Think about being good, not about being famous

“Most young comedians don’t think about being good, they think about being famous.” – Jeff Garlin
A focus on becoming great at your craft eventually adds value to the lives of others. Adding value to the lives of others is how you turn a passion for your craft into a longterm career.
A focus on becoming famous leads to a temporary high for yourself and your audience. Once the high wears off, you may find your audience has moved on to the next one. You will be chasing that first high, forever more.
A focus on becoming great at your craft is a long-term proposition without a finish line. There aren’t any competitors for becoming the best version of yourself. Those around you are peers, teachers and students. You will live in a win-win world.
A focus on becoming famous is a short-term proposition and a race. Those around you are your competitors and when they win, you will be bitter because it wasn’t you. You live in a win-lose world.
Self-confidence born from an increasing mastery of your craft is hard to rock. Others can’t take away your skill or ability to create beautiful things. You are a rooted tree.
Self-confidence born from fame is fleeting at best. It can be taken away and you will feel anxious and scared. You are a tumbleweed.
A focus on becoming great at your craft includes telling your story and that of your work. It will includes wins, but also losses, so that others can learn and find community.
A focus on becoming famous includes telling a story that’s incomplete. It includes only wins, and possibly some smoke and mirrors to enhance the wins. You will fuel the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, which is destructive to your community.
Would you rather be good, or famous? Take your pick.

Martin Frascogna: 5 ways to challenge the “Industry Standard”

Martin Frascogna

“Industry Standard” is an erratic expression, overused in today’s music industry. In the ‘old’ music industry, the term had meaning. Today, it doesn’t.
Industry standard is meant to define acceptable requirements followed by members of an industry, but how can you define acceptable requirements when those requirements change daily based upon geographical, economic and business model factors?
Additionally, how can you define acceptable requirements when those requirements vary from profession to profession within the music industry? If you believe there’s a clear standard, I can assure you that you lack international dealings.
Promotional tactics in Australia vary from tactics used in Brazil. Label deals in Japan are different from label deals in the US. Managers in Europe operate differently from managers in Africa. Producers in New York work differently from producers in Limerick.
Years ago, the music industry was predictable. Roles were clearly defined, models were based upon geographical locations and new label signings were based upon talent and record sales.
Today, the music industry is like the gun-slinging Wild West. Non-traditional record labels have rewritten recording agreements; sales figures are often irrelevant in comparison to streaming; social media and YouTube views; new global competitors have emerged; apps are more relevant than websites; developers are more important than attorneys; publicist are more relevant than labels; and geographical diversity and competition is unspeakable.
Defining “industry standard” when there is no “industry standard” is impossible – yet we all continue using the phrase.
The one commonality in using “industry standard” these days: it’s typically to someone’s detriment. Who’s the manager to question a $15,000 legal retainer if it’s industry standard for lawyers? If the label gives an artist a 15% royalty but claim the industry standard is 10%, who’s the artist to question this generous bump?
We all use the term without thought, but subconsciously, it’s typically to justify a professional position. Well, in today’s globalised music industry, it’s time to question “industry standard” every time you hear it. Yes, some minor practices still have a clearly defined industry standard, but practically speaking given the global market, combat the statement when it’s used.
Whether you’re an artist, manager, label executive, agent, publicist, producer or attorney, help combat the “industry standard” argument by using these five tips:
1.  Analyse The Profession
Who’s using the industry standard argument? Each profession within the music industry has their own set up consistencies. For instance, generally speaking managers are paid based upon a percentage of the artists’ income. Agents are paid based upon gigs booked, Labels make money by selling music, attorneys are paid by the hour, and so forth. It’s important to clearly define the professional avenue in which you’re dealing.
2.  Evaluate The Territory
Every country is different; therefore the standard of measuring success will vary as well.  For example, don’t expect to sell the same number of records in Nigeria as Germany or don’t expect to generate physical revenue in areas controlled by digital sales.  These geographical expectations trickle down to professional performance. Meaning, it doesn’t make since to pay a publicist the “industry standard” rate if they’re located in Cyprus in comparison with the United Kingdom. Additionally, performance success will be based upon geographical expectations as opposed to the blanket professional standard.
3.  Demand an Evaluation
Ask the following question: “based upon your professional experience, what makes that the industry standard?” Pressure parties to give examples and clarify. Often times people won’t even know why it’s the industry standard. But if you hear some grumbling, and an answer resembling “that’s just the way it is”, that’s probably not reflective of a creative/mutual relationship you want to engage in.
4.   Matching Terms
If the offering party is adamant about the “industry standard” argument, ask if they’ve ever issued better terms. More than likely they will say “no” in which your reaction should be “GREAT, than you’ll have no problem implementing a favoured nations provision in our contract, right?” Essentially, if the offering party ever issues more favorable terms to a client in the future, your terms must match it.
5.  The Second Opinion
It seems so basic, but seek a second opinion. The offer received may very well be “industry standard”; but tell the offering party that you’ll need to confirm their figures by seeking a second opinion.  If they understand your request, this speaks volumes.
Martin F. Frascogna is an entertainment attorney who represents clients both indie and major in 31 countries spanning 6 continents. At midem 2013, he discussed how to attract anti-360 offers as a band, how to structure mutually beneficial non-traditional deals and more. Watch his session in full here.Frascogna’s practice, Frascogna Entertainment Law, notably specialises in advising DIY artists. Follow him on Twitter for daily tips.

