Demo or Master Track?

Demo or Master Track?

Demo or Master Track console image

By Johnny Dwinell

Kelly and I are constantly having conversations with singers, songwriters, and artists about what kind of recording is the most effective for their needs and goals.� Since a lot of you have real questions about the differences between these kinds of recordings I thought I�d write about that today.

Demo or Master Track DDP Podcast image

Demo or Master Track?

Incidentally, you can also hear about this subject on episode 1 of our Daredevil Production Show podcast here.� There are several more episodes on producing, songwriting tips, and publishing as well; all of them are free so please enjoy them, we hope they are beneficial to you..

So let�s take each of these recordings one at a time.

SONG DEMO

Demo or Master Track demo image

First, let�s talk about the definition and purpose of a song demo.� Quite simply, a song demo is a demonstration of a song, NOT THE ARTIST.� The purpose of a song demo is to sell the SONG to recording artists who are looking for tracks to cut on an upcoming record release.� The successful execution of this process would generate publishing revenue for the writer(s) NOT RECORD DEALS.� There are many singer/songwriters who have secured their own record deals after achieving success with a hit song(s) that was cut by someone else; but that only happens after the song is released, so the idea is not to let your artist self get in the way of doing business for your songwriter self.

While a professional recording for a song demo will render a KILLER track, the process is decidedly quicker than recording an artist track for a proper record; and less time means less expensive. �This price difference often creates confusion by artists who have a limited budget, and who also want to sing on their own songs for a lower cost than an artist track.� By design, you don�t want to spend too much time creating clever instrumental arrangements, vocal �moments�, or arranging background vocals on a song demo.� The more detailed you get with the band arrangements and vocals, the more �style� you are putting into the track which will increase the likelihood of an artist passing on the song because they don�t hear their style in the track; thus decreasing your chances of getting it cut.� The track needs to be killer but bland (in a sense) so any potential artists can �hear themselves� in the track.

On a song demo session, the band will typically get the track on the first take.� BOOM!

Singing professional song demos is an art to be sure; as such, the savvy songwriters are going to leave the art of singing their demo to the artists who know, aka the pro singers.� The singer needs to key the song first with respect to the artist that the writer may be pitching it to, and secondly to their own voice to deliver the proper energy in the track.� For instance, Kelly and I have a pro singer we work with regularly; thus, we are well versed on where we believe this singer would �key� a song for his own voice.� On one particular song,� we had a library track (songs for TV background purposes) in the vein of Blake Shelton. �Kelly and I anticipated the singer key the song up from the work tape, but he actually went down a whole step to ensure the �Blake Shelton� vibe to the track; PRO MOVE.� A pro singer needs to deliver feeling and good pitch (a believable vocal performance) quickly while essentially staying invisible to the song.

Pro singers will nail the pitch and feeling in 1 or 2 takes (with no vocal �comping� and no tuning necessary) and render a quick, obvious background arrangement to service the song.� You see, the song demo has to focus on the lyric, melody, and vibe of the song as these are the elements you are pitching.� If you shop a song demo to a platinum recording artist and they end up blown away by the lead vocal performance, you�ve essentially already lost.� Why?� Because the recording artist ended up listening or being �moved� by the singer which completely took them away from what was being pitched which was the lyric, melody, and vibe of the song.

Think about it, you�re trying to sell the song, not the singer.

While it may make the singer songwriter feel good that some big time recording star commented on their vocal ability, no business will be transacted and the opportunity to get the song cut was lost; epic fail.� All too often we run into singer/songwriters who forget this fact; they are focusing on the fun of getting into a studio and singing.� For this purpose, it really isn�t recommended that you sing on your own song demos as the writer is too close to the song

Basically, if you�re a marginal singer and� you sing on your song demo, yes, you gain studio experience, but you will have practiced bad habits that will not help you sell your song.

If you are a KILLER singer, you will have artistically crafted the vocal to your style, which will not help you sell the song.� Does this make sense?

ARTIST TRACK / MASTER TRACK

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The definition and purpose of an artist track is to sell the ARTIST!!� Artist tracks happen either with a record label or they come in the form of custom records which is simply a major label quality record project that is funded privately�without a major label�s cash.� If a producer and artist did their jobs right, any listener should be blown away after listening to an artist track.

