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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.

 

WATCH OUT TIKTOK: US-BASED RIVAL TRILLER IS RAISING BETWEEN $200M AND $300M 

WATCH OUT TIKTOK: US-BASED RIVAL TRILLER IS RAISING BETWEEN $200M AND $300M

If you weren’t paying attention to the rise of TikTok rival Triller before, now’s the time. 

Guest Post by Tim Ingham of MBW

The company is raising between $200m and $300m to fuel its expansion, just as it starts locking in deals to transfer over major TikTok influencers to its platform. 

According to a Fox Business report – seemingly confirmed by Triller CEO Mike Lu – Triller has secured commitments to raise the nine-figure sum to fuel its expansion. 

The Los Angeles-based company is thought to be raising the investment via the private security market. Investors in the round will reportedly include Farvahar Partners, a boutique merchant bank that is run by former Bank of America executive Omeed Malik. 

On LinkedIn, Mike Lu shared a story covering news of the raise, calling it “a huge milestone for Triller”. 

Earlier this week, it was announced that Josh Richards, a TikTok influencer with over 20m followers, was leaving the Bytedance-owned platform to join Triller as an investor and as Chief Strategy Officer. 

It is thought that Triller will use its new $200m-plus capital influx to lure over other top TikTok stars, as well as investing in improving its product and marketing. 

Triller, in which all three major music companies own stakes, has previously raised over $37m. Its last major funding round came in October last year, when it raised $28m. 

Pressure is growing on Bytedance-owned TikTok in the United States from President Trump’s administration over accusations that the app is passing on user data to the Chinese government – something TikTok strongly denies. 

Earlier this month, following a ban of TikTok in India, Triller announced it had become the No.1 iOS app in the Photo & Video category in the market. 

Triller says that, in June, it hit 50 million monthly active users around the world, “surpassing TikTok’s user count when it was sold to ByteDance for $1 billion in 2017″. 

Triller’s individual investors include Snoop Dogg, The Weeknd, Marshmello, Lil Wayne, YoungThug, Kendrick Lamar, Baron Davis, Tyga, TI, Jake Paul and Troy Cartner; plus Gee Roberson (Co-CEO of The Blueprint Group), Moe Shalizi (founder of The Shalizi Group), Wassim Sal Slaiby (CEO of XO Records), Amir Cash Esmailian of XO, and Ash Pournouri (former manager for Avicii);. 

Other investors include Shawn Gee (President of Live Nation Urban), Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith (Chief Executive Officer of TDE), James Prince (Chief Executive Officer of Rap-a-Lot Records), and Believe Digital, among others. 

On Monday (July 27), MBW ran an interview with TikTok’s Global Head of Music, Ole Obermann, in which we asked him how TikTok plans to stay ahead of Triller and other short-form video rivals, such as Instagram’s Reels. 

“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,” he said.  “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.” 

Triller last year acquired UK-based MashTraxx, a machine learning platform for music and video editing with nine patents.

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.

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.” ‘

SPOTIFY’S $100M+ JOE ROGAN DEAL REDEFINES ITS PODCAST STRATEGY. SONGWRITERS AND RECORD LABELS SHOULD BE WATCHING CLOSELY 

SPOTIFY’S $100M+ JOE ROGAN DEAL REDEFINES ITS PODCAST STRATEGY. SONGWRITERS AND RECORD LABELS SHOULD BE WATCHING CLOSELY

It’s interesting, when you think about it, that many of Spotify’s biggest rivals – Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Tencent Music – have proudly chosen to singularly define their brands with one type of content: music. 

Guest post by: Tim Ingham of MBW

Spotify, of course, is now much more than a music service. It’s “the largest audio platform in the world”. 

That’s how comedian Joe Rogan described SPOT when making the game-changing announcement yesterday (May 19) that one of the globe’s biggest podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience, is moving exclusively to Daniel Ek’s platform. 

From the end of this year, both audio and video versions of The JRE will only be available on Spotify, via a licensing deal that the Wall Street Journal suggests will cost Daniel Ek’s company over $100m.

Rogan’s ‘cast is known for its sometimes fascinating, always freewheeling conversations with figures from across the spectrum of politics and celebrity. The show’s typical length runs between two and three hours, with previous guests including Elon Musk (who famously smoked a joint during recording, pictured), plus Bernie Sanders, Candace Owens, Kevin Hart, Mike Tyson, Russell Brand, Malcolm Gladwell and Michelle Wolf. 

It’s also hugely popular. In April last year, Rogan stated that his podcast was being downloaded 190m times each month. The JRE was the most popular podcast on Apple platforms last year, beating the New York Times’ The Daily into second spot. 

