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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.

Kobalt Founder Willard Ahdritz on the New State of the Music Industry 

Kobalt Founder Willard Ahdritz on the New State of the Music Industry

Guest post from the Midem 2020 Digital Edition Keynote. Kobalt founder Willard Ahdritz looks at the radical but not altogether negative effects the pandemic will have on musicians and the music industry. 

Willard Ahdritz: 

There is definitely a lot of passion at Kobalt for our mission to change the industry and make it better for everyone, from fans to rights owners to creators, so when I came up with the idea for Kobalt in 2000, I saw three clear themes. First, I strongly believed in the digital transformation and the opportunities that came with it. As you know, it was doom and gloom up until 2015 – people said streaming was death. But already in 2000, I thought that having access to music on a global scale was a huge opportunity. I also understood that there would be a problem of high volume, low transaction values that could be solved with technology and a centralized global platform. 

Second, I feel for creators and musicians and, having been in the industry both as an artist and having run an independent record and publishing company using the major’s systems, I wanted to introduce transparency into the industry. Technology needs transparency, and I thought transparency drives liquidity, drives volume. And in this, I also saw a huge opportunity for creators to improve their relationship with fans and be able to go directly to them and actually for the first time in music industry history, have the upper hand in being the content creators. I always wanted to be a service provider in order to be aligned with creators. 

And lastly, I also thought it was very important that, to be successful in this environment, Kobalt should be both a music company and a tech company. I wanted to have respect both in Hollywood and in San Francisco to work with creators, understand their needs, take care of their copyrights, and at the same time speak the language of tech people and create tools that would allow everyone to benefit from the opportunities I saw. 

Kobalt Founder Willard Ahdritz 

How the pandemic has changed the way Kobalt works 

So as you know, we take care of 40,000 creators. Every week, we represent 50 – 70% of the Top 100 on the charts. We have 14 offices around the world so we have an organization to take care of and I think we all feel sad for all the suffering we see everywhere. Not just in the music industry but physical suffering, so it is a tough time for a lot of people. At Kobalt, we closed our offices around the world on March 10th. Being a tech company, all employees have a laptop and we are all used to working remotely, globally, across borders. Within 24 hours we were all up and running remotely and after a week, our productivity actually went up. I think that shows Kobalt’s great spirit and we realize that supporting our creators and making sure they receive their distributions is even more important during these tough times. 

How the business has changed during the pandemic 

If we talk revenue side first, there are some financial reports out in the market that say publishing will be up 3% this year and 3.5% next year. We see a bigger impact in areas like synch, given that major film and TV productions have stopped. We know that live, which in certain territories in Europe is a good income for publishers, is lost for the time being. Performance fees from restaurants and bars have suffered but having said that, 

PROs are delayed and only very few societies pay out directly what they have. Most pay out six months, twelve months after they have collected. So we see this being drawn out but overall, I think we can say that if we are -10% this year, we believe that we will be at +20% next year, that people will bounce back, and we see certain productions starting again around the world. There is talk about production hubs where people work and live to start TV production again. 

We are lucky in publishing and in recording. At AWAL, our recording arm, it’s very much business as usual. It’s a digital streaming label and we are working marketing remotely so overall, we are doing very well. What is exciting is that we do get a lot of songs. Creatives have continued to create even more today so I believe later in the year or next year we are going to see some fantastic songs, fantastic music that is just now being written. 

Reports on the global music economy 

Don’t worry, the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to music and streaming. My comment on Goldman’s report, which is a very detailed report and has a lot of good data, is that overall I believe that short-term publishing will be negative this year rather than the 3% growth they mentioned just because of the impact on synch, live, and the restaurants and bars I mentioned. Having said that, I think we are going to bounce back and have 20% growth next year in publishing overall. I agree on the longer term growth they see in the coming ten years. In recordings, I’m actually more bullish than the Goldman report this year; I think they are too conservative as the business has moved so much to online or streaming, so I think we are going to see bigger growth than they are seeing on that point. And one very interesting take-away from the IFPI report that came out a couple of weeks ago is that independents have grown 38% last year and artists direct 42%. And if you include that 12% of what the majors do is distribute independents, it was really a fundamental shift for independents and access, which I thought could happen when I started Kobalt. I think there is a huge opportunity now for the middle tier artists that I have pushed for and believed in to live on their music. We can see now hundreds of thousands of artists that can live on their art. On average, we saw that at AWAL, artists are getting twice as much from recording royalties than from their touring income. So that is a fundamental change in artist economics, and that was pre-pandemic. And obviously that is even more important today. We have artists that you have never heard of – even if you’re a huge fan of live music and cool bands. We have hundreds and hundreds of bands that you have never heard about making $100,000 or more per annum in royalties. And for me, that is a great success in itself for fans, for culture, and for the artists and creators. 

