thrive,” said Moody.

 

Google has been heavily attacked recently for aiding piracy via the Google search engine and YouTube. While Google has been working to fight this problem, not all within the music industry are convinced. Google announced plans in late May to publish copyright takedown notices on a daily basis, but the RIAA felt this action was insufficient. (See last week’s Musician Coaching news story.)  

 

The Evolving Role of Managers

Posted By Musician Coaching on April 8th, 2011

David Bason is a manager at the MGMT Company, a Los Angeles-based music management company whose clients include Thirty Seconds to Mars, The Bravery, The Airborne Toxic Event, Andrew W.K., Audra Mae, Atomic Tom and The Constellations. David got his start in the music industry when, after earning a philosophy degree, he took a one-year music industry college program in Toronto. An internship eventually led him to RCA Records in New York City, where he transitioned into a full-time job working in the A&R Department from 1997-2000. While at RCA, he was credited with delivering The Strokes to the label and worked on several multi-platinum releases. David then accepted a position running the publishing company at Roadrunner Records for three years until he switched over to their A&R department for an additional four. He made records with major bands such as The Cult, the New York Dolls and The Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer before going out on his own as a manager, then eventually joining the MGMT team.

 

David also has experience as a singer/songwriter whose records have featured such guests as Nicole Atkins, Sylvain Sylvain, Chad Van Gaalen and Jesse Malin. David also does dub reggae remixes for such artists as Estelle, HR (Bad Brains), Less Than Jake, Street Dogs, The A.K.A.s, and The Explosion.

 

 

I had the opportunity recently to catch up with David to talk to him about how the role of a manager has evolved, some ways musicians can successfully connect with their fans and what he thinks it takes to be successful in today’s DIY space.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

 

Thanks so much for taking some time to talk to me today, David. When you were at Roadrunner Records, what was your philosophy when you were working with artists, both at the publishing level and in an A&R capacity?

 

DB:

 

At Roadrunner, I was tasked with signing developing artists. Our whole approach was reversing the traditional approach to the publishing deal which was “find a moving train, jump on and throw money at it.” We wanted to do it the other way around which was a little more A&R centric. We wanted to find bands early, before they had a record deal, sign them to the publishing company and then use my connections to place them on labels. We did that several times before I started doing A&R full time for the record company.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Then after that, when you first got into the management side of the music industry, you spent about a year doing it on your own, and then you partnered with the MGMT Company. How did you actually make the switch and become a manager?

 

DB:

 

After Roadrunner, I put together a roster of four bands, all of who had independent record deals. I was a one-man show with releases on Razor and Tie, Equal Vision, Triple Crown, Triple X – indies I thought were really cool. But it was the lean years or the “lean year.” When you’re working at the indie level, you really have to claw for every scrap that you get; every little accomplishment is a real victory. I was finding it not to be the level that I like to operate on or to which I’m accustomed. My friend Pete Galli at the MGMT Company had called me and said, “We’re expanding our roster of managers. Why don’t you join us?” Within two weeks, I moved to Los Angeles and joined him.

 

Musician Coaching:


And you’re now doing day-to-day on Thirty Seconds to Mars. For a guy that was doing A&R and not really traveling around with a specific band, now you’ve been worldwide with a very large band. What is it like working with a large band, and how does something that’s a real business like that operate? And, what have you learned that would be of real benefit to people just starting out?

 

DB:

 

It’s thrilling, really. It’s really exciting. It’s 100 miles an hour every single day, and I love it. When a band gets to a certain size, you realize they are a company. So, within our management roster, we have the Thirty Seconds to Mars company and the Airborne Toxic Event company, etc. A band like Thirty Seconds to Mars, for example travels with a crew of 15 people, two buses and a couple trucks. There are several of us at the management company working on Mars. One way of looking at it is as traveling companies. It’s a whole lot different from the trailer and van indie scene I came up in. I love every moment of it and being involved all the moving pieces of an arena-sized act is fascinating.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Is there anything some of these bigger bands are doing that someone on a tight budget could do? I realize it’s not entirely applicable because it’s on a much larger scale than the DIY artist scale, but are there any lessons you’ve learned from working at this level that could be applied?