The One Word Answer To All The Problems In The New Music Industry

A Guest Post by Jamie Leger

Update: I am Officially Renaming This Post The TWO word answer to all the problems in the new music industry… CLARITY + FOCUS.
No offense at all to the client I’m referencing, but I find it a classic quote and it’s the perfect seque into a topic i’ve become very familiar with and a point I want to drive home for Modern Artists and Bands primarily. Although, the concept is certainly relevant to any form of career-content creator.
When I asked you to paint me a picture of what it is you really want, what your ultimate goal was, what your highest level musical vision looked like for you and your band…
You sort of took a short step back, finger touched your bottom lip, and sort of half-assertedly said… “Well, I just want my music to be heard, felt, experienced, by MORE people.” You also mentioned that you wanted to make more record sales too.
Now, there are many ways to look at this. But despite what some of you may think, I actually see a lot more RIGHT with this, then what’s WRONG with this.

How Artists Get Paid for Their Music

FMCmoneyflow.radiosmall How Artists Get Paid for Their Music

Do you know how music revenue flows back to songwriters, artists, publishers, and labels?

Most musicians have a general understanding of how money works when it comes to live performance and merch sales — but when it comes to getting compensated for radio play, digital sales, webcasts, and interactive streaming, the waters are a bit more murky.
Last week, the folks at the Future of Music Coalition published four online quizzes that let you test your knowledge about the music revenue streams mentioned above, and how that money is distributed. The best thing about the quizzes — if you don’t know the answers, they’ll explain it to you right then and there.

Learn more about how these organizations work:

* SoundExchange
* PROs like BMI and ASCAP
* Harry Fox Agency
If you want to learn even more about how musicians, songwriters, labels, and publishers earn money from broadcast radio and webcasting, digital sales, and interactive streams, also check out these detailed infographics from the folks at Future of Music Coalition. 
Want to learn more about the world of music publishing? Download our FREE guide:
Publishing Guide:  Make More Money From Your Music

