— by Anna Madorsky
As a songwriter and writer, I’m deeply engrossed in stories: how we’re shaped by them, how we use them as touchstones, how we wrap our psyches around these metaphorical bits so that we can make sense of the complexities of our own lives as we allow imaginary universes to ignite our purpose and fuel our trajectory.
As an artist within the shifting landscape of the music industry, studying and observing its narrative from the 20th century to the present is a lot like watching a giant, lumbering, alien alpha beast attempting to survive on a planet that likely can’t support its infrastructure or feeding habits; at least not for very long and without a whole lot of casualties.
For the past several years, the industry has been dismantling into a new sort of organism: one that’s been brought to its knees by natural evolution and must adapt to survive. Hierarchies are flattening, gatekeepers are becoming increasingly obsolete, and music technology has become unshackled from obscene costs. Both business folks and artists have been scrambling to adapt to new roles, new sorts of relationships, and new self-perceptions. These massive shifts force us to reexamine our purpose and trajectory.
Frankly, I’m glad for the reinvented plot.
The new playing field for artists and musicians is one where we are all required to think mindfully and purposefully about business. In its essence, is it not the same kind of process we go through to create our art? We make decisions as to the kind of ethics (or lack thereof) we are inspired to see reflected in our stories and lyrics, and what kind of value system governs the characters. And in the same way, we have the creative power to spearhead the economics of art with our day-to-day choices, how we treat people, and with whom we build alliances.
When I was about ten, I asked my older brother, “Why are most songs on the radio about romantic love when there are so many other topics to think about, sing about, and discuss?”
His answer was “that’s just what people spend most of their time thinking about.”
But I don’t, I thought, and found myself constantly wondering:
If I exist, aren’t there others like me?
For me, the shift in the music industry is best expressed as the liberation of the Idea. Without radio formats, I can defy genres. With easy access to technology, I can stretch my skills as a producer and arranger. Without strictly controlled channels in a male-dominated industry, I have the option of what kind of woman I want to be. With the disarray of the music business, I can push myself out of my comfort zone to become a better and more passionate entrepreneur.
It serves no one to sever the roles of artist and businessperson, or to think of them as ideological opposites. Rigid definitions of ourselves are something we do when we are threatened, and enlightenment does not happen without painful and uncomfortable growth. Downstream from this expansion, it is the listener who benefits from having access to music and artists as idiosyncratic and unique as they are, and it is the listener who will reward the artist for giving them access to stories and storytellers who have the power to open them up to parts of themselves that they may have forgotten about or didn’t even know existed. Belief systems, familial structures, gender, sexuality, the unspoken ambivalences within relationships, and sociopolitical ideas: these are the stomping grounds of art, not of an archaic business framework too afraid to take risks, too mired in tightly controlled messages, too vested in the dogma of a power structure it does not want to upset.
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t ask the difficult and uncomfortable questions that seem to be constantly rolling off my tongue. And although I’ve never really questioned if this ferociously inquisitive streak in me would ever subside, I have frequently doubted that I might ever find a good home for it.
If I exist, are there others like me?
When I first started working with the folks at CJG Innovative, I was a lone wolf, a fiercely independent survivor with battle scars that were in some ways overshadowing my authenticity and my strengths. After years of self-stitching, I had reached a point in my evolution as an artist where I simply could no longer do surgery on myself. To go into the details of all the ways that CJG has fostered my growth would be to double or triple the length of this piece, but I hope it might suffice to say that it takes a special kind of creative team to catapult a growth that arms an artist with the fluidity and skills to navigate the uneven terrain of the new music industry whilst embracing and developing exactly whom the artist is. To hold to the principle that you are viable and vital because of your uniqueness rather than despite it… Now that is something indeed. Every artist has a specific outpouring of essence that can create a magnificently enriching ripple effect to her or his particular audience. An enterprise such as CJG that has its sights set on catalyzing that energy is the natural ally of artists such as myself.
The music industry of old and those who endorse it may be formidably ruthless, but not nearly as formidable as the kinetic energy that is commanded when the creative and fiery spirit of art converges and collaborates with the warmth of mindful, resourceful, and creative business. When ideas are liberated, we are all freed.
