How is Music Valued?

At minute 4:24 infamous DJ speaks clearly, “This is a beautiful thing, we all have love and unity… showing your flags, representing your country, WE ARE ONE!”  Music lies at the heart of human emotions and relationships, connecting us all regardless of what language we speak or country we come from. The epicenter of music is emotion and how and what it makes you feel; and that very primal power is where the real value of music lies.

We find ourselves in an up hill battle, where in 2015 music is less valued than ever before. There is a shift from sales to streaming and the dominance of social networks as the channels via which we consume media are diminishing the value of each of these platforms. Because of this downward spiral in revenue, major artist and labels are focusing on one thing, and one thing only, how to make money. Artist need to make a living and are absolutely deserving but I think with this new generation we should reconsider what is truly valued.

With the capabilities and the rapid growth in technology there is still a hope for music to be deeply appreciated both emotionally and financially: Artist-fan relationship, Live concert production, and great music. I am not at all saying these are the three and only three avenues to making money but this is a start. I believe that we should no longer treat an artist and its fan as a product to buy and sell, this is where music has lost its value, but we should treat this love for music as both our weakness and strength.

My first reaction to this was that it is wrong on varying levels. Firstly, the haunting effect of Tupac being back from the dead is absolutely terrifying. I do believe that carrying on a legacy is righteous and if we do so otherwise history could be lost; Eine Kleine Nachtmusikand and the works of Mozart would not have blessed present day society hundreds of years later if human kind did not carry on that legacy. But I do disagree that bringing Tupac back from the dead for his estate to make a profit is horrid. That being said, what if the industry used this technology for current living artist? The idea of a live performance no longer actually being live, sickens a generation such as my parents. They wouldn’t go to the show. But the generation that has grown up in a society where they see the world from behind a screen, may feel differently.
This is where our love and emotional attachment for music is valued differently in every individual. A fan of Tupac that was born a few years too late may have never had the opportunity to see him live in concert but now has that opportunity. A lover of EDM music may not be so concerned about what his favorite DJ is doing up on stage but rather goes to a festival for the pure experience of listening to great music and connecting with others that have similar interest. Music touches us individually and I truly believe there is a way to monetize that love without diminishing the value or reason we listen to music.

How is the Music Industry going to make money?

From the very beginning of the “Record Label” we know that a label made money by SELLING and distributing records. Plain and simple. The very minute the world went digital there has been a devestating collapse in revenue specifically in selling records. Spotify, Pandora and other streaming services are usually considered the bad guys. The industry blames them for the lost of revenue. Times magazine calculated in November 2014 that an artist’s stated payout range is $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream. Before Taylor Swift pulled her music off Spotify her chart breaking hit “Shake it off” streamed 46.3M times with only a pay out between $280k-380k. Sounds ridiculous but consider this, although an artist such as Taylor swift is making peanuts through Spotify services, there is a gain elsewhere. The terabytes of specific data being collected through Spotify is unfathomable. Spotify now knows that Sarah Smith currently lives in San Diego, CA, 25 years of age, in a happy mood and on her afternoon jog is wanting to listen to “Shake it off”. At Taylor Swift’s level of success this information is automatic but for a DIY band out of Boston now can promote, market and shape their tour around this information. If the Boston based band is getting the most streams out of Chicago at the age demographic of 18-20, performing a concert at a university in Chicago could be a very valuable show.

Which leads me to my next point. The industry’s last hope of survival is live performance. The EDM scene seems to be getting it right. Music Times calculated the Calvin Harris will walk away with $400k per gig in his New Hakkasan Deal. EDM festivals such as Tomorrowland, Electric Daisy Carnival, or Sensation bringing in hundreds of thousands of fans have shown huge strides in changing live performance. Selling albums is no longer the main focus but selling tickets at a bare minimum of $100 is top priority. In order to do this, millions of dollars needs to be invested into a production of  a live performance that is so monumental and life changing to an attendee that it could never be reproduced in any other form. On the other hand a website called Sofar is a live performance/streamed based platform shifting live shows into a more exclusive setting. Once you join the free membership, hundreds of exclusive  shows all over the world are now available to purchase tickets. Choose the city you are in and see the next show; the only catch is that you don’t know the location until the day before nor the artist you are seeing until the day of. This platform is a genius way to help people discover new artist in a social setting that can be just as impactful in their lives as a mega show but without the millions of dollars being invested into a production for one night. How amazing would it be to see one of your favorite artist perform in a living room big enough for maybe 20 people?
Until the next best thing, the way I see musicians making money in an industry as loved but taken for granted as this one, is innovating a live experiences so spectacular, big or small, that it will never be forgotten.

