Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Social Users Listen

earth listening image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Recently Lab42 did a survey of music listeners to try to track their music listening and sharing habits via social media. Here's what they found:

Asked when they listened to music:
  • 56% said while cooking
  • 36% said at work
  • 32% said when falling asleep
  • 29% said while studying
  • 45% said they listen to music at least 10 hours a week
  • 70% pay to download music
  • 60% download free music
  • 13% don't download music
  • 73% belonged to a social music site like Pandora or Spotify.
  • 20% pay for a premium service on the social music site.
  • 86% used the free version for 6 months before upgrading.
  • 78% use the "private session" feature so people can't see their music selections.
  • Yet 94% listened to a song because they saw a friend listening to it.
The survey just goes to show that slowly but surely, people are altering their listening patterns to streaming instead of downloads, although not as quickly as we're led to believe by the press.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Worldwide Digital Music Sales Up

digital music image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
After a couple of very flat years in digital sales that really had the music industry massively scared, it looks like 2012 will once again show an increase, perhaps even a substantial one. According to research analysts Strategy Analytics, 2012 should look like this when it ends:
  • streaming revenues up 40% to $1.2 billion.
  • downloads up about 8.5% to $4.3 billion.
  • total digital music sales including mobile up 18% to $9.5 billion
  • digital music increases to 39% of all music sales
The interesting thing is that there's still a lot of physical product being consumed, if digital is only 39% of the total music sales. If that holds true, that means that the total world-wide recorded music sales should come in at somewhere around $25 billion, which is a lot better than it's been for years.

On November 1st I'm going to be at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey to give the keynote address at the ATMM Conference. My theme for the talk is "The Music Industry Is NOT Dying." These figures illustrate the point completely.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 Great Music Marketing Ideas

Music Marketing image from Bobby Owsinsk's Music 3.0 blog
Here's a post from a couple years back that bears repeating. It's about the 10 music marketing ideas from the marketing chapter of the Music 3.0 Internet Music guidebook. It’s easier to sell your music if you add extra value to it, so it helps to think outside the box when it comes to distributing your music. Thanks to Bruce Houghton of the great music blog Hypebot for numbers 7 through 10.
"1) Develop a package - This could mean anything from a CD and a vinyl album, to a digital download and album with all alternative mixes, to a boxed set of CD’s or anything in-between (Trent Reznor’Ghosts I-IV is a great example). The idea is to go beyond just the typical CD and digital offerings.

2) Sequential numbering - Numbering a physical product (for example; "#5 of 1000") gives it the feeling of exclusivity. The product becomes a special edition and a must-have for the true fan.

3) Tie it to merchandise - Offer a physical product that contains the code for a free download of your album. Mos Def was so successful with the T-shirt release of The Ecstatic that Billboard magazine even began counting it as a music release on their charts. Other artists have sold their music via codes on such items as golf balls, bandanas and even canned food!

4) Release a “double-sided” digital single - Rhino Record's digital releases celebrating 60 years of the 45 RPM single set a fine example for this format. For between $1.49 and $1.99, Rhino provided the original hit song, its B side (the flip side of the vinyl record) and the original artwork. You can do the same by providing two songs for price of one - an A and a B side.

5) Release on an old alternative format - We’ve seen some artists (The Decemberists Hazards of Love come to mind) release a vinyl-only physical product to great success. Cheap Trick did it on the old 8-track format from the 60’s, and some bands have even recently released on cassette tape. Releasing on a older format can be good as a publicity tool (as long as everyone else isn’t doing it) and who knows, maybe you can start a trend?

6) Release on a new alternative format - A new alternative format that’s getting some traction is flash memory, or the common USB memory stick. Once again, Trent Reznor met with great viral success by planting unmarked memory sticks in bathrooms at Nine Inch Nail’s concerts, and Sony even released the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’Thriller on the format. Everybody uses these things so you’re bound to get at least a look, which you can’t always say about other formats.

7) Three Sides - Offer a song in an early studio version, the final mix, and then captured live.

8) Radical Mixes - Offer two or three very different mixes of the same song, perhaps even done by the fans.

9) Two Sides of (Your City) - Two different bands each contribute a track to a series chronicling your local scene.

10) “Artist X” Introduces _____ - Add a track by your favorite new artist/band along with one of yours. This is similar to a gig trade-out with another band that many bands use as a way to play in new venues. The idea is that the band you feature will also feature you on their release as well."
You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It Pays To Have A Lawyer

Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust cover image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Continuing on with the theme from yesterday about how important having a music attorney look over your agreements is, here's an excerpt from the Ken Scott memoir Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust that illustrates the point.