Prepared by Leah Marie King 5/27/2014
The genie has been let out of the bottle in the revolutionized world of music. The digital age of online streaming has dimmed the lights on the old paradigm of the music industry as it began in the 1950’s while opening the revolutionary curtain upon a new era of the music business in the 2000’s. As we all know, ever since free downloading became possible album and song sales have plummeted – and that is just the beginning of the problematic can of worms for the new paradigm. While there was a slight rise of bought downloads from platforms such as iTunes, even these already low figures have plunged to their near-death as online streaming allows access to almost any music a listener desires.
In his article “The download is dead: Long live the stream” Quentin Fottrell outlines how downloading is a dying trend: “Digital sales of individual tracks fell nearly 6% to 1.26 billion last year  and digital album sales — which typically include 10 songs — were virtually stagnant at 117.6 million… In the first quarter of 2014, digital tracks were down 12.5% from the previous quarter at 312 million units, while digital albums were down more than 14% at 27.8 million in the U.S.”
Wow. Those are staggering statistics. Meanwhile, in the world of online streaming: “Music streams surged 32% to 118.1 billion songs in 2013… that includes data from AOL, Spotify, YouTube, Vevo, Zune and other streaming services. Facebook has also helped spur interest in digital streaming, allowing its 1.2 billion members to share their Spotify music choices and even log into Spotify using their Facebook credentials”.
Let’s face it, people want music for free, they can get music for free, they will get their music for free – the genie is out, the vast consumers of music will not be paying for their music anymore. Resistance is futile.
Okay, so selling music is becoming all but obsolete, even downloading is becoming obsolete, and it is obvious that producing a full album is becoming all but pointless. Is music doomed? How do artists, especially upcoming artists such as myself, potentially make a career out of music? The answer is seemingly simple: by being entrepreneurially creative. As is well known, record companies are scrambling to stay afloat as they are no longer capable of making profit from album sales and the reins of power are being placed back into the hands of the artists who have the option of selling a lot more than just singles and albums. This is good news. Independent artists are now in control of their own fate.
I have control: there is no record company loaning me money, thus they cannot stuff me into a miniskirt, nor tell me how to act or what to record, and most importantly there is no record company putting the majority of the money I make back in their own pockets. On the flipside of the coin, I do not have the record companies promoting, distributing, and spoon feeding me to a mass audience.
So, what is the key to my potential success? Fanbase. I have to be able to pick up the slack where the record companies would have helped and it is now up to me to garner interest in my music. The benefit of the Internet is I can reach a worldwide audience. The Internet is a powerful tool. By actively reaching out to potential fans and by keeping the solidified fan base engaged I can create an audience of my own. We’ve already discovered people are loath to pay for music. Therefore, I am better off giving away free downloads, or better yet (as we have seen) offering my fans links to online streaming of my music, thereby gaining more and more exposure, thus gaining interest and rising above the noise of hundreds and thousands of artists that are trying to do the same thing.
This raises another point: the songs I am providing better be of pretty darn good quality in order to attract my fans. Moreover, our addiction to technology has created a society full of people with the attention span of gnats. Full albums are no longer necessary, in fact they are pointless – one smokin’ single will be far more powerful than a full album of two or three good songs buried in rubbish that will just bore my fans and push them to move onto some other artist’s kick ass single.
But that brings us back to the problem of making money. I have a large fan base worldwide that are listening to my music for free. Now what? In my case, I can take advantage of my number one bliss: touring. By developing an ever-growing worldwide fan base I am opening doors to fill seats in venues. These fans will happily pay for a ticket to see me at their favorite venue. And what can I sell other than tickets as I tour? Merchandise. The more fans I discover and engage, the more tickets I will sell and the more merchandise I can sell. Contradictorily, part of the merchandise I can sell should be EP’s (e.g., a nicely packaged five song CD) – I made sure I kicked ass enough on stage so now the rabid fans are craving a piece of tangible music to take home along with their t-shirts, posters, stickers, shot glasses, panties… the options are endless.
Thus, my business model becomes a self perpetuating machine of producing singles to engage fans and hook them, fan engagement utilizing the benefits of access to a worldwide fan base, booking tours once a large enough localized fan base has been procured, selling tickets to my shows, selling merchandise both online and at shows, and maintaining excitement with my fans via online engagement, and thus the cycle continues. Keep in mind this is but one model – there are many other ways to make profit from music (e.g., song placement in film) within the new paradigm, this model just happens to be the one most appealing to me personally. Incidentally, this is a similar model to the one that lead blues-rock artist Joe Bonamassa to success.
