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Bipartisan Lack Of Support For Musicians... As If 2020 Hasn't Already Been Bad Enough. 

The majority Of U.S. House Says Musicians Should Not Be Paid When Their Song Is On The Radio 

“It’s crazy to think in 2020 songwriters are more regulated than Facebook. The American songwriter is one of the most government-controlled professions in American history,” - LeAnn Rimes

Twelve more members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on to The Local Radio Freedom Act, which continues the practice of not paying performers when their song is played on broadcast radio.  

With these new endorsements, a majority of the U.S. House has signed on support radio’s lack of payments to performers, a practice which every other free country in the developed world rejects as unfair. Unbelievably, the U.S. is one of only 4 countries in the world that doesn’t pay artists for radio airplay. More unbelievably, the other 3 are North Korea, Iran and China, none of which are exactly known for their artistic freedom, copyright protections, or human rights. 

Songwriters are regulated by rules written 80 years ago and streaming has made it difficult for them to earn a fair wage. Songwriters are some of the most heavily regulated small-business owners in this country; even more so than pharmaceutical companies.

As an example, the Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” is the most played song on the radio ever, with more than 15+ million plays since its release in 1964, yet the group never received a dime from all that radio airtime. Its writers (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector) got rich form it, however. 

Bipartisan Lack Of Support For Musicians  

Just in case you might think that Democrats would be better on this than Republicans, look at this week’s new endorsees:

  • Danny Davis (D-IL-7)
  • Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-9) 
  • Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) 
  • Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5) 
  • Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11)
  • Ben McAdams (D-UT-4)
  • Michael Burgess (R-TX-26)
  • Mike Garcia (R-CA-25)
  • Chris Jacobs (R-NY-27)
  • Michael McCaul (R-TX-10)
  • John Moolenaar (R-MI-4)
  • Thomas Tiffany (R-WI-7)

“Rather than paying music creators for their work as streaming services and broadcasters overseas do, the NAB has spent more than $15 million dollars on lobbyists to get Big Radio’s interests heard on Capitol Hill, including on this misleading anti-worker resolution. That’s more than twice the amount that small U.S. broadcasters would have to pay in royalities under the small business licensing caps in the bipartisan Ask Musicians for Music (AM/FM) Act.

 “Copyright should not be regulated [by Congress],” states noted music attorney attorney Dina LaPolt, moderating the panel “Getting Credit Where Credit Is Due.” “It’s your property and you should be able to negotiate in a free market without the government saying what you should be paid.

 

Is Tik Tok DIY Musician's New Best Chance For Success? 

Is Tik Tok DIY Musician's New Best Chance For Success?

We're starting to see a generation of artists born and raised on TikTok. Last week saw TikTok announce two significant deals with the music industry. 

Guest Post by Tim Ingham of MBW

One of those deals was a straightforward global licensing agreement, with the US-based National Music Publishers’ Association. That agreement will see TikTok officially permitted to use the repertoire of NMPA members who opt-in to the deal – and those same NMPA members receive a share of advertising revenue from the platform. 

The second deal was a little more far-reaching. TikTok renewed its existing licensing agreement with Believe, one of the world’s biggest independent music companies that claims – largely via its ownership of TuneCore – to distribute over a third of all music releases, by volume, across the world. 

But the Believe deal had other, interesting elements bolted on too. Dubbed a “marketing and distribution” agreement, Believe said the deal would provide it with in-depth analysis of market trends on TikTok, as well as enabling Believe’s artists and labels to “benefit from more marketing coverage and optimise revenue opportunities” on the platform. 

TikTok is yet to strike multi-year deals with the major record companies right now, and is continuing instead on a temporary and/or rolling licensing basis with Universal, Sony and Warner. It did, however, ink a global licensing deal with powerful indie label/distributor consortium Merlin in April

To get further into the nitty gritty of the Believe deal, and discuss the wider implications of TikTok’s soaring success on the music industry, MBW caught up with TikTok’s Global Head of Music, Ole Obermann, and Believe’s CEO, Denis Ladegaillerie. 

Here, we discuss why both parties believe TikTok is adding revenue to the music business – rather than cannibalizing it – as well as the future of the platform’s relationship with labels, and whether industry charts need to change… 

TIKTOK HAS NOW ANNOUNCED AN AGREEMENT WITH BOTH BELIEVE AND MERLIN. HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS BELIEVE ANNOUNCEMENT IN TERMS OF TIKTOK’S RECORDED MUSIC LICENSING – AND WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE OTHER IN THE INDUSTRY TAKE FROM IT? 

Ole Obermann: We want to be licensed across the board with all of the labels, all the publishers – we are engaged with all of those [companies]. 

Because of the really good history in our relationship with Believe, it made sense to start here. Just because we’ve got this deal done, it doesn’t mean we’re not having a few other conversations right now, and hopefully there’ll be news on some other deals soon. 

BELIEVE IS A CORNERSTONE OF THE INDEPENDENT ARTIST SECTOR, WHICH CONTINUES TO GROW INDUSTRY MARKET SHARE GLOBALLY. DO YOU HAVE ANY OBSERVATIONS ON THE GROWTH OF INDEPENDENT ARTISTS, AND THE ROLE AT TIKTOK IS PLAYING IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THAT MARKET? 

Obermann: One of the things that has really jumped out at me on TikTok is that you do not need any history of performance metrics for something to go viral; if something is working, even if you’re a first-time uploader with no ‘Likes’, views or creations in place yet, you have an equal and democratic chance of spiking on the platform as something with tons and tons of history. 

That’s pretty unique, relative to other platforms, and obviously paves the way nicely for any type of artists – whether independent, major or unsigned. 