How AWAL artists are making more from recording royalties than steaming 

It is about what kind of contracts you have entered into and how you are making sure that your money is reaching you. We have full transparency at Kobalt so for example in publishing, within our management, we have our own global digital society called AMRA. AMRA has deals with the 30 biggest DSPs in the world. We take in the global usage files, we match, and we send one invoice to Spotify for the global consumption and claim. I have audit rights on my society, our clients have audit rights on the society, and 

as you maybe know, that is not the case in the traditional society environments. We have control of the cost, control over the information, as do our clients. That obviously drives more. On the AWAL side, we are a service provider and we deliver a different kind of deal. Having said that, there are also great record labels who put in big risk money upfront to do that so obviously the deals are different in a way but I have always said that breaking online globally is very different today. Today, you can be #1 without having one video. You have to know how to navigate, how to promote, to work gradually cross border in one go instead of working in one territory and trying to replicate that in a different territory. 

Why independents had so much growth in 2019 

I think it is the access to music that people can see today. You know yourself how you explore music, how you access music, how artists are recommending other artists they like or fans are recommending. And the latest data suggests that half the people in the UK listen to music through Facebook today. There’s more interesting access to music coming. Think about Tik Tok, where were they on the map two years ago? And in this pandemic, I see people are investing in how they can enjoy live streaming, how they can use new tools and new services. I think the pandemic will fast forward the transformation. I believe that the music industry will be even bigger than what we thought it would be pre-pandemic. Fundamentally, 85% of people think that music is essential or very important. Fundamental human behavior has not changed, so I am positive. 

How Paul McCartney came to Kobalt 

I can only say what I believe myself, that I met his advisor and lawyer, Lee Eastman, who followed me over the course of 5/6 years where I told them what we do, how we work. They did their due diligence, saw us delivering. In the end, they came on board and they were very happy that we delivered what we had told them we would. I like to say that Kobalt is the smart people’s platform, and clients recommend clients. 

I think up to half of our clients have been recommended by someone they trust or they work with and they see on our apps or portal what we have delivered for them. It is very humbling that Max Martin and Paul McCartney are competing for who has the most #1s on the Billboard charts, and they are both clients. 

What I find exciting is that technology treats everyone the same. I am pleased to say that whether you are Paul McCartney or the new young band, you keep your copyrights and get the same great service. We learn something new, we develop something, and we roll it out to every client. 

That is how I think we create a great industry, how we create value for everyone in the industry.

Laura Marling Sells Out Groundbreaking Geo-Blocked Remote Concert, Adds Second Show 

Laura Marling Sells Out Groundbreaking Geo-Blocked Remote Concert, Adds Second Show

"Obstacles are merely portals to unseen opportunities" - Michael Pickering

Check out this guest post by Jem Aswad from Variety Magazine

Among the many options detailed by experts in Variety’s recent article on concerts for the pandemic age, one was geo-blocked shows and tours: Livestreamed concerts with limited capacities, limited to a certain geographic area by a process called “geo-blocking.” 

Last week British singer-songwriter Laura Marling announced the first major geo-blocked concert of this year — a live, multi-camera, ticketed event taking place at 7 p.m. ET on June 6 at London’s Union Chapel, limited to North American fans to coincide with the last date of her cancelled tour of the region — and sold it out within days; now she’s announced a similar show on the same day, taking place at 8 p.m. GMT (three hours before the first-announced show) geo-blocked for U.K. and European Union fans. Tickets will also be capped to a limited number, and according to the announcement have already nearly sold out. (Ticket info is available here.) 

Ticketholders will be given a unique YouTube link just before the broadcast starts where they’ll be able to view the performance. Minimal staff and crew will take part in order to help produce the show.

When purchasing tickets, fans will also be offered the choice of two charities to donate to in addition to their purchase, with Marling herself choosing Refuge and The Trussell Trust as the two to benefit. 

Marling’s latest LP – “Song for Our Daughter” – came out last month via a new partnership between Partisan and Chrysalis Records. Announced with only a week’s notice, the album was initially planned for a late summer release. But as Marling explained in a statement: “In light of the change to all our circumstances, I saw no reason to hold back on something that, at the very least, might entertain, and at its best, provide some sense of union…An album, stripped of everything that modernity and ownership does to it, is essentially a piece of me, and I’d like for you to have it.” ‘

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.

Spotify now enables fans to pay artists money direct, via Cash App and PayPal.me partnerships 

Spotify now enables fans to pay artists money direct, via Cash App and PayPal.me partnershipsSpotify just announced some big news for artists – and their bank accounts. 