But how can artists be expected to know how to run a business, and how do they know what model best suits their creativity? We want to make music, not run out and get MBA’s. We have creative, crazy minds, brimming with lyrics, chord progressions, melodies, stage plots, human emotion bursting forth in music sweet music, we have tours to book, shows to play, instruments to practice, songs to write, bands to rehearse. Musicians aren’t generally renowned for their business sense or financial savvy.
So, acknowledging our weakness, we must seek help. Enter CJG Innovative. CJG Innovative is a great example of an artist development and management company aimed specifically for the modern music business paradigm. Armed with music industry veterans who are loaded with experience and knowledge of both the old school music business and the new school music business their aim is to help artists develop their individual business models. Instead of relying on a record company to gouge my wages and direct my career thereby taking tight control of my artistry, I can now turn to the sharp business savvy folks at CJG Innovative.
A unique aspect of CJG Innovative is you can tailor make your own management package to suit your exact needs. For example, you can garner help with your social media platforms (a crucial aspect of an artist’s business in the new industry), you can have a song reviewed by an A&R professional, you can even seek full blown management for every aspect of your career (as we know, high level managers do not gamble on unproven talent anymore so it is up to artists to get their business rockin’ before expecting any interest). This freedom of choice allows an artist to seek help with exactly what his or her area of weakness may be.
CJG’s success will be determined by the success of their artists so they hold a vested interest in helping you to your maximum potential. This is a win-win situation. Pay a flat fee, get your business in tiptop shape, follow the advice of the professionals you are paying for, work your butt off, mix in a drop of self-procured luck and you have a recipe for success. Furthermore, CGJ will make sure your business model is where it needs to be before being potentially presented to the big cats of the industry. You have one shot with these cats so you better be ready.
The era of the babied artist is over. Artists have control, so we better take the reins and guide this musical caravan carefully through the winding precipices of the music industry. Don’t do it alone… seek guidance from those that know every bend, every dangerous curve in the road.
Link to referenced article:
In the vast sea of bloggers, J. Michael Dolan is one who consistently delivers the goods. Most of his blogs are very short, and get to the point very quickly.
Best selling author J. Michael Dolan is the founder and former CEO/publisher of Music Connection magazine. Today he writes, speaks and leads a creative think-tank specializing in “innovative solutions to impossible challenges.”
LOST IN TRANSLATION (0:43)
The 2003 film was a commercial success, grossing almost $120 million from a budget of only $4 million. It also won director Sofia Coppola an Academy Award for “Best Original Screenplay.” An extraordinary script, which told the story of two people on the road to somewhere, seduced onto the road called uncertainty. An extremely familiar scenario for the pro artist & entrepreneur.
The road to victory is besieged with so many distractions, so may ups & downs, and so many unpredictable twists & turns. And as crazy, genius A&E’s, we get irritated sooner, frustrated faster, distracted constantly, and seduced off that road much quicker that others. Why? Because we’re a channel for a never-ending flow of exhausting creative thinking, and an outlet for an annoying stream of wild ideas & unlimited possibilities, constantly flowing through us 24/7. And while others frantically thumb through the rulebook of protocol, the pro artist & entrepreneur courageously defer to creativity, ingenuity and intuition to navigate the road of uncertainty. BUT IT ISN’T EASY!
That’s exactly why artist & treps need more support than others. No kidding! We need people who we trust to remind us who we are and where we’re headed—so we can remain steadfast, inside the “zone.” Heck, we often need an entire “support team” to keep us focused and on purpose!
Truth is, whether it’s one person or two, or whether it’s a friend, family member or a monthly visit with a private coach—we just need trustworthy people who know the very “best of us,” what we’re really capable of, and have the audacity to consistently encourage us and point us in the right direction. And what do WE need to do? Trust them.
Best selling author J. Michael Dolan is the founder and former CEO/publisher of Music Connection magazine. Today he writes, speaks and leads a creative think-tank specializing in “innovative solutions to impossible challenges.”
CJG INNOVATIVE has a Management Division…
…are YOU ready for Management?
Managers do not build a music career or a business, they manage one.
Many artists and musicians assume that they need a manager to help them build their music career; this is a common misconception.