TIKTOK HAS ALREADY BEEN DOWNLOADED OVER 2BN TIMES WORLDWIDE. DENIS, HOW BIG DO YOU EXPECT TIKTOK TO BECOME FOR THE GLOBAL MUSIC INDUSTRY? 

Denis Ladegaillerie: They’re a significant and leading player globally, no doubt about it, exactly for the reason that Ole just described. Our experience has been that TikTok is a unique platform when it comes to artist discovery and to helping artists or songs emerge. 

We’re starting to see a generation of artists born and raised on TikTok; The Limba, signed to Believe in Russia, is a good example. We’ve taken him to be the largest artist in Russia in the past several months – both on and outside of TikTok – and TikTok was the No.1 reason why he [was able to] reach the top. 

“BARRING CURRENT POLITICAL AND WORLD EVENTS, I DON’T SEE ANY REASON THAT WOULD STOP TIKTOK FROM BUILDING GLOBAL LEADERSHIP IN THIS SPACE.” 

DENIS LADEGAILLERIE, BELIEVE 

Short-form videos are becoming more and more popular. Barring current political and world events, I don’t see any reason that would stop TikTok from building global leadership in this space. 

The trends are fantastic, the product is fantastic and the value is there from both a creator standpoint and from an audience engagement standpoint. 

THERE’S A CONCERN IN THE BROADER MUSIC INDUSTRY ABOUT ARTIST DEVELOPMENT VERSUS TRACK DEVELOPMENT, AND HOW STREAMING SERVICES – TIKTOK INCLUDED – ARE IMPACTING ON THE FAN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ARTISTS. DO YOU BELIEVE TIKTOK CAN HELP THE BUILDING OF ARTIST PROFILES VERSUS SIMPLE TRACK POPULARITY? 

Obermann: It’s something we spend a lot of time thinking about. 

We certainly see that a song can break without an artist having a presence on TikTok. But if you want to put longevity around that song, or break other songs from that same artist, it quickly becomes very important to really focus on the artist’s profile, and have the artist be active on the platform. 

“THE MORE EFFORT YOU PUT IN, THE MORE YOU’RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO BREAK AN ARTIST [ON TIKTOK].” 

OLE OBERMANN, TIKTOK 

We do A/B testing on this. Some label partners, and some artists themselves, are incredibly engaged [on TikTok]; they’re on the platform every few days, sometimes every day, maybe even multiple times a day, posting and doing other things to engage with fans. You’re absolutely seeing those artists and their songs break away. But if a song is just there [without the artist building a presence on TikTok] it might be sort of a one hit wonder – it won’t see that same sort of exponential curve. 

We think we’re giving the labels and the artists tools to do the things they need to do to break, but we need them to lean in; we need the artists to take the time to get to know TikTok, and then engage with the platform. 

The more effort you put in, the more you’re going to be able to break an artist. 

Ladegaillerie: I totally agree. The music industry has always produced great one-hit-wonder tracks where the artist never built [beyond one song], and at the same time it has also helped great artists become known as great artists. That is nothing new. What we’re seeing on TikTok is just a reflection of how the world has always been. 

Where TikTok is unique is it has the ability to make popular music emerge very rapidly, and also give [artists/labels] the power to expose that music to very large audiences very rapidly. That allows for development of tracks in a way that’s much faster and more reactive than what we’ve seen before. So how do you leverage a track’s [popularity] to build artists at the same time? You absolutely need to do the work, and that’s exactly what happened with The Limba in Russia. 

“THE CONCERN ABOUT ‘TIKTOK IS JUST PROPAGATING TRACK-BASED POP MUSIC’ IS A COMPLETELY WRONG PERCEPTION.” 

My strong belief is that we are coming into a world where audiences want to engage with artists, they want to engage with the content; they do not want to be passive listeners. They want to participate in the creative process and create [something new] using the music. 

So yes, TikTok can help a track emerge – but if you want to build something longer-term, artists must understand how the TikTok audience wants to engage with them. The artist/fan dialogue will lack that intensity if the artist himself or herself is not a user of a platform. 

The concern about “TikTok is just propagating track-based pop music” is a completely wrong perception. It is helping surface pop music, but it is also helping to build our artists’ careers. 

BELIEVE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN OPTIMISTIC COMPANY OVER THE MONETIZATION OF MUSIC VIDEO, NOTABLY DISMISSING THE INDUSTRY’S CONCERNS OVER YOUTUBE’S ‘VALUE GAP’. DRIVEN BY TIKTOK’S SUCCESS, AND WITH FACEBOOK REPORTEDLY ENTERING THE MUSIC VIDEO SPACE, IS THIS A PARTICULARLY EXCITING TIME FOR YOU IN THAT REGARD? 

Ladegaillerie: Yes. The way we think about the music video space is twofold. The first part is that of the traditional, official music video – the 3 minutes, 30 seconds long [project] – for which YouTube has been the champion globally for the past 15 years. And then you have the world of much shorter videos. They are two different things, and the music industry has to understand that difference. 

You need to know how to leverage both separately in order to drive artist success and artist development. 

On the official music video side, it seems we’re finally getting to a place where Facebook might meaningfully engage. We’re also having discussions with TikTok on experiments there, and we are seeing other players – especially in Asia, like JioSaavn and Gaana, and then VK in Russia – who are all gearing to launch their own music video services, or to integrate music video more as part of the overall experience on their platforms. 

THERE ARE A FEW TIKTOK RIVALS BECOMING APPARENT NOW IN THE SHORT-FORM VIDEO WORLD, INCLUDING INSTAGRAM’S REELS THROUGH TO STARTUPS LIKE TRILLER. HOW WILL TIKTOK STAY AHEAD OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS? 

