Jac Holzman is an old-school record label exec, having founded the venerable Elektra Records (home to rock luminaries like The Doors, Queen Carly Simon and The Stooges) as well as being an early influence on what eventually became MTV. You'd think that someone who's been in the label boardroom longer than most of today's tech whizzes have been alive would be decidedly out of touch, but Jac is more tuned to the cutting edge than almost anyone in the industry.
Listen for yourself on this brief interview with the man himself.
Jolin Gomez wrote a good article for the Music Industry Report about the 10 reasons why indie artists fail that I thought was worth expounding upon. Here are 5 of his reasons, followed by my comments in italics.
The reason why most indie artist's fail is because:
1. You do not study the music business:This means not understanding the different elements of the business and how they work together. There are a lot of ways to break as an artist, but you've got to know what they are in order to exploit them.
2. You do not write songs seriously: Songwriting is the first and foremost task of any indie artist. Until you can write songs, you won't be taken seriously as an artist.
3. You have no originality or creativity:If you sound just like someone else, you've already lost. If people tell you that you sound just like U2 or Beyonce, it's time to go back to the drawing board. The world already has them as artists. They need something new.
4. You do not have enough live experience: It's difficult to hone your chops unless you play in front of people - a lot. It's not easy to do that these days with fewer and fewer venues available, but remember that most of your income will probably come from playing live. If you're not good at it, it's less likely that you'll succeed.
5. Lack of professionalism: Professionalism means great attitude towards work. Overall, the way you treat the music business as a serious business, or how you approach and deal with relationships makes you a professional. Nothing scares away professionals like managers, agents, promoters, producers and label execs like an unprofessional artist. They expect a certain level of professionalism, and if they don't find it in an artist, they move on regardless of how talented the artist might me. The hassle factor is just too great.
To most established musical acts, licensing songs to a game is strictly an ancillary revenue stream. That might change now that Soundgarden has sold over a million copies of their new "Telephantasm" greatest hits album that was bundled with the new "Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock" game.
This is the first time that a new album was released with a game before the physical CD release, and it went platinum (1,000,000 units sold) thanks to a new type of certification from the RIAA that recognizes game sales as part of the overall sales picture.
After a one week exclusive with Guitar Hero, the CD and downloadable album was released on October 5th. It will be interesting to assess the sales of the standalone album to see how the game impacts the stales.
While the music game fad has worn off, there are still enough players that are interested in both Guitar Hero and Soundgarden to register some big sales.
While this certainly isn't a path that a new artist can take, it does indicate that the album sales landscape has changed significantly, and every avenue must be explored even for established artists.
Online marketing firm Sysomos recently performed a survey on tweets from the last two months and found found some interesting points:
1) There were over 1.2 billion tweets during the two month period.
2) Only 29% of those tweets generated a reaction.
3) 92% of retweets happen within the first hour, 1.6% happen in the second hour, and less than 1% in the third hour.
4) 85% of tweets have only a single reply, 10.7% attract a reply to the original reply, and only 1.5% are three levels deep.
What does this data tell you? Just like any kind of content, the popularity depends on the quality. If you tweet crap, don't expect it to be read or for it to go viral. If you really have something to say, it still might not go viral, but at least you have a chance.
Crowdfunding is becoming a popular way to finance a recording project, thanks to sites like Kickstarter, MyBandStock, indiegogo,Rockethub and Sellaband, among others. Regardless of which site you use, the idea is the same - it allows your fans to pool their money in order to fund your project.
If crowdfunding is something that you'd like to pursue, here are 4 rules to help your campaign be successful.
1) Choose an attainable goal amount. Everybody would like a $100,000 budget to work with, but unless you have a large fan base to begin with, you're probably dreaming if you think you can raise that amount. Even a once-huge selling band like Public Enemy had to cut their goal from $250k to $75k, so be realistic in both what you need and what you can raise.
2) Concentrate on low price points. Kickstarter's data indicates that $50 is the optimum investment point, closely followed by $25. While most artists also include amount in the thousands as well, don't count on these being filled.
3) Make sure the investment reward is sufficient. Remember that you're not getting a donation, it's an investment and your investors will expect something in return. Check out this list of incentives from Hind as an example. Of course, one of the most brilliant list of incentives comes from Josh Freese (Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, Devo, Weezer). A lot of it was meant to be funny for promotion's sake, but people took him up on it anyway.
4) Keep the campaign short. Kickstarter has found that the optimum campaign is 30 days, with longer campaigns performing significantly worse. The biggest periods of investment come right in the beginning and right before it closes, with everything in the middle a somewhat "dead period." If that's the case, you might as well make the campaign short since there's no advantage to dragging it out.