Some believe that a manager will listen to their music, recognize the talent and potential, and jump at the opportunity to represent them and handle their career “on a commission basis”; in other words, for FREE (since they don’t have a business that generates enough profit to pay a commission!).
Or, that a manager will offer to build the artist’s music career from the ground up – to the point that it is profitable – without making much, if any income along the way.
• Do you know how long that can take?
• Do you know how much work goes into it?
• Do you know how much “legitimate” expense your manager could incur during this period?
• Can you repay those business expenses, since you are the owner of the business?
Building up someone’s business to the point where it is profitable enough to generate a reasonable commission can involve a tremendous amount of work and time.
Experienced Music Managers usually choose to work with artists that already have a lot going on…i.e., a “Business”! I know, seems like a “Catch 22”…you need a business to get a manager, but how do you get a business without one? Read on…
Here are some things YOU can do to move your music career forward; BEFORE you seek “full-blown” management:
- Record high quality and professional music
- Set up, maintain, and draw traffic to your social media and online videos.
- Book and play your own shows.
- Build a fan base and engage them.
- Create a brand.
- Market your music through various outlets like social media, press, PR, and publicity.
- Develop relationships with other bands and artists.
- Get radio play, including internet radio, and online streaming/subscription sites.
- Create a street team.
- Distribute and release your music. You do NOT need a Major record label to distribute your music. You can, and should be doing it on your own. Serious labels are not likely to sign artists that have not released music on their own and shown some profit from it.
- Look for new ways to generate revenue and increase brand equity (licensing, endorsements, non-profit organization affiliation, ringtones, joint ventures, etc.).
You should develop your career in these areas prior to seeking management, but you don’t have to do it alone. We can work with you; that’s what our Pre-Management Division is all about.
CJG INNOVATIVE PRE-MANAGEMENT — We offer a unique, fee-based Pre-Management service that is individually tailored to each artist’s struggles and goals. We work with artists, helping them prepare for full management; we help them generate revenue from their music; and we help them get their music and their business to a level where labels and agents may be interested in working with them.
Since the economics of the music industry have shifted – due to the advent of technology, online distribution, and lack of album sales — labels, managers, and agents are not in the career development business anymore. They don’t take on artists who aren’t already making money; it’s too risky.
The role of an artist today is not only limited to creating great music; it includes wearing a business hat, becoming an entrepreneur. Not only understanding how the Music Business works, but most importantly having a practical knowledge of it. In today’s music business, various companies — some similar to CJG INNOVATIVE — offer services that facilitate development in areas that many artists struggle with; areas that used to fall under the umbrella of “Artist Development” at record labels and management companies.
By seeking out professional and experienced guidance, you’ll have a better shot at standing out and creating a viable business in today’s ultra-competitive music industry.
Treat your music career like you would treat any other business: find and hire the best, most experienced people possible for the areas where you need the most help, guidance, and expertise. For example, this could include a great producer or mixer for your music…or, an effective branding specialist to help you dial-in your brand and reach desired demographics.
Still think you’re ready for Management?
Here’s what we’re interested in:
- What is your business? Do you play several/many paying shows each month? To be considered for management, your Business must be in place. This includes a solid and engaged fan base, consistent paying gigs, and a real demand for your music.
- Are you making money? Here’s a dose of reality: if you’re not clearing a minimum of $4000 — $5000 a month after expenses, then you’re probably not at a level to attract top-level management. In today’s music industry, qualified and experienced music managers will require app. 15-20% commission, plus a minimum monthly retainer ($1000 – 2000, or more).
- Do you sell-out shows? Do you struggle to book gigs and and get people in the door? Managers do NOT book shows. In fact, in some states — including the state of California — it is illegal for a Manager to book shows/gigs. You need a talent or booking agent to do that.
- Are you on numerous social media sites? A stellar EPK, and a strong presence on relevant social media sites is required; recent, ongoing, consistent and engaging activity with your fans is essential.
- Do you have recorded music? A manager is NOT a producer. Yes, they might require you to re-record your music with a new production team. You not only need a business for them to manage; a strong product is required to have a successful business (a YouTube video of you singing a song acapella is likely not enough).
- Do you have a budget to work with? Marketing teams, branding specialists, street teams, etc. Pro-level managers do not typically perform these duties; they hire and manage people who specialize in these areas. Your budget should also include money to cover monthly expenses that your manager may incur (including travel, lodging, business meals).
