⚡ Over 80% of businesses fail. Why should it be different for music?
It looks like after 2 months of autumn, summer has finally arrived in Holland. I guess I’ll get to ride my skateboard for a few more weeks! I hope you’re all having a good September so far.
I want to talk about innovation. Innovation is two-fold. It’s part technological development, but it’s also about culture change. Today’s lead piece is about one aspect of culture in the music industry that I feel is holding back innovation.
I hope it provokes, upsets and ignites a discussion, so we can find better ways to make sure artists can make a living from what they do best. Enjoy!
Have a great week!
Over 80% of businesses fail. Why should it be different for music?
Read this article on Medium (highly recommended).
Does this question make you uncomfortable?
If so, allow me to break your music industry bubble for a second.
People outside the music business are often filled with astonishment by the music industry’s prevalent sense of entitlement.
“I made something, so I deserve money.”
Nonsense. What kind of business is that?
To me, the best way to think of yourself as an artist is as an entrepreneur or freelancer.
You have a business to build, an audience to identify & please, and a competitive landscape to understand.
The landscape is hyper-competitive and choosing to participate in it, especially without identifying a good niche, means there is a good chance you will not be able to make a good living out of it.
If you make good music, appeal to a well-defined audience, and have a good business strategy for monetizing that relationship, whether that’s through gigs, sales, Patreon or something else, then you’ve got a good chance to make a good living.
But you’ve got to keep working hard at it - just like an entrepreneur.
If you build enough, work at it long enough, you might be able to let the reins go and collect money on your past achievements - just like an entrepreneur.
But if you fail to identify your market or risks, you’ll go broke - just like an entrepreneur.
A recent report commissioned by Dutch rights organisations and a labour union for musicians revealed that as much as 19% of Dutch musicians who live with a partner or family are able to make a living from music (PDF). It’s as much as 31% for singles.
How cohabiting musicians (left) & single musicians (right) make a living. Green means they live from money generated by music. (Source: Pop, wat levert het op?)
It’s a decent success rate.
If we look at the survival rate of businesses in the US, we can see that half of them die within the first 5 years. The 20 year survival rate is just 20%.
Over 80% of businesses FAIL.
Why should it be different for music?
Let’s take the 20-30% success rate for musicians who can make a living and think about how we can increase that.
First, we need to shatter the sense of entitlement, that has new artists entering the business with false expectations. It sets them up for failure.
We need management companies, record labels, booking agencies and rights societies who stress the importance of hard work and strategy. Who can communicate the necessity of reinventing yourself when your chosen path hits a dead end.
Many artists choose to continue down a dead end path. Becoming wedding DJs or playing covers of classic rock ’n roll tracks at the opening of a friend’s shop in a local mall or something.
“This is the music I play. I should be able to make a living off of it.”
No. Your entrepreneurial pursuit failed. Start over. Do something else. Pivot.
We need music schools to prepare artists for this.
Artists also need room to fail - just like entrepreneurs.
Look at startup accelerators and incubators, look at tax incentives or cuts from governments. Governments, businesses and the existing music industry could do more to give artists some room to breathe while they work on their music & business strategy.
Many initiatives already exist. Every country, and every city, having its own mechanics or ecosystem.
What I’m particularly interested in are collaborations between people from different disciplines. Take artist managers, musicians, developers, tech entrepreneurs, designers, and organisations in music with a lot of data, like ticketing services, event organisers, collection societies, etc. Divide them into groups and give them 48 hours to hack something together.
More data to help artists & management to understand their markets and to develop strategy to address them;
More collaboration to make it easier for entrepreneurs to have their products piloted at scale;
More applied innovation - we can talk about blockchain, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, but how do you apply it to your strategy?
I’d love to live in a world where everyone who wants to make a living with music is able to do so. It’s just not likely. But let’s expand that 20-30%. Let’s push it to 25-35% and then higher.
Rapid developments in technology means we’ll be able to offer a greater diversity in experience. It’s these developments that has led to a situation where more artists are simultaneously earning some money with music, than ever before.
Technology, combined with human creativity, can expand the market.
And that may be just what we need to help more artists make a living.
Hat tip to Marco Raaphorst for the link to the research report.
Top stories this week (spot the odd one out)
Brian Eno: the basic income is needed to serve the creative genius of the community (i.e. the 'scenius')
Eno makes a strong case for basic income. Perhaps it’s an idea that the broader music business should get behind. I’ve personally always believed in it, because I think it can help entrepreneurialism and innovation.
blog.p2pfoundation.net • Share
Just how well is streaming really doing?
Mark Mulligan takes a critical look at streaming numbers. Streaming is doing well, numbers are good, but not as spectacular as announced by some.
musicindustryblog.wordpress.com • Share
Every brand needs a music strategy
Nice read by Jon Vanhala. Adding this to the “pieces I wish I wrote” list.
YouTubers are freaking out about money and 'censorship'
YouTube has started ‘de-monitizing’ videos containing bad language or controversial topics. Community uproar ensues.
Even Spotify is surprised by the huge success of its Discover Weekly playlists
6 to 7 billion tracks streamed through Discover Weekly. Adweek chats with Matt Ogle, the product director behind Discover Weekly & Release Radar.
5 things streaming music data can teach marketers that top 40 radio can't
Besides the content, the context is also interesting. Written by a ‘data journalist’ from Next Big Sound, which is owned by Pandora. Earlier this year, Pandora also hired Glenn Peoples - a very prominent Billboard music business journalist for many years.
Technology is killing the myth of human centrality – let's embrace our demotion
The stories we tell around technology shape both our understanding and the future of technology itself.
Why classical music needs hackathons
A famed composer established a research institute dedicated to the psychology of music in 1968. Now the manager of his estate is driving forward this mission into era of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
All DJs receiving secret mixing instructions through headphones during sets
You can tell a DJ is really good when they’re not wearing headphones. ;-)
How project management SHOULD work in the music industry
Passionate piece by the founder of Soundcharts about managing playlists, charts data & plugging music.
72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today
Lots of good, interesting predictions… not sure about this one though: “Self-retrieving shoes where you call them by name, through your smartphone, and your shoes will come to you.”
www.futuristspeaker.com • Share
In case you were wondering why the subject line’s so short today - you can find the answer in here.
That’s all for this week!
❤️: twitter - linkedin - facebook - musicxtechxfuture.com
Regular insights about the future of music, media & tech. Written & composed by @basgras.
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue