Labels Saying They Don't Want To Deal With Artists Who Won't Make The Effort To Connect

from the get-busy-connecting dept

When we talk about why content creators need to connect with fans, we always have naysayers pop up to say that this is a waste of their time, and content creators should just focus on making content — and that if they have to use Facebook or Twitter, it’s a huge time waster. Back in December, we discussed how this was misleading, quoting some artists who were saying that (1) it’s not that hard and (2) not doing so is “selling yourself short,” because you’re not building up your audience.

It looks like record labels are beginning to recognize this, as apparently some labels have started turning down musicians who say they’re not interested in using social media to help build their audience. While you can understand why some artists might not like using the tools, what they’re basically telling the label is that they’re going to be a deadweight on the marketing side, and won’t help out at all. That makes the job of the record labels much more difficult, and makes that musician much more of a liability.

Of course, some of the problem is that some musicians seem to think that using social media means they have to “reveal everything” or “put themselves out there.” Nothing is further from the truth. Certainly, some musicians do that — but plenty have found a much more reserved way to use the tools. They don’t have to tweet every day or share intimate details. They can still be authentic, without going overboard. I follow a band on Twitter that probably only tweets one message every other week or so, and that’s plenty for that particular band. But it does keep me connected to them, and what they’re up to generally.

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Comments on “Labels Saying They Don't Want To Deal With Artists Who Won't Make The Effort To Connect”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:


Most of the stories I see here and elsewhere seem to all follow the storyline that the literary publishing world is where the music publishers were 5-10 years ago….except this is an area where I think authors have always been out in front of musicians.

Connecting directly with fans has long been a staple of authors, particularly fiction writers. Author boards, appearances, speaking engagements, etc.

I’ve spent the last couple of minutes trying to figure out a logical explanation for what that is….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Odd...

The difference may be between attitudes. Publishers have always wanted authors to promote their books through tours and speaking engagements because publishers know that such promotions seem to help sell books. Music companies have seemed to have this arrogance that they are the promoters and not the artists. It may be that some artists are better promoted by a label, but artist promotion would seem to be a multiplier of some sort – unless the artist is an absolute cretin or completely anti-social.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Odd...

That’s what I thought at first too, but I’m not so sure. I think part of it is that the medium of literary works lends itself extremely well to CwF via the publishers traditional routes.

Most books, fiction or not, have lessons and/or themes buried within them. The way good fiction is left for the reader to interpret, hearing directly from the author what he/she intended just makes sense.

I’m not sure the same is quite true with music, particularly pop music…

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: And other resources

Amazing how you managed to find a way to bring up Villa Music Rights in every comment you made today! It truly must be a lifechanging service.

Seriously, stop plugging your site. Here’s the thing about Techdirt: if you have an interesting, useful or unique site, and you mention it in a comment on a post where it is actually relevant and contributes to the discussion, you’ll do great. Nobody will mind – in fact they will check out your site and offer you feedback and pass it on to their friends if they like it. Music entrepreneurs regularly drop by these comments to talk about their projects. It’s awesome!

You’re not awesome. You’re shoehorning a plug for your site into every post on the site. Do you think we are stupid? Do you think it is helping your Google ranking? More importantly… Do you think your website is actually interesting? Because I can barely even figure out what you are trying to do. It seems like Villa is an attempt to skim some profit out of the confusion over digital music rights without actually offering any genuinely useful services or products whatsoever. Correct me if I’m wrong (and also build a more communicative website)

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: And other resources

“Amazing how you managed to find a way to bring up Villa Music Rights in every comment you made today! It truly must be a lifechanging service.”

Yeah, seriously….it’s like some kind of massive conspiracy that someone should write about! Where can you find great conspiracy fiction? My site! Click my name….please, just click it…..


oxana (profile) says:

Re: Re: And other resources

Of course I don’t think you are stupid. I try to draw some attention to what I believe has to become a serious issue. Individual or collective management of rights, that’s the question. My advice to authors: I don’t care what you choose, but think first. And about our site: yes, we are working on it.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: And other resources

There’s a word for what you’re doing friend, and that word is spam.

You can rationalize it all you want, but it’s fairly obvious that your only goal here is to drive traffic to your website in the hopes of growing your business. You aren’t calling attention to an issue – Techdirt is, and has been for awhile. You are trying to call attention to your particular solution for it – a solution that presumably profits you, and that doesn’t make a lot of sense as far as I can see.

Let’s take a look at your FAQ. I especially like this:

“VillaMusicRights receives for the cost of displaying, advising and transactions a percentage of the profits, namely 25% with a minimum of € 0,0625 per song. This amount is also due if the songs are offered for free to business users.”

