5 Unused Ways To Get in the Music Industry

Most newcomers will soon discover that making a successful career in the entertainment industry is a hard market to break into more so than any other market..It’s definitely not as easy to get into as working at McDonalds or processing insurance claims at Geico While this creates problems for most newcomers who spend their days and nights pouring their soul into their most finest masterpiece; the music industry’s “not-everyone-is-worthy policy” is largely a reason why the music industry is so successful- earning 40 billion annually.

History has always been a part of understanding and predicting new trends. In order to fully discover new ways to get in the music industry, it’s a great benefit to understand some of the history of the music industry.

Music has been around before most people living today were born. Before the rise of sound recordings, then known as phonographs, the sheet music publishers were the almighty force in the musicsphere, before it was dubbed the music industry. Today more than half of U.S. homes are wired with a high-speed pipeline to the net and seventy-five percent of Americans use the Internet for an average of three hours a day. This makes
easier access to information and new technologies which create new markets and opportunities for songwriters, singers, and producers to get their music heard.

The main components that make up the recording industry are the Record Labels, Publishing Companies, Licensing Companies, Artists, and Fans. Knowing fully how these components works together makes it easier to find new ways to enter the music scene. These different companies also have similar departments with leaders who know more than a few major contacts at any targeted major record label.

In addition to being separate entities, these companies are all connected at the level of being in the music industry. Most people will recommend internships and slowly climb the ladder from bottom until you’re able to reach the top. But that’s usually not good enough for those artists who have put everything into their music, lost or quit their job, and are clearly willing to work and have the music that deserves to be heard. So how do you use the different components to get into the music industry?

The answer invariably is research, plan, build, test, market, promote, prove it; rinse and repeat. You do not need to have infinite resources to get the attention of industry insiders if you are interested in you are willing to work hard at being different but following trends. There are 5 different approaches to consider if you are interested in getting in the music industry.

o Work as an intern (even unpaid) for at least 6months to a year at a record label to develop relationships

o Write and market songs to already established recording artists and bands and use that leverage to new
opportunities

o Push your songs to major music publishers to sign a publishing deal.

o Build a presence at all the major industry functions and events

o Develop your song catalog to license film/tv music

At first glance these seem a bit bleak, but you you should be able to get in the music industry, so long as your music is qualified in terms of being unique, interesting, and sellable.

What The Music Industry Can Learn From The Real Estate Industry

As I was watching the news the other day, a story came on about the skyrocketing number of foreclosures that are taking place across the nation. There was an interview with a couple who blamed their situation on their commission-hungry agent who sold them a house for which they were not qualified, their unscrupulous broker who “creatively” structured a loan that they could not afford to make payments on, and their uninformed friends for giving them bad advice. They basically blamed everyone – but themselves.

It got me thinking about what the music industry can learn from the real estate industry and the parallels between the two.

Like the real estate industry, the music industry is a percentage based business. Both have their own esoteric language and both rely on a cast of revolving characters who play a variety of roles. Both are relationship driven. Both are service oriented in nature. Both thrive on deductions and hidden costs that impact price and profits. And obviously, both have ups and downs.

But there is one major difference: In real estate, nothing happens without financing.

In the real estate industry, when you are serious about buying a house, the first step is to find a lender who will secure the loan for you in order make your purchase. Once upon a time when music artists used to covet record deals, they did so because obtaining a record deal was synonymous with obtaining financing.

The chief purpose of that financing was to satisfy production and marketing costs. With the advent of the Internet and the resulting independent movement (which has been falsely promoted as the answer to the alleged oppressive business practices of record companies), many artists will never receive the kind of exposure that their predecessors have enjoyed simply because they will not have the financial means to do so.

In short, there is no longer an obvious and readily available source of funding for music artists. Record companies traditionally served this purpose, but that’s beginning to change as artists seek, and find, alternative sources of financing (e.g. Madonna and her lucrative 120 million dollar deal with Live Nation) outside of the music industry. Superstar artists that is.

Aside from the financial issues, the main problems with music – and the music industry – are value, perception and relevance.

In real estate, the mantra is: Build it and they will come – with financing to purchase it because in the end it’s not really a purchase; it’s a sound investment that will yield future dividends (in most cases). The same can’t be said for CDs which (by public consensus) only have two good songs out of 10 or 15. That’s called a bad investment…and a good business opportunity for iTunes. By now we all know iTunes is not really about the legal purchasing of music, it’s about the selling of iPods, and for people 15 – 25 (still the target age audience for the music industry) the perception is that music should be free. That’s with or without an iPod.