Obermann: Obviously we respect these companies that are coming in; some of them are smart, innovative, well resourced and well capitalized, so we’re keeping a close eye on it. 

But we’ve got a good head-start, because we have a tremendous amount of understanding [of the space] and also a relationship with the creators that are on the platform. We’ve really been digging into questions like: How do creators use the platform? What creates a hit? How does that flywheel of more creation breeding more views [play out]? 

“WE’VE GOT A GOOD HEAD-START, BECAUSE WE HAVE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF UNDERSTANDING [OF THE SPACE] AND ALSO A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CREATORS THAT ARE ON THE PLATFORM.” 

We now understand all of that incredibly well. And we’re hyper-focused on making that an even better process, with even better creation tools, and even better marketing and promotion [opportunities] once something starts taking off on the platform. 

We’ve got unique relationships with creators, we’ve obviously got relationships with labels, publishers, content partners, and we’ve got a ton of data. And then we’ve also got that focus on product and product innovation. 

So while you’re going to see other companies out there with some of the same basic functionality [as TikTok], the way we’ll stay ahead is to keep building on top of those things. Something I’m really focused on right now is that process of creating and uploading a video to TikTok; could we make that process broader for a musical creator, giving them even more that they can do right at the point of the creation? 

OLE, YOU JOINED TIKTOK AFTER A LONG PERIOD WORKING FOR MAJOR RECORD COMPANIES AT SONY AND WARNER. IF YOU COULD GO BACK FOR A DAY TO WORK FOR A MAJOR MUSIC RIGHTSHOLDER, WHAT ONE THING ABOVE ANY OTHER WOULD YOU EVANGELIZE ABOUT TIKTOK INTERNALLY? 

Obermann: The fact that to really understand the potential of TikTok, you have to embrace the notion that the way fans, especially young fans, interact with music is changing. They don’t just want to consume the music they like; they want to create on top of it – they want to put their own stamp on it. 

At TikTok, we put more focus on the metric of creation than we do views. When we look at the health of a song, and when we look at the health of the business overall, [we focus on] that ratio between creations and views. 

What we see is that user creation activity is the leading indicator of a song that is going to break. We all know that on any [standard audio streaming] service, if you do enough merchandising, positioning, marketing, promotion, playlisting, a song will get some big numbers. But are those numbers really due to the fans falling in love with that song? Or is it just because you hit No.4 in a big playlist, so now you’re getting played a lot by [an audience] who is sitting back? 

The creation metric shows that your audience is fully leaning in, literally using their own resources, so to speak, to do something new with your song. So [the music industry] has got to embrace the idea that the way that music fans are going to interact with music in future is changing. 

“THE MUSIC INDUSTRY HAS GOT TO EMBRACE THE IDEA THAT THE WAY THAT MUSIC FANS ARE GOING TO INTERACT WITH MUSIC IN FUTURE IS CHANGING.” 

Any rightsholder that has gotten their head around that fact is really engaged with us right now, because they understand that they can get ahead of this a bit; they can kind of plan today for where it’s all going tomorrow by working with us in a deep way. That largely depends on the cultural acceptance [of changing user consumption habits] within these various companies. 

One other thing that I’d like to raise: there’s this concern about “could TikTok be cannibalistic to music industry revenue streams?”. We’ve done a bunch of case studies on this, and we see that when a song breaks on TikTok, it will [also] break on Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify, Amazon Music and YouTube Music etc. within weeks, days, hours or minutes. There’s a very direct impact. 

There have been more than a few times where we’ve seen an explosion [on TikTok] on a song that was not getting any coverage anywhere else, and then within a very short period of time, that song is in the charts of all these other premium subscription services. 

We’re very, very convinced [of that trend] and I think the labels are starting to see it. 

YOU’VE BOTH TALKED ABOUT THE DESIRE OF YOUNG AUDIENCES TO ENGAGE AND INTERACT WITH MUSIC VIA SHORT-FORM VIDEO IN A NEW WAY. DO YOU HAVE ANY VIEWS ON HOW THAT SHOULD BE REFLECTED IN INDUSTRY CHARTS? BECAUSE A TEENAGER SPENDING TWO HOURS MAKING A TIKTOK VIDEO BASED ON A TUNE THEY LOVE ARGUABLY DEMONSTRATES MORE ENGAGEMENT / FAN ACTIVITY THAN THEM RINSING A TRACK WITHIN A PLAYLIST IN THE SAME TIME PERIOD. 

Obermann: We’ve seen a conversation in the industry for years now about how almost faceless streaming consumption can be, and also how crowded the market is getting, with an unprecedented number of tracks being released every single day onto these platforms. 

This is where the [unique] engagement on TikTok comes into play; fans are plucking stuff out in a way that really no other platform is able to do. They’re almost putting a ‘face’ on the music that is going to become popular. 

Of course, it always starts with the song, and sometimes a song is just so powerful that without a ‘face’ it blows up and becomes an anthem. Or sometimes it’s the artists personality, or the way they perform the song live, or it’s the music video, or it’s the lyric that just perfectly captures the cultural Zeitgeist; all of these things play into why a song becomes popular. TikTok gives you the lenses to put across all of these things. 

“I ABSOLUTELY THINK WE NEED TO RETHINK THE CHARTS…” 

To your question, I absolutely think we need to rethink the charts. I go back again to this creation and engagement metric. We’ve seen industry charts that weight different types of consumption in different ways [with paid-for streams now typically worth more in charts than free streams]. 

