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.
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