Music Business

Episode 9 – SendMusic to Make Standout Music

Music Business, Production Tips

My production partner, Matt Thurtell and I just released our latest single! “AiEW” (short for All I Ever Wanted) under our production guise – ‘pirateblood’ via Spotify, happy days! Check it out here: https://open.spotify.com/track/53s4tbe5er9xoHpCMPaNuq

As part of my life outside of co-founding SendMusic I am also a music producer. SendMusic comes into its own during the music production process (yes I would say that but it actually does!). For our workflow Matt and I bounce down versions of the tracks / edits we are making or have made and send them to one another using SendMusic (he’s based in Italy near Rome, i’m in London). We can then listen to the tracks on the go via the inbuilt audio player – SendMusic was created to be a ‘mobile first’ tool. One of the most useful features is that when either of us listen to the file we receive the sender gets an email telling them that the file they sent has been listened to. That’s so useful when I need to know Matt has listened to the music I’ve sent him and it gives me the opportunity to harass him until he has! Everything that I receive goes into my SendMusic ‘Inbox’ and the files I send go into the “Sent’ folder which makes it really easy to get access to all the music files I receive and send quickly. As well as this I’ve also added my SendMusic profile link to my socials, (i.e. my Instagram and Twitter) – https://send.mu/pal – so anyone can click on this and send me music directly really quickly. Finally i’ve customised my SendMusic page by adding a background image related to the work I do. You can now customise your own SendMusic page by changing the page colours or by adding a background image of your choice and you can remove all SendMusic branding which makes the page look completely your own. This is a really neat feature for producers, labels, A and R’s, Mastering Engineers, well anyone really, who wants to have a unique looking page through which to receive music in a beautiful way, that looks like your own and essentially aligns your brand with how you want it conveyed to the wider world. Why not give it a go 🙂

Anyways, I’ve made music for a long time now and as mentioned in older posts it’s gotten a lot easier to make music and release it these days. I really do believe this is a great thing as it means more people can make and release music, meaning we should be getting lots more better music. However in reality and from speaking to record label A + R’s and other music industry people it also means there’s a ton more poor quality music out there, making it in turn a real slog to listen and sift through to find that next gem. So if you are making music how do you stand out these days, well i’m sure there are quite a few ways but i’ll share some of those with you below and how SendMusic really helps in the process. I’m not going to lie, it isn’t easy but with hard work and dedication it is possible. Here are 4 quick tips to try and stand out from the crowd:

1.Focus on making great music, the art. Regardless of anything else, if you haven’t got great authentic music there’s not much point in moving to any of my suggestions below. This essentially means hard work in the studio, practice practice practice, A/B testing against big tracks in the genre you are making to check the mix you’ve done etc.

2. Once your music is good enough – GET IT OUT THERE. You’ll soon know if it is any good. Send it to tastemakers in the scene, to blogs, Spotify playlists etc. This is the hustle part and as much as it’s a known thing to do we music / artistic types are generally really crap at this. We procrastinate, we do it half heartedly or worse still we send it to one label and don’t hear back and give up. The music business is about learning to accept rejection, not giving a damn and continuing to push. It’s not easy, you need to be focussed and keep on keeping on. This is where some infrastructure can also help, e.g. being signed to an independent label or having a manager who will push the business hustle on your behalf.

3. Learn the Music Business – read “All you need to know about the music business”: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Need-Know-About-Music-Business/dp/0241001633/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=music+business&qid=1561925083&s=gateway&sr=8-2

4. Have some sort of social media presence (and a SendMusic page lol). People need to know you and see what you are doing. You need to build a fan base and engage the people interested in you by interacting with them. Again this can be a slog and needs discipline.

In conclusion, to make music is easier than ever now, but to stand out and get heard is harder than it’s ever been, especially as making is so accessible to the masses. However if you’re disciplined and focussed and work hard there is every opportunity out there for you to have a career in music. Ultimately it comes down to you and your mindset and setting up the correct infrastructure to make your dream a reality. Keep pushing and best of luck!

Episode 6 – Starting SendMusic Part 1

Music Business

So this week’s blog post is about our little startup baby, I guess that kind of makes us tech parents and I definitely have some stories about the whole birthing experience, a few of which i’ll share briefly. SendMusic is the startup that we co-founded and hopefully you use to, yes you guessed right, send music! There are in fact 3 of us who co-founded this fledgling beauty, myself – PaL, Kemal and Ben, who is currently cycling around the world with his bike, para-glider and laptop in tow.

