7 Music Business Basics You Need to Know

There are few industries as fragmented and as difficult to define as the music industry.

From independent musicians and recording studios to major labels and renowned music venues, there are dozens if not hundreds of elements that make up the industry as a whole – and they aren’t always connected or integrated in any discernable way.

But if you have a passion for music, and you’re determined to build your own music business or be a part of the industry on some level, here are seven things you should know about the state of the music business.

1. Most musicians are early adopters of new technology. Whether it’s the latest social media or crowdfunding platform, musicians are often the first to take new tools for a test drive, and some find success this way. For instance, independent musician Daria Musk found traction on Google Hangouts.

2. Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason for success. This is particularly true with something as personal and subjective as music.

3. Technology is changing the way studios work. LANDR is an online tool that automatically masters recorded music – and reportedly, the finished results are quite good. Ongoing developments in technology continues to reduce the need for traditional big-budget recording studios, and the production process is being automated more and more. Home recording equipment is also affordable and high quality.

4. The blockchain may be the future of the industry. The technology underlying popular cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, is known as the blockchain, and it may offer a way for more music businesses and musicians to monetize their work without third parties taking a larger slice of the pie. But the current industry structure is preventing this from moving forward.

5. It’s the only industry with Payola. It’s illegal for radio stations to play music on-air in exchange for money unless they disclose it as “sponsored airtime.” Sadly, corruption continues, and mainstream airwaves are dominated by top 40 music, which represents the extremely popular minority. If you thought Arctic Monkeys was “independent”, you’re not even scratching the surface of the independent majority.

6. Music streaming is a growth market. And we’re going to continue to see innovation and new developments in this area. There may be dozens of streaming sites now, but that number will likely rise to the hundreds, and maybe even thousands.

7. Human beings may not have creativity cornered. As it turns out, machines are capable of producing beautiful, emotional music, something long thought to be impossible. Will this change the way music is made? Will it make musicians obsolete? It’s hard to say.

Music Industry Sharks – How to Uncover the Unscrupulous Many in the Music Business

There are a ton of people out there claiming to be music marketing experts, music publicity experts, and social media experts. Yep – Literally thousands upon thousands. When it comes to marketing and publicizing your music you have a wide variety of good choices. RIGHT? Wrong – tons of choices – yes but how many of them are truly worth their salt? Not Many!

For some reason unscrupulous “music-want to-bees” prey on musicians – I don’t know why, maybe they think they are an easy soft touch. Maybe they don’t like musicians or worse yet – don’t like music. (WOW) A lot of these folks are or were musicians themselves, or maybe an intern somewhere in the music business, or actually love music. They believe this gives them the right to proclaim themselves a music marketing expert, or worse yet, a music publicist which takes many years of music industry experience and the accumulation of thousands of music media contacts, and further, advertise the best possible product or service that will accelerate your music career.

Well here is what I have to say about that: I’ve been a musician myself — albeit a long time ago, back then, there were still many music industry scam artists. I’ve experienced the deep pain of being screwed by unscrupulous people claiming to be my savior in the music business. The Internet and the leveling of the independent music playing field has opened up a huge amount of opportunities for these sharks and scam artists to work their game. The only way my band became successful was sheer luck – we found the right honest people.

Here is a checklist to seriously consider when choosing your ultimate publicist or marketing service:

Check their credentials – And follow this checklist

Do they have a creditable online presence?

Do they have hundreds of testimonials? Or, as I like to call them TRUSTIMONIALS – Check their references!

How many “HONEST” years of experience do they have? Ver!fy this

Have they written hundreds of articles about music marketing?

Do they belong to many high-profile music industry organizations?

Does the prospective marketer or publicist answer all of your questions

or do they subtly evade them?

Will they tell you who and where they will be promoting your music with?

i.e. their music media affiliations – or do they tell you to wait and see?

Have you seen proven samples of their work?

Will they give you what they are promising in writing?

Before you make a choice consider –

INTEGRITY – HONESTY – TRANSPARENCY

Aside from doing great work that actually helps you with your career, these are probably the three most important elements to consider

If any or all of the above credential checks are not in the positive category —

BEWARE, YOU MIGHT BE BEING SCAMMED

Being fortunate enough to uncover the right people for our project way back then, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do so. I’m just saying that it is so incredibly important, these days especially, to do your homework and due diligence before you shell out your hard-earned cash. Most indie musicians are on a shoestring budget and every penny means something to them. Take the time to possibly confer with a creditable music industry consultant. Most will be able to recognize a scam when they see it.

So, to all you unscrupulous sharks out there waiting to swoop down on the next unsuspecting musician, sorry about writing this article – but you need to be exposed. Therefore, I am not really sorry. It’s people like you that give the music business, honest publicists and music marketers a bad name. Shame on you! I love my Indies and all musicians and artists and it hurts to see them taken advantage of. Try another niche’ – maybe people who need marketing help in selling rockets or industrial products and services. BUT – Leave Our Music Niche’ Alone!!