Blown away by the songpic

Blown away by the vocal performance

Blown away by how tight the band is

Blown away by that cool thing the guitar does in the breakdown

Blown away by the mix

Blown away is MISSION CRITICAL

When the listener is blown away, they will go to your website.

They will listen to more songs because they are starving on the mediocre crap that is still being force fed to us.

They will tell all their friends about you because you are bad ass.

They will buy tickets when you come to town to play.

They will buy t-shirts, coozies, key chains, and CD�s at your show.

They will engage you as an artist, hell, they may even pre-pay for the next CD allowing you to finance your next incredible artistic effort more easily.

They will like your Facebook page

They will follow you on Twitter

They will become part of your �tribe�

Artist tracks are going to define the artist; the brand.� They have to be AMAZING to stand out in this new music business.� Think about it�back in the day and artist and record label could afford to be mediocre (and how often did that happen?) on the radio because it was the only delivery system of the drug we call music.� If you were lucky enough to live in a big city or perfectly between 2 big cities, you had 2 rock, pop, alternative, or country stations, otherwise there was one; each station playing an average of 12 songs per hour.� If you were lucky enough to get the major label machine behind your single it was being spun constantly and that is the only choice people had for their genre.

I�ll repeat that; radio was the only choice.

There was no Pandora

There was no Spotify

There was no iPhone, iPod, or iPad.

There was no XM/Satellite radio.

Now the listeners have choices and they can and will choose to move away from mediocre in a heartbeat.�� So the song, the track, the vocal, the vibe has to be breathtaking.

Breathtaking starts like any other crucial project you have experience with�PREPARATION.� Ya know, like painting a room; 90% of the work is scraping, filling holes, cleaning, removing old wallpaper, taping, and priming.� Only 10% is actually painting.� What do the building contractors say??� Measure twice and cut once!!� You get the idea.

Did you think a recording project should be different?

Before you spend any money on artist tracks, you need a good team.� You need a killer engineer and a producer.� That�s right, A PRODUCER.� Typically, a great engineer isn�t going to cut it.� Of course there are exceptions to the
rule, but there are quite a few engineers who are not musicians, and many engineers are not producers.� In fact, the best professional engineers who regularly work with high level producers are practiced in the art of being invisible!� That�s part of the job description; to SHUT UP.� So if you team only has an engineer, you better make sure that they know how to produce; how to speak up.�� Otherwise you end up looking for a creative sounding board (i.e. producer) type feedback while you are tracking, in the heat of the moment, while you are spending cash, and all your questions are answered with questions.� Bah!

Artist:� �Did that sound OK?�

Engineer: �Well, did you like it?�

Artist: �um�er�yeah, I guess�

Engineer: �awesome, let�s move on�

Sound familiar?

This is the sound of you spending money on artist tracks and producing your own record; YIKES!

Producers will have killer relationships with the band based on mutual respect.� So when it�s time to �fight� for a performance during the session, the band will follow the producers lead, because they trust that he�s not going to waste their time.

If you are a self-contained band, the producer has to have AMAZING communication skills to reach each member of the band and ensure all musicians are in a state of mind to receive the information.� This is how a producer will get performances out of an artist that they often are unaware they are capable of.� FUN!!

Just and FYI, in any business, engineers typically lack communication skills.� I have spent years in the electronics business, the sales guys NEVER let the engineers talk to the client�it ends up messy.� Think about that.

An artist track should involve tons of preproduction.

Starting with the songs, are they up to par?� Can they be better?� If they can be better, the producer should provide a solution.

What is the style of the project?

What kind of guitar sounds?

What�s the vibe of the record?

What should the drums sound like?� Dry and cool like Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan, or big and roomy like Bon Jovi or Miranda Lambert�s Revolution record? (love that freaking record�I mean the John Prine cut on there��That�s The Way The World Goes Round��.guitar feedback�.ON A COUNTRY RECORD!!!!)� Yee Haw!!� I seriously freaked out when I first heard it�thought I had a loop going on in the console, too funny.� But that�s just the 80�s rocker in me getting excited�.I digress.

