Tuesday, September 23, 2008

360 Deals

One of the problems record companies are facing is that their piece of the pie is shrinking as people spend less money acquiring music. There's still a decent amount of money being made in the music industry, but it's spread across different mediums like merchandise, touring, publishing, and recorded music. In response, some lawyers somewhere thought it would be great for one company if they had control of all aspects of an artists career.

Well wait, control is a harsh word, maybe we should just say they want to exploit... oh, that's not much better. How about if we say they wanted to capitalize on the bigger picture?

Truth is no matter how you spell it out, these 360 deals as they're calling them, don't make a lot of sense. They DO make sense when you have an enormously famous artist and can coordinate the release of a new record with a world tour, new line of clothing, collectible lunch boxes, and a video game starring the band.

But the other 99% of the artists out there already have a 360 deal, they just control it themselves. The trick is to learn how to exploit all of our assets in a coordinated fashion. One of the biggest problems is that independent artists have so much to do, they have to choose what gets done. Most of the time the wrong choices are made. Adding friends on MySpace or making tour posters might not be the best use of time, rather it's most convenient or just seems like the right thing to do because every band does it, right?

Every musician's biggest asset is their body of work. So the first thing we have to do is make it better, bigger, and easier to access. That's the piece of the pie fans really care about. It's the part that is actually useful. It's the music that connects you to other people and makes them want to buy a t-shirt or come to more shows and tell their friends to do the same.

It makes a lot more sense for more artists to keep as much control as possible, which is to say control what you know, and get trustworthy people that will work with you to manage the rest. Find some investors to back your next record, not a company looking to own everything you do. Find a good manager. Find some people that know how to handle sales and marketing. But make sure all these people are passionate about your music and believe in you.

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