I was listening to Fuel’s new album “Puppet Strings” today.
Fuel was one of those rock bands I latched onto in the late nineties, early two thousands.
Why call it Fuel without Carl Bell?
Why did Carl Bell call it Fuel without Brett Scallions for the “Angels and Demons” album cycle?
Keeping a band together is a job in itself. No one tells you how hard it is. Read about the making of “The Wall” from Pink Floyd. Watch, “The History Of The Eagles” documentary. Read, “The Dirt” or “Face The Music” or “Lifting Shadows” or “Enter Night” and you will see countless examples of bands trying to hold it together.
Listening to the Fuel album got me thinking about the current state of the music business.
We live in an age where only blockbuster albums make serious money.
The income gap divide between the bands that release blockbuster albums and the ones that don’t is growing wider and wider.
The days of paying your dues and breaking through are over.
Now it is all about being great 24/7.
The internet noise has made it almost impossible for messages to rise above it and new releases come out one week and if they are not great, they are forgotten the next.
It’s a cold hard truth. In 2014, you have to be great.
Five Finger Death Punch. Great.
Avenged Sevenfold. Great.
Gemini Syndrome. Great.
In This Moment. Great.
All of the bands mentioned above have had albums out for at least 10 months and more, and they are still part of the social conversation.
If you are one of those people who uses sales as a metric of success then all of the above bands are still moving units. However sales are not the only measures of success these days.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, understand how streaming royalties work.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, stop bitching about streaming royalties and re-negotiate with the record label.
Ever heard the story of Loreena McKennitt, who is a Canadian Folk/Celtic/World music artist.
She couldn’t get a record deal. She spent a long time networking and building a connection with her audience. Eventually she created a substantial fan base that started to purchase her music and she was getting 70% of it. When Warner Bros. came knocking, she showed the label what she was making and the “crap contract” that the label came with got torn up and she negotiated a new deal with the label that benefited her as well as the label.
In the end a harp playing harpist had enough bargaining chips on her side that she was able to negotiate a real deal. And then you have people like Scott Ian and other metal heads complaining about piracy and the state of the industry.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that it is a relationships business with the fans first and foremost.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that the press doesn’t matter. It might make you feel great and it might please your vanity, however it is the fans that break acts.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you only get ONE SHOT to make a first impression.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you need to know how to write, play and sing.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, take a note from the Dave Matthews band. They are huge because they have fostered an audience that is more or less a cultural movement.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, you need to keep creating hits. The biggest songs of a band’s career are the ones that didn’t rise up the charts. The fans made them hits in their cultural universe. Seen a recent set list of Metallica or Megadeth. None of the songs ended up as Chart Hits, but they are still hits.
If you want to succeed and make money from recorded music in 2014, know that streaming revenue is just going to keep on rising. If you are on a label and an old contract start re-negotiating right now. Otherwise you will be left behind.