Twenty-five per cent. Nice. Plus a minimum payout even if the creator chooses to give stuff away for free. Meaning you want creators to keep control of their rights, but also enter into a binding contract with you whereby they have to pay you every time they distribute their songs, no matter what?

Your site keeps talking about “business” and “personal” use. How do you plan to distinguish between these things? One of the biggest issues of copyright and the internet is that the lines between business and personal are getting blurrier every day. See this Techdirt post for more on that.

Of course since you assert that “copyright law itself is not that complex” I can see how you might have missed such a serious flaw in your business plan.

JerryAtrick (profile) says:

This entire discussion will become a moot point within 2-3 months when this technology group (sorry I don’t want to spoil the release) comes out with a software and hardware product that allows consumers to watch first run movies from home the night they come out… Are you thinking piracy? Yea me too but apparently they have a plan in place for prevention and detection of that stuff. Still though, the argument remains interesting.

Rasmus says:

Re: Re:

Hahaha 😀

Heard that before so many times and it always turns out to be a completely useless devise that got it all backwards.

Show me a company that has signed licensing deal with a least ONE major movie studio that allows it to provide movies DRM-free the same night that it premiers in theaters, then I might believe it actually might be the next thing.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This entire discussion will become a moot point within 2-3 months when this technology group (sorry I don’t want to spoil the release) comes out with a software and hardware product that allows consumers to watch first run movies from home the night they come out.

wow, sounds great, i found a great system that let’s me see movies *before* they are in the theaters, it’s called bit torrent.

but that’s not all all, you’ll also get dvd releases 6 weeks ahead of retail absolutely free!

Devilish Presley (profile) says:

First of all and by way of explanation to prevent any eye rolling and tut-tutting of the “they just don’t
get it do they” variety. We very much do get it.

We are glad to see the demise of the old industry, it was a lottery and was based squarely on ripping
off both artists and fans.

We don’t believe in the copyright laws, and we don’t believe in criminalising fans or anyone else
for filesharing.

We don’t believe that any artist can sit back and wait for others to get the ball rolling for them, they
can no longer just “focus on my music man” – those days are gone.

We are in favour of CwF + RtB and indeed have begun to use the theory. However we had to get to
a certain position in order to make it workable. You have to CwF first obviously and how that is achieved
is different for every artist and genre in question – and necessitiates a wide variety of approaches and funding.

We did it by financing ourselves for a considerable period, playing live, often promoting our own shows
and releasing our own recordings. So we don’t just deal in theory, we deal in practicalities.

We could afford to do this because for years we have run our own business in London (not a place known for cheap
rents and rampant communism) so we are quite aware of basic economics. We are also free to operate without
the need to worry about a boss sacking us if we take too much time off. We have now secured several 5th
Beatles to help us in different areas with our future endeavours. We are also remaining independent.

We are a duo but the third member of our band is an artist – who thanks to the internet isn’t even based in
the same country as we are. We therefore have never had to pay for any artworks. However this person was
a friend first – and was willing to work for free.

Any 5th Beatle worth their salt is going to have to be paid. Sure you can get people to help with the hard
graft of online and other promotion for free – and some of our fans will do this. But the one thing you need in
this business is contacts. No one will willingly share their hard won experience and contacts with a project
that hasn’t already proven its worth in some way. In much the same way that any start up business needs
finance – and even things like “Kickstarter” still seem to be best suited to artists who are some kind of “going

This entire debate needs to move on and focus on something far more important than labels and what they
DEMAND from artists.


On the subject of scarce goods you recently replied:
“Huh? Who said they need to design, produce and sell those goods? That’s the role of a label/manger/etc.
if the artist doesn’t want to do it.”

So are you saying that the artist who can’t (not won’t we have already said that is a non-starter) take on
the role of the 5th Beatle themselves, perhaps due to lack of time and money – is now going to be forced
to undertake a new kind of “Devil’s Agreement”. This time not with their musical works but with their “scarce
goods” as the ransom? Isn’t this precisely what the labels are doing with their odious 360 deals? Perhaps
you think that is inevitable and not a problem. We don’t share that view.

And this brings us to our central question to you Mike.

Will artists who are poor, now have to either accept that they will never sit at the big table, and will have to remain
amateurs, will their circumstances now dictate the level to which they can aspire. Or will they now have to “meet
the new boss, same as the old boss”? Just what they hand over to a label/manager has changed? Are they in
fact excluded from trying out your theory for themselves by their circumstances, because they can’t not won’t DIY
for long enough to make it work as independents?

Yes your formula can supply artists with a new way forward, and if they are prepared to work hard and to find all
the pieces of the jigsaw themselves it will work. But it pre-supposes that they have the means to connect with their
fans – and by that we mean the famous “True Fans” – the ones who will gladly buy “scarce goods” the same fans
who will also invest their time and money in helping their favourite artists create more art.

