What’s up with the “new” music industry?
I put new in quotes because the even the new way of doing things is pretty old (relatively speaking). But with physical media slowly earning a permanent spot on the endangered species list, and digital media being easier to share than that photo your friends took of you last week at the club after that girl got sick all over….
easier to share than ever! haha
Labels and artists have been forced to get creative and diversify their income streams unlike any other time in the modern music industry landscape. Take licensing for example. This desire to diversify has included licensing and has made it more common for smaller artists to get companies to agree to pay to record their records and not even expect it to be sold to fans, and was ok with the band giving it away. Who would have thought a label would sign a contract where section 27.65a reads something like this:
The Artists physical Recordings may or may not be sold to anyone upon transfer. Furthermore, licensing income aside, any and all funds advanced for said Recordings can not be recouped by The Label from any of The Artists other earned income.
All that mumbo jumbo means, is that the label would agree to not only give up their ability to recoup the album production costs from album sales, in essence giving the artist a “free” album with their choice to, charge for it, give it away, or whatever if they want; but they also give up their right to collect any money from the band aside from licensing income…. not quite the same as the “Robbie Williams, all inclusive from merch to tour income, but you can’t even say your own name without having to shell out some sort of residual payment first because we own your ass” contract. Either way, with crowd sourced album funding who needs a big label ::pauses:: or any label for that matter?
Ok, to be fair labels come with their connections and support advantages…yes even the big ones. I mean after all they do have shareholders and accountants to impress with solid balance sheets. They can’t really afford to say, “Yes!” to too many bands that they don’t think will guarantee them some serious return though. With that said, they are more selective , more inclined (and may be more able) to hook an artist up with big time tours, big time recording /distribution, and maybe even a big time radio campaign. They also come with lots of hooks though too…
:: pauses ::
ok I’ll stop now haha
Originally this post was supposed to be almost a case study of sorts of the rise of the Chicago band I Fight Dragons. A look at how they went from a local Chicago based chiptune-power pop band, to signing with Atlantic/Photo Finish Records within a year of releasing their first EP, to winning what seems to be an amicable release from said labels 2 years later, to dominating a “Voltron-Style” Kickstarter for their new record, and to somehow, through all of that, maintaining ownership of all of the songs that were paid for by the label… but alas after hours of searching I couldn’t find enough specifics as to how it all went down. So we’ll just have to deal with a little different look at the band and the industry.
Aside from the fact that I’m a fan, I chose IFD, because I think they’ve actually “made it” (and yes I know that only the artist can determine that). They are at a point where they have a sizable fan base, they have a theme for a network TV show (The Goldbergs), have had their cup of coffee with MTV, and have played multiple Warped/National Tours with some pretty big acts. Well in the end, they were able to pull all that together to raise almost 600% of a $20,000 kickstarter goal for their upcoming album!
The thing is, that aside from reading about all the hard work, and seeing the tireless connections that they made with their fans early on, I couldn’t find any specifics as to how they got their big break. As far as their release from their record label obligations…all I know is that they now have enough control over their own music to do whatever they want with the songs that the label paid for. Enough so that they, are able to give it away for free on their website. Maybe the label gets all the money from the Goldbergs theme and other licensing things they have done, I don’t really know.
As for their rise? I guess the specifics don’t really matter… they worked their asses off (harder than this guy), and it sure as hell paid off. They put themselves in a position to put out six figure album “on their own”, and have some name recognition and a sound that is likely to get more licensing deals/big tours/record and merch sales in the future.
So as for the crowdfunding part of this all, what do you guys think? How badly is crowdfunding killing major production companies? Is it even at all?
With big time movies like Veronica Mars out there scoring 2 million in a single day and all sorts of bands like IFD going it solo what’s next for the industry?
Personally, I see history repeating itself. At least since the start of Rock n’ Roll, indie record labels have been small and agile enough enough to take a risk on something new and untested, and as soon as they show that their business models work the majors step in, buy up the indies (and whatever else they can of the working process), and form a “new world order”; until their shareholders won’t put up with the risk taking anymore of course. At which point the market is ripe for indies to step in again and the cycle repeats.
In this case, once the guys in suits realize how to best put crowdfunding to work for themselves they’ll totally jump on board. (if they haven’t already) It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a site like indiegogo was snatched up by some media conglomerate in the next year or so.
Ha…this totally reminds me of the late 90′s and early 00′s when I’d be listening to panels of people talking about the “Celestial Jukebox”…Sure there were nay sayers out there, but at least on paper leasing a satellite to access all of my music in my car sounded like a good idea… ok at least a hell of a lot better than running extremely long audio cables everywhere I went haha
What related future trends have you guys seen going on in the industry?
If you want to see an innovative Kickstarter check out I Fight Dragon’s “Voltron Style” Kickstarter (Project Atma) It’s a pretty cool way of putting one together, and might give you some ideas if you decide to put one on. Orrrrrr if you want to REALLY want to look at the future of the biz (and keep it hyper local to Boston while you’re at it) just gaze at the awesomeness that was Planetoid Means Business.
after all “There’s no nation like do-nation”! haha
Thanks again for reading everyone… you guys totally rock!
Oh yeah… I almost forgot! The “will work for Warped Tour tickets” offer in my post about the last IFD album still stands!
xo – Kevin