Ken relates a story of how the group Kansas lost millions of dollars from signing something without having it looked over, then compounded the mistake.

"Another topic of conversation that came up during my time with Kansas is something that maybe should be talked about as a warning to new acts reading this book. Musicians signing record deals these days have a lot more knowledge about the business than they used to, but this story is still worth bringing up - just in case. Kerry (Livgren, the main songwriter of Kansas) and I were talking one day and he was telling me about when they signed their recording contract. It came up in the conversation that they had signed away their publishing, then he told me the story about how it actually happened. 

It seems that the band was playing at a small club in Georgia somewhere and the contract from Kirshner Records was delivered there for them to sign. As all bands who are signing their first record deal do, they wanted to immediately get their John Hancocks on there, lest it disappear and they be relegated to playing clubs forever. Every place that had a “Sign Here” clip, they signed. Finally they came to a bit at the back of the agreement that they hadn’t seen before that had all these clips on it, and they thought, “Oh, I guess we have to sign these as well,” and they all signed it and immediately sent everything back the next day. It turns out that the little bit at the end that they hadn’t seen before was all about their publishing.

I said to Kerry, “Did you go over it with an attorney?” 

“Of course not. We were in a club,” came his reply. 

“In which case, the contract is illegal,” I told him. 

“What do you mean?” he asked. 

“You’ll find in modern day contracts that there’s a clause that states that if you haven’t gone through it with an attorney, the contract means nothing.” 

“Yeah, come on. You’ve got to be joking.” 

“I’m deadly serious.”

“Well, you’re wrong. If that had been the case we would’ve been told about that ages ago,” he adamantly replied. 

“I can only tell you what I know,” I told him, not willing to argue. 

“I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.”

“Fine, but do me one favor. Next time you see your attorney, ask him about it,” I exclaimed. The subject was then dropped and we went back to work.

It turns out that a couple of days later the band had a big band meeting with their attorney on some other business. When they finally got to the studio, Kerry immediately came up to me and said, “I owe you an apology. I asked our attorney, and he said that you were absolutely correct. We could have gotten all of our publishing back.”

“Could” was the operative word here. It turns out that when the band became successful, they renegotiated their record deal using their attorney. Because they didn’t know about the law, they didn’t tell the lawyer about it, so he never acted on it. Since the attorney was now involved, they couldn’t go back on something from the previous contract. The wound up losing millions of dollars as a result.

This is one of the things that happens when people get into the business and have absolutely no idea what it’s all about. There are all of these legal loopholes that not many people know about, and they end up losing a lot of money because of it. On the other hand, there are those people that make money from those same loopholes as well."

As you can see, it should be mandatory for a musician to run any agreement by an attorney before signing. It could save you millions. You can read more excerpts from Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust and my other books at

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

5 Instances Where You Need A Music Attorney

attorney image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
As usual, CD Baby's DIY Musician blog has a lot of great info, this time on the 5 instances when you should hire a music attorney. You can read the entire article for yourself, but I'll paraphrase it here along with some of my own comments.

Let me say up front that although hiring your brother-in-law who does real estate law is better than not having an lawyer, a music attorney has specific expertise that pertains to the music business. He or she can easily spot when a deal is unfair or not exactly in your favor, so the extra hassle in seeking one out is worth it.

Here are the 5 instances where you really need an attorney from the music business:

1. Before you sign your band agreement. There are a lot of things that you need to hash out, including who owns the name, how any money is distributed, who owns the gear and recordings, how does a member get fired, and the grim stuff like what happens if a member dies or becomes incapacitated.

2. Before you sign with a publisher. A lot of smaller publishers like to have a lot of songwriters signed so their catalog looks bigger, but a music attorney can usually see through that and make sure that your getting what you deserve. Keep in mind that publishing agreements can be very complicated, so they really do require a pro.

3. Before signing with a manager. Managers love to say, "Let's do this without an attorney to save some money," but that's never a good idea. A bad manager deal can keep you paying him for years after you stop working together.

4. Before signing a record deal. It goes without saying that record deals are complicated and getting more so every year. While having an attorney may not get you a better deal if you're a baby band, you may get a few concessions that will be really helpful down the line that will more than make up the cost of your own attorney. Plus, even if you're getting screwed on some point, its at least good to know up front that it's happening.

5. Before signing a licensing deal for one of your songs. The reason why you want an attorney to look the agreement over is that if you're not careful, the song might be used in many more ways that you thought, all without paying you any additional money.

As you can see, it's very much worth while to have a music industry pro watch your back. As the old saying goes, "A pro is expensive, but an amateur costs a fortune."

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.


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