“Country 2 Country” or the country music expansion in Europe

By Luca Balbo

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Carrie Underwood. Jo Hale/Redferns

Two days after Carrie Underwood’s live streaming show at the iTunes Festival in London, the news came. She will headline the Country 2 Country festival at The O2 Arena (London biggest venue) in 2016 . The rest of the performers will be revealed on October 6th. This is an incredible news giving the fact that Carrie Underwood has a big reservoir of fans in UK and Europe, more than the other american country singers. This is a great opportunity to promote her upcoming album “Storyteller” (To be released October 23rd) around the kingdom.

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Country 2 Country, created in 2013, has become the largest country festival in Europe. Last year 50,000 fans attended the event at the O2 Arena. This is an incredible audience comparing to the other little country events around Europe.

Uk and Ireland are the best gates to introduce country music in Europe. Indeed, besides the fact that the language is facilitating the process, there are a lot of people already involved in folk music (Irish, Scottish, Gaelic, ..) and this is making them closer and more sensible to american country music.

in 2012, Carrie Underwood’s album “Blown Away” reached the #11 position in UK charts. Last year, Brad Paisley’s “Moonshine in the Trunk” reached the #34 position. And finally, Luke Bryan’s last album “Kill the Lights” got to the 47th position this year. We can see that country superstars can find their way in the very competitive UK music market despite poor and insufficient local appearances and promotion.

It’s important to mention that Norway and Sweden are also attractive markets for country singers. Country Music is relatively successful in those areas. Country 2 Country festival was exported to Oslo and Stockholm this year featuring Luke Bryan and Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley did a proper tour in those cities two years ago.

We cannot talk about country music invasion but we can’t deny that its european presence is improving thanks to internet and streaming platforms. Country remains a very particular style associated to deep american roots and therefore it cannot be easily successful among the other genres in Europe but there are more people than we think that could be superfans and involved in that expanding style. There is an opportunity for the country music industry to generate income in selling records and touring if they think properly of a new way to promote it by analyzing the european’s sociology and behavior. It’s a matter of making the marketing and A&R choices. There is potential.

C2C website

Carrie Underwood’s news 

A PERSONAL REVIEW FOR “PINK FLOYD LIVE AT POMPEII, The Director’s Cut”

Hello everyone!

PinkFloydPompei-0011This time I would like to talk about a band that I’ve listened since I was a young kid.

My first approach to Pink Floyd was more than 20 years ago, because my father bought a Laser-disc (vinyl type, 2 sized audio and video, previous to the DVD) of Pink Floyd’s live concert “Pulse”. From that time to now, I have become a big fan of Pink Floyd’s music and spirit.

Regardless the fact that I recommend everyone to see Pink Floyd’s “Pulse”, this time I want to talk about another epic masterpiece of the band.

“Pink Floyd live at Pompeii” is a concert documentary film directed by Adrian Maben, which features the band playing in the ancient Roman Amphitheatre in Pompeii, Italy. The concert was shot in 1971 and released in 1972. Years later, in 2003, Maben (director) released a DVD version of the footage re-mastered with additional audio/video material.

The DVD starts with space shoots from the Apollo space program and visual space effects which slowly start fading combining with the intro of the song “Echoes” being played by the band live in the ancient Amphitheatre. As the band perform, we can see images of nature surrounding the place, perfectly placed with the music.

A perfect combination of nostalgia, colors and a deep journey about how music was understand and created more than 40 years ago.

The director’s cut version includes recorded interviews of the band, explaining their creative process during the recordings sessions for the big seller album “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) on Abbey Road Studios.

We could see the band talking about their music, drugs (regarding their good friend Syd Barret, former Pink Floyd musician) and even a funny reflection about oysters.

