Last year was no exception – the growth of social networks, streaming services, online radio and digital downloads is unstoppable, opening up ever more avenues for fans to listen to, discover, and share new music. Next Big Sound has been tracking this data for more than three years and can once again present a unique behind-the-scenes perspective on what happened in the music industry in 2012.
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Are we better off? Is the industry thriving? Are we discovering more trail blazing industry altering career artists? I don’t want this to turn into an essay on why the music biz sucks, nothing would make me happier than to see it all turn around, move forward and enter a new glory period. This business has provided me with unimaginable opportunities and allowed me to live a really extraordinary life. Unlike the majority of pundits I have lived and breathed in this industry since I was a whelp. I’ve had the opportunity to work under the old guard as well as the dopey, accidental, overconfident clothes-less emperors at the helm of the good ship song-tanic currently.
Unlike most traditional businesses the music business is a guessing game based on unmeasurable emotional attachments to random notes strewn together, most of the time by cultural outliers. You can assemble all the accountants and techno dorks in the world and they can provide you with thousands of power point presentations and charts but the reality is….they have no idea what they are talking about and the more emphatic they are about how their method of calculating obese housewives phone responses versus teen mobile streaming patterns the more dangerous they become and the more they destroy what was once a beautiful albeit unstable and magical business.
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The first thing to say about all the ‘bye bye HMV’ talk that’s flying around is: hang on, it’s not dead yet. The company has gone into administration – which admittedly is not the best position for a retailer to be in – but could still find a buyer. It might continue to exist, just in diminished form. Even if it ends up as just a bloke who approaches you in a pub with some Now compilations in his jacket pockets, let’s not pen its eulogy just yet.
The second important thing is to shush all the pundits who keep saying that digital downloading is the cause of HMV’s woes. Not true. As of 2012, digital is the dominant music sector in the UK, but only just. £70m-worth of physical music is sold each year. An awful lot of people still buy CDs. The trouble is, they buy them on Amazon, not the high street. You can get worked up about this, but it won’t do any good. Waterstones boss James Daunt calls Amazon company a “ruthless, money-making devil.” They’re not evil (though their tax arrangements don’t exactly help). They just offer a more convenient way to buy CDs and DVDs. What can you do?
By Luke Lewis
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We receive coutless emails and demos to Bieler Bros. everyday, here’s 5 things you can do to increase your chances of getting your music listened to by an A&R rep:
1) Be sincere and personal! Don’t email your demo and CC every A&R person in the book, this is a surefire way to get your email deleted. Make your email more personal, maybe reference some other artists on the label that the A&R person has worked with that you’re a fan of.
2). Ask for permission to send them some music. This is a nice touch, sets you up for a little dialog and increases your chances of getting some feedback.
3). Use links NOT attachments, labels get tons of emails and don’t like to have their inbox tied up with your 25mb cover version of Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian”
4). Know the genre of the label you’re sending to, don’t send your Hip-Hop track to a Death Metal label for consideration.
5). Send a quick introduction and link to your best song. No one has time to read your band’s biography and copies of all the rave reviews you received on “Festering Boil.com”. Too much info makes it hard to dig through and scares people away, be brief and focused. If someone responds you’ll have plenty of time to fill in the blanks but initially it’s all based on the song.
- Aaron Bieler
I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone – especially given last week’s ‘where have all the guitar bands gone’ debatings online – but pop releases dominated 2011 in the UK, with the genre surpassing rock in terms of album sales for the first time in seven years.
According to Official Charts Company data released by the BPI this morning, big-selling albums from the likes of Adele, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Jessie J helped pop increase its share of album sales from 30.9% to 33.6%. Meanwhile rock’s share fell from 31.2% to 29.4%, with Coldplay contributing highly to that stat with their new album ‘Mylo Xyloto’.
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If you’re serious about making music in the digital age then you need to be equally serious about backup. For most people it takes the loss of an important file to find the resolve to implement a proper backup strategy but hopefully after reading this you’ll be an instant convert.
If you are new to backup then you’re potentially in a better position to set up a system that is going to work for you now and in the future without any of the baggage that goes with an approach that has evolved over time. So lets look at Why you should backup your data? How to back it up? and When to do it?
Why is backing up important?
If you think of digital files not really existing until there is at least one copy then you’ll be well on the way to entering the backing up mindset. With only one version of that great mix or precious photo there are any number of potential mishaps that could reduce that to zero versions, here are just a few:
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We’re very sad to say this but tonight is our last show with our good friend Rory Ellis. He’s been filling in as our second guitarist for the past year, traveling from GA to FL just to play shows with us. In that time, he’s become a brother and an honorary member of our band. He is in the army and is being deployed to Afghanistan for the next six months. We will miss him very much, especially sharing the stage together. We wish you the best, Rory and can’t wait til you come back so we can tear up the stage again!!!!
Hey dudes! This is Anso DF what’s up! My favorite album from last year is Look Right Penny‘s debut Sugar Lane. It’s awesome! To get an idea of the Florida quintet’s style, imagine a pairing of Paramore and Protest The Hero, a collision of Avril and Coheed, a collabo between Sikth and a chipmunk — but even younger and wayyy better than their predecessors! They are my JAM!
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How Much Streaming is Really Worth to Artists: a Consumption Analysis
The streaming debate has been a watershed moment in artist empowerment, a discussion which has allowed them discover that they can have a meaningful voice in the digital debate. Crucially it has also been a democratization of the artist voice. In the days of Napster it was only the superstar artist who got airtime to argue for (Chuck D) or against (Lars Ulrich) file sharing. Now in the days of social media the playing field has been levelled. The streaming debate has also been a coming of age for artists as business people, coming to terms with the wealth of analytics and sales data they now have at their fingertips.
All of this has been good and positive, and it is an evolution that I look forward to seeing continue. However there has been an unfortunate by-product of the process. With an artist posting their latest streaming versus download income data practically every week the focus has been on quantity of data not quality and, most importantly, data has often been misinterpreted and stripped of crucial context. The situation is compounded by the murkiness created by the mass of moving parts that determine how much an artist gets paid. These include: what sort of deal the artist is on, whether they are recouped, whether the artist is just a performer and/ or a songwriter, whether the label is redistributing all of its advance payments from the streaming services with artists, whether the artist is paying additional fees to distributors / aggregators and how good a deal those organizations have struck with streaming services.
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