My vision is that that creation, that kind of engagement, will become a key metric. And I think it should be a heavily weighted metric. Because, again, it’s the opposite of a passive view or listen. 
I hope that the industry is going to be ready, in the relatively short term, to rethink how its charts indicate where fans are focusing their energy, and what songs and artists they are excited about. 

Ladegaillerie: Do I think we need to completely revisit the way charts are being produced in this new world? Yes, that’s long overdue. Having a Top 100 or Top 200 Billboard chart is great [for those companies who] traditionally have 80% of their revenues coming from 200 artists. 

But in a world where video consumption is a key part of the engagement between artists and users, and where engagement through creativity also becomes a key [element], we absolutely need to look at the way charts are being produced. In a digital world, the development of successes has a different rhythm than it once did, and creator engagement is a key component of that.

Is Bandcamp the Future Model For Independent Artists? 

Is Bandcamp the Future Model For Independent Artists?

Bandcamp Sales Top $20M In Last 30 Days 

Guest Post by Bruce Houghton

Bandcamp has sold more than $20 million in good for independent artists and labels in the 30 days prior to July 10th. 

The news comes in a new Financial Times profile of the indie music direct to fan platform. 

Launched in 2007, Bandcamp had “such a slow burn and looked old compared with streaming for a long time – now it suddenly looks like the model of the future,”  says MIDiA analyst Keith Jopling in the piece. 

“Bandcamp could grow 200 percent a year and still be considered niche, ” he continued adding, “the future for artist marketplaces is beginning to look good.” 

Bandcamp typically takes a 15% cut of sales, compared to about 30% at iTunes and Amazon.

Six Skills All Indie Musicians Need Today 

Six Skills All Indie Musicians Need Today

Today’s indie music artist needs to understand branding and marketing, community building, live ... [+] GETTY IMAGES 

Guest post by Roberto R Hernandez (Robonzo) via Forbes Magazine

A rapidly changing music industry and technology-driven consumer preferences have forced a great deal of new skills on today’s independent musician. It’s been over a decade since record labels, PR reps and managers could help the average indie artist find and reach their audience. Today’s indie music artist needs to understand branding and marketing, community building, live video streaming, home-recording, digital distribution and entrepreneurship. This on top of staying creative and delivering a great product. 

I have been an independent musician for over 25 years, having personally witnessed many changes in the business of music. In 2016 I started the Unstarving Musician project to help other musicians get better paying gigs. The hundreds of conversations I’ve had with other independent musicians and industry professionals has enlightened me to the broader picture of industry changes, the latest skill requirements and opportunities therein. This is a high-level view of my most recent observations, based on personal experience and interviews with other musicians. 

Branding and Marketing 

Musicians with a solid understanding of branding and marketing principles have always had a leg up in the music business. Career musicians in fact require an increasingly in-depth understanding of these principles. Artists who lack this understanding are less likely to get the attention of record labels, PR reps, artist management or artist development professionals. Fortunately, independent musicians are not as dependent on these professionals as in past years. 

Artists also need to be versed in the nuance of developing a fan-based community of supporters via social media, email marketing, membership and patronage platforms. Savvy musicians use good branding to amplify their unique style and weirdness in a way that connects them to a niche audience of supporters. Most artists and industry professionals agree that without branding, we have nothing to sell.

Community Building and Fan Based Supporters 

The art of building community is no longer solely about building an email list, although musicians are advised to keep some of their focus on email marketing, rather than social media alone. While Facebook is still a popular community building platform, services like Patreon, Bandcamp and Bandzoogle cater directly to the artist in pursuit of creating a fan-based community of supporters through membership. The challenge here is that artists must learn how to engage and sustain unique communities that support their work.

Financial fitness for most indie artists relies on fan-based community. Musicians must actively engage followers to build real relationships, while creating awareness about exclusive offers for fan-based tribes. This is a proven model for creating a recurring stream of income. It’s not just a matter of asking for support, however; artists must consistently give something special in return. Artists typically offer followers exclusives and first looks at music releases and live performances. 

Building community also means giving varying levels of access to themselves. A growing number of artists are offering music lessons, mentoring and coaching to their supporters. These types of offers can lead to added income for artists, but also add to the balancing act of community building, sales funnel execution and more. Artists like Shannon Curtis and Pomplamoose are pioneers of this new model. Pomplamoose is a top-ranking act on Patreon that creates monthly videos for new songs in various collaborations. Curtis has made a name for herself by funding yearly recording projects and promoting them with house concert tours, all made possible by a supporter fan base she and partner producer Jamie Hill have built. 

Live Video Streaming 

Live video has long been important for many artists. Now it’s arguably a must. The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of live streaming and the technologies surrounding it, as the future of live music has been dramatically altered. Musicians who wish to perform for fans have been forced to learn and embrace live streaming. They’re also faced with evaluating several platform choices, including Twitch, YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Periscope and Crowdcast among others. Thankfully, services like Restream offer solutions that allows musicians to live stream over multiple platforms simultaneously. 

Live streaming has big upsides, allowing musicians to connect with previously distant fans happy to show their support through online tipping. Quality of live streams is of growing importance, and companies like IK Mulitmedia are helping artists make the experience better with specialized audio interface products like the iRig Stream. This exemplifies changes in consumer preferences that impact both fans and musicians. Fans are consuming music and related products, while musicians are consuming services that help them create and deliver their art to fans. 

Home Recording 

Recording music in a home studio was relatively affordable 20 years ago, but an explosion of new products and technologies has made home recording even more accessible. A growing number of music artists are entering the world of home based recording, which has also been driven by Covid-19. This isn’t limited to an endeavor in learning new technology. It’s about understanding physical setup, mic placement, proper form, production, the physics of audio and more. Fortunately, the allure for home recording has been accompanied by seemingly unlimited learning resources, including YouTube and education platforms like Udemy, Coursera and Lynda. 

