Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
PATERNO: DINOSAUR LABEL DEAL STILL BETTER
Without Label Marketing $$$ Artists Can't Launch
Originally Posted: 12-06-2013 3:33 PM
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Understanding the new music business is a lot like understanding life before and after divorce. After divorce, you have newly-freed single people outwardly reveling in their freedom, yet more privately struggling to reset everything they know about life, just like artists who these days often make music without having to deal with labels. But unless they have outside financial support or a solid, high paying job; their new life is a constant exercise in cutting back, redefining who they are, and getting to know all those compromises that being part of a married couple protected them from.

Sure, a divorce follows a marriage that was unhappy. But even among that unhappiness was some level of security, some level of ability to express one's self in the universe either through the time-freedom afforded by a combined financial base, or maybe even starting a business through investment with a spouse. And as the couple strives to expand their mark on the world outside of simply a daily survival grind, they pick up each others slack in differing ways. And when a split occurs, one figures out right away where the other was picking up said slack. Such is life in the new music business, particularly for artists. And those new to the game who demonize the old paradigm business need to educate themselves on the history of the roles played by major labels and signed artist.

Artists have bristled for decades under the umbrella of labels, continually dragging them through the mud in press, interviews, VH-1 Behind The Music, etc. Sometimes quite deservedly. Yes, labels' accounting have always been a matter of suspicion and artists have regularly not been paid their full royalties due. The stories of the early rock & roll and R&B artists being denied any royalties at all are legendary.

But there is one thing labels could do: they could make you a national or international star. What you did once you were widely known was up to you and your management team. Make no mistake, there was significant GOOD that came of major label deals. Not only were artist careers created and sustained for a period of time, but also were the careers of producers, engineers, and various professionals that brought quality to the the music business.

Being an artist who has been able to write, perform, produce, mix and master my work professionally and independently for over a decade, I know firsthand what major labels did that I can't do. As a producer, I've seen first hand the difference between the careers of independent artists with no deal and the careers of artists who have been signed to major label deals.

For an artist to become a national or international success, two things needs to exist: a gigantic checkbook and a great team to market and execute a marketing plan. I have yet to meet an individual who has the money to invest in another artist's career who really wants to part with it. That's where major labels come in. They provide the funding that the artists can't locate, and they have a team of professionals at their disposal who can execute the marketing plan.

Any artist who thinks they can sit at home, record a song in their bedroom, put it on a website, not tour, and be a major success is either seriously mistaken or just kidding themselves. They can get attention, but as an artist, they won't make any money. Their only hope is a solid relationship with music supervisors who can put their music in TV or film while they stay at home. That's pretty much it, and as you might imagine, they're competing with majorly famous and majorly talented artists for the same placements.

Yet, that "f**k you I can do it myself for cheap" is how the clueless artists think the 'new' model of music business works. There's an angry defensiveness that many of these so-called artists have that eshews the 'old dinosaur model' and looks for something new.

The problem is, something new isn't here yet and may be a long ways off. In a new documentary called 'Artifact', about the band 30 Seconds To Mars, a candid conversation with high-powered Hollywood attorney Peter Paterno advises 30 Seconds To Mars that "the old dinosaur model is still the best model because the new model is worse!" When lead singer Jared Leto frustratedly asks "but WHY??" Legendary artist manager Irving Azoff adds in "because everyone's losing money".

If those two music industry icons are advising one of the only two internationally successful artists on EMI Records in this way, new artists better listen up if they want to go for the gold instead of just focusing on their next coffee shop performance for twenty people.

The 'old dinosaur model' record label is basically the only bank that will believe in you. Beyond that, you need to find your own funding and create your own company. If you wanted to start any other business, you would need funding from a bank or private individuals. But banks won't let you borrow for music ventures based on your 'subjectively' awesome music that hasn't been created yet for an audience that you likely don't have.

In 2013, the only thing that matters is audience, so be prepared to bring your own to the party or you will pay others to build it one way or another. If you have an audience, now we look at talent. If you have both, you may already have a deal and if not, you may be considered for one.

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Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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