By Gail Davvis-Carter (ListenGive Writer)
Where is the Music Industry going? This is a really good question I think many people would like the answer, too. When a child speaks to their parent today and says I would like to pursue a career in music, parents cringe. The worry in a parent’s mind, “Oh God, my child will be a starving artist”.
If you had asked several years ago was it possible to earn a living from the Arts, the response would have been, “Absolutely”. The response today would be, “Yes its possible, but you must be resourceful”.
Navigating the Music Industry today is quite different from even two years ago. Copyright will soon change in some way, given our current government structure. Should this occur, everyone from publishing companies, radio stations and more will be looking for a larger percentage than is available.
Currently, the basic foundation of music is still the same, producers, songwriters, music artists and musicians with instruments to play on a music track or its developed completely by the Producer. What has changed is the way music is marketed, developed and distributed. Gone are the days of developing an artist, unless they are chart topping artists who have even made it to the Billboard charts. There are even some artists who have their fans taking care of their financial needs through crowdfunding websites, so they are free to create music. Streaming does not pay the artist much money. Record labels receive high percentages from streaming services, so only a minimal percentage is available for artist royalties after a song has been played thousands of times. Publishing companies seek to collect percentages for supporting the artists in other areas of the world the artist does not reside in. Sure the artist may start their own publishing company. Most often, they do not have the monetary resources to ensure collection of their royalties.
Social Media has become one of the main sources of communication between artists and their fans today. But this also affects the health and creativity of the artist. Their time is spent mostly online and that gives them little time often to fully focus on their craft. Then we have the issue where given they are not earning enough from sales, they are often left to travel for weeks to months at a time on tour. So this leaves very litter space for work life balance.
While there has been a major shift over the years in the music industry, there is an upside to this whole picture. An up and coming artist is able to:
- connect directly to their fans via social media
- they can utilize crowdfunding platforms to raise funding for their music
- Sell directly to their fans, removing any company selling on their behalf
- more management of their career
If you are seriously thinking of pursuing a career in music, there are a few things you would may want to look at for preparation:
- research the industry to see where you would like to target your audience
- have a clear understanding of what genres your music will be tailored to or else the industry will label you
- realize you are essentially a business
- work six months to one year and put aside 60% of your salary into an interest-bearing savings account
- utilize the six months to one year period before going into the studio to develop your team
- create a financial structure based on the 60% salary you have saved (living expenses)
- connect with a few friends from college in the areas you need support, Accounting, Law, Marketing, Music Industry Business (many universities offer this as a a field of course study), Communications (Social Media/PR), Graphic Artist, Music Management Company executive to serve as a mentor, writer, data scientist to measure your data from online engagement (gives you a temperature gage if your fans like what you are releasing), someone well versed in content management and web design and a few advisors who are not involved in the music business to give you feedback at all times and keep you grounded
- learn what the industry standards are if you would like to be signed by a major recording label
- learning the difference of yesterday’s music industry compared with today how the music industry is currently running — be the solution and shift maker
- find a business person and music artist who you feel is successful and resonates with you and see how that will support the foundation you are building for your own artistry
If you take some of the above advice, you will have laid a strong foundation to begin your career in the music industry. This will surely provide you with a learning curve in understanding how to navigate the industry.