SendMusic started as a prototype a little while back now, just over a year to be more exact, from very humble beginnings, i.e. a very basic looking and functioning Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Actually thinking back it it now reminds and encourages me of how far we’ve come, which can at times be easily forgotten. SendMusic has been fully self-funded or as is known in the game ‘bootstrapped’ by us. The reason behind this was that we never wanted to be at the mercy of venture capitalists who probably wouldn’t care about what we were trying to achieve per se, but just wanted growth, bigger numbers and MORE money, essentially forcing upon us targets to hit  in as short a time as possible.

For us SendMusic was always about growing steadily and being something really useful and fresh. My co-founders and I are all music industry people ourselves working in and around music. and we saw a gap in the market for a service through which you could easily share your music, promote your brand and use really intuitively and quickly. Through being in the game we had realised that all the other products that did this had too much friction at different levels and, for want of a better expression, were a bit of a ball ache to use. Things like too many unnecessary steps to just send a file, poor UX, drawn out user flows, we identified a number of pain points with existing systems on the market. So the idea for SendMusic was born. The first thing we did was to think about what we wanted to achieve and we then thought about the product features required to do this, those things that would eliminate the existing pain points we had identified. We then prioritised the features to build and identified the most basic feature set that we could build out to prove if our idea had legs or not, so the SendMusic  MVP was born. Basically an MVP is a smart way to:

  • Release your product to market or test users in the shortest time.
  • Reduce implementation costs.
  • Test the demand for your product – before releasing a full-fledged product.
  • Avoid failures.
  • Gain valuable insight on what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Work directly with your clients and analyse their behaviors and preferences.
  • Gather and enhance your user base.
  • Get user feedback.

We initially released our MVP to music industry professionals we knew and friends involved in music to test and gather feedback from them, was SendMusic worth making into a fully fledged product? We quickly realised that the uptake and usage was more than decent and people actually found benefit from using SendMusic, it was a good feeling. Some even said it became quite indispensable to their daily workflows.

On the other hand we also identified a number of bugs and were fed development ideas via user feedback on how to improve SendMusic and potential features to implement. User feedback I might add is super useful, you are given ideas and challenges that you wouldn’t have thought about yourself, I guess it’s collective intelligence coming into play.

Anyways, the idea to push on and create SendMusic into an actual thing had taken shape, data and feedback had proved this and we were going to run with it!

To be continued…

 

Episode 5 – Times they a changing – the Playlist be reigning!

Music Business

We live in an era now where things we feel might last a long time often don’t last quite as long as we had expected. As civilisation has advanced through the passage of time so has the rate at which we adopt new technology and then discard it with this trend ramping up exponentially, especially in recent times.

Not so long ago we listened to music on Walkmans,  then iPods and now it’s our mobile phones usually paired with wireless headphones that are providing the soundtracks to our lives. I remember when artists were getting discovered on the once legendary MySpace, this was eventually superseded by SoundCloud and now it seems we have a new king in town – Spotify and namely the Spotify playlist.

So what exactly is a playlist. Direct from the horse’s mouth (Spotify!), a playlist is a collection of songs. You can make them for yourself, you can share them, and you can follow the millions of other playlists created by Spotify, artists and fans. I believe playlists are so popular because you get to pick the music you want to listen to, so unlike older linear media channels where the music is programmed for you, now you can listen to what you like all the time. Great right? Well the obvious downside to this is that you can in fact get stuck into lazy listening habits, not listening to anything new, but instead the same playlist you created 4 years ago. The onus is now on you to find great new music, or is it?

You’ve all probably (if you have Spotify), seen the playlist called Discover Weekly? This is an algorithmic playlist, meaning it’s been curated by a Spotify AI system for you that’s assessed your listening habits and found similar music to suggest to you. Another famous algorithmic playlist is release radar. Last year, Bryan Johnson, director of artists and management at Spotify UK, said that Release Radar alone is driving more streams than any of Spotify’s in-house playlists, and certainly far more than any curated playlist that isn’t managed by Spotify’s editorial team. Yet musicians are spending all their time and energy seeking placements on bigger curated playlists.

So if you are a music producer or artist, how do you go about getting onto an algorithmic playlist?

There are 3 key steps to this:

  1. Build your Spotify following – get your fans to follow you on the streaming platform
  2. Focus on good activity to engagement ratios – Spotify don’t care as much about streams (a vanity metric) as they do about what your fans do with your music: adding your song to a playlist, listening to the whole song without skipping, sharing it on social channels.
  3. Release more music regularly –  the more tracks you release the more chance you have of making it onto an algorithmic playlist

So whether you’re an artist or fan, things are changing and they will continue to change, that’s for sure. Any music makers now have to seriously consider the Spotify playlist as a force of nature within the music sphere and the algorithmic playlists are what you should really be looking at to exploit.