Digital Distribution 

Streaming is now the primary source for music distribution, and today’s music business has largely bypassed labels for the actual process of distribution. Digital distribution is now very much a DIY activity, not too unlike self-publishing books. On the upside, independent artists are much less dependent on gatekeepers. The downside is that distribution is yet another thing musicians need to understand, as not all services align optimally for all music artists. 

Entrepreneurship 

Musician Mawk (Marc) Phoenix, who spent many years as a Los Angeles based producer, recently returned to creating and marketing his own music. Phoenix sees a career in music today as an endeavor in entrepreneurship. He’s diving into a new learning curve that includes the creation of music production courses. This is a beautiful example of re-purposing skills and pivoting. Singer songwriter Eli Lev puts his entrepreneurial skills to work as an artist development consultant and coach, obtaining clients and partners from within his growing community of supporters. 

So where do music artists find the time to invest in the art of actually making music? A career in music relies heavily on goal setting, prioritizing, re-prioritizing, creating and collaborating, one project at a time. The arc of a career in music is longer and in many ways, more fulfilling than in past years. The opportunities are boundless. Niche audiences are waiting to be served. Music artists are striving to discover these audiences and to deliver their music in this new entrepreneurial model.

How To Make Money Making Music Online 

How To Make Money Making Music Online

If you're like me, a musician whose livelihood as a live concert performer has been erased by the COVID-19 pandemic, you've probably applied for numerous sources of government and private financial relief... and you still haven't received any. I have yet to see an IRS Stimulus check. I've applied twice for an Artist Relief Grant. I've applied for the SBA EIDL and PPP, and although more than a month has passed, I've yet to receive a penny in assistance. I've emailed, called, howled at the moon, but my cries for information and help seem to simply evaporate into the white noise generated by millions like me who are wondering if help will ever come.

Freelancers in the music industry are finding it difficult to secure government assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, finds a new survey conducted by the nonprofit Freelancers Union.

The survey, which was conducted April 22–29, elicited responses from a total of 2,755 freelancers, 411 of whom work in the music and performing arts fields. Of respondents in the latter category, 93% reported that they have lost work as a result of COVID-19, with 34% having lost over $10,000. 

Nonetheless, government assistance has been slow in coming. Of the 85% of music and performing arts freelancers who reported they had applied for government relief as a result of the pandemic, 84% have yet to receive any funding, the results show.

So what can we do?

For me, I've begun teaching music, arts, and music business online from my home. I set up an LLC, opened a bank account, built a website - www.pickeringarts.com, and began by offering free lessons during the month of March. I began charging for lessons in April, but also offer a Pay-What-You-Can option to help people who want to take lessons but have lost income as I have. And I have to tell you... I'm having a blast teaching my new students! While my nascent teaching income won't yet support my family of four, it certainly has provided much needed financial support, unlike the support promised but not delivered by state and federal bureaucracy. 

Below are additional ideas for making money making music online from a blogpost at www.bandzoogle.com. I hope the ideas shared here are both encouraging and practical ideas to help you navigate and stay afloat in our industry's stormy seas. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions, ideas, tips, tricks, or just to say hello.

- Michael Pickering

The following was posted by Dave Cool at Bandzoogle on Apr 29, 2020 in: Music Career Advice, Selling Music Online 

Virtually nothing else in history has shaped the music industry more dramatically than the internet. But as much as it’s played an integral role in countless musicians’ careers, the coronavirus crisis has now put us in a position where, for the first time ever, the internet is our only option to reach music fans. 

The unfortunate reality we have to face is that it could be quite a while before live performances, tours, and festivals will be back in full swing. If gigging has made up a good chunk of your income up until this point, it’s crucial that you start laying the groundwork now to make money from your music online. 

The good news is that once we come out on the other side of this pandemic, all the effort you put in now to supplement your income will continue to pay off over time. So how can you make money with music online? Here are some of the best ways to get started. 

1. Sell music through your website 

If you don’t already have one, you should build a website for your music. It gives you a little slice of the internet that you own and control, and you can also sell music directly to your fans (commission-free through Bandzoogle). 

But more than that, you will own the data and emails you collect through it. This is essential to have long-term success in your career, as you can use that data to let your fans know about new music, upcoming tours, crowdfunding campaigns, and more. 

2. Make your music available through online music retailers 

Fans don’t buy as many digital downloads as they used to, but they can still be a meaningful revenue source for DIY musicians. 

Distributing your music to major online retailers like iTunes and Amazon helps you come across as a more legitimate artist, gives you access to detailed analytics, and gives your fans a convenient way to support you. 

3. Make your music available for streaming 

These days, the vast majority of listening is happening on major streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and Amazon Music. This means that making your songs available on them is essential to reach your current fans, as well as potential new fans. 

We have a long way to go before streaming revenue replaces the money that artists used to make selling physical albums, but the business is growing every year, and it’s income you don’t want to miss out on collecting. 

Once you distribute your music to these platforms, you can boost your stream count with tactics like pre-save campaignsaudio ads, and playlist features. 

Artist: Bandzoogle members Warbringer 

4. Monetize your YouTube channel 

How can a hardworking musician get their hands on some of that sweet, sweet YouTube money? The first and easiest step is to upload all your music to your channel. From there, you need to build up your subscribers and set up YouTube monetization on your account. 

Anytime music you own is used in a YouTube video — whether on your own channel or someone else’s — you’re entitled to collect your fair share of the ad revenue generated by it. A digital distribution company such as CD Baby will help ensure that all the money you’re owed ends up in your bank account. 

