Our case on helping a new kind of music label revolutionize the industry is closing in a couple days, so we wanted to repost it here to make sure those of you with thoughts on how to really build a label that is artist-centric had a chance to weigh in. There's some good insights, ideas and discussions on the case already, so please feel free to weigh in with more thoughts on what's already been written, or with brand new insights of your own.
The music industry has changed significantly in recent years, and technology now allows musicians to distribute their work and interact with fans more easily than ever before. As times have changed, the traditional process of signing with a record label is getting more and more competition. Here we describe one alternative vision for supporting musicians that focuses on the artist and aims to disrupt conventional music publishing. The subsequent task is for the Insight Community to suggest improvements to the plan, give feedback from an artist's point of view, offer advice on implementation, and even respond with possible arguments against this approach.
The Vision of an Un-label
The 4 pillars in the work of a musician are: compose, record, be on stage and on tour. The live show is more than ever a vital component of the career of an artist, but it can not exist without the production of new tracks. For the artist to tour, an album is a prerequisite.
As always, there are costs to produce an album, but the artist should ALWAYS retain ownership of his/her work. Without artist ownership, the genuine involvement of the performer is lost. But if the artist ultimately owns the work, the musician has an honest commitment to promoting every song and a vested interest in connecting with fans. That said, albums still need to be financed at times, and a complete support infrastructure to promote the artist and his/her work is still necessary as well.
For the financing of albums, an artist will sign a temporary exclusive license to his/her music in exchange for initial funding (if necessary) and a share of revenues from tours, shows, physical and digital sales, merchandising, etc. The artist will commit to live performances and interactions with fans through various channels (eg. press, TV, web, etc). The artist will be the brand behind the music, and the new 'Un-label' will provide financing, publicity and management as necessary. The Un-label has incentives to serve the artist since its exclusive license is temporary, and the artist will be free to go elsewhere after the contract is fulfilled.
Key points summary
- Artists always retain ownership of their work.
- Artists get worldwide distribution with transparent accounting.
- Artists get a dedicated partner with aligned incentives.
To further explain this vision, there is an accompanying presentation to discuss this concept:
How You Can Help
The idea behind this Un-label is hopefully easy to understand, but how does a business based on this philosophy attract and convince artists? Below are some questions that attempt to focus this discussion on improving this vision. These are not the only questions to answer, but they're a starting point.
- What kind of educational materials need to be created to help this business compete with the more traditional recording contracts?
- If you were an artist, how does this proposition sound to you?
- What are the most attractive portions of this plan for musicians? What are the least attractive parts of this concept?
- Have you heard of similar businesses? How do you think similar businesses are doing?
- Are there services that exist that could improve this business? Can you think of potentially good partnerships or collaborations?
Visit the CybearSonic Site (English translation)