Food For Thought:
Colonel Tom Parker managed Elvis Presley for the majority of his career. By the time “The Colonel” – as he was widely known – began managing Elvis , “The King” had already generated quite a buzz by selling out numerous shows – attended by 1000’s of screaming teenage girls and women – and recording some of his most influential records.
Brian Epstein was hired to manage the Beatles after they became one of the biggest and most successful unsigned music acts in Europe. All those legendary shows at the Hamburg Club where the “lads” performed happened prior to them hiring their
legendary manager. Brian decided to manage them when there became a high demand for their records in the music store he owned.
Neither of these legendary music acts were “discovered” when they were virtual unknowns: they’d already worked hard on their own to build a presence and a viable business worth managing.
Scott here. http://scottsawyer.net/?page_id=14
- I’ve been a full-time working musician for 30+ years. My latest album “Dreamers” was recently released, and I continue to perform frequently as a sideman, and with my own projects.
- I’m an adjunct teaching instructor at East Carolina University (Applied Jazz Guitar; Jazz Chamber), the Lecturer of Jazz Guitar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and a group instructor at the Durham Jazz Workshop. I work with a number of private students in my home studio.
- As time allows, I produce music…Jason Richmond and I were honored recently when Bruce Piephoff’s new album “Soft Soap Purrings” was featured on Gavin Lurssen’s website (Indie Resources – Artist of the Week); Gavin’s credits are here, take a peek http://lurssenmastering.com/mastering-credits.
- I consult with and screen part-time for CJG Innovative.
We recently received an e-mail from a prospective client:
- He wanted to know “exactly” what CJG would do for him.
- Yet, he provided zero information: no name, band name, bio, links to website, social media, online mp3s, personal or business e-mail address. NOTHING.
My e-mailed response was pretty detailed and included this:
- “All kidding aside…why would you believe anything we tell you, given that we have no idea who you are/what you do/what your goals are?”
- “On the other hand, there is plenty of information at cjginnovative.com on what the company does, and all of us who are currently involved.”
About an hour later, my phone rang. It was “the prospect”. I wasn’t expecting his call, but decided to speak with him for a few minutes. I followed up with Ghezzi, and she provided me with this summary:
This is what we do.
- Help artists setup and learn to use social media correctly. Each platform is driven differently and requires a strategic targeted approach. We provide insight and training for all important media and music sites.
- If an artist cannot or does not want to manage their Social Media themselves, we can do it or them for an additional fee. *That said, we don’t recommend that an artist ignore their social media. These are YOUR fans and THEY are the ones who have the power to get you EVERYTHING that you want/need in your music career. The labels don’t have “the power” anymore; the fans do.
- We are branding experts. Without a powerful authentic brand, your fans cannot connect to you or your music. Branding is grossly misunderstood and isn’t some random image that an artist creates. It is the core of your being, your mission statement. It is who you are as an artist and a person that we help you to develop, to make you stand out in the Industry. Without a powerful brand, you won’t go far.
- Crowd Funding: We teach artists how to leverage their fan base in order to have their fans pay for their recordings, videos, tours, etc. We are experts at helping artists set up crowd funding campaigns – once they have a solid and engaged fan base – and get them successfully funded.
- Booking: We help artists learn how to approach agents and get attention in the Industry, to get more and better bookings. Show sharing is a big step and is often overlooked by many musicians. You need a strong EPK, a professional bio and website, and great written/verbal communication skills in order to get an agent to notice you.
- A&R: Our COO of A&R is an expert at deconstructing/constructing songs; to help musicians create the strongest possible singles to make available for sale, download, licensing, radio play and to gain the attention of promoters and agents.
- Licensing: Once an artist has built a solid fan base, we teach them how to build relationships in the Industry to get their music placed in TV and Film. When we feel that they are ready, we leverage our connections to help with those placements. Important: The worst thing we could do – which could be harmful to an artists’ career – is to take them to a Licensing Company, Promoter, Entertainment Attorney or Label BEFORE their music and business is ready. You get one shot to impress: don’t “blow it” before everything is in place.
- Other areas where we can help artists include working with NPO’s, getting endorsement deals, building an audience for online streaming shows, promotion, marketing…it’s endless.
We help musicians/artists build their careers. When they’re ready, we take them on for full blown management.