Tag Archives: iTunes

Why You Should Release and Promote Your Music on iTunes

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The new buzz seems to be that independent artists shouldn’t release and/or promote their music on iTunes.

The argument is that iTunes is the Walmart of digital music, and you wouldn’t point your fans in the direction on Walmart to buy your record. You’d send them to an independent record shop.

Furthermore, the argument goes that iTunes keeps 30% of the retail price where other retailers, such as CD baby, keep 9% to 15%. So it makes better sense to keep fans away from iTunes.

Now as I’ve written before, I’m no fan of iTunes. There’s a real risk that they’ll end up being the only online music retailer. But for independent musicians, it’s necessary to have your music on iTunes, and let your fans know about it.

Firstly, a lot of people have iPhones. If you’ve ever been through the process of trying to get non-iTunes purchased music onto an iPhone, then you’ll understand what I mean.

Secondly, the fact that iTunes is so big means that there’s a certain credibility in having your music on there. Whilst anyone can get there music onto CD Baby, it’s much more straight forward than getting your music onto iTunes. Therefore, it adds the impression of credibility and authenticity.

Thirdly, sites like CDBaby are still big businesses. Sure, they make more effort at promoting independent music, but let’s not forget that they’re still in the business of making money. Avoiding one company because it’s a “billionaire corporation”, but promoting a millionaire corporation, doesn’t make much sense.

So what should independent artists do?

Firstly, let fans know all the places they can buy your music from. Have links to iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, etc.

Secondly, iTunes charges more for albums – let your fans know this. If they still want to use iTunes and pay the premium, well good for them.

Thirdly, try push fans to physical copies. The profit margin is about the same and it gives fans more bang for their buck. Tell them which record stores they can buy your record from, and furthermore, set up your own online store.

Avoiding  iTunes as an artist is reckless. But having it be the only place you sell your music from is just plain stupid. After all, your an independent artist. You’re not locked into any contracts, so why act like you have only one option. So don’t stop using iTunes, but make sure you explore all possibilities for selling your music online.



Online Music: A Musicians Saving Grace or Simply a Shit Deal?

Real World Vs Digital Sales in terms of US Minimum wage

Real World Vs Digital Sales in terms of US Minimum wage

So is this digital revolution a saving grace for musicians and bands or simply an opportunity for the familiar players in the music business to re-enforce their dominance and market control.

There’s no doubting that opportunities have opened for self releasing bands to expand their reach far beyond the limitations of the pre-digital age. With the availability relatively cheap recording hardware and software bands are able to self-record to an acceptable quality. And with third party distribution sites such as CD baby, bands are able to sell their tunes internationally on sites such as iTunes or Spotify. Couple this with Facebook/Myspace/Reverbnation/Bandcamp and potentially their tracks are not just be available, but they’re able to be promoted to a worldwide audience.

But what of the royalties these sites offer. If this graphic I came across the other day is anything to go by then the deal is becoming systemically worse. I felt that this was a good comparison because it showed how many units/plays were required simply to earn US minimum wage for one person! Keep in mind that if we’re talking about a band with four members, for each of them to earn minimum wage they would have to get 16.1million plays on spotify compared to around 5000 retail albums sold which is the traditional model. Meanwhile Warner music are telling us that streaming is now accounting for 25% of their digital revenue.

So who’s winning out in the move into the digital age? The traditional, old school, poor crying major record labels; or the artist as was suppose to be the case. Unfortunately it would seem that the traditional players had such strength in the pre-digital age that they were able to use this cut themselves an even better deal in the digital age.

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Music Streaming Revenue

SpotifyAccording to the BBC revenue generated from the streaming of music is up 40% and should account for around 1 billion dollars in revenue by the end of the year.  It is nice to see an income being generated from these services.  Streaming services give consumers an alternative to having to physically own Mp3’s and unlike traditional non-ownership models such as radio, streaming gives the consumer the choice of what they do and don’t want to listen to.  Further to this, streaming is the only consumption format that looks as though it will give iTunes a serious challenge (besides Bit Torrent of course).  But lets face it the more choices there are in how we can listen to music the better it is for artists, labels and fans alike.

Where’s My Digital Utopia? The Musical Blackhole left in the Digital Age.

It’s hard to believe that in the year 2012 people are still saying how great things are in the digital age for musicians. They cite Radiohead or C.K Lewis who have successfully self distributed or implemented a “pay what you want for downloads” system. But on the contrary, the digital age is slowly making things worse.

This was originally inspired by a Huffington Post article from A-Trak. Back in 2005 I remember musicians asking me “have you joined Myspace yet? It’ll make you famous.” Whilst even then I found that statement absurd, Myspace was certainly a place for music. Fans would spend evenings surfing Myspace searching for a sound that took their fancy. The interface was customisable to allow musicians display their profile how they deemed appropriate. And whilst it is no doubt major label hype that bands like Arctic Monkeys became as big as they did because of Myspace, they did establish a loyal and geographically broad fan base using the platform.

Myspace is now dead. This is because other platforms such as Facebook do what Myspace did, but better. Well at least that’s true for most of the web using community, but musicians have once again been left by the wayside. We are now stuck with a generic looking timeline that’s only customising feature is the profile and header picture, and Facebook at best has limited click through capabilities for fans who want to find new music. This is not to mention the way that Facebook is now charging us in order to reach all our fans.

But this is not the only way the digital age is short changing musicians. Musicians and bands at any level have always been able to ‘actually’ self distribute by selling CD’s at shows. But now many laptops sold are without CD drives. This means there is no longer anyway for music fans to transfer CD’s onto what is fast becoming the preferred method of music consumption.

You may say that surely this is compensated by having the ability to distribute your music, free of record labels and distributors, in stores like iTunes. It is true that pretty much anyone at any level can get their music on iTunes and the like, but unless you’re a major player in music industry dealing with iTunes directly is impossible. This means bands have to use a third party distributor making the already thin iTunes cut for musicians slimmer again. Sound like a familiar distribution model?

There is also the fact that for many musicians other than those at top 40 level, the most reliable method they have of selling CD’s and making a profit is through merchandise sales at shows. The imminent death of the CD means that musicians will have to turn to download cards in hope that punters will still have the inspiration, not to mention the money in their wallet, to make the purchase once at home. This also means that the reasonable margin that musicians were able to make from shows is again back in the pockets of the retailer.

The digital utopian vision of a de-regulated music industry on the Internet is slipping if not gone. The familiar players in the industry are ensuring that online distribution and promotion channels, just like traditional distribution and promotion channels are, locked to any outside the oligopoly. This means that to any but those artists with the highest public profile need to once again upon rely upon those within the establishment to ensure any sort of feasible distribution and promotion.