Meanwhile, Forbes suggests The Joe Rogan Experience is currently making $30m in revenues per year, though whether Spotify will get a cut of that number – and how SPOT’s own podcast ad tech might affect it – currently remain unknown.

Spotify’s Joe Rogan scoop, then, is a major blow to Apple Podcasts, and will also disgruntle YouTube, where The JRE’s ‘vodcasts’ have attracted over 2 billion views to date. 

What, though, does the deal mean for the music industry on Spotify, still the largest music subscription streaming platform in the world? 

Both record labels (and artists) and music publishers (and songwriters) should be watching the Joe Rogan deal – and Spotify’s current predilection for spending big on exclusive podcasts – very closely. 

Here’s why, for both sides of the industry…

1) MUSIC PUBLISHERS (AND SONGWRITERS) 

“Spotify is not making a fair income, and [music] publishers are doing better than ever. Not a single [streaming] service has managed to reach profitability… certainly not Spotify.” 


“All [streaming] services have struggled in large measures because of the enormous royalty rate for licenses. In Spotify’s case, those royalty payments constitute 70 percent of its revenue. For Spotify and other streaming services to have a viable business, they will need rate reductions, not increases.” 

A couple of telling quotes, there, from Spotify’s attorney, John P. Mancini of Mayer Brown LLP, speaking in front of the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) in March 2017, arguing why Spotify shouldn’t pay music publishers (and their songwriters) more money. 

Spotify went on to lose this legal tussle with US music publishers – who were repped by the National Music Publishers’ Association – regarding improved rates for songwriter payouts from its service. 

Yet SPOT still hasn’t given up its fight to pay songwriters less.

“SPOTIFY IS NOT MAKING A FAIR INCOME, AND [MUSIC] PUBLISHERS ARE DOING BETTER THAN EVER… FOR SPOTIFY [TO] HAVE A VIABLE BUSINESS, [IT] WILL NEED RATE REDUCTIONS, NOT INCREASES.

JOHN P. MANCINI OF MAYER BROWN LLP, REPPING SPOTIFY, IN MARCH 2017

In March last year, we learned that Spotify had clubbed together with Google, Amazon and SiriusXM/Pandora to appeal the CRB’s rate decision, which was set to bring songwriters and publishers a 44% pay rise from these services between 2018 and 2022. 

That appeal is ongoing (it reached the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in March this year), but, for loss-making Spotify, it’s wrapped up in a key argument: there is only so much money, as a percentage of its revenue pie, that SPOT can pay out to artists, labels, songwriters and publishers, combined, while still running a functioning business. 

If the CRB-mandated songwriter payout figure rises too high, suggests Spotify, it could threaten its very existence. 

An obvious question, then: Does this argument really hold the same amount of water when Spotify is simultaneously spending hundreds of millions of dollars on podcasts? 

Spotify has spent approximately $600m on podcast-related acquisitions in the past 18 months, including its buys of Anchor FM ($154m), Gimlet Media ($195m) and Parcast ($55m) last year, plus Bill Simmons’ sports podcast The Ringer (up to $196m) in Q1 2020. 

The $100m Joe Rogan deal, which isn’t an acquisition but a licensing deal, reportedly takes this podcast spend up towards the three-quarters-of-a-billion dollar mark.

“EVENTUALLY WE WILL GET TO MORE OF A POINT OF MATURITY WHERE WE’LL FOCUS MORE ON PROFIT OVER GROWTH, BUT FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS IT’S GOING TO BE PREDOMINANTLY GROWTH FOR US.” 

DANIEL EK, SPOTIFY, SPEAKING IN APRIL 2020

Spotify founder Daniel Ek recently stated that SPOT has no plans to curb its M&A expenditure in the face of what he sees as a major opportunity to steal away traditional radio’s ad dollars with a podcast/music combination on Spotify. 

Ek said last month: “We’re in the growth stage… Eventually we will get to a point of maturity where we’ll focus more on profit over growth, but for the next few years it’s going to be predominantly growth for us.” 

That’s all very well (although, 12 years on from Spotify’s launch, that’s one lengthy “growth phase”). Yet at the same time, Spotify is telling the CRB that pay rises for songwriters are impossible, due to its status as a perpetually loss-making company. 

According to Spotify’s annual report for 2019, it posted a €73m ($82m) operating loss last year. That’s less than the amount of cash it’s just committed to spending on Joe Rogan alone. 

The logical next question: As Spotify attempts to deny songwriters a pay rise because it supposedly can’t turn a profit, are those same musicians actually subsidizing Spotify’s huge podcast acquisitions, and therefore its rapid market expansion?

