Music Business

The new indie music business

An average of 100.000 tracks are being added to Spotify every single day. One could certainly assume that the music market is over-saturated. And yet, art operates by different metrics. Saturation isn´t necessarily the problem. A lack of visibility, or shall I say audibility is –  and what it all comes down to ultimately is a lack of relationship building. Historically music has always been a form of communal service. But this service is often burried underneath false beliefs about supply and demand dynamics. Let me explain.

Good music alone won´t do

Spotify is some sort of cemetary of songs if we do not learn to level up our profiles and rise above the tombstones. Even the most selfless service ultimately needs a recepient and therefor requires promotion. We often think a good product sells itself, but that only works in areas with low to no competition at all – certainly not in the music market.

There´s essentially two kinds of artists who I am targeting with this post. Those that embrace celebrity culture and strive for being “a brand”. Their biggest challenge is longevity, because they often lack sustainable core values and true purpose. Overnight success rarely lasts for long.  And then there´s the artists that cringe at the thought of self-promotion. They want their art to speak for itself. But that rarely happens. There´s just too much noise out there. You don´t get heard unless you become visible as well. If you want your music to land with audiences, you have to deliver it in irresistable ways – time and again. It takes more that a genius song. It takes continuous promotion!

I´ll be honest. The easiest way to get there involves a decent amount of money for advertising, PR, over the top content creation and more. And yet, there´s always other options as well. Those involve determination, hard work and strategy.

How to spread and monetize music

The good news about music is that songs do not have an expiry date. Songs don´t die, they just get abondoned all too soon all too often. You can monetize songs you´ve written years ago down the road. There are 3 essential options for making an income as a songwriter/artist.

1) Building a solid artist brand and monetizing through streams, live shows, Merch and other add on products. Songs sadly aren´t necessarily your main product as a brand. Instead they serve as an entry point leading to long tail monetization options. A brand can be set up as a personal brand or a conceptualized brand.

-2) Getting songs placed in sync. That´s one of few ways to monetize through the actual music you write, but it takes a lot of work, good networking skills and a bit of luck.

3)  Getting songs cut by major label artists, but beware that the labels will ultimately jump on wagon number 1 and 2. The biggest portion of revenue comes from add on products, so the biggest portion of revenue will stay with the artist and label and not with the songwriter.

Considering these options, it becomes clear that building a brand for yourself is almost a must do, regardless of whether or not you also opt for sync placements and artist cuts.

A brand can truly act as a long-term funnel, but branding is an art in itself.

Build a brand that creates opportunities

To create a solid brand, you  need to understand your music, your audience and the relationship between these two.

If your songs do not carry consistent messages, but are all over the place, that will not get you very far with regard to building a brand. A brand is rooted in purpose. There are certain purposes you can look into, such as “making a connection and giving a sense of belonging”, “empowering people”, “inspiring people” or “enlightening people” and the likes. You should know what feelings you want your music to evoke in people.

Next, you will want to focus on the audience. What is in it for them? How can they make that connection, or feel empowered or feel inspired etc.? A lot of times as artists we tend to think we have to divide instead of connect. We think we have to be the outsider looking in. But that is only true, if your purpose is challenging people to push past limitations. Trailblazing is a purpose that does require a bit of a removal from the audience in the creative process, before you can show up and connect.

Overall, understanding what it is your audience needs and what you need to do to serve them is crucial.

Last not least, you need to focus on your most important purposes. Trying to be a jack of all trades is detrimental to brand building. That is not to say you have to narrow down completely, but you should have a clear profile and vision, that sets the tone for your next steps as an artist. Focusing and being consistent isn´t easy for artists. The creative mind loves change and renewal and yet, there is plenty of room for that within the brand context. Brands can develop, shift and evolve, but doing so strategically is what sets successful artists apart.

If you would like to learn more about artist branding, feel free to book a consultation.

We offer Zoom 1 on 1 coachings specifically focusing on branding for music artists.

Whatever you do, do it right!

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