By Johnny Dwinell
Do you? Are you paying attention to the losers to learn from them or just the winners? I sincerely hope you are all really researching the marketing methods I gave you the broad strokes on in previous blog posts. This is MISSION CRITICAL that you get this.
This is how you will actually make a living. If I told you that you could replace your crappy $30K per year job that you suffer through to work on your music, with revenue FROM YOUR MUSIC, would you quit your job? That’s a No-Brainer! The only way that is going to happen is if you change your outlook, stop coveting the rock stars. Stop coveting the old music business and market your music INTELLIGENTLY in the NEW music business! If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got; and how’s that working for ya?
Far too many of you are still so naïve as to think that you just need to record that demo of your 3 cool songs and then someone important is going to hear them and sign you. WTF? That business model went out the window 10 years ago. Record labels USED to find talent and develop that talent.
But then again, record labels USED to make money selling music. (Btw, do you see the dichotomy here?? If you are the millennia generation, you want the music for free but yet, you still fantasize and believe in the old record business model which was only financially capable of developing talent with the MONEY THEY MADE FROM SELLING MUSIC?? LOL, but I digress.) So you have to recognize that your music no longer matters to the major labels because they cannot afford to develop you. It doesn’t matter if you’re more talented than Prince, THEY JUST DON’T DEVELOP ARTISTS ANY MORE; IT IS NO LONGER THEIR BUSINESS MODEL.
You have to develop yourself.
You have to create a PROFITABLE small business that the major labels will be interested in investing in.
I would like to touch on the old record business in this post though. I want y’all to explore the reality of the old record business. I think once it really sinks in, the reality of the shitateous chance you had to “make it” in the old record industry, it will be easier to embrace the new record industry. It will be far more attractive to embrace the mathematically predictable reality of online marketing.
How are we going to do that you ask?
By studying the losers; FYI, there’s a lot.
Read this article. It’s a little bit of a long read, but if you have a brain, it will be well worth it. If you are a person who chooses to think rather than just believe you will make the correlation. This article is not about the music business but about a phenomenon called Survivorship Bias. In short, we don’t covet the losers. We covet the winners. Thou Shalt Not Covet!! This article is about learning as much as we can from the losers just as we learn from our mistakes; just as we learn from our failures.
Now, how does this associate with the music business?
What do we have to learn from the losers?
For starters, let’s talk about how many of them there are; 90% is an accurate number. Back in the “heyday” of the record business, when the labels make billions selling records, only 10% of the artists signed to just about any label made any money. CBS (now Sony), Warner Bros., Atlantic, Polygram, A&M, Elektra, Epic, all had hundreds of artists that were signed to their respective labels and only 10% of those signed artists made any money.
Only 10% were profitable.
Wow. Talk about planets aligning; you used to need the whole freaking Universe to line up to make any money at all.
Let’s really put this in perspective. I was a “hair-farmer” back in the day, an 80’s metal band front-man, and I STILL love 80’s metal bands! I loved going to the concerts, I loved seeing them kick ass and shred (or NOT lol) live! (Check me out HERE if you want a little giggle) I was SO disappointed when I discovered the evil truth…
Most of the bands I saw had the record, made the video, were on tour, were doing tons of media interviews, they were living the rock star life style, they were living my dream, and they were deeply in debt. Man, all that work to get through the velvet rope, to get yourself in the door and POW, you’re broke.
Want some proof?
Check out this article on RIAA accounting practices for the bands with major label deals HERE
Want some more?
Here’s a great article written by Danny Goldberg (Google him), he was one of the heavyweights back in the day. Pretty grim, read it HERE
A Radio Promo Budget Doesn’t Mean Success
I submit this to you artists that have any kind of brain at all; why the fuck would you want this? Why would you want to deal with this when you can make WAY more money selling 70,000 units yourself than you can selling 700,000 with a major? What’s that? Oh, you wanna be on the radio? In Country music radio still rocks, radio still breaks new artists, but by the time you get there nobody will care. Nobody will be listening; just like nobody gives a shit about the network news anymore. So why bother on a million dollar bet? That’s right a BET! Ask me, I’ll tell you! Just because you get a major label record deal and they spend 1 million dollars to promote you will not guarantee that you will get any spins. It does mean you will get a ride, maybe about 6-12 months, and then it’s over and you are in what we affectionately refer to as the “Artist Protection Program”. Locked away in a deal and nobody cares; nobody can hear you screaming either.
Why would you do this when you can PREDICTABLY make money online?? You just have to figure out how. It’s not rocket science. For you artists who hate or simply can’t imagine the art of business, FIND SOMEONE who does! $70,000 CD’s sold at an average of $7 gross = $490,000. After expenses, after the necessary BS and cash flow required to sell 70,000 units, splitting the profit in 2 is still way better than never ever seeing a dime from a major label. Right?
Just ask the RIAA and Danny Goldberg.
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