There should be a mental sonic map for each track that is created in advance of the recording.

What keys should these songs be in?� What keys will suit the singer the best?� What keys will work for the singer and make the guitars darker and heavier?� Which key will brighten the guitar to give it that magical �chimey� sound that the song requires?

If you are an artist working with a studio band, the producer will then process all the information from preproduction and �cast� the sessions appropriately.

When you get to cutting artist tracks, things slow down.� You need more time for the band to be creative with arrangements, to explore the happy accidents that happen,

More time for studio magic.

More time to cut a stellar vocal�with tons of vocal �moments�

More time for the creative exchange between producer and artist and band.

More time for the mix.

Bottom line, BADASSNESS comes with a price because it takes time.

When you are done with these tracks, you should be able to incorporate them into any future record deal you sign because they sound that good; radio ready mixes.� There is no excuse for a poor sounding track or a poorly written song in today�s music business.

A producer attached to artist tracks should be there throughout the whole artistic journey of the project.� The producer should be the extended member of the group or artist with a trusted opinion as their job is to stay at 30,000 feet when the artist digs in and can no longer see the forest through the trees.� If your producer tells you the song needs to be stronger, then believe him.� If he tells you to sing higher to service the collaborative vision you both came up with for the track, you believe him.

If you want artist tracks, radio ready tracks, and you have no producer than you are executing the definition of crazy.� You keep doing what you have always done, and you will keep getting what you have always got.� I mean contemplate this with your common sense�Most artists who ended up disappointed with their tracks were looking for artist tracks and paying for demos.� What did you expect?

 

ARTIST/BAND DEMOS

Back in the day, records cost $250,000 to make.� The projects were recorded on analog tape in huge $2,500 per
picday recording facilities.�� These studios housed the thousands of dollars of outboard equipment, the $500,000 mixing console, along with several $30,000 2-inch 24-track analog tape machines, endless reels of 2-inch tape ($100 per reel) plus all the microphones and other gear necessary housed in a room that cost 1 million dollars to design and build.� All total, you were looking at multi-million dollar studio facilities that were necessary to create the radio ready, sonic quality we all are accustomed to.� Looking at these up-front costs, it was impossible to own your own studio, or even be able to afford to access this kind of world class studio facility without major capital behind you; in other words, record label money.� Of course, labels wouldn�t sign you and give you the capital necessary without hearing a sample of what your music was about.� So, the common sense economic move was to record a �demo� (or demonstration of your band or you as an artist) tape to �shop� to record labels in hopes of getting the labels to pony up the real money.� These demos were recorded at far less expensive studios (with inferior equipment and thus inferior recordings were made) and filled a niche, they were the low budget house to record your music that would ultimately get you signed; a necessary bridge between you and the label.

NOW, anybody can afford a decent studio in their basement.� It is actually common (almost ubiquitous) that an artist will have some sort of digital recording system in their home or at least access to friend with one.� No more tape, no more outboard gear, no more $500,000 console is necessary to demo up your songs.� The artist can spend hours upon hours of time perfecting the song and arrangements before heading into a proper studio.

So here�s the thing�If record labels are not developing talent any more, what�s the purpose of �saving money� by spending $500-$1600 per song on a �demo�?� You are wasting your money.� Here�s why.

Demos are done FAST.

There is little creativity

little time to tweak or experiment with arrangements

little time for mix recalls

little time to re-sing a vocal (in Nashville they�ll tell ya �that was terrible, come on out� meaning they will tune your vocal and put it out�after all�it�s just a demo).

So by definition, on a demo, you are paying for an inferior representation of your artistry.� You are ASKING FOR IT!!!

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but 99% of the time, artists need more time and attention than a demo will allow to raise the bar of their music.

The necessity for a band/artist demo is gone.� Ok, ok, once again, there are exceptions to the rule.� If you have 20,000 twitter followers, 30,000 Facebook likes, and consistently sell out the 2,500 seat theater in your home town with no CD at all, I am quite sure a demo would suffice as at this point, it would be a formality of sorts.� The label would see that you have connected with a TON of people in some way so it would seem logical that they could add money to your existing momentum and step it up a couple notches.