So how do we achieve that relevance? What pertinent lessons does the real estate industry provide to help the music industry straighten things out? Here are some:

1.) ESTABLISH VALUE

People buy houses as a commodity, but they live with their families in homes. The real commodity of the music industry is the emotional connection that people have with artists through their music, not the plastic CDs they buy. When people find an artist who provides the music that they can use as the soundtrack to their lives, they embrace them, celebrate them, and reward them. It’s the emotional experience and the guarantee of it that people associate with artists when they are purchasing their music, merchandise, concert tickets, and now as in many cases, movies tickets. It’s when that guarantee is not upheld that people feel disappointed. Greater care and greater measures need to be taken to capture, portray, and present the emotional value of an artist and their brands.

2.) BUILD EQUITY

Equity is money that is earned above the estimated value of your property. The process of earning equity – which takes place over a period of time – is called appreciation. What determines how much the value of your property appreciates is based in comparison to the rising value of surrounding properties in your area. These comps are obtained when you get your appraisals done (see 3 below). If you are a music artist or music producer, it behooves you to compare yourself to others with similar track records – not talents (talents are too subjective). Therein lies your estimated value. A track record of delivering consistent quality work over a period of time, will help to build equity in your brand that you can profit from. The same holds true for industry professionals and companies who provide products or services.

3.) GET FREQUENT APPRAISALS

Because property values fluctuate, influencing whether prices go up or down, it’s critical to know how much your house is worth so you can sell it at market value if you choose to do so. This is done by getting an appraisal. Who do you get these appraisals from in the music industry? Your customers and clients. Ask them what they think of your products/services and how you can make it better. Most importantly, immediately incorporate that feedback to increase your value in comparison to your competition. People are always willing to pay more for value.

4.) BECOME ACCOUNTABLE

Anyone who has ever bought or sold a house can tell you that the transaction entails the signing of tons of documents. Each one of them requiring your acceptance of the terms of each agreement for which you are responsible for knowing and honoring. The same is true of agreements in the music industry. Unfortunately, most people don’t even bother to read, much less understand these agreements. You don’t need to be a lawyer to read a document (although some people are willing to pay a lawyer to read documents to them). There’s greater accountability in the real estate industry because lack of accountability on any one person’s part has a domino effect which clogs the cash flow, and in turn, impacts the bottom line.

5.) BE PROFESSIONAL

The one thing that I absolutely love about the real estate industry is its professionalism. The players in real estate are all united under one umbrella and committed to one cause: buying and selling houses. They all have mission critical tasks that force them to communicate efficiently with each another, and their success is contingent upon the sharing of vital information and resources. In the real estate industry, unprofessionalism is not tolerated. There are ethics and laws that regulate conduct. Most importantly, there is a timely and accurate division and distribution of profits from the sales which compensate their professionals.

Just imagine if we were all united under one umbrella and committed to one cause in the music industry…what a thought. The time is past due for artists, professionals, and companies to trace their footsteps and find out how we ended up on this slippery slope, and devise plans that will take us in a different (i.e. more profitable) direction. If not, we will soon be blaming everyone for the situation that we are now in – but ourselves.

Is The Music Industry Pimping The Music

The music industry made up of several record labels is often given a “bad rap”. No, they do not force our children to listen to the negative music that they sell – remember we all have freedom of choice. However, what they are guilty of is flooding the market with the same types of music and turning a deaf ear to any music that does not fit into their profit margin. So, what you don’t hear – you won’t want to buy. The music industry has always done this, but even more so now that their profits are decreasing due to the popularity of online websites who offer a large library of music not only from artists we are familiar with, but new artists who have not been able to break through the industry road blocks. Music labels are notorious for keeping music that does not promote their interest off the radio stations by making sure that the music that DOES promote their interest is played in rotation – what kind of deals do they make? Is it payola? Not sure – that is for a legal mind to determine. The fact remains that only certain music selections are on the air – and we keep listening and buying the same song, different artist – just like the music labels want us to.

The Pimp Factor

Recording labels have even been known to contract with an artist, so that they can own the rights to their music – and then refuse to promote it – why? To control what you and I listen to on the .radio and keep the type of music that they want to promote in the forefront. In any other arena this action would be considered as “pimping”. This may seem like a harsh term – but what is a Pimp? According to the website EduQna “What Does Pimping My Ride Mean?”, the explanation fits pretty well “‘Pimp my Ride” is a phrase meaning the modification of (something), usually, impractical but very flashy way (think pimp-like). (making) modifications, etc. (something being) altered to achieve the appearance (something more media than real)”. I really love EduQna’s Rough translation: “Please sir, if you would kindly pull the cash from my pockets to make my (possession) appeal to my need for compensation.” If the word fits, recording labels should wear it. Many artists have complained that they feel “pimped out” due to the types of contracts they innocently sign just to break into the industry – the signing may be innocent, but the wording of the contract is by design – to control the music and the artist who creates it.