Pal

[email protected]

Episode 4 – Royalty – bow down

Music Business

It’s great to be in the presence of royalty, go on take a bow. Ok, right, i’ve got my ego in check and can now begin. I’m sure some of you guys using SendMusic have had music published whilst others don’t know what that means. I’ve been in both positions and yes, the music industry can be very confusing, especially so when it comes to getting paid when your music gets played. To begin, as an artist the first thing you NEED to do is sign up to a Performing Rights Organisation. Examples of this include PRS, BMI and ASCAP. The whole point of their existence is to get you paid! PRS is the main Performing Rights Association in the United Kingdom and I am signed up to them.

As the name implies Performing Rights Association collect one of the biggest forms of royalties: Performance royalties. In music, royalties are paid to owners of copyrighted music. How do you copyright music? You register it with a Performing Rights Association like PRS. It sounds confusing yes, but just create some music and then register the tracks you’ve made with the Performing Rights Organisation you’re signed up with to understand the process and what to do.

There are four different types of music royalties. Each music royalty type also has separate and distinct copyrights. The four sources of royalty revenue in the music industry are:

1. MECHANICAL ROYALTIES

Royalties generated for the physical or digital reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works. This applies to all music formats such as vinyl, CD, cassette, digital downloads, and streaming services. For example, a record label pays a mechanical royalty to a songwriter every time they press a CD of their music.

2. PUBLIC PERFORMANCE ROYALTIES

Royalties generated for copyrighted works performed, recorded, played or streamed in public. This includes radio, television, bars, restaurants, clubs, live concerts, music streaming services, and anywhere else the music plays in public.

Performance Rights Organisations often collect performance royalties. 

3. SYNCHRONIZATION ROYALTIES (SYNC)

Royalties generated for copyrighted music paired or ‘synced’ with visual media. Sync licenses allow the right to use copyrighted music in films, television, commercials, video games, online streaming, advertisements, and any other type of visual media.

Furthermore, a synchronization license does not include the right to use an existing recording with audiovisual media. A licensee will also need a master use license before using copyrighted music with a new audiovisual project. This is an agreement between the master recording owner such as a record label and the person seeking permission to use the recording. Any use of protected music in an audiovisual project, whether it’s a full song or short sample, will need a master license as well as a sync license. 

4. PRINT MUSIC ROYALTIES

Print royalties are the least common form of payment a copyright holder receives. This type of royalty applies to copyrighted music transcribed to a print piece such as sheet music and then distributed. Additionally, these fees are often paid out to the copyright holder based on the number of copies made of the printed piece.

The next logical question then is who gets music royalties?

The following either receive or distribute royalties for copyrighted music:

1.SONGWRITERS

Songwriters are those who write both the music and lyrics for a song. They receive either mechanical, performance, or sync royalties depending on the usage of their recordings.

2. PUBLISHERS

The publisher is the person or company responsible for ensuring copyright holders receive payment for the use of their music. For example, a music publisher will obtain the copyright from the songwriter in exchange for royalty privileges. They also issue licenses for the use of music they represent as well as collect licensing fees. These fees get split between the publisher and the songwriter.

3. RECORD LABELS

Record labels are responsible for marketing and distributing an artist’s recordings. Generally, they issue contracts that allow them to exploit recordings in exchange for royalty payments over a set length of time. They also often have the master rights to a recorded song, but not the publishing rights. Moreover, record labels generate royalty income from mechanical and performance royalties. The artist then receives a percentage of these royalties.

4. PERFORMANCE ARTISTS

A performing artist is anyone who performs the songwriter’s original work. Performers do not have publishing rights unless they are also the songwriter. Moreover, public performances of copyrighted music generate performance royalties for songwriters. These fees are often collected by the PROs such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.

5. PERFORMING RIGHTS ORGANIZATION (PRO)

PROs collect public performance royalties and distribute those fees to the songwriter and music publisher. These organizations also track performances and broadcasting of registered music played in public. The PROs in the United States include ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

6. MECHANICAL RIGHTS AGENCY

Mechanical rights agencies manage mechanical licensing rights for the music publisher. They also issue those rights to anyone reproducing and distributing copyrighted musical compositions. These agencies often charge a set percentage of gross royalties collected for their services.

7. SYNC LICENSING AGENCY

Sync licensing agencies acquire the rights from record labels and music publishers to issue licenses for syncing music with visual media. They also distribute royalties for sync licenses to whoever owns the master recording rights.

In conclusion, there is a lot of information you need to digest and understand in order to really make money from music. Sign up with a PRO, like PRS or BMI. Register any music you make. Understand the royalties available to you and finally get the book “All you need to know about the music busniess” by Donald S Passman and you’ll be better positioned for the business side of music.