The streaming platform has long enabled artists to highlight a piece of music on their profile via the ‘Artist’s Pick’ headline. 

Now, Spotify has launched a sister version of this feature, ‘Artist Fundraising Pick’, which allows acts to pin a specific destination on their profile where fan can pay them ‘tips’.

Guest post by: Tim Ingham of MBW

Artists wishing to use their Fundraising Pick to encourage their fans to pay money to good causes are welcome to do so – either via GoFundMe, or direct to a range of causes supported by Spotify’s COVID-19 Music Relief project. 

However, artists wishing to use Fundraising Pick to encourage their fans to pay themmoney, can also do so – via a link to one of two endorsed e-wallet services, PayPal.me and Cash App. 

The timing of the launch of ‘Artist Fundraising Pick’ is obviously apt, amid a global pandemic that has wiped away any hope of live touring income for artists, while also hurting physical music sales and licensing revenues.

Said Spotify in a blog today: “Given the urgency and impact of the COVID-19 crisis, we’re working as quickly as we can to develop this new product and get it out to as many artists as possible. However, we’ve never built a fundraising feature like this before. We consider this a first version that will evolve as we learn how to make it as helpful as possible for the music community.” 

Time will tell how committed Spotify is to the long-term idea of fans being able to ‘tip’ artists money directly on its platform, or whether these features will be retired after (fingers crossed, everyone!) the COVID-19 pandemic dissipates. 

Online fan ‘tipping’ has become commonplace on platforms such as Twitch (via the platform’s ‘Cheering’ feature), and has also become a key tenet of Tencent Music Entertainment’s business in China

“GIVEN THE URGENCY AND IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 CRISIS, WE’RE WORKING AS QUICKLY AS WE CAN TO DEVELOP THIS NEW PRODUCT AND GET IT OUT TO AS MANY ARTISTS AS POSSIBLE.” 

- SPOTIFY 

YouTube launched a ‘Fan funding’ virtual tip jar feature for creators in 2014, but later retired it. In 2017, YouTube essentially replaced this tip jar with ‘Super Chat’, which enables fans to pay to have their live chat messages highlighted; creators  earn a share of this money. 

One of Spotify’s new partners, Cash App, has pledged a $1m fund for artists in the US and UK on the service as part of today’s announcement, which has the double benefit of helping acts during a difficult time… while also monetarily incentivising them to use Cash App rather than PayPal.me. 

How that fund works: Spotify for Artists users that submit their “$cashtag” username as their Artist Fundraising Pick — and secure at least one monetary contribution through Spotify — will receive an extra $100 in their account from Cash App, until a collective total of $1 million has been contributed. 

According to Spotify, artists from all over the world and at various stages of their careers have helped launch the Artist Fundraising Pick. 

Tyrese Pope is fundraising through Cash App. 

He said: “I’ve been using Cash App to raise money for a while but now that listeners can contribute through Spotify, it’s going to make a big difference. With touring now impossible, it’s never been harder for artists to make ends meet, so the extra contributions from Cash App and listeners alike will really help when we need it most.” 

Boy Scouts (aka Taylor Vick) is also fundraising through Cash App. 

She commented: “Like so many others right now, I am out of work as our tours have been cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19. Any help is appreciated as we keep in our efforts to find new ways to get by.” 

“I’VE BEEN USING CASH APP TO RAISE MONEY FOR A WHILE BUT NOW THAT LISTENERS CAN CONTRIBUTE THROUGH SPOTIFY, IT’S GOING TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.” 

- TYRESE POPE 

Benjamin Ingrosso is fundraising for Musikerforbundet. 

“I want to be helpful in the ways I can during these difficult times,” said Ingrosso. “I’ve seen lots of my fellow musicians lose work due to the current situation. Most of us don’t know when we will be able to go back to work. 

“Music is something that always helps us in rough times like these as well as being there with us to celebrate all the happy moments. I’m hoping that this fundraising for Musikerförbundet can help us get through this and get us back up on the stage, when all of this is over, to bring happiness to people with live music again.” 

Marshmello is fundraising for MusiCares: “So many of us have been affected by the COVID-19 virus, and now more than ever we need to stand together and help each other. 

“MusiCares is helping all working musicians, producers, songwriters, engineers and so many. Let’s all do our part to help those who need it most!” 

Spotify said: “This is an incredibly difficult time for many Spotify users and people around the world — and there are many worthy causes to support at this time. 

“With this feature, we simply hope to enable those who have the interest and means to support artists in this time of great need, and to create another opportunity for our COVID-19 Music Relief partners to find the financial support they need to continue working in music and lift our industry.”Music Business Worldwide

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.