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The Great Escape

INTERNATIONAL INSPIRATION #2 – The Great Escape Festival, Brighton, UK

14 Aug

WAM’s CEO Mike Harris recently went on a quick overseas mission to lay the foundations for better championing WA music to international audiences. From these meetings and conferences, a heap of inspiration was gained as to how WA and Perth positions itself in a global music context, amongst other things. With frantically scribbled notes now deciphered, we present the second in a series of ideas Mike encountered during these experiences.


THE GREAT ESCAPE FESTIVAL: Brighton, UK, THURSDAY 14 & FRIDAY 15 MAY 2015


Live Venues:

This was a general discussion on live music venues, but mostly in the grass roots category (which they defined as being self-evident, which I quite liked!). Not a lot of notable content but a couple of interesting issues that arose included:

  • Smaller venues struggle for viability. Not Robinson Crusoe in that regard: the issue seems global, or at least across the English speaking developed world.
  • In the UK venues under 500 capacity can operate as a live music venue without an entertainment licence
  • If government allow tax credits for orchestras and theatres then why not live music venues? At a bare minimum, reduce tax rates for venues.
  • Economics/finances are closing more venues in London than anything else. Problems include PRS (APRA equivalent) minimums for gigs.

 

How Synch Deals Work re Brands/Advertising (noting that this was from a UK perspective):

The session started with a run down of songwriter’s v mechanical rights, and that both are required when entering into a synch deal where the work is performed. The songwriters go to the writer themselves if un-published but to the publisher if published. Mechanical rights would normally go to the record label unless contracted otherwise.

  • Nearly always a fixed rate for a fixed period for use of the track: need to specify which territory it will be used in; what media it will be carried via; and timelines.
  • Rarely an in-perpetuity deal (unless it is a bespoke composition) so any deal needs to specify how extensions will be treated.
  • Know who has your copyright in all territories
  • Is a synch deal an endorsement? Not if it only involves the use of the song/track. If it includes the artists then it becomes and endorsement in the eyes of the consumer.
  • An artist may have no say in a synch deal if the publisher and label make a deal. (E.g. Duran Duran and Yoplait.) Any brand should hoverer want the artist consent to avoid bad publicity.
  • Always ask for a screen credit for use of a song or clip, you never know you may get it if the brand wants the song/track that much.
  • Territory. Media. Context (overt v subtle) are the main contributing factors in deciding costs. Whilst there is no fee structure in the UK a three month deal with a mid level brand for a little known US artist/song may return GBP20k. A typical range for UK artist in the UK is GBP25-50k. A two year global deal with a well known song may be around GBP300k.
  • Most ad agencies don’t want music thrust at them, so don’t randomly send your work in. Seriously consider a synching agent or synch reps that are regular contact with brands in the market for music. Be very clear about what you are agreeing to and the royalty/fees involved
  • Big brands are moving to a more holistic deal where they own the publishing rights rather than licensing. this allows them monetising opportunities from their investment.
  • Synching can be a great stepping stone for your work getting it in front of new audiences
  • As a rule upbeat or happy themed songs/tracks are more attractive to the brand managers.

 

Vote for Music:

This was a campaign run in the lead up to the UK general election in May. Three points: the good, the better and the bleeding obvious.

  • #voteformusic was a popular twitter hashtag. Lookout of #VoteForMusicWA in the lead up to the WA election in March 2017
  • A campaign for the VAT (GST) raised on ticket sales to be sequestered and re-invested back into the sector.
  • Make funding easier and more relevant.

 

Marketing in the Streaming Age:

This session did not deal with the relevance or right and wrongs of the financial returns from streaming; more so getting your music heard.