The fact is, most of you aren�t at that local/regional level and are putting all your faith into a demo with the hopes that someone important will hear you and sign you.� This has become a flawed business plan.

Forget the pricey �demo�.� Do the necessary �demoing� on your home studio where you aren�t paying for time and can be completely artistic.� Demo constantly; at home.� Jon Bon Jovi recorded over 50 demos of �Runaway� before he had one placed on a compilation record for WAPL in New York that garnered tons of attention which got him signed.� He had to sweep floors at the studio nights in exchange for the opportunity to utilize the off time at the studio to record his demos.� Now you have the same technology in your home.

Are you using it?

Out Of The Basement Into The MarketPlace

Today, you need to jump right out of the basement onto the international marketplace, and your recording has to compete with that.� So if you�re an artist trying to make a living, by getting signed or on your own, bypass the demo step and go right to recording artist tracks.� Yeah, if you approach this process professionally (ya know, the way a
picrecord label would?) and get a producer, these tracks are more expensive, but you no longer need a full CD.� In fact, unless you are playing AT LEAST 180 dates per year, why record a whole CD?� An artist that is constantly touring can justify recording a whole CD because every night, people will spend money to buy a souvenir CD; so it makes good business sense to sell a product for $10 as opposed to $5.

For the artists who are not constantly touring, spend the budget on AWESOMENESS in the recording, on the team, and marketing the singles.� A hit song is a hit song is a hit song is a hit song�.you get the idea.� All to often artists are focused on recording a whole CD with no budget allotted for marketing.

They record the CD

It�s a mediocre product because their budget not large enough to record 10 songs of something amazing

They order the first run of 1000 CD�s

They give 50 out to friends, family, and the 1 or 2 business contacts they hoped would break them.

They ended up with 950 CD�s in a closet.

Sound familiar?

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How To Get A Record Deal Today

How To Get A Record Deal image

If your goal as an unknown band, solo artist, or singer/songwriter Is to write a great song or songs, record a demo and “shop it” to record labels with the hopes of getting a deal, you’re wasting your money. That ship has sailed long ago; whether you like it or not, or want to believe it or not, that business model is over. Listen, you MUST understand that major label record companies haven’t been “developing” talent for quite some time. They are not going to develop you either. No matter how good your song is. Of course, there are record deals out there but the rules have changed significantly and you need to know what the labels will and won’t do so you can avoid wasting time being naive.

How To Get A Record Deal?

How To Get A Record Deal image

If you’re gonna play, BE A STUDENT OF THE GAME, not a hopeful marginally talented moron; that’s so yesterday.

To get your deal, you will have to do most of the heavy lifting; you will be responsible for your own development. To get your deal, you will have to understand the way the old record business worked so you can effectively eliminate that outdated approach from your business plan and recognize the structure of the new record business. This is MISSION CRITICAL if you truly want to succeed as an artist today.

So let’s review the old way so we can clearly identify the differences between the old way and the new way to create a frame of reference based on FACTS:

Remember Bruce Springsteen?

Can you name his first two records in less than 10 seconds?How To Get A Record Deal Slippery when wet image

Remember Tom Petty?

Can you name his first two records in less than 10 Seconds?

How about Bon Jovi?

Can you name their first two records in less than 10 seconds?

Was your first thought “Born To Run“, “Damn The Torpedoes“, and “Slippery When Wet” respectively?? All these records were the first “Biggies” for each artist; all of them the 3rd release. These artists were developed by their record labels.

To get the deal back-in-the-day, they had to have raw talent, star quality, undeniable drive, and 1 or 2 killer songs.

Ahh, the good ol’ days of development, these were the days when there was a lot of money to be made selling music. Major labels had 500 signed artists, and only 50 of them were lucrative (that’s only 10% for the mathematically challenged), but those top 50 made SO MUCH MONEY selling records that it covered all the costs of the record production and promotion for the 450 deadbeat acts, the first money losing records and promotion of the 50 profitable acts, the huge record budgets, tour support, ridiculous corporate overhead, development of all 500 artists, plus a (gasp) PROFIT.

Wait record labels made money selling music??

