This is the 15th installment in guest blogger Frank Klepacki’s series on music production. Today Frank talks about what the future holds for music artists. If you missed Frank’s previous post, you can read it here.
So given the Apple / U2 promotion example, what if companies like Microsoft, Sony, or Samsung also started doing pre-release buyouts of sales of say, just one single with an artist for a period of exclusivity / promotional use? On the one hand, maybe it would give artists a unique opportunity to expose the music through the channels people are using more for music, which includes their smartphones, portable music players, and accounts they have with digital retailers.
On the flip side of the coin, I could also see how this might eventually become problematic, like too much free content to sift through and not care about. You’d be notified of “exclusive free content for the month of October available” – and even though you can choose to check out the artists promoting free singles and download them or not, it would look overwhelming, and usually that equates to people not wanting to engage. Which, indirectly then devalues it again. It’s a psychological game trying to figure it all out.
It’s strange the kinds of things that people go for when getting free stuff, even if it’s something they don’t need or aren’t thinking about. I mean come on, have you ever been to an event where sponsors start throwing out t-shirts? People scream like savages to catch them – even if they’re just a lame logo in the wrong size and have little to do with the event. If your business paid for the promo t-shirts to throw to the crowd, why not pay music artists for ‘their’ content, and throw “music” to the crowd? You have the means of instant digital delivery. People won’t necessarily go looking for it – just like they don’t necessarily go looking for your t-shirt either! The point is, the music would still be valued, i.e. paid for upfront, and then distributed as an optional promotional item.
Licensing has become another important way to get an alternate revenue stream from your music. Why do you think there are so many music library companies? They want to have as much music in their rosters as possible to pitch anything to everyone for potential use, which then gets split between them and the artist for broadcast use. The quality and value of your music is now more important because your material is in a sea of other music being sifted through for consideration of potential use by several clients at any given time.
The consistent issue for all artists is always how you can let as many people as possible know it’s out there. Social media and name recognition will only get you so far, and PR campaigns only last as long as you can pay for them.
In the future, it’s going to take forward-thinking, and good management. Management in today’s music climate needs to also act as business development for an artist, just booking shows isn’t enough anymore. Seeking opportunities and thinking outside the box with industry partners who could potentially provide new ways to get the music heard in a public way, and find other means to get adequate compensation while cross-promoting. This is how radio has done it forever with selling advertising – but since that is still firmly in the grasp of big labels, new artists without that kind of support need to find all other ways that they can. If the road doesn’t exist, we must create our own!
– Frank Klepacki
Frank Klepacki is an award-winning composer for video games and television for such titles as Command & Conquer, Star Wars: Empire at War, and MMA sports programs such as Ultimate Fighting Championship and Inside MMA. He resides as audio director for Petroglyph, in addition to being a recording artist, touring performer, and producer. For more info, visit www.frankklepacki.com.