5. Finance your next project through crowdfunding 

If you have a supportive fanbase, crowdfunding can be a great way to cover the costs of your project. The key to successful crowdfunding is to build excitement among your most engaged fans by showing them what’s behind the curtain and inviting them into your creative process. It takes a lot of planning and proper budgeting, though, so don’t think of it as a quick fix that’ll solve your immediate cash flow problems. 

6. Offer fan subscriptions 

One of the hardest things about making a living as a musician is that most income streams are unpredictable. Fan subscriptions have emerged as one of the few reliable sources of recurring revenue, making it an especially attractive option for artists in such uncertain times. 

Subscriptions (sometimes referred to as memberships) give your most loyal fans access to exclusive recordings, performances, videos, merch, and rewards in exchange for a small monthly contribution. 

It takes a lot of effort and dedication to consistently churn out new content and creative ideas for rewards, but if you’re up for that sort of challenge, it’s an excellent way to form deeper relationships with your listeners. 

7. Sell tickets to live stream shows 

With venues shut down around the world, music fans are more willing than ever to support artists online right now. Selling access to exclusive live streams of your performances can help you make money without having to leave home. 

Experiment with debuting new material, playing through a beloved album in its entirety, and even taking audience requests to get a better sense of what your fans want to hear. 

Learn more: The complete guide to live streaming for musicians 

8. Offer free live streaming concerts with a tip jar 

If you don’t feel comfortable asking for payment up front for your live stream shows, hosting it for free and setting up a virtual tip jar is a great way to go. 

On Facebook Live and Instagram Live, this can be as simple as sharing your PayPal.Me link, Venmo username, or website link with your viewers. Or you could opt for a platform like Twitch with built-in monetization features. Here’s a full breakdown of how to monetize each of the most popular live streaming platforms

9. Monetize your Facebook and Instagram videos 

A lot of musicians don’t realize that they can earn money when their music is used in videos on Facebook and Instagram, just like on YouTube. You can even get paid when people use your songs in their Instagram Stories. 

Check with your digital distribution company to make sure they offer social video monetization

10. Sell digital merch 

There’s so much more you can include in your band merch store than the standard t-shirts, posters, and stickers. Challenge yourself to think beyond physical goods and explore possibilities like digital sheet music downloads, video lessons, or a nicely designed e-book of your lyrics. 

11. License your music 

Getting your songs licensed for films, TV shows, and ads is easier said than done, but even one placement could be a game changer for your music career. Some musicians earn most or all of their income from licensing alone. 

Hitting the right music supervisor with the right song at the right time certainly involves some luck, but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances

Final thoughts 

Don’t feel like you have to throw yourself into everything at once. Some of these ideas might be more doable for you than others, depending on the kind of musician you are, how far along you are in your career, and what your big-picture goals are. 

Start by exploring just a couple of avenues that excite you the most right now, and double down on whatever seems to be working best for you in the upcoming weeks.

Licensed to Stream? Clearing Rights Can Be Tricky In the 'Wild West' Livestream Age 

Licensed to Stream? Clearing Rights Can Be Tricky In the 'Wild West' Livestream Age

Many of us are, or have musician friends who are, performing cover tunes live on social media platforms as a means to generate income, bring some joy, and stave off cabin fever! Our world needs our live music right now! It keeps us connected, it helps us to feel, to express, to remain in touch with our hearts and humanity. But performing copyrighted material can also be risky because copyright law clearly states that permission from copyright owners must be secured in advance through a variety of licenses. Further complicating the matter is that not all the powers that be can even agree on which licenses must be secured for which purposes! But wait! There's more! Some social media platforms already have licenses in place, while others do not, or have only partial permissions from publishers and copyright owners. The bottom line is that a musician's live online show can get shut down or worse, fines might be imparted!

Clear as mud? 

So how can we keep the music playing while also avoiding copyright infringement issues? This article orginally published in Billboard Magazine can help guide.

With venues closed, more artists are turning to livestream performances — some without the proper licenses. "There's probably a lot of infringement going on." 

To make sure acts like Elton John, Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish could perform the songs they wanted during Global Citizen's April 18 "One World: Together at Home" concert, Julie Wadley and her team worked 12-hour days for over a week. "I woke up early, I worked late," says the owner of Say Yes! Music, who cleared the rights for 130 songs so the event could be streamed live and shown on demand all over the world. 

Over a month into the pandemic shutdown, livestream music performances have evolved from cool curiosities into an essential way for artists to reach fans, and sometimes even make money. Besides the Global Citizen event, which raised $127 million from mostly corporate sponsors for food banks and coronavirus-related causes, Diplo and Major Lazer have performed over a dozen "Corona World Tours" on YouTube for between 17,000 and 88,000 viewers each. A Bandsintown survey showed that almost three-quarters of fans say they'll continue to watch such performances once real-world venues reopen. But as Wadley's workload shows, clearing the necessary rights can be complicated. 

Live performances online, like those at traditional clubs, need public performance licenses from collecting societies like ASCAP and BMI, which platforms like YouTube and Twitch have. Making those same performances available on demand on a continual basis also requires mechanical licenses from publishers — as well as synch licenses if video is involved. (DJs also have to get similar rights to recordings.) 

Mechanical licenses vary in cost: "A couple hundred bucks to a couple thousand bucks, depending on the nature of their use," says Barry Slotnick, a Loeb & Loeb attorney who represents artists, songwriters, labels and publishers. But they require the performer to track down the publisher, which isn't always easy. 

