File under: Music Industry News
Every March, hundreds of thousands descend on Austin, Texas for the premier music, film, and tech festival -- South by Southwest (SXSW). While many associate SXSW with non-stop music performances from acts around the world, it's also where the music industry comes together to share tips and tricks on how to make money in today's tech-driven music industry. And, just as in year's past, you can find us running from one part of the conference center to another as we soak up all we can learn from top industry leaders and services helping to shape the new music business.
Now in its fourth decade, SXSW is bigger than ever -- spanning nearly two weeks of music performances, film showings, panel discussions, tech demos, and more. This year some of the key themes surround micro-targeting, streaming, social storytelling and marketing, getting heard, publishing and licensing, building a fanbase, and how to make money with music.
Below is just a taste of the the 2017 SXSW panel discussions which can give you insight on what's on the minds of DIY musicians and the music industry at this moment. Many are topics we cover here in Electronic Musician Magazine as well as The DIY Advisor each Wednesday. So if you're hungry for tips, tricks, and techniques now, The DIY Advisor has your back: click the links for related articles on all of these topics:
- Getting Your Music Placed: "Making Music TV Beyond Television", "Music for Media: Myths & Misconceptions", "How Music is Created & Placed in Games", "The Evolution of Music Supervision", "Secrets To Getting Syncs"
If you can get your music placed in a film, TV show, video game, movie trailer, or advertisement, you'll make money. Licensing your music in this way can be lucrative, but to get licensed, you need to make sure you own all your rights (or have them cleared) and have the mixes ready to go. Music supervisors are constantly looking for the right song or track, but there are ways you can get your music in front of them; you just need to know the secrets. When you do get placed, be sure to have your music registered with a PRO, so you can get all the performance royalties owed to you (and know about submitting cue sheets!).
- Streaming & Getting Heard: "Launchpad: How Streaming Curators Help Artists", "Can Playlists and Spotlights Break an Artist?", "The Power of Human Curation"
Streaming continues to grow, so if your music isn't already up at Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, or other streaming services, then you haven't put your music in all of the places where fans discover new music. This year, the focus is on how curators, and the playlists they create, can break up-and-coming artists. Being able to reach out and get your music included on popular playlists can help your music reach new listeners.
- Touring & Gigs: "Creating a Great Live Show", "Tour: Smart - Ten Years of Tour Advice"
Playing live is still one of the best ways to make money with music, so it's no wonder it's discussed at SXSW. One way you can boost sales of your music and merch table is by creating great shows -- shows that create emotional moments for your audience.
- Making Money with Music: "Transforming Online Popularity to Offline Success", "How To Launch A Music Career From Scratch"
Each year, the big question is how do musicians make money in today's music environment? Many SXSW's panels touch on this topic and, as in years past, when they don't, musicians in the audience ask the panelists anyway. It makes sense since you are a business. How can you get paid when your music is performed? Are you getting all the royalties owed to you? What about making money from your videos? What's the best way to raise money through crowdfunding? Don't forget, you can start a music business for $0. And, yes, believe it or not, your own gear can make money for you, too.
- Branding & Sponsorships: "The New Deal: Why Brands Will Buy Artists Airtime", "I Want You to Want Me: Artists Seeking Brands"
Big name brands are looking to reach specific audiences and demographics; musicians are looking for sponsorships. It's a match that creates a win-win for those with an engaged fanbase. This has opened up a revenue stream which historically was only available to well-known acts. Is your music set up to receive song and sound recording royalties if you sign a sponsorship deal? Do you know what a work-for-hire is and what you are giving up if you sign such an agreement? And, do you know all the other ways a brand can "pay" you?
- Marketing, Publicity & Fan Engagement: "Social Storytelling: Music Marketing in 2017", "Cause Marketing for Musicians in 2017", "One Fan at a Time? Maximizing Fan Engagement", "Engage More Fans Using Retail Marketing Strategies"
Fan engagement is always a key topic at SXSW, and this year, they tackle building a fanbase by using your story to connect with your audience, as well as using retail based marketing. But note that there are other methods of continually engaging including cause marketing, which allows you to use the piggybacking technique to associate your art with a cause that you find worthy, allowing you to shine a spotlight on something that deserves it.
- Understanding Your Legal Rights: "Signing Your Band To A Sync Rep Company", "General Licensing: Where Are My Royalties?", "Creative and Financial Aspects of Sampling", "The Song and Sound Recording Performance Right"
Once you write and record music, you'll want to avoid the numerous legal mistakes by understanding the rights you have with the songs you write and to make sure that you've done all of the regisrations needed to collect them. But sampling includes using other people's work, and is a fast-changing area because the law is still playing catch-up to the industry. Also, if you want to make your music work for you, it always pays to be aware of what sync rep companies can do for you (keeping aware of what terms like work-for-hire means, or how to consider whether or not to sign one).
- The Future of Music: "Living in the Future - Music Policy in a New Industry", "The 7 Hottest Topics of Music Tech in 2017", "Music & Commerce: Licensing Music for Social Media", "Compulsory License Today, Direct License Tomorrow?"
It's always worth paying attention to current topics, but to make good use of your limited time and resources spend your efforts on finding out where the party's at and paying attention to trends. Today's trends covers how the law tries to adjust to the intersection of licensing and world of social media.
That's just a snapshot of what's happening at SXSW 2017. There's a lot to learn, but as always, we're ready to take what we discover and share it in future columns each week right here at The DIY Advisor.
- SXSW 2015: What's On The Mind of The Music Industry?
- SXSW 2016: What's On The Mind of The Music Industry?
- 100 Free Articles to Help You Make Money with Music and Grow Your Music Career
- The Indie Band Survival Guide (Remixed & Remastered: Second Edition)
- Making Money With Music (15-hour Online Course)
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Photo Credit: Jason Feehan