  • Established best practice does not apply in the streaming world. (Keystone events such as 1st week sales figures etc.) Success metrics have moved from unit sales to fan numbers and retention.
  • For hard copy each sale is a one off so the economic value of each fan is the same. In streaming each fan represents multiple plays over a long period of time so the economic value of each fan in variable.
  • Before it was a case of get more fans: now it was a case of get more fans and keep them engaged.
  • Spread your music releases over time; don’t just drop stuff al at once. Dribble music out and punters will seek out earlier material and engage/re-engage, thus monetising your back catalogue as well.
  • If using Spotify for example, seek their support in promoting your music on their playlists. Playlisting is a key element in the discovery of new music. Not just single playlists: get your music on multiple playlists.
  • Traditional marketing still impacts discovery
  • Traditional media is still heavily focussed on album releases. This may still be your thing: it is for many heritage acts that do not necessarily engage with streaming services.
  • It isn’t good enough to just say “our song is on Spotify” there is great complexity about discovery and ongoing sustainability/engagement. Labels/PR/marketers need to understand this and how best to exploit.
  • Artists making playlists of their influences does not lead to new fans; it just services existing fans. Nothing wrong with this but it is a matter of best use of resources.
  • Streaming offers significant data and can inform touring decisions for e.g.. Use this data: understand how to extract the good stuff and leave behind the chaff.
  • Communicate better | Work as a team | Focus on servicing the fan | Invest in the future | Get your music out there!

 

Who Leads on marketing:

This is taken from a label v artist perspective; who’s responsibility is it for ongoing artist’s promotion as well as that around releases. The upfront observation is that artists are signed to labels later than ever as labels de-risk. That so, artists are taking themselves further, by themselves, than ever before.

  • Obviously there is release marketing but what else? An artist needs an ongoing presence in the market and a more sophisticate series of campaigns (or one ongoing campaign) is required. Pre-release and pre-pre-release campaigns are now in order; and let’s not forget campaigns between releases to keep a presence. Confused? As an artists you need to know who is gong to be responsible for this stuff, because…
  • There is so much music now that unless your name is Kanye Beyonce Swift if you don’t keep a presence you are staring from scratch with each new release.
  • Who pays? Well, labels can contribute between campaigns/releases, but mostly it will be the artists’ responsibility
  • Don’t buy likes | vanity metrics as your data will be worthless and will remain so – this was a random piece of advice at the top of the session, but sounded very sensible.
  • Be strategic: have multi album strategies, multi year strategies and allow your tactics to change as you respond to the environment you find yourself in.
  • Artists and artists managers must move with the times and circumstances and if you don’t know what or how the times are panning out you must be savvy enough to know to hire someone who does understand when to engage and invest in promotions, and when not to.
  • Artists even if you outsource someone to manage your social media retain influence and control and manage the voice and content to reflect you.
  • Pitching to playlists is increasingly important and can deliver substantial results for new artists…, being very wary of pay-to-play-playlists as this is a bad thing.
  • Capture, measure, and analyse your data. Understand whether you are getting a return on investment. Social media and streaming services analytics are good, getting better and need to be better still to best provide the artist and or their manager with essential but useful data.
  • Make sure you are getting your data – the label probably owns it but the artist needs that for strategic choices such as when and where to tour.
  • On-line media offers much better accountability that traditional media.
  • Strong analytics = better informed decision making

 

Playlists

They are the current and the future as far as we know it. Resistance is futile. But seriously folks, streaming is increasingly the consumer’s choice in most markets and engaging with and understanding the best ways to exploit streaming makes perfect sense. Why playlists? Decision fatigue: Spotify has 35M songs so how do you find that new unknown gem? Work out which playlists represent your tastes and subscribe. If you want your song to be that gem then get it on a playlist: one that has a following.

  • There is essentially three types of playlist compilers: Music Geeks (Songza/Playlist.net) which is human curation; Tech Geeks (Pandora/StereoMood) which go with algorithmic curation based on hits; and hybrids.
  • The more streams the higher your track will place in the charts = greater $$ return.
  • This is a UK case study but interesting to bust-a-myth. It is oft stated that major labels effectively own and control streaming services. In 2014 94% of BBC Radio1’s to 50 most played tracks were major label artists. An analysis on Spotify in-house playlists (ok only 11 playlists/229 songs) showed that 51% of tracks were on independent labels/ 46% majors and 3% inbetweeners such as Glassnote. Additionally those with the highest indy content has the highest followings.
  • Labels can create playlists that increase profile for both the label and the artist.

 

Marketing Live Music: Analytics and Apps

There is so much data available that it is easy to get buried in a torrent (but not a bit torrent) of meaningless or impenetrable data. Focus on useful data not interesting data if you want to sell more.