When this is applied to “bands” and those who wish to play live – where the “connection” with fans can often be
at its strongest – the need for finance is even greater than those who record at home and use the internet as their
primary source of promotion. They are blessed, technology is cheap and the only drawback for them is that the
internet is overcrowded with people with the same goal.

So has anything really changed for the artist without finance?

Rasmus says:

Re: Re:

The question you ask is basically the same as the question “How do you start a business without financing?”

The truth is, its always easier to start a business if you have own money to invest in starting it. The less money you got the more unpaid work will be needed before the business takes off.

And if you don’t want to do that unpaid work and don’t have the money to invest yourself, then you have to use someone else’s money. Which means you get yourself some kind of investor and will end up with a boss.

Personally I rather invest my own time and money so I can keep being my own boss. I’m building my third company now. When I stared the first company I owned nothing. I just found a fan and gave them a reason to buy.

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your response provides a great deal of clarity as to one aspect of the confusion. I believe that many people see art and business very differently and forget that when the pursuit of art needs money to continue, that it can somehow operate under different rules than the harsh environment of business. That is a very hard transition for many artists to make.

Devilish Presley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

@ Sneeje

“That is a very hard transition for many artists to make.”

Yes, which is why they fall back on the “just want to concentrate on my art” line and in some cases don’t even want to use social media.

If they want to produce “Art For Arts Sake” fine. If they want to enter the commercial realm with their art then they need to face the fact that they need “Money FFS”

Rasmus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Personally I believe the key concept for an Artist is to start thinking of the business side of creating Art as part of the “Art For Arts Sake” thing.

The way you connect with fans has to be consistent with the Art you make. And really just a different side of your creation.

Its the same with the reason to buy, it got to be consistent with the Art. And also just a different side of the creation.

For example if your art consists of visually experimental feature length movies with a very Art For Arts Sake attitude then you have to do like Matthew Barney with his Creemaster movies. You make a couple of high class art gallery owners your fans and then you exhibit your movies in their galleries for a very exclusive selection of rich art collectors (the fans of the art gallery, so you borrow a fanbase from a fan) and sell the movies för $150.000 a piece in a very limited series of numbered and signed DVDs.

Devilish Presley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

@ Rasmus

“Personally I believe the key concept for an Artist is to start thinking of the business side of creating Art as part of the “Art For Arts Sake” thing.”

Yes indeed, that is a very shrewd analysis, and exactly the route we favour. The marketing has to be a part of the overall aesthetic.

“You make a couple of high class art gallery owners your fans and then you exhibit your movies in their galleries for a very exclusive selection of rich art collectors”

Yes a few rich patrons/benefactors has always been a lifeline for certain artforms.

Nina Paley (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s the same way in film. That’s why I gave “Sita” to the audience.

However, labels/publishers/distributors/middlemen can be of huge service IF YOU DON’T GRANT THEM MONOPOLIES.

It’s not that an artist can do it all by themselves. It’s that the audience can now do what in the past only publishers could do. Everyone with a computer today has the equivalent of a printing press, record factory, and film lab. Within the audience some folks are very, very good at distribution and promotion, and they rightly offer their services – as “middlemen” – professionally.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

This is really the end of the Record Labels ...

It begins with the labels asking …. Please promote yourself.

Then they ask the artist to … Find a reason for the fans to buy.

Then they tell the artist they need to find a .. “fifth beatle” to do the financial side.

It ends with the artists asking … “if I am doing all this myself why do I need the Record Label?”

VDOVault (user link) says:

Oh please...this is all about...

…cost-cutting & laziness on the part of the old major labels.

If the artist won’t do new media promotions themselves (for free of course), the old media conglomerates sure as hell aren’t going to hire someone to do it for the artists (unless they can charge them for it & make lots of money, which they probably figure they can’t, so they aren’t).

As it is you wouldn’t want most of the people left at the labels to do old school promotion for you (they ones left are not the clueful competent ones & whatever idiotic campaigns they come up with they’re not worth the cost the artists will have to recoup for the labels).

jsf (profile) says:

Its Just Another Form of Promotion

If a content creator does not want to work to promote themselves then it is going to be very difficult for them to “hit it big”. This has always been the case. The internet hasn’t changed this fact, it has only changed the tools available to do the promotion. Social networking systems are just another form of promotion. A modern extension to word of mouth promotion/advertising.

If a content creator is not willing to help promote their own works then they need to accept the fact that they are not going to make much, if any, money from it. Musicians go on tour, authors have book signings and readings, movie stars go on the talk show circuit, etc. If you want to make it big you have to put in the effort, and that will never change.

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