The music business is one of those passionate affairs, with many enthusiastic musicians that just want to share their art with the world. They dedicate hours upon hours locked in the depths of their studios, they invest thousands buying equipment in order to make this dream happen, but for many they don’t sit down and do the maths of what potential income they will make. This often results in a lot of finger pointing when they didn’t earn the income or get the gigs they were excepting after a few releases.
Yet these same people in their professional lives run their own companies or have careers that work perfectly well in their day to day lives. Before you head to a job interview you look at what salary they are offering, you do the maths to see if you can survive on this, will it cover your rent / mortgage, travel costs, pay your bills, tax etc. When setting up your own company, you do the very same thing calculating what income you need to earn in order to survive and from where you will earn extra profit.
For some reason in the music industry all these questions seem to be put to the wayside as people head straight in, then ask questions later. I know many labels get tired of being the brunt of disgruntlement as artists discover sales are not that great (as a whole for all labels). These labels have put a lot of time, effort and money into some of these artists for them to show no loyalty, jump ship to a few more labels until reality eventually hits them.
You’re entering a sales market. Who knows what your track will sell, it’s a mystery for everyone as you’re dealing with the public. Will they like it of not? There is no magic equation.
The first thing any producer should do is look at the current market place and work out what sort of income you’ll get from a track. There’s plenty of forums around where you can ask these questions to fellow producers to get ideas of what units they are selling and the income they got. Be realistic of the state of the marketplace, most of these producers that moan about lack of sales, have hard drives packed with music stolen from torrent sites, yet expect their track to be an exception where people will buy it (ironically probably produced on a load of cracked plug-ins). It’s the harsh reality of the current music industry.
Research the mechanical workings of this ever changing music industry. Understand publishing and where that income comes from. Record labels only bring in royalties from sales of your track. Understand and research publishing to see what potential income can be bought in from the likes of Youtube, Spotify and various steaming avenues including radio and TV use.
Record labels are not agents, they wont get you gigs (a common misconception). They don’t have contacts in the club / festival world, it’s a completely different business model. Agents take care of gigs. Agents need ammunition to sell you, a record label will create this ammunition by promoting your music; getting your track in charts, reviews in magazines, get support from big DJs and be a part of their branding. A manger will pull these things together coordinating releases with the label and agent with tours etc.
You need to take a moment to understand how all these pieces of the music business work and what they do, it not only helps you achieve your goals but will help you survive financially. Be realistic and look at music as a hobby and get a part time job to fund your hobby, it will take away a lot of your day to day financial stresses, you’ll struggle to be artistic being under that amount of stress.
Once you understand it will be a wonderful journey, instead of getting frustrated and disgruntled..
– John ’00’ Fleming