22 March 2011

The Secret of making money in today's music industry

I often try to remain the least cynical as humanly possible in regards to the business end of music. But sometimes even I can reach a point where the obvious exploitation of corporations and get rich quick schemes bother me. I am one for free trade, free economy and all the other ideals that can make one rich by his own cunning and hard work. To this end I cannot really place the blame on the schemes that I will be vehemently commenting on in this blog. BUT I can express an utter disgust with extreme prejudice to those who do not take their craft seriously enough to get ripped off by these schemes. There have been a million articles on how to make money in the music business, but I will show you the REAL secret in a few short paragraphs.

So what is this huge secret..SIMPLE..SELL DREAMS...That's right people, all you have to do today to make money at music is sell DREAMS. No actual recording necessary, forget your mixing engineer..You don't even have to make music. All you have to do is find a way to exploit the dreams of those who are so blinded by becoming a "success" that they cannot see the obvious scam in front of them. (I use the word scam lightly here). Sounds crazy? Do a quick search on getting a record deal, or submitting music to industry professionals. You will get the picture very quickly.

I have seen so many companies restructure their business into these "submission" sites where an unsigned artist can upload his music and professional EPK to be viewed by "industry professionals" its sickening. Now for a small fee, your music (that would have never been heard by anyone but your friends and family) can be heard by these "industry pro's." They in turn will tell you if your music sucks or not, then further match you with the best "Opportunities" where you can submit your music for a chance at several mediocre shots at fame. These usually consist of some internet radio station no one has ever heard of playing your song once, or your band being given the high honor or playing at some music festival you have never heard of FOR FREE, while the promoters and organizers make tons of money off of concession stand sales and people humble enough to buy a ticket to hear bands they never heard of. I have seen some sites go as far as to offer you a low "submission" fee to get your music to a Label for a chance to be added to that labels roster.

How can this possibly be a rip off at such low prices you might ask? (The usual submission fee is typically under $20.00USD) Well, depending on how you look at it, it really isn't. They will submit your music to all of these opportunities that they have listed on their site. And you have the same shot as everyone else who has submitted their music. Here is the underlaying problem. If I have 10,000 people submitting to an "Opportunity" on my site, you now have a 1 in 10,000 shot of being selected. Now, if this "Opportunity" is being promoted elsewhere (usually in Trade Publications) that decreases your chances dramatically. Let's say you only paid $4.00 US to submit this music. No big loss right? What's $4.00? (Well in NYC that is a subway ride, a bag of chips and a bottle of water. Enough to keep a starving artist running for an entire day) But here is the real kicker. Remember I said that these so-called "Opportunities" are often printed in Trade publications. The artists who submit through regular channels pay NOTHING. So you have essentially paid $4.00 to submit your music, and have the same shot at your song being picked as the artist who paid nothing. One person benefits from this....the person running the site! If I run this promotion, putting a deadline of one month, I have effectively made $40,000 in one month selling everyone a pipe dream.

Now onto the Radio Promotion sites popping up. Same B.S, different medium. There are a couple sites that will let you upload a certain amount of music for free, in which there is a template to make a EPK, ect....You pay more to store more music on their site (usually around $4-$10 a month). They further come with the "Opportunity" of you being able to send this EPK and your music directly to Music Directors at radio stations. You enter this information manually by the way! So they are not increasing your contacts. All they are basically doing is providing you with your own web page. There are others that will submit your music to radio stations. But these are mostly internet radio stations with a couple hundred listeners AT MOST. While some may say this level of exposure is better than none, I say your an idiot. To pay money to be exposed to a couple hundred people for exactly the length of your song on some unknown internet radio station does NOTHING for you. It is a known fact that most people have to be exposed to a new brand, item or song at least 8 times before they even being to register it in their short term memory. Let us not mention that this type of radio play does not focus on demographics, geographic area or artist marketing. It is simply what they promised; AIR PLAY. Utterly useless to anyone actually serious about being a well known, well paid and well respected artist.

People, please wake up. With so much going on in the world, now is not the time to waste any second. If you are serious about your craft, do your research. Make informed educated decisions about your music, your money management and everything else surrounding your future career as a musician. These sites sell dreams. They also play on your disposable income. To pay $4.00 to submit to this "grand" opportunity won't break anyones budget. They are literally BANKING on that!

There is no way around the reality that it takes a significantly well planned marketing strategy backed by strong financing to make an indent in today's music market. With the introduction of cheap recording project studios, the internet and these foolish sites, there is even MORE noise added to the arena making it cost even MORE to get out there. Of course, you can always go viral, and of course there are Cinderella stories. But they do not call them stories arbitrarily. All viral hits eventually become funded to make the career of someone. Labels still only take certain submissions seriously for Roster consideration. They still come from high priced lawyers or the A&R department. Just because things are shrinking doesn't mean the game has completely changed.

Save your money! A paid submission is almost never a good submission! Now there are some sites out there that give you some serious opportunities to connect with real music industry pro's. These connections can actually lead you into making a living doing what you love. But the price won't be $5.00. Make sure to read the success stories. Are these sites working with anyone you know? Even if they are working with anyone you know, are they working with people in your genre? Demand to see what placements they have gotten others, what type of radio play and where. What was the frequency of play? Did it make it into rotation? Who is the staff running the site? 9 times out of 10 you have never heard of them, or they are someone who USED to work somewhere meaningful in the market. Now unemployed, you have become their employer without even knowing it.

Let's save the music industry from our own ignorance and laziness. Sell others your dream, do not let them sell you your own!

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