The music industry is really shooting itself in the foot and hemorrhaging slowly by not joining with online music sites whereby both can profit. However, in its effort to control the industry as it has in the past, they are missing out on a large opportunity to sell a larger variety of music to their demographic target – 13 to 18 year old listeners. But those listeners are growing up and due to their computer and internet abilities, they are “hacking” into an online market of music that the mainstream music industry can’t touch – Online Streaming Music.

Gently Down the (Music) Stream

In 1999, an 18-year-old college dropout named Shawn Fanning changed the music exchange forever with his file-sharing program called Napster. His idea (not the 60 hours of creating the computer code it took to create it) was simple: a computer program that allowed computer users to share and swap files, specifically music, through a centralized file server. His response to the complaints of the difficulty to finding and downloading music over the Net was to stay awake 60 straight hours writing the source code for a program that combined a music-search function with a file-sharing system and, to facilitate communication, instant messaging. Napster was born. But was Shawn patted on the back for his ingenuity? Are you kidding? The Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against Napster charging them with tributary copyright infringement, which means Napster was accused not of violating copyright itself but of contributing to and facilitating other people’s infringement. However, Napster argued with some success that because the actual files are never in Napster’s possession, but transferred from user to user, that Napster is not acting illegally. The issue in P2P applications (Peer to Peer) is that if Napster is guilty of copyright infringement, then the consumers of Napster are guilty too. Likewise, if the consumers are not guilty, then how can Napster be held responsible?

So Shawn and his tiny company of 50 employees in Redwood City, California was up against media empires like Universal, Sony and BMG. But what the music industry failed to see is that whatever the outcome of the Napster lawsuit, Napster had opened a proverbial window of possibility on the Internet and more companies would and did spring up over time. After a protracted legal battle the site would eventually be shut down. Years later, after being bought by Roxio, it would reemerge as a popular digital music service. Since that time, there are thousands of sites worldwide, that have grown from and perfected what Shawn started moved through the controversy, and now provide quality music to its online customers through a process called “streaming”. “Streaming” is a generic term in the computer world. It basically means that the data being transferred can be used immediately, without having to download the song in it’s entirety before it can be used. Audio (music) and video (that is a topic of another article) can be streamed successfully, and with a high quality result.

One of the most popular providers of streaming audio and video, of course is Apple Computers. With the introduction and popularity explosion of the I-Pod, which was created for downloading, transferring and playing music and now video, Apple created I-Tunes, a service where you can purchase individual songs or full albums, from an extensive library – from any genre you can think of – where customers can purchase tracks online for a nominal fee. This is due to the fact that I-Tunes and other streaming music companies have created partnerships through licensing agreements with some artists and some music labels. And now with the I-Phone gaining popularity, there is no end to what “streams” of media can be had by anyone with an media player.

Though technological progress has been made in this area, megalomania is still pervasive. There is still a large population of record labels and companies who have chosen not to partner with digital/streaming music companies. Why? Control – the music companies want and have control over the majority of music and artists of the music that you listen to.

Where the “Buck” Stops

A large majority of the music industry’s record labels still own around 75% of the world’s most well-known recordings, yes the world’s! All streaming music companies are clamoring for new media to sell its customers, and offers the recording labels licensing agreement opportunities that would allow wider distribution of legal music downloading and streaming – without a license for every single song they offer to the public – they now, after the successful ligation brought on by the Napster controversy – companies can be successfully sued. When the record label refuse licensing agreements, those songs or records cannot be offered for consumers like us to listen to or purchase online. This is the sole reason why you cannot find many of the most popular artists or songs you have come to love on streaming music sites. It is because the major recording labels have still not gotten around to agreeing to license these sites to offer their music. Who suffers? Really everyone. With declining CD sales, the music label suffers, we the consumer suffer and the artists as well, because they are missing out on the opportunity to be heard on the largest media network in the world – the internet. Though money is a major factor in why the music industry is not partnering up with streaming audio and video companies – more so it is about control. Fear of losing it, has compelled many to act unwisely, and unfortunately music labels are no exception.