Well, they USED to.� Let�s check out some business numbers to really get a clear picture of how much it has changed.

As a point of comparison, a 45 single (a record single with a bonus B-side) in 1978 cost roughly .89 cents.� In 2013, 35 years later, a single download costs .99 cents.� WOW, do you see where I�m going with this? �Here�s another way to think about it, in 1978 you could buy Tom Petty�s �Damn the Torpedoes� for $8.00; counting inflation today that same $8.00 is worth $28.17!!� NOBODY is paying $28 bucks for a record these days!!

So it becomes quite clear how the main product that the music business was founded on has been devalued; almost to NOTHING.� So you see why the major labels are struggling.� Their main �cash register� has gone from the equivalent of $28.17 per record to .99 cents per download, because nobody is buying records anymore; only singles; consumers are sick of buying crappy CD�s with only one or two hits�but that�s another conversation.

View a 45 here if you don�t know what it is.

So while you are making plans to take over the world, you must account for the fact the first and largest �cash register� from which the whole record business was set up is gone.� No mas.

Take a deep breath�relax�this is actually a good thing, but if you are going to succeed as an artist and make a living, you need the facts.

The first fact is that if you are serious about making a living as an artist, you must (and your parents want to hear this, btw) put on a proverbial suit and tie and think about this as a logical, well informed business person for a minute, not as an artist; look at the big picture, objectively, from 30,000 feet so-to-speak.� The old record business had a lot of hurdles (so does the new record business but stay with me here�we�ll get to that soon) the biggest of which was the velvet rope.� You had to know somebody to get �in�.� A song, a GREAT song, a SMASH HIT song was enough to get signed, but you had to get it to the right people first.

Why the velvet rope?

In the old record business (from which a lot of you are basing your business plan and future on) a record cost at How To Get A Record DealVelvet Rope imageleast $250,000 to make (in a massively expensive recording studio).� Then about $750,000 to promote it; that�s 1 Million dollars!!� That�s a huge investment ON A BET THAT HAS A 90% CHANCE OF FAILURE!� You see, back in the old days, the bet was worth it, because there was so much money to be made (just on record sales alone), that the proverbial �juice” was worth the “squeeze�!!!

The net result to you is that you still have to get past that tricky velvet rope to bet your future on a business model with a 90% failure rate.� The major label business model is the same today only they don�t make money selling records.� So where does the money come from?� We�ll get to that shortly.

The good news is that there are record deals out there but they are vastly different than the old days so singers and songwriters need to be aware of what these deals look like to have a chance at getting one and being a student of the game.

Let�s think of this as a different business to hopefully create a frame of reference.� Let�s say you have invented the world�s best new tech widget.�� Now, you need capital, you need $$$ and a truckload of it to build the team that will develop, market, and promote this widget.� So, you bust your butt getting through the red tape and the velvet rope to pitch your idea to investors who are willing to listen.� In this business meeting you will need to ask these investors for 1 million of their hard earned dollars to get you started.

You say, �I need 1 million dollars to help develop this amazing widget I invented�How To Get A Record Deal shark tank image

They say, �Great, let�s see it�� �How, do you know if it will sell?�

You say, �I drew out this sketch on a cocktail napkin, and I know it will sell because I�m awesome; it’s my dream, something I’ve wanted to do my whole life.�

They say 2 words, �Not Interested.�

Where�s the business plan?

Where�s the proof of concept?

Financial Risk

Why would they be interested?� They are taking all the financial risk!!� You showed up to this meeting with an idea, maybe some blueprints, enthusiasm, and a lot of hope, but NO NUMBERS, NO BUSINESS PLAN, etc.� Would you give a stranger 1 million dollars of your money without some sort of proof that there would be a return on your investment?�� Would you give a stranger 1 million dollars without some kind of social proof that the widget has value in the market place?� Would you give a stranger 1 million dollars who showed up at a business meeting unprepared; but asking for money anyways?