The law isn't always entirely clear, either. Some rights holders believe that all livestream performances involve making a copy, and thus require mechanical rights, or synch rights in the case of video. "It's like the Wild West out there, and some of this is evolving," adds Ben McLane, a music attorney who has represented numerous artists and labels. "You don't always know which of these licenses are applicable or necessary." 

Some of the big platforms, including YouTube and Facebook (which owns Instagram), have the necessary licenses with almost all publishers, so artists don't have to worry about what songs they perform. Other platforms don't. "You've got companies like YouTube and Facebook checking all the boxes, and there are some that say, 'What boxes?' " says a label source. Twitch, which focuses on livestreaming, although not only with music, said in a statement that it "requires users to stream content they have the necessary rights to stream — for example, music they've written or licensed." If that's not the case, rights holders can issue takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

The complexity of the issues can be intimidating. If an online live performance requires a public performance license, and an on-demand stream involves both a public performance license and a mechanical license, what licenses do time-delayed live performances require? "It can be a thicket," says Eleanor Lackman, who handles music litigation for Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. "There's probably a lot of infringement going on. We've had this flood of use with the stay-at-home orders, and there has to be a lot out there that isn't licensed." 

So far, there haven't been many legal threats — because livestreaming isn't yet a big business and labels and publishers don't want to interfere with their artists trying to make money during a crisis. A representative for a well-known singer who recently performed a livestream says the team didn't bother to clear rights. "We just did it and no one has come after us," says the representative. "No one has contacted us about clearing anything, either." 

Clearing rights can be even more complicated when DJs incorporate snippets of existing recordings into performances. For a recent livestream, Diplo played parts of recordings like Marvin Gaye's "Got To Give It Up," in addition to his own compositions. Since those performances are available on demand, his team has to clear the relevant rights with both publishers (of the compositions) and labels (which own most recordings). In this case, Diplo's manager, Andrew McInnes of TMWRK, managed to pull it off. "The big companies have been helpful and supportive of what we've been doing," says McInnes. "Pre-coronavirus, it was complicated to do things like this, but everyone's working together to keep some positive music experience out in the world right now." 

Publishers say they're doing their best to streamline their licensing processes during the anxious period of no concert revenue. "We're trying to clear as quickly as possible and be as accommodating as possible because of the status of the world," says Kelly Baden, vp worldwide licensing operations at Concord, which administers the publishing for the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and Leonard Bernstein's catalog. "We have definitely had discussions about, 'How do we take this out of our normal process and expedite this?' " 

As livestreaming grows, however, rights holders will probably balance this kind of goodwill with their desire to get a piece of a promising new business. "If I'm Beyoncé and I say, 'Everybody show up,' and we're going to see her and Jay-Z and the kids playing in their living room, if I were a [label or publishing] executive, would I call them and say, 'I know you had to cancel your tour, and I know that's a loss of income for you, but I want a piece of this'? That's a tough call," says a publishing source. "I'm guessing the executives would say, 'Wait a second, this could be the future.'" 

This article originally appeared in the April 25, 2020 issue of Billboard.

Bandzoogle Now Offers Live Stream Ticket Sale Feature on All Plans 

Bandzoogle Now Offers Live Stream Ticket Sale Feature on All Plans

 

I am both a fan and client of Bandzoogle, the website builder created by musicians for musicians. I've been using their platform to build my websites for a number of years. I've also recommended Banzoogle to DIY students and clients involved in a variety of creative industries. And no, I am not being compensated to promote their services. I'm simply a believer.

Today, Bandzoogle announced that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has updated its ticketing options so that Bandzzoglers can now sell tickets commission-free to live streaming events - directly through their websites. While normally a Pro plan feature, ticket sales will be available on all plans, to all Bandzoogle members during the pandemic.

This feature is a fantastic resource for all of us performing creatives looking to find ways to continue generating revenue while sheltering in place. In fact, I would go so far as to say that being able to generate revenue from digital performances is going to be a significant part of performing artist's futures. 

Many artists are currently relying on Facebook Live and other social media platforms to host and promote their streaming shows. While convenient, relying on platforms one does not own or control is also problematic. There are licensing issues (that won't always be overlooked as they are now), algorithm issues that create audience access unpredictability, TOS, and other uncontrollable components in the social media space. 

Being able to host live streaming events from one's website provides some solutions to the aforementioned problems. It also helps to generate web traffic, build an artist's permission-based database, nurture community, and engagement, all of which can lead to present and future monetization from numerous income verticals. 

There are other live streaming options available, Stageit and Bandsintown being two reputable sources worth looking into. But one of the things I appreciate about Bandzoogle is, as with all of its e-commerce features, selling tickets through your own website is 100% commission-free, forever. That means all revenue goes directly to you. 

Hit me up with any questions or comments. I'm happy to be a resource.

Financial Help For Colorado's Creative Industries Community 

Financial Help For Colorado's Creative Industries Community

Colorado Arts & Culture Community. COVID-19’s impact on Colorado has been widespread. 

The $2 trillion CARE Act is a major economic resource to help Colorado’s small businesses experiencing economic harm. A key portion of this act is the Paycheck Protection Program which allocates $349 billion in forgivable loans to help small businesses, independent contractors and nonprofits meet payroll and rent needs. 

The first step in accessing these forgivable loans is to prepare the materials necessary to apply. That includes confirming your eligibility, gathering the necessary records (payroll, rent, utilities, tax and bank records) and estimating the eligible amount of your forgivable loan. 

For additional details on the Paycheck Protection Program’s forgivable loans and a comprehensive list of state and federal resources available for Colorado’s businesses, visit choosecolorado.com/covid19. OEDIT representatives are available to answer your questions through the COVID Economic Hotline at (303) 860-5881.