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“It’s all extensions of what’s coming out of our heads”, as David Gilmour (guitar and vocals) said, is one of the many phrases the band said in their interviews, regarding the use of the analogue synths and guitar FX for their compositions.

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One of the special moments is the trance moment in the song “A Saucerful of Secrets”. It’s a chaotic song, full of anger colors, with a repetitive and accelerating drum beat, in perfect combination of the screaming guitar FX and the aggressive piano. Roger Waters (bass, vocals) is doing percussion in this song, and experimenting the peak moment when he goes and hits the gong (which the director makes the analogy with the sun). This epic shot is the cover art for the material. The song then continues with a beautifully contrasting peaceful melody, which breaks all the chaos.

“ (…) There was this silence (…) this is the place where the Pink Floyd would have to be, because Pompeii has a lot going for it. It has death, it has sex, ah… and it has something that is still living there, and pink Floyd in that Amphitheatre could bring the hole thing back to life”, words from the director Adrian Maben speaking about developing his idea for the film.

pink-floyd-live-at-pompeiiI still feel that sometimes I need to listen this masterpiece to feed my soul with all this colors and feelings. I recommend all of you to get comfortable, and watch this movie with high volume and let go your feelings.

Feel free to share here your opinion of the movie and/or suggesting me to review about any conceptual musical concert-film that you like.

Until next time!

Felipe

Coachella Highlights: Part II

Here’s the 2nd round up of a few clips of some great performances during the last weekend of Coachella! Enjoy!

Pharrell & Co.

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Pharrell allowed festival attendees to take a trip down memory lane while bringing out a variety of special guests (inc. Usher, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Busta Rhymes and T.I.) Check out the vids below!!

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Bubbling in the desert #hov @pharrell

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Nas

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(Nas and Lauryn Hill at Coachella 2014)

Nas celebrated the 20th anniversary of “Illmatic” this weekend.  It was twenty years to the day of its release.  He performed each track from his critically acclaimed debut album.  One of the most epic moments during his set was when he brought Lauryn Hill onstage and the duo performed “If I Ruled The World.” Lauryn also performed “Ready or Not” from The Fugees repertoire.  Damian “Jr. Gong”appeared as a special guest and the two wowed the crowd with a performance of “Jamrock” and “Road to Zion.”

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Sekkle sekkle sekkle

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(**Images and videos are courtesy of the Instagram community**)

Coachella Highlights: Part I

It’s that time of year for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival!  The festival features two consecutive weekends of music held in Indio, California.  One of the great things about Coachella is the opportunity to see some of your favorite vets perform as well as new and up-and-coming acts from diverse musical backgrounds! Catch a few of my fave Coachella highlights below:

Solange and Beyoncé

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Solange Knowles, affectionately known as Solo by her fans, covered Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” during her set at Coachella.  She then performed some of her own tunes, including Sandcastle Disco (one of my faves from her) and her latest single “Losing You.”  The biggest surprise of the night was when her big sis Bey took the stage alongside her!  Looking like a scene straight from one of Solo’s music vids, Bey popped up and the twosome danced in sync to “Losing You.”

Peep the vid below:

OutKast

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Outkast_Coachella_2(Weekend 2 at the Coachella Festival)

Andre 3000 and Big Boi of the critically acclaimed Southern Hip-Hop group, OutKast reunited on stage for the first time in seven years at Coachella! They were the headliners during the first weekend and the duo performed again this past Friday.  During the first show, they performed 27 songs and was joined onstage by Janelle Monáe and Future. After mixed reviews from the initial comeback performance at the festival, they revamped their production and performance issues for their set on Friday and received more praise from festival attendees this time around.

Vid below from the first performance:

 

 

Recap: The A69s at Club Loco

This past Thursday the A69s performed at El Loco Club in Valencia, Spain. The nine piece band, composed of entirely Berklee business students: Dan Omphroy (vocals), Ankie Titulaer (vocals), Mikeala Allen (vocals, flute), Chris Uribe (bass), Felix ‘the Cat’ Mayr-Melnhof (Guitar, Vocals), Jad El Alam (guitar), Carl Pires (Drums), Sammy Pisano (Keys) and Rozelle McBarnett (Percussion) captivated audiences with three-piece harmonies and unique interpretations of popular funk and blues songs. Fueled by the energy of the band, the crowd was kept on their feet for the duration of the set, which opened with ‘Valerie’, a three song melody (Give Me One Reason, Fly Away and Ain’t No Sunshine) as they closed the show with Duffy’s ‘ Mercy’.