 

DB:

 

The one thing they do, which anyone can do on any budget is interact with their fans through the various social media outlets. They are in constant touch with their fans. They utilize them on differing levels of involvement and the relationship becomes close enough that the bands call them their family. It’s a very organic relationship. That doesn’t cost any money.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Is there one social media outlet or something specific they say within those outlets to their fans that you think works particularly well?

 

DB:

 

They tweet constantly. For instance, they will say, “We’re having theme nights on this run. In this city, show up wearing this, in that city, show up wearing that.” They might also say, “Submit fan videos that we will use as part of something we’re doing.” It’s an on-going interaction, which everyone has. All my bands have a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. These are commonplace and essential, but the most successful bands I’ve had use these tools in a way that builds a group of super fans. In the case of Thirty Second to Mars, they call them the “echelon.” They are just super engaged and always interacting.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What is the division of labor like when it comes to reaching out to fans with some of these bigger bands? Does every member of the band take care of a certain piece of it, or is it primarily one member doing all the tweeting, social network tasks, etc.?

 

 

DB:

 

I work with a band called The Constellations –who are eight guys and girls living in a van on the road. Last year they played almost 300 shows.  They divide up the labor. One person does one thing, another person does another thing. Each person in the band has their own task. One person does merch, another does accounting and so on.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I’m always curious, because I find that so many bands have one guy or girl that gets stuck with it. And that never seems to work out, in my experience.

 

DB:

 

It differs from band to band, but with some bands – like The Constellations – everyone has his/her own individual page and account. But then there’s also one collective one. With Thirty Seconds to Mars, you can follow all three of the guys on Twitter, and then there are messages that go out from the whole band as an entity.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

You were saying before we started this interview that the role of management has shifted considerably, and management companies have to be more full service and offer much more than just career management services. It sounds like there are now other promotional and marketing arms. Can you talk more about that shift?

 

DB:

 

Generally speaking, the advent of this all happening has come out of necessity. The labels have had to trim and re-trim their staff due to declining record sales. The result of a smaller staff is that they get overloaded and things can fall through the cracks. This doesn’t mean all the things don’t need to get done, just that labels need help with the workload. Therefore, the onus has fallen on the manager to make sure these things happen. Over the course of the last few years you’ve seen that the management companies that really make a difference and are really at the top of their game are the ones that can help supplement services for whoever you’re in business with distributing your records.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Which kinds of services are you seeing – not only at your company but at management companies in general – being added most commonly to managers’ to-do lists to make up for some of the things the record companies can no longer do for artists?

 

DB:

 

I can talk specifically about what our company offers. If you sign with us, you get all our services as part of the deal. We have an online department, a promotion/radio staff, a sales department, marketing people and managers. We can tailor a campaign to anyone. For instance, if you own your own masters and are unsigned, you can come to us and we can run your radio campaign ourselves and do all the marketing. Our sales staff can get the record out through the various channels. Our online department can secure the real estate we’re going to need around the release. And I, as one of the managers can do the band management. So, we can handle a full record release in house here.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And that certainly wasn’t the case five years ago.

 

DB:

 

No, not at all. Previously, a manager would manage the band, and manage the record company. And by managing the record company, I mean giving them the vision, making sure they’re on top of things, rolling it out the way it needs to be done, policing them, working with them to meet the various goals you have set together. Now we have the means to supplement what each label department is doing. So, for example, our radio staff can team up with their radio staff and then divide up and conquer, or our sales guys or online guys can work in tandem with the record label’s sales guys/online guys to bolster their efforts.

You can also push it even further. We can get hired out for our various services and not even be involved in the record or the management.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I’m definitely seeing a lot of that. I’m seeing a lot of people consulting on various services in conjunction with their management companies, labels, etc.

 

DB:

 

It’s interesting. We’ll be working all the radio on a Pearl Jam record and not be involved in the management or the record side of it.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I wanted to ask you a little bit about the days when you worked with Amanda Palmer while you were with Roadrunner Records. What was the experience of picking her up from the Dresden Dolls like? She’s one of the flagship artists for the DIY movement. Did you participate in developing her personal brand online?