2) RECORD LABELS (AND ARTISTS) 

If you want to know all about how podcasts could destabilize the market share of record labels on Spotify’s service, this piece from December last year will fill you in

The highlights: a recent surey from Edison Research showed that, in 2014, 80% of the US population’s listening hours were dedicated to music, with 20% going to spoken word. 

Yet in 2019, largely thanks to the popular eruption of podcasts, music’s share had fallen to 76%, with spoken word growing to 24%.

In its Q1 2020 results, Spotify gave away some important updates to this narrative, with two key data points: 

(i) 19% of Spotify’s total Monthly Active Users (MAUs) engaged with podcast content in Q1, which equates to 54m people (out of 286m total MAUs); 
(ii) There are now more than a million podcasts available on Spotify, with SPOT’s fully-owned distributor, Anchor (cost: $154m), powering 60% of them. 

The big worry for record labels here will be the potential volume of music track plays that these growing podcast habits on Spotify are now erasing. 

For example, if those 54m people in Q1 each played an hour’s worth of podcasts in the quarter – and we say that songs are on average three minutes long – these podcast plays could have ‘blocked out’ 1.08 billion music plays. (This is obviously a hypothetical, where we assume, if these people didn’t have access to podcasts on Spotify, they would be instead playing songs.) 

At Spotify’s approximate current $0.0035 per-stream recorded music payout rate, those 1.08bn hypothetical streams would have made the record industry in the region of $3.8m. 

I remind you at this point that each Joe Rogan Experience podcast – and there are some 1,477 of them in the can, all presumably coming to Spotify on September 1 – lasts in the region of three hours. 

Of course, Spotify doesn’t actually pay out ‘per stream’, as it were, instead paying an agreed net percentage of its revenue to labels and distributors (around 52% for the majors), allocated against their market share of plays. 

How podcasts affect this payout calculation is thought to have been a serious sticking point in Spotify’s long-dragged-out renegotiation with Warner Music Group for the twosome’s recently-agreed global licensing deal. 

The major record labels want a guaranteed minimum percentage of Spotify subscription revenues, regardless of how much music (versus podcasts) the platform’s subscribers actually consume. Spotify reportedly takes a different view, suggesting that if a subscriber listens to nothing but podcasts on its service, the labels shouldn’t get any money. 

Adding to the intrigue: Goldman Sachs just published an update to its influential Music In The Air report, in which author Lisa Yang and others comment that they believe record labels (and artists) will be “the largest beneficiaries of the growth of music streaming given they receive 52%-58% royalty rates from the major DSPs”. Goldman Sachs adds: “[We] expect no major change to these rates in the near term given the competitive dynamics amongst the DSPs”. 

To put it another way, with a 35% market share of global music subscribers today, Spotify isn’t dominant enough to try and reduce that 52% label rate any time soon (in Goldman’s view, any time over the next decade). 

Yet what if Spotify reduced the majors’ payout via stealth, by giving them their 52% revenue share, just not of all audio plays on the service (i.e. not when it comes to podcasts)? 

According to Spotify’s year-end filings, as recently noted by Midia Research’s Mark Mulligan, the combined market share of annual streams on SPOT cumulatively claimed by Universal, Sony and Warner, plus indie agency Merlin, is already falling.

“WE’RE NOT ON SPOTIFY, AND THE REASON WHY WE’RE NOT ON IT IS BECAUSE IT DIDN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.” 

JOE ROGAN, SPEAKING IN 2018

These four parties claimed approximately 87% of streams on Spotify in 2017; they claimed approximately 85% in 2018; and they claimed approximately 82% in 2019. 

So what happens if Spotify’s investment in podcasts, especially big-money flagships like The Joe Rogan Experience, now take this figure below 80%, or even below 70%, in future? 

It will not be welcomed by the major labels – aka Spotify’s biggest customers. Ahoy, there, commercial tension! 

Those same majors are unlikely to forget that, in February 2019, Daniel Ek told his investors: “We believe that, over time, more than 20% of all listening on Spotify will be non-music content, and we strongly believe that this opportunity starts with podcasts.” 

The good news for Universal, Sony et al in the face of these issues? Daniel Ek and his team can clearly be pressured into paying out big checks by dominant market players who take no nonsense. 

Joe Rogan knows this better than anyone. 

He’s just inked a $100m-plus deal with Spotify for The Joe Rogan Experience, almost exactly two years after telling Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler (see below) on the very same show: “We’re not on Spotify, and the reason why we’re not on it is because it didn’t make any sense. 

“They were like ‘We want to put you on it, it’s gonna be great for you!’ And I was like, how is it great? 

“You guys are gonna make money. You guys are making money and you don’t give us any.” 

And then they did. All nine figures of it. 

Now that’s what you call negotiating in public.

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.