In today�s music business record labels are not developing talent, they are buying small businesses.� They want PROOF that your music has value; proof that people will buy it.� Because they aren�t developing talent, they simply don�t care about your artistry or your song, or how good everyone in the band is.� Frankly, you could fart into a microphone on 10 tracks and call it a record; if you move 20,000 units on your own, you�ll get some labels interested.� Think about it, that makes sense right?� If the labels are out of the development business, WHY WOULD THEY CARE ABOUT YOUR MUSIC???� Think of the record labels like a bank or an investor.� THAT�S WHAT THEY ARE NOW.� it still costs at least 1 million dollars to break a new artist as the labels are still stuck in the old school way of breaking an act; radio promotion.

Radio

Yes, radio is currently still the most effective way to break an artist, however it�s extremely expensive, there is NO GUARANTEE that it will work at all.� Kelly, my business partner, had a producer credit on a major label release in 2012 where the label spent at least 1.5 million of someone else�s money and they accomplished absolutely nothing.� Moreover, country music radio is the only format that is regularly and effectively breaking new artists.� Rock and Pop radio is dead with regards to breaking new talent; the only new artists you hear on the rapidly declining rock and pop radio formats broke somewhere else, like TV or YouTube.� (Think about it, Gotye, The Script, Daughtry, Karmin, Macklemore, all these artists broke on TV or YouTube FIRST; radio play was secondary.)� So because radio is the go-to promotion plan for the major labels, the cost to them is the same and therefore the risk is the same.� As the Majors are no longer in the business of developing talent, you simply can�t be upset at the fact that they no longer care about your song.� It doesn�t matter, that is not what they are interested in.� They want to move product.

Next, let�s talk about what the deals look like today and then hash out a strategy to give you the best chance to actually get a record deal.

Now that nobody is making money actually selling records, where exactly does the revenue come from?

360 Deal

Enter the 360 deal.

As an artist, I used to hate the idea of this deal, but if you think about it objectively from the perspective of the guy How To Get A Record Deal 360 imagewho is risking all the capital (AKA the record labels), it makes sense.� The approach now is built from this standpoint:� If the label is spending the money to create the brand name, then why shouldn�t they participate in all the revenue streams that the brand name creates?� So labels say if we are going to spend 1 million dollars on you, then we want to participate in the revenue streams that are created from this brand like:� Publishing, Master recording licensing, ticket sales, merchandise, and any other ancillary revenue streams the artist can create based on the brand name the label has paid to create.� BTW, this is exactly what American Idol requires.� They take half of everything for a set amount of time in exchange for creating your “brand” on their hit TV show.

Now, every deal is different and EVERYTHING is negotiable, however, you need to have LEVERAGE at the table to negotiate; much more than your hopes and dreams and some good songs.� Again, they don�t care about your song, so while a hit song was once leverage, now it no longer matters.� So how do you create leverage?

For starters, you need to realize that YOU have to be in charge of everything and nobody, no record company is going to �make it� for you.� Anytime you put too much faith in something or someone outside yourself, you end up disappointed.� Don�t believe me?� Ask Billy Joel, who lost MILLIONS to his brother-in-law whom he trusted to manage his money; that was family!!� Ask Oprah�one of her favorite quotes, �Sign your own checks��I wonder what happened to make that one of her favorite quotes?� Now, do you really think a record label is going to �make it happen for you?� You, the artist, is SOLELY responsible for proving that your music has value in the marketplace.� You, the artist, is responsible for creating your core audience.� You, the artist, are responsible for creating momentum.� You, the artist, is solely responsible for your own development.� Think about it, if you were the record label with 1 million dollars to spend, wouldn�t you want to know that the artist had something significant going on already???

Record labels are now marketing and distribution companies, they are no longer developing artists.� Once you truly realize this, you�ll figure out why the approach to get them interested must change to be effective.� Record labels want to see a profitable artist, with ticket sales, merchandise, music sales, etc.� They feel once you are profitable, if they come in and throw money and infrastructure into the mix, they will be adding fuel to the proverbial fire.� Essentially, their business model is no longer about creating the momentum but adding capital to your preexisting momentum to take your business model to a higher level.

What do record labels expect today?

Well, there is simply no excuse for a poor sounding record or crappy songs.

