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.