Wait! Before you commit to your music business plan, consider this… Like so many markets, the music industry is in need of serious change. In fact, any industry that has gone digital: news publishing, videos, print, etc. will need to be overhauled if they plan to survive in this Internet world and networked social communities.
I recently read an article on the topic of music business investments. The authors and contributors do a great job of describing how money was traditionally made in the music industry, as well as how the model could be changed for the better. It also goes on to describe the various costs associated with writing, producing, distributing and ultimately marketing one’s music.
It’s a simple fact … make more than you spend and you will make money. The premise behind this statement is certainly sound, but both sides of the equation should be evaluated a little more closely. Make more money. What are some of the ways an artist can make more money? And, on the other side, spend less. What are the ways an artist can spend less in production, marketing, etc.
Let’s face reality. The traditional music labels do not yet understand (or have ignored) how to leverage the power of the Internet and mobile marketing to a) reduce production costs b) increase fans and subscribers and c) sell more “stuff.” The “stuff” refers to complementary products associated with a particular brand or genre of artist. More on this …
Musicians are in a unique position to take control of their own destiny … the music entrepreneur, so to speak. Technology is so pervasive, easy and cheap these days. In addition, the tools to produce, distribute and market one’s music are literally on one’s desktop or Internet browser.
A musician can literally produce a production quality song mixed with multiple tracks (keyboards, strings, saxophone and vocals) literally without leaving one’s hometown or even home. This was the case for Kenny G and Skyler Jett when they produced Eternally, a song dedicated to celebration of life. The vocals were mixed in LA, saxophone in Manhattan Beach and keyboards in Seattle. The final mix and master were done in LA. This was all completed by sending bits back and forth over the Internet.
Distribution? Yes, there’s the arcane way of working with the music publishers to make sure every penny of your music sales is accounted for. But, guess what? It will take you MONTHS after you’ve finalized your music before they’re even ready to “track” your sales. Oh, and that doesn’t even include whether they decide to take on your album sales in the first place.
There are a number of new online music distribution companies. One of which, of course, is iTunes, but they do extract a hefty fee from your sales. Do a Google search of music distribution companies and you likely find many charge one half of the fees that iTunes do, such as Nimbit.
Finally, tools to promote your music are at your fingertips and they’re FREE. The astute musician should already be familiar with Internet sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. These and others are the marketing tools of today. Some are better than others, while still others can be very laser focused on your target market. For example, MySpace is bit too crowded for my taste. But, you do need to be there. People LOVE videos, why not have a simple YouTube video of the “production” of your song?
On a final note … selling mo’ “stuff.” No, I’m not necessarily just talking about T-shirts and caps. After all, how many of those things can one buy? Once you’ve established your market, there are thousands of opportunities to sell products, such as supplements, pet products, gift cards and more, WHILE you are driving sales to your own music downloads.
THIS is the new American musician’s dream … doing what you love while making multiple streams of income. Now go finish that music business plan and make it version 2.0.
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