Check out the A69s next performance next Friday at Club Mya for the Berklee Christmas Party.

Captured below are pictures from the event:

( *All images are CC-NC)

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For more information on the A69s click here.

Virgin: Join in the Disruption – A crumbled attempt at formulating a new business plan and providing an entertaining key word for a blog post title…

 

“Join in the disruption

Take part in the debate

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I found this post in our Berklee Master’s Class 2013 Facebook Group and after finding a general lack of inspiration on a particular topic, I thought this popular set of issues would be interesting to discuss.  Bring on the discourse.

(Yes, Virgin Marketing/R&D team, this is the part where you thank me for completing the survey you so eloquently put together.)

Are you a music fan? Are you a musician? Do you work in the industry?

Well, I’m here aren’t I? Therefore, there must be some sort of degree or level or resonance I have to this grouping of questions or perhaps I’m just trying to kill time while I polish of this Starbucks venti drip coffee (note, comparable large coffee cup sizes are extremely difficult to find in Valencia, and I do miss home. So this experience is killing two birds with one stone – I dislike using colloquialisms, but in this case the caffeine buzz is wearing off and I’m frantically looking at my word count).

Also, to satisfy the needs of those who are looking for immediate gratification, I’ve included my responses in a more ‘traditional survey form’

Key : (Y)es / (N)o
Are you a music fan? (Y)
Are you a musician? (Y)
Do you work in the industry? (Question Unclear  -- In which industry 
are you referring? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you mean 
the Entertainment Industry, because people haven't worked in the 
Music Industry in sometime [if ever]) – (N)o, but maybe one day.

Do you stream? Do you buy? Do you bypass the official routes and download for free?

I enjoy accessibility. I stream music, I purchase music and believe it or not, you do not have to bypass ‘”the official routes” to obtain music for free.  It’s actually a great tool for exposure and building conversation. See applications like NoiseTrade, Souncloud and Topspin.

**Please Note: If you too also plan on answering this survey or any other of this kind, it would probably prove beneficial not to make an admission of guilt to a corporate entity who will probably seek legal action against you – boo for entrapment and yay for Catherine Zeta Jones.

and again for some of you…

Do you stream? (Y)
Do you buy? (Y)
Do you bypass the official routes and download for free? (N)

Do you think music fans have a responsibility to support the artists whose music they consume by paying a fair price to listen to their output?

Whether you believe it or not, chances are at some point you are supporting an artist (e.g. live music, merchandizing, sharing and starting conversation). Although the recording sector is down, live music is up. The money has moved, but it’s still there. It’s similar to the transition from the Blockbuster to the Television screen. If you’re really asking this question, then you probably didn’t sign your artist to a 360 deal, although this is highly unlikely). So perhaps a more relevant question is: Do you support the record company who owns the artist’s copyright?

Do you think music fans have a responsibility to support the artists 
whose music they consume by paying a fair price to listen to their 
output?  (N) The only responsibility you have is to pay your 
taxes and that's only assuming you don't get caught otherwise.

Do you think music streaming services are damaging the music industry?

If you believe so, you’re foolish. You probably also went to the seventh Eagles’ “Farewell Tour.” Nothing against the Eagles, but you might also believe that records are making a comeback. Sure vinyl sales are up, but it’s not saying much if they’re coming from the basement (not to be confused with a literal basement, although I guess they come from there too). There was also a brief rise in yo-yo sales in the late nineties (I know, I had one, along with a small box of Slammers and Pokemon cards) but where are they now?

See, Nostalgia …

Music Streaming is Accessibility. Accessibility is Mobility and the Heat will probably win the Larry O’Brian trophy again this year.

The days of measuring an artist’s success over SoundScan is over.  Applications like Spotify and Youtube are all about social discovery. It’s the traditional non-GAAP sources that are more accurate measures of “success” rather than units sold. It’s how you provide additional value and monetize this success that will make you truly successful.