 

DB:

 

Amanda and Brian – The Dresden Dolls – had started on their own up in Boston. By the time I got to them, they had sold a couple thousands records on their own label. She was doing everything herself. These became very, very special people in my life. When I went up to Boston to see them the first time, I realized they had a community they had built on their own. Amanda was living communally in a house with other artists, they all worked on each other’s projects. The guy down the hall would make the videos, other friends would paint the band for posters and album artwork. I got the impression that she was going to do this with or without me or anyone else in the industry. This was going to happen whether or not we were involved. I really had to sell her on the fact that we could help her business, because she was running it herself. She was running the record label herself, writing the music, booking the band and doing everything. When we got involved, she was even doing handmade merch. When we courted her, our case was this:  “You’re going to do this anyway. We can help bring it to another level quicker than you can build it on your own.” And we did that very quickly. There was a good manager put in place and there was a great agent. We re-released the album they had put together themselves, and very quickly we sold 100,000 records. They went from playing to a couple hundred people in the Northeast to playing for a thousand people no matter where they went across the U.S.

 

Then, I think expectations started to clash. Traditionally, in the normal record world, you would expect someone who went from zero to 100,000 records and from a couple hundred to a couple thousand people everywhere she went toget a ton of radio and blow up to 3,000 people and then hopefully 5,000, then 10,000 people. And you’d also think she would go from 100,000 records to 500,000, etc. These are the benchmarks you set for yourself on the arc of someone’s career – the very conventional record label benchmarks. But she had a totally different approach. She said, “No. I’m building something, I want to build at the pace I want to build it. Don’t force me to write a pop song. I’m going to do what I want to do, and it’s going to work the way it’s going to work and be real.” That’s when I think the clash started to happen. Like it or not, a label is in business to make money. There’s overhead to be paid, and there are salaries, and you need to see a return on your investment. I don’t think Amanda was on the same timeline as the accountants for the label. And she said, “I’m going to make the records I want. I’m building my core fan base, and it’s growing.” There were just different timelines. There started to be a bit of a public feud with the label. Quite obviously Amanda trusted her gut and it’s worked out perfectly for her. I love her and everything she’s accomplished.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Were you doing management mostly at that point of the feud?

 

DB:

 

I was out by that point. I A&R’ed the solo record with her, and then I was out.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What was it she did well that others didn’t? It sounds like she just would not be derailed. It sounds like raw will power.

 

DB:

 

It was raw will power with Amanda. And that’s the key. It’s the same thing with a band like Thirty Seconds to Mars. They get up every day and do it nonstop until they fall down at night. The correlation between the two artists is that Amanda always had a very open dialogue with her fans. She wrote her blog every day, and it was verbose to say the least. She was pouring her heart out every day. She would write something, and people felt they were along for the ride and involved. They felt like they knew what was going on with her. She would tell her fans about what was going on between her, the label and management. They felt like they really knew her. And she interacted with them nonstop. That is not an easy task. We all have a Facebook page, and a lot of us have a blog but if you’ve ever tried to actually maintain those and keep them relevant and interesting, you know it’s not an easy thing to do.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Speaking as someone who keeps a blog, consistency is the toughest part about blogging.

 

DB:

 

When you have a blog, you have to log on and say something relevant and captivating on a daily basis. That’s hard. If you pay attention to Amanda’s blog, you get swept up into her world. She’s a fascinating person. She’s captivating. And that’s the X-Factor and the star quality that everyone is looking for. As an artist blogging or communicating online, you need someone to say, “Wow, I want to pay attention to this person.” Whether it was an innate understanding of how this technology was going to work, or just a grueling effort on her part, she was really at the forefront of harnessing these tools and utilizing them to have a more intimate relationship with her fans. And now, I think people expect it.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Do you have any parting advice for artists?

 

DB:

 

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever stop. That’s the only key.

 

To learn more about David Bason, please check out his website at DavidBason.com.