So, until the major recording labels wake up and smell the MP3 (a fancy word for music file); and until artists either insist on contracts that include their right to sell their product through other mediums OR artists peddle their music online on their own, as many new artists are doing, and until the consumer stops purchasing music from the labels that don’t support the streaming music industry, our ability to increase our library of music selections will continue to be limited. The technology is here – but the music is being held hostage – with the ransom being a purchase of a CD wrapped in cellophane. There are thousands of new artists popping up every year, with new and exciting music of every genre, and hopefully these new artists will work with record labels who actually live and work in the 21st century and create a powerful partnership to distribute their music online.

So in conclusion, I guess that in one case at least, the Gangsta Rap artists did something positive, and delivered a line that fits this situation in a limited sense – until we “fight the powers that be” in the music industry, we will be forced to keep listening to the same song – with a different beat – over and over again.

How to Make the Right Contacts in the Music Industry

Many musicians are aware that making the right music industry contacts is highly important for achieving a successful music career. The problem is that, most musicians really don’t know ‘who’ the right music industry contacts are, where to find them, how to actually transform a ‘first contact’ into a meaningful relationship, and what ‘having the right music industry connections’ really means.

If I gave you my complete list of music industry contacts (key industry people I have established relationships with over the last 20 years), do you think it would help you develop a successful music career?… NO! Why? Because a mere ‘contact’ is not worth anything. Music industry contacts need to become meaningful music industry connections. Meaningful connections are developed by building good relationships… More on this later…

However, even if you have good relationships with the right people, this won’t help you until and unless you work on having the right things in place which enables your industry contacts to feel confident enough to work with you.

So, who are the music industry people you should be contacting?… And when you get through to someone, what do you say to him/her? How can you make these important people pay attention to you if you don’t yet have a ‘name’ in the music business?

Let’s explore the first question “Who are the music industry people you should be contacting?” To answer this, you need to ask a series of other questions such as:

• Who are some contacts who have great influence and ability to help your career develop further?

• Who are the contacts who have the greatest number of key relationships with other music industry professionals and companies?

• Among the most important contacts, who are the easiest to find close to where you live?

• What contacts are the most approachable?

• Who are the people who you can help to solve THEIR problems and/or help them to reach their goals (thus starting to build a relationship with them)?

Is there a single “type” of music industry contact person or (company) who fits ALL the above criteria? The answer is ‘Yes’. And if you do not have music industry connections, this ‘type of contact’ may be your best place to begin… So, who is this type of person or company? Record label executives? A&R people? Producers? Publishers? Managers? Entertainment Lawyers? Famous bands? No… The answer may surprise you… it is “Concert Promoters”.

Serious concert promoters have massive power and influence in the music industry. They are the real risk takers of the music business. They deal with thousands of very important music industry people every year such as: well known bands, record labels, artist management, tour managers, entertainment lawyers, production companies, merchandising departments, the venues, booking agents, radio stations, the press, and more.

If you live near an urban area, you won’t have any trouble locating concert promoters who live and work locally (use Google). Unlike most other important music industry contacts, promoters are generally accessible and will be willing to talk to anyone who has ‘something real’ to offer them (that’s where you come in).

Generally speaking, concert promoters take on more risk than any other person or entity in the entire music industry. All promoters lose large sums of money every year (because some concerts lose money for various reasons). The successful promoters make (and keep) more money than they lose throughout the year (because they are able to promote other concerts with bigger bands which make a lot of money).

What every promoter wants is a reliable network of people to help make certain that the concerts/tours they promote make more money! Obviously, it’s expensive to employ a large team of experienced people. However, you can join their team (at least on a part time basis) if you are willing to, intern, earn a small salary or even work for free just to get your foot in the door and get the experience of working with a promoter. You may not yet know anything about promoting tours, but some promotion companies would be eager to train you if it isn’t expensive for them to do so.

Think about it from their perspective. If you were a big time promoter taking on huge risks, wouldn’t you want another person to work for you, for free or for a very low salary? Of course the answer is ‘yes’, even if that person could only work part time. If you can do that, they will remember you and relationships will start to develop.

Many musicians who want a music career are told to intern for a record label. The conventional wisdom is that when you do this, you will learn a lot about the music business. The reality is, most of these interns never get into a position where they can truly learn much at all as an intern. However working for a promoter, your ability to learn how the music industry REALLY works (at least on the touring and promotional side) goes way up because your level of access to what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ goes way up! In addition, the number of music industry contacts you can make are 200 times more than what you would likely make working at a record label. And compared to record labels, there is a lot less competition for internships or jobs with a promoter.