  • Understand where people are accessing your information, music or tickets. Where from (what sites are they accessing via) what media is giving results and whom is and isn’t engaged.
  • What devices are they accessing from? When? Optimise your product to match those usage patterns or preferences.
  • Use location services to be specific: A lot of people in Joondanna buying your music? Tour there!
  • Have sponsors, partners touring mates etc. integrate with your analytics when touring for greater intelligence.
  • When are people tweeting, Facebook stalking/engaging/posting etc.? Those times are the best timings for you to be most active.
  • Get ticketing companies to integrate your sales with Google analytics for buying pattern intelligence. Get merch on-line at those times as well.
  • Be honest with your analytics. Filter out your own addresses (Inc. your label/management etc.) so you are only counting true hits.
  • Use data to make decisions
  • Use advanced analytics / geolocated ads / campaign tracking all simply doable by anybody (probably other than me).
  • Nine things to remember:
    • keep it simple
    • make a plan first
    • focus on useful data
    • track all activity
    • know your goals
    • test | learn | repeat
    • make data based decisions
    • make your site better
    • DO GREAT THINGS

 

Music Industry 101

On the Saturday there was a series of sessions for the emerging artist which was an entry level music 101 course in many ways. Here is a bunch of notes or comments I found interesting before I went to see some bands.

  • You need to monetise your music to live (you know, eat, pay rent, snort your father’s ashes etc.). This means playing/touring developing an audience base. As well as that food and rent you will need to pay for touring/management/marketing/record production/distribution.
  • Turn your music into $$: create and exploit your IP | perform live | sell stuff to your fan base (music/merch/tix).
  • Understand IP ownership / rights in your territory. TGE is based in English law; much of which is also Australian law. The following translates into Australian territory but not necessarily elsewhere:
  • Music compositions/lyrics are Publishing Rights
  • Sound recordings are Mechanical or Master Rights
  • Artwork/photography/design are Artistic Rights
  • The band’s name is a Trademark
  • Merch is subject to Copyright
  • It is important to understand that Master or Mechanical rights are owned by the person/organisation who funds the recording process. Get a contract that clearly outlines your rights if this is not going to be problematic for you. Put a time limit on those rights.
  • The songwriter/s own the publishing rights unless you sign something specifically passing those rights on elsewhere.
  • You can give permission to use your music by licence for monetisation opportunities such as synching in ads, TV or films etc.
  • Capture fans contact details; find out what they like and sell ‘em stuff…, direct not necessarily via a third party who’ll take a chunk of that sweet sweet action.
  • Understand what kind of artists you are. Are you “social” where you get everything out there for consumption from the outset; or are you “enigmatic” and push out a final product without any public visibility until that moment. Either way make it work for you.
  • Even if home recording make it sound good. have great gear. If nothing else buy a couple of great mics. Borrow gear. If an electro artists borrow the best drum machine sand synths (if that is what you are using) it makes a difference.
  • Garage band is ok if you’re using good gear with it.
  • Be into music from everywhere if you are making a sample library.
  • Even if it is your first time in the studio be bold; ask about the gear is it all available as per equipment manifests? is it all in first class order.
  • If you cant afford too much studio time use the studio for the big elements such as drums and guitars and take it home to finish; or do some home recording and use the studio for the vocal tracks.
  • Get the tracks yourself: take away the stems and mix elsewhere for a better finish if necessary. take time to consider the finished version.
  • BTW mastering doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • To get the best out of a studio experience rehearse for recording not live in the lead up. Understand the song elements/arrangements and be good to go when you hit the studio.
  • Run fresh ears over a track; not family and/or someone who will just say “yeah, that’s great” even if it sounds rubbish.
  • Don’t mix by committee – pick someone to do this and trust them.
  • Do two separate passes: even if the first was great, do another (and another if time permits) – it gives you options.
  • (Seriously) be sober/straight especially for the mixing.
  • Get an instrumental mix and stems for potential synching opportunities and remixes.
  • Get your music on line. It can be a DIY platform where you keep any returns if that is your preference. But not just Soundcloud as you’ll earn no$$ and that food and rent and those ashes I mentioned earlier will not be part of your life.

 

By MIKE HARRIS, WAM CEO

 

PART 1 HERE

PART 3 HERE

Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts Australian Government

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.