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Where There Is Blood In The Streets There Is Money To Be Made!

by Johnny Dwinell

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There is truly more good news than bad news in today’s music business for both artists and songwriters.  I will get to that in a second, but first let’s address a few things with regard to some of the feedback I have already received about my last blog post.

Ok, so some of the provocative responses to said blog post were based from fear, but most people (and I report this next part enthusiastically) were undeterred; motivated even!


I should clarify a few things for y’all though.  The last blog entry entitled “TERRESTRIAL RADIO IS DEAD” was aimed at new artists; not songwriters looking to get cuts.  Look, this was not meant to scare anyone, but to LOUDLY emphasize that if your business model as an artist is to get a record deal and break (i.e. get your initial exposure) on the radio, you’re too late; it’s over for the most part.  I chose to be this aggressive with the language content because Kelly and I constantly run into people who still think of a record deal and the promise of subsequent radio play as the measurement of “making it”; and anything outside that box or dream, as it were, is some kind of failure.  The reality here is that MOST artists with a “Record Deal” end up in debt to the label and do not make it; around 90% or so at most labels over the last 40 years.  ANY ARTIST who wants to truly make a living playing their music can now do so and guess what…Shhhh….you don’t need a deal; you just need to be a business person too.

Terrestrial Radio

In this new market the “Record Deal” and Radio Promotion are rapidly becoming irrelevant; but as humans I guess we tend to hold onto the past as change is always uncomfortable.  With the exception of Country music artists, the rest of you will have to break online (like YouTube think Karmin, PSY, or Macklemore) or on TV (either via song placement or popular talent shows like The Voice and American Idol) and THEN terrestrial radio will pick you up AFTER you are already popular, but terrestrial radio won’t break you in the rock or pop genres.  Moving on to Country music and the “old music business model”, once again, all the major labels are still running at the industry standard 90% failure rate.  Just go to Curb Records artist page HERE and look at every artist…

How many of them do you know?Good News Curb Records Image

How many of them have put out a record in the last 5 years?

See what I mean?  This isn’t just Curb, it has been industry standard on all major labels for decades…90% of major label artists fail; their money losers, and in debt.  In the old (now dying business model) 10% of the artists were SO LUCRATIVE, that the revenue created would pay for all the other losses.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “The Artist Protection Program” LOL.

So why is this still “the dream” when the numbers are decidedly horrific AND there is a better, more mathematically predictable way to make a living as an artist??

As of May 1st, Warner Bros Records is utilizing Kickstarter.com to fund record projects; WTF??  You heard me Good News Warner Bros imagecorrectly.  Warner Bros is so broke it seems they will no longer be spending their own money on their artist’s recording projects…they will spend the artist’s money for them.  In fact, if you are able to start a Kickstarter.com campaign and get 1000 people to back you, you automatically qualify for a Warner Bros Records deal.  If you can manage to get $100,000 in backing on a Kickstarter.com campaign you automatically qualify for a Warner Bros Record Deal.  Crazy!  So for some, this is good news.  For the artists or bands that can get $100,000 worth of backing from a crowdfunding source, why get a record deal?  You will probably make more money selling 70,000 copies of your own CD (which is SO DOABLE with a little budget) than selling 700,000 under a label.  Do the math….and include the numbers you don’t know about yet.


Well, for songwriters looking to get current artists to cut their songs, YOU will most likely get on the radio before any new artists do.  If Tim McGraw wants to cut your song and the label makes it a single, you’re getting paid and you’re getting on the radio.  Congrats!  That will open many doors and launch your career to be sure.

The good news for artists is that while you may or may not become “famous” like the rock stars of 20 years ago, but you can absolutely make a living at it…right now.  We (at Daredevil Production) have a couple artists who just 2 or 3 years ago were writing in town, with day jobs, broke, trying to make it…sound familiar??  Now, WITHOUT a major Good News DDP imagerecord deal, they are making a living.  Touring over 250 dates a year, with a band, selling 6,000-10,000 CD’s per year from the stage (That’s enough to afford to make another record, people) making money and living the dream.  Just without a jet, and stadiums for now.  Once these artists get their heads around how to match their live CD sales with online CD sales, they will make even more money; that’s the rub.  Btw, these kinds of artists, the ones who have profitable, successful small businesses are the artists most likely to get signed by a major label these days, or most likely to get a big money backer.  It’s about the business not about the music to them.  I get it, I get it, I was an artist too back in the day, it about the music NOT the business to you!

Artistic Communication

Let me give you some food for thought…Music is about communication, right?

Communication is defined by the information RECEIVED, not the intent behind the information.  Think about that….re read that line….say it out loud and listen to the words.

If you are a true artist and write KILLER songs but your lack of business skills keeps the world from RECEIVING the information are you communicating?

You may be lost in the delusion that back in the day it was just about the music and not business; that’s BS.  All the artists read from the same talking points to make you believe that OR while they were busy believing it’s all about the music, someone who was doing the necessary business was ripping them off.  It is about the music, but without business no one hears the music.  So it’s about the business.  And if you truly have music that will profoundly touch consumers, then your business is now about EXPOSURE.

Big money investors like to see and invest in profitable small businesses.  They like to see artists that can take care Good News Big Money imageof themselves; not artists who are detached, inaccessible, and a mess.  Big money will come to back your project in 1 of 2 forms: Private investors or Major Record Labels.  Both would like to add “financial fuel” to a fire that is already stoked.  Get it?  You gotta make waves, man, you gotta have a BIG buzz about you first.  YOU HAVE TO BE DEVELOPED because they won’t develop you; they can’t afford it and even if they could, they’ve lost touch with what that even means anymore or how to do it.  Which means if you can develop yourself, you have a far greater chance of getting a deal, and you can actually make a living.

So the #1 headline of GOOD NEWS for artists is that if you are smart enough to know that you HAVE TO BE AWESOME in this market, if you are willing to hit the road and outwork everyone else, if you can surround yourself with a team of people who believe you, if you can run a small business…you are going to make waves…certainly a living.  Period.


I managed to do it when I was an artist 20 years ago, but it is SO much easier now!

If you just want to be famous, that space is now relegated to reality show stars; Warhol was right.  So common sense says if you need to be famous go for the reality show.  If you live to play write music, then go for making a living; common sense again!

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