As excited as you may now feel, knowing that you CAN actually do this…. there is a catch… a big one. In order to have any real chance of pursuing this opportunity and using these music industry contacts to help launch your music career, you must work on having the right things in place which enable your music industry connections to feel confident enough to work with you. The truth is, nothing in this article will help you until and unless you do take this critical step.

The 3 Most Under-Rated Artists in the Music Industry Today

As time keeps rolling on, the music industry continues to grow and conform to the computerized talent in which has consumed the industry today. It seems as if the more money made in the music world today, the less genuine talent the artists have. Noticing the Top 10 hits of iTunes in the past 10 years, the list is filled with rap stars and computerized musicians that have no talent other than how to work a simple music production program. The fact is that music has taken a turn down an uncharted road that is filled with technology and mediocrity.

Although music today is not what it used to be, there are still some artists that write for the sole purpose of fulfilling their love of music and expressing themselves in a genuine, passionate way. Most of the artists that still write and perform with bona fide expression and fulfillment are the most under-rated artists in the music world today. The artists that have an authentic talent and love for music should not be pushed to the bottom of the charts by the average artists of today’s music. Instead, they should be winning the Grammy and the American Music Awards instead of the “musicians” of today.

The top three under-rated artists are just a couple of many that deserve recognition for not conforming to the industry’s top ten guidelines nowadays. These artists also deserve the greatest thanks and applause for their unique sounds and expressive works of art.

3. Gavin Degraw

Gavin has been in the industry since 2003 with his album Chariot and has only received one Top Ten listing of his song “I Don’t Want to Be” at number 10 in 2004. This same song was chosen as the theme song for the television drama series, One Tree Hill. His brilliant work has never broken the Top Ten and continues to stay below the rap stars and electricians that run the music industry’s top songs today. Gavin also released a strictly acoustic album of his album Chariot, called Chariot Stripped, which showed that he can rise above the production of music and editing of tracks and release genuine, heartfelt music. In August 2011, Gavin was attacked by some people on the streets of New York City and was hit by a taxi shortly after. He was forced to cancel one of his performances and push back the release date of his new album Sweeter. But, sure enough, Gavin returned to the music scene to keep delivering works of art to the music world and kept performing. Now that’s passion!

2. Sara Bareilles

Like Gavin, Sara has been in the music industry for quite some time now. She screams passion and love for what she does. She began her recording career back in 2004, but with little success. Success did not come until the release of her album Little Voices. She finally worked her way in to the Top Ten with her mainstream hit, “Love Song”. Even though the hit reached the number one spot on the list, Sara is still one of the most under-rated artists of today. Her performances glow with affection because she loves what she does and does it with perfection. Her style is unlike anyone else in the industry. As a pianist and extraordinary vocalist, Sara expresses herself in such a unique and talented way with her angelic voice and beautiful plucking of the keys. With no Grammy awards under her belt, it is surprising to see such talent not be rewarded for her exceptional talent. Sara currently stars as a judge on the TV show The Sing Off while she keeps writing and performing to her heart’s desire.

1. Jason Mraz

Jason, after several years of recording and producing his expertly crafted music, finally received his first Top Ten hit in 2008 with “I’m Yours”.Only one Top Ten hit in almost 10 years of recording with such unique style? Unbelievable. With such an extraordinary tenor voice, Mraz is without a doubt the most under-rated artist of today. His music gives his listeners a taste of a huge variety of different genres ranging from reggae to jazz, and all the way to some country and hip-hop. One can consider Mraz music to be its own genre of music. Starting with Waiting for My Rocket to Come, Mraz introduces his fans to his style right away. Going from pop to country, all the way to reggae in his first album, Mraz burst onto the scene with his unique style. With 4 live albums, Mraz remains one of the best live performers in the industry today. Performing live is the ultimate test for any musician, and Mraz excels with ease at entertaining his fans with beautifully crafted music accompanied by an angelic tenor range and a strikingly skilled guitar. Mraz breathes originality and passion in his words and his music, making him the most lively and uniquely talented musicians in the industry today.

Since the music industry is overwhelmed with fake, computerized music, it is up to the few artists that still have originality and talent to keep real music alive in the world today. Music should be the heart of any musician, but today’s standards and desire to make a quick buck have conformed music into that of simple mediocrity that has spread like a virus through the record labels and into the hands of techno beats and rap stars of today. A special thanks goes out to all true musicians that keep music at the center of their hearts and don’t let today’s industry corrupt all real music. Let the music speak a heartfelt message to everyone who listens. Let the passion drive it into the hearts of all listeners. Let it be what it needs to be: art.