An Amazing Opportunity To Be The Solution 

An Amazing Opportunity To Be The Solution

"All I know since yesterday is everything has changed" - TS

Getty Images

Right?!! COVID-19 is rewriting life as we've known it.

As I sit here at home writing this blog post, my amazing wife, Amy is in the other room teaching an online fitness class. One that she used to teach at our local recreation center, now closed. I spent the past two days teaching arts and entertainment lessons, one-on-one to individuals in the same room where my wife is sweating it out. I've been teaching everything from piano, voice, and music theory to music business consulting, and stand-up comedy!

Amy and I have a full in-home and online teaching schedule for the next two weeks, largely due in part to the fact that we're offering our services for free. We're doing this for a few of reasons:

1. - We suddenly have a lot of time on our hands. Our live performances events have all been canceled from coast to coast, at least for the next several months, and the schools we've been teaching in have all been shut-down... indefinitely.

2. - And this is the most important reason, we believe that people shouldn't be denied opportunities to engage in activities they love or in the education they desire. Amy and I want to do what we can during this uncertain time to help keep hope afloat, provide a bit of normalcy and encourage and equip people's passion for music, arts, and entertainment alive and growing.

3. There is also a practical reason. We will soon have little to no income. We have two young, extraordinary daughters to raise and provide for. And, like every one of us, we have financial responsibilities to look after. We plan to continue offering our arts and entertainment teaching and consulting services but doing so for a fee. Our current plan is to offer an hourly rate, a discounted monthly tuition rate, and a "pay-what-you-can" option because we are all in this together, and as I said above, "we believe that people shouldn't be denied opportunities to engage in activities they love or in the education they desire."

The truth is, apart from extending grace, compassion, generosity, and love, none of us is going to get through all of this corona-craziness and thrive. This goes for governments, corporations, associations, institutions, and every individual on the planet. We have a tremendous opportunity to hit a global "reset" button, one day at a time, by investing some of this time we have on our hands in serving one another as we can. 

BE THE SOLUTION. 

I teach my students that the key to success is this very thing - Be The Solution - wherever you are, whoever you're with, in all things. Do this and you will be the person everyone wants to be with, work with, and is inspired by.

Amy and I can teach out of home right now. This is how we can be the solution. 

How can you be the solution? There are things you can do, services you can provide, hope and help you can offer. Right now is THE opportunity, THE time to be someone's hero, someone's champion, to be THE solution.

I want to encourage your awesomeness! Take a look at your awesomeness and consider how you can make the most of this amazing opportunity to be the solution in your home, your community, your city, state, and beyond... however, you are able. The more of us doing this will make the most positive difference in the days, weeks and months ahead. The more of us who are actively solution-engaged will move this world of ours to a better, kinder future. 

And who knows, it might also slow down all the negativity forced upon us day in and out every time we open a web browser!

We all have something needed to offer that is unique to our current scenarios.

We can do this.

I would love to hear how you're being the solution. Please share your story!

Michael

 

React, Respond or Initiate? 

React, Respond or Initiate?

Seth Godin sent the following in an email to his blog subscribers today. I was so encouraged, not only because of the simple yet powerful insight shared but also because of something my wife and I decided to do just last night.I'll get to that following Seth's post. 

React, Respond or Initiate?

That’s pretty much all that’s on offer. 

What will you do next? 

The first gives us visceral satisfaction and emotional release, and it almost always leads to bad outcomes. 

Responding is smarter. It requires each of us to think hard about the action and emotion we seek to create after something is put on our desk. 

And the third? Initiating is ever easier and leveraged than ever before, which, surprisingly, also makes it more difficult to move up on our agenda. 

In normal times, it’s easy to get into a rhythm of simply responding. Someone else setting the agenda. 

When things are uncertain, it’s easy to react. 

But now, right now, is the single best time to initiate. We’re in for a slog, but there will be an end to it. 

Make things better by making better things.

Free Lessons For Our Community

One of the things I teach my creative entrepreneurship students is that in every challenge we face are opportunities to be found. We simply need to step back, look, listen, recognize an opportunity and then start to do something with it.

Our present reality as impacted by necessary measures we are all taking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 has, for many, suddenly provided us with a lot of time on our hands. Schools are closed, work is shut down, events have been canceled. 

People are frightened and need to find ways to know hope and move forward toward a positive future.

Grace, compassion, generosity, love.

So last night, my wife, Amy and I decided to initiate something...

We decided, with the extra time we now have, to do what we can, with what we have, to bring grace, compassion, generosity, and love to our community.

I posted the following announcement through my social media channels:

Hey SE Aurora, Parker, and surrounding area peeps! Looking for something to do now that school/work is on hold? Amy and I are offering FREE Piano/Voice/Music Theory/Acting/Music-Entertainment Business/ and Performance lessons at our place to help keep life upbeat and on track. Message me if you’re interested! We’ll have some fun!

The response has been amazing! Within the first 30 minutes of posting, I received numerous notes of gratitude and requests to teach creative entrepreneurship lessons, piano, voice, stand-up comedy, music theory, and acting!

Amy and I are overjoyed to be able to invest what we can in our community and share a little grace, compassion, generosity, and love. We're also thrilled to be able to provide alternative activities to mindless, fear and panic feeding, social media scrolling.

Each of us has something we can offer to help one another during this unprecedented time in history. I want to encourage you to consider how you too can initiate something, anything, to help make life a little brighter, a little lighter, and a whole lot more full of hope for those in your communities.

Take the time to find opportunities in the midst of our present challenges. You have more to offer than you may realize.