SXSW 2015: What's On The Mind Of The Music Industry?
File under: Music Industry News
Every year at this time, the city of Austin is overtaken by the world's largest music festival with musicians, filmmakers, artists, and tech folks descending on the Texas city from all over the globe. Started in 1987, the SXSW festival spans nearly two weeks of music performances, film showings, panel discussions, conferences, and more. And there's plenty for the DIY musician to learn.
We're currently jumping from one music business talk to another at SXSW as we hear from some of the top industry leaders helping to shape the new music business. From the panels that are available in 2015, it's clear that what's on the mind of musicians and services that participate in the industry: making money, getting heard, and building a fanbase.
Here's just a sample of some of the panel discussions at SXSW that illustrate the focus of today's music industry and the concerns of DIY musicians:
"New Ways for Artists to Make Money", "Bootstrapping Strategies for Music Entrepreneurs", "50 Ideas to Make Over $100K More This Year", "Show Me The Money, Show Me The Fans!", "Self-Releasing for Success"
How can musicians make money in today's music environment? It's the top question on every musician's mind, so much so that when it's not the primary focus of a panel discussion, musicians in the audience ask about it anyway. How can you get paid when my music is performed? Are you getting all the royalties owed to you? And, am I even set up to take money in the first place?
"Content, Copyright, and Commerce", "Who's Using My Music? Copyrights in the Digital Era", "What You Don't Know Can Hurt You -- Music Licensing"
Although the music industry has rapidly changed, the law continues to lag behind the realities of a tech-driven music industry. Royalty rates for streaming services continue to baffle musicians. Statutory rates set by US Copyright Office take three years to review and agree on. Copyright laws continue to age and show gaps. And, maneuvering the world of copyrights for licensing continues to be difficult.
"Tour Merch: The Most Overlooked Revenue in Music",
Selling merchandise such as T-shirts and other items is still a powerful way to make revenue when you're on the road and playing gigs.
"Getting Royalties from Streaming Services", "Still Screaming About Streaming"
The buzz continues around consumers choosing to rent their music rather than buy. Spotify, Pandora, Beats -- if your music isn't there, you haven't put your music in all of the places that fans want to listen to it. Also, mobile is huge -- it's overtaking desktop usage and it's where people are listening to and discovering music. This means if your music isn't streamable on a mobile device and your web presence isn't mobile-ready, you will be left behind.
"Crowdfunding Rock n' Roll", "21st Century Patronage: Brands Empowering Artists", "Why You Matter to Brands/Why Brands Matter to You", "Untapped Opportunities in (Brand) Sync Licensing"
The old method of having a label support artists has been disrupted by musicians going direct -- to their fans (through crowdfunding or patronage services) or to companies and brands through sponsorships. Plus, sync licensing, which has no statutory limits on how much you can charge, generates income and helps build exposure to new audiences.
"Exposure vs. Revenue on YouTube: Must We Choose?", "The New Interactive Music: Music's Visual Future"
Video is king. Musicians can't be reclusive and media-shy any longer. The world has changed and musicians need to build relationships with their fans, engage through social media, and be seen as well as heard. YouTube continues to be the number one music search engine and artists need to make videos, get views, and make money from the platform as well as the videos themselves.
"Step Into Christmas: What Music Brands Want"
There's a windfall that occurs each year around December for those musicians who capture the Christmas market. New artists are encouraged to use this for their own benefit.
"At Some Point You Are Going To Need A Team", "Building Your Music Business Dream Team" "Street Team 2.0: Digital Marketing for Music"
To build your music business, you'll eventually need to build a team. DIY companies also provide services that can help you get your business started. The goal is to get trusted people who can help you market your music as well as handle the music business so you're free to focus on the music.
"Give It Away Now: The 'Value' in Free Music", "How and Why to Let Others Remix and Mashup Your Work"
Should you give music away to build your fanbase? And if you do, can you still convince fans to buy it or can you find other ways to monetize it? Also, how about letting fans remix your music? Musicians are still asking these questions and looking to music industry thought leaders for answers.
If you aren't able to make it to the conference to learn more or do some networking, don't worry: we're taking lots of notes and will be sharing what we've learned in future columns.
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