Do you think music streaming services are damaging the music 
industry?(N)

If you’ve made it this far, cheers! Thanks for your time and consideration.

The Role of Agents in the Music Industry

james bond

Agents are one of the most active people in the music industry. They work with practically everyone in the artist’s business team on a regular basis. So what exactly does their role entail? When should an artist hire one? How do they get paid? And what skills do they need? These are all questions that this blog post will answer.

In a sentence, the role of an agent is to represent the artist in the field of live performance. Agents can range from being a part of massive, influential, and multi-industry agencies like CAA, and WME, to working alone in a freelance approach. They are an intermediary between the artist and the promoter, and while they do take into account the needs for both, they really work for the artist first and the promoter second. Agents really do so many different things it can get confusing so my aim is to briefly outline as many as possible just to gain a broad overview.

Contracts

Agents are in charge of putting together contracts, which essentially cover three aspects of the live show. The first is simply a summary of the event; participating acts, location, venue, etc. Secondly it will outline the jobs that both the artist and promoter are expected to complete in order for everything to run smoothly and lastly they will prepare a legally binding document that ensures everybody will do what they are expected to. For this, a lawyer is generally hired to help out.

Tours

The agent will be the person who plans the tours. This includes everything from dates, to timing of the show, and show length. On an international tour the agent is responsible for getting all of the legal travel documents prepared for anyone and everyone in the band, or anyone that needs to travel with the artists. Work visas can be a pain in the ass to get together for some countries and it is one of the most important aspects of an international show. If the artist can’t legally work in that country then the show needs to be cancelled and that would be a damn shame. Another important aspect of international touring that the agent must deal with is the foreign tax policies. 

Miscellaneous Day-to-Day Responsibilities 

The agent must know and understand the artist from genre to personality. It is crucial when it comes to finding the right gigs and other artists for them to tour with or open for etc.

The artist’s personal business manager/accountant will work together with the agent to create pre-show financial projections.

No matter what the agent is doing, he/she is working closely with some member of the artist’s business team. On a daily basis when dealing with a single project an agent can be in contact with a lawyer, a promoter, an artist, a manager, and an accountant. They have incredible experience with all of these people and for this reason an agent is often the go to person to get questions answered about what is going on in terms of the behind the scenes work on a live show.

Choosing an Agent, and When to Look for One 

Emma Banks of Creative Artists Agency says when you’re ready for an agent; they will be looking for you. However for many artists it is a good idea to hire one, once you think you are truly ready to start playing live shows. It’s really as simple as that. In the very early stages the manager might be the one who is finding the gigs but once it becomes too much, an agent should strongly be considered. When it comes to finding the right one the best thing to do is ask around. Talking to other bands that are playing lots of gigs, or getting recommendations online are all ways to find one that is reliable. An artist should look for an agent they can get along with and that they can relate to. Being placed in the right or wrong gig can make or break a band. A good agent has lots of experience and is familiar with several promoters and several venues. Perhaps most importantly the good agent is organized and is able to improvise on the spot and handle situations competently and effectively when they go sour.

How the Agent Gets Paid

Traditionally an agent’s commission is 10% of the gross revenue from the show that they worked on. This number has stuck and is standard but on the extreme ends of things, the payment process can get changed up a little bit. For a fairly new act an agent can bump that number up to 15% or simply charge a flat fee that they deem reasonable. On the opposite end of that scale some of the largest acts whose shows can pull in millions can take as little as 5% and/or create a salary cap for each specific show. For a good agent this is a vital and justifiable investment for any act.

Final Note

While the agent has contact with every person in an artist’s business team his or her contact with the actual artist is fairly limited and is mostly done through the manager. This is a testament to the manager’s relationship with the artist because most of the information the agent will receive about the bands personality will be from the manager. While the agent’s role fundamentally follows all these points, in reality every single project they work on can be a completely new adventure. If you are considering becoming one, you can safely know that you’ll never be bored.

Phillip Richard

Sources:

Music Management Bible by the MMF

All you need to know about the music business chapter 6: by Donald Passman