Back in the day, a record cost the equivalent of $28 in today�s money; it was expensive and worth every penny.� You cherished the music.� You collected the records.� Now the music is free�so the only way anyone will pay attention is if the music is AWESOME.� The song has to be AWESOME.� The recording has to be AWESOME.� Anything short of that and you are going to lose.� Any recording that comes with a disclaimer is dead.

Back to development�you are responsible for that.

Think about it.� What have you done exactly to develop yourself and �raise the bar� of your music??

Are you frustrated right now?How To Get A Record Deal frusration image

What are you frustrated about exactly?

What have you done to rectify the issue that is making you frustrated?

When record labels were developing talent, they put a great TEAM of people around the artist.� This team was made of people who made their living everyday in their respective lanes; i.e. songwriting, producing, engineering, managing talent, logistics, marketing, packaging, etc.�� Does that sound corporate?� It is.� You need to think of yourself as a business, a SERIOUS business.� The good news is you can find these teams if you are looking for them.� There are organizations and people out there who understand artist development and understand that since the record labels no longer occupy the development space, there is a niche to be filled.� You just have to be aware they exist, then actively search for them, and ask the right questions when you start courting them.� Any money you have to spend on a recording will be much more effectively spent on a development team.� Make sure you are AWESOME.

I have found the truly great artists are the ones who are extremely aware of their strengths and weaknesses, they understand their lane, and are able to �cast� the necessary team around them to strengthen the weak spots.

Are you good at creating melody but average at lyrics?� You need to seek out a lyricist.

Are you good at writing lyrics but have no sense for creating melody?� You need a writer with a sense of melody.

Are you an average singer?� Many of today’s top stars are extremely average, but they have surrounded themselves with people who make them sound like STARS!!

How much are you dialed into the marketplace?� Are their subtle twists you can do to your songs that will garner more attention and less competition?� In other words, are you doing something different or are you trying to copy your favorite artist?� This is a job for a talented and enthusiastic producer.

The good news is that it is easier than ever before to make a living with your artistry.� Anyone can replace their crappy $30,000/year job with revenue from their music.� Anyone.� If you make this your first goal, you will be well on your way to creating what you need to have before you approach a record label for a deal.� I have seen this with my own eyes.� I have seen artists who had day jobs 2 years ago and focused on a goal; now they are playing 250 dates a year because they WORKED HARD!!!

Wanna Be Famous?

However, if you goal is to be famous, then spend your time auditioning for reality shows.� This is a far more effective way to get your 15 minutes than success in the new music business.� You don�t even have to worry about talent!!� I mean, if Snookie can do it, anyone can, right?

Record labels would like to see that you can sell out your local venue, they want to see 7,000 friends on Facebook and/or Twitter, they want to see 10,000 downloads or sales from CD units they can track, they want you to be PROFITABLE.� Again, record labels are buying small businesses.� They want to see you making money already.� They figure if they add some zero’s at the top they can help create more zeros at the bottom.

One of my favorite marketing guru�s in today�s music business is John Oszajca.� John has created the Music Marketing Manifesto (this is worth looking into btw�you can see it here).� I am quite sure there are several competing businesses like John’s out there but I like him.� His product teaches you EXACTLY how to effectively market your music online.� Whether you choose John or some other program, you must get the knowledge on how to market your music online.� This knowledge leads to trackable sales; which leads to today’s record deals.

To paraphrase John from an interview I heard between him and his former manager, you need to think of yourself as a channel.� You will need more than 12 songs a year; in fact, you will need constant content coming out.� You will need to become an expert in relationship building online.� Today�s professional performer must know how to make this happen.

At the end of the day, you can make a living as an artist in the music business.� But the days of rock stars being above and removed from their audience are over.� Check out Amanda Palmer (here) and Mindless Self Indulgence (here); these are the rock stars of tomorrow.

Don�t believe in crowdfunding?� You better. �Starting May 1, 2013 Warner Bros Records will fund all new record projects through Kickstarter.com.� In fact, if you have 1000 people contribute to your cause, you automatically qualify for a deal with Warner Bros.� If you have $100,000 funded to your cause, you automatically qualify for a deal with Warner Bros.� As the great Bob Lefsetz said, most of you will take that deal so you can tell mom and dad you made it.� The smart ones will realize at that point, they don�t need a record label any more.

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