Why So Many Artists Are Recording in Secret

by Tom Dillon

Recording artists often publicize that they were headed into the recording studio. A web, or more recently, Twitter update sends fans into a tizzy of excitement, even if the band hasn’t written or recorded anything yet. In part because digital music makes it possible to release something everywhere in an instant, and in part due to reasons unknown, more and more artists these days are choosing instead to record in secret, and then surprise everyone with a new release.
Kanye West did it on May 17, returning to Twitter after having deleted all of his tweets, with just the since-deleted words: June Eighteen. Surprise! It was Seventeen (the full album is now available for $12 as a download, and people are saying good things about it).
The album itself leaked at one point after that announcement, but at least nobody even knew he was working on one. There’s nothing stopping an artist from keeping a new record hidden until, well, whenever, then springing it on everyone with a browser and a credit card.
This trend has been building. You might remember Radiohead’s 2007 In Rainbows for letting fans choose their own price. In the following four years, it wasn’t a stretch to speculate that the band was working on new music, but fans and the media alike were in the dark. Radiohead announced The King of Limbs on February 14th, 2011 – five days before releasing the whole album, digitally, with CD pre-orders. The digital version sold between 300,000 and 400,000 copies before the CD even came out, according to Rolling Stone, which is pretty good for 2011.
Earlier this year, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience managed to keep an album secret within the major label system. Timberlake’s manager, Johnny Wright, knew as early as 2010 that his famous client intended to record an album, according to Billboard. He was reportedly blindsided when, in June, 2012 Timberlake revealed that twenty days in the studio with Timbaland, supposedly about a mixtape recording session, were spent completing a record.
The cloak of secrecy was so tight that his publicist denied he was working on anything, and Timberlake refused to disclose the codename for the project, even after the fact. The 20/20 Experience, whose single coincided with a MySpace relaunch, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 and sold a staggering (for these times) 968,000 copies in its first week, holding down the top of the charts for three weeks in total.
Fall Out Boy went even further, in denying that they were even a band while working on theirSave Rock & Roll album. Members Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump stated publically that the band had no plans to get back together, but regardless, they recorded in secret from October 2012 to March 2013, with a single released in mid-March and an album quickly thereafter. Save Rock & Roll surprised music journalists, topping the charts with 154,000 copies in its first week. Rolling Stone called it a “rather stunning renaissance.”
David Bowie blew minds on March 8th with The Next Day, recorded in secret over the course of two years and was announced and released on the very same day. Some fans had even believed he had retired before finding out about it. Even when people were tweetingpictures of Bowie walking around Manhattan, nobody spilled the beans on the record. The Next Day went on to top the charts during its release in the UK and also garnered Bowie his highest charting album on the US Billboard.
Daft Punk also played its hand at this game. Having released nothing since their Tron movie score, the band revealed on February 26th that they had signed with Columbia Records and would release an album that very spring. The French electronic duo then released 15-second song teasers as ads during Saturday Night Live to maintain hype until the album’s May release date, as fans eagerly awaited the album’s successful iTunes premiere.
This promotional strategy banked on minimizing direct exposure to the album before its release, essentially creating an information vacuum — and if nature abhors a vacuum, the internet loves to fill in an information vacuum. Daft Punk’s manager Paul Hahn told the Wall Street Journal, “there is a minimalism in our approach that creates an absence of information, and we notice our fans tend to throw themselves into the breach, or try to fill the empty spaces.”
Daft Punk’s secretive marketing technique helped elevate them to their first number-one album on the UK Albums Chart as well as their first number-one on the United State’s Billboard 200 selling 165,091 and 339,000 copies in its first week respectively.
Creating an information vacuum is already a tried-and-true technique for hyping a record. Ironically, or perhaps not, sometimes it’s a lack of information that really carries a message in these information-rich times.

The Average iTunes User Purchases $12 Worth of Music a Year

If this was writing on the wall before, it’s now a giant, pornographic mural on the largest billboard in town. According to research just published by Asymco analyst Horace Dediu, the average iTunes user now spends just $12 on music, a year, down from $42 five years ago.   
Other categories like software and books are also declining, which makes sense given an iTunes registered user base that is ballooning towards 600 million worldwide.  Sounds like that would naturally drive the average down, except for the inconvenient truth that apps are still increasing quite comfortably.  

Which means: not only is there more stuff for ‘music fans’ to buy, they’re buying more of that other stuff.

Enter the streaming vanguard led by Spotify, which is now poised to surpass download revenues as early as this year.  Here, the per-user riddle gets complicated: Spotify most recently reported 6 million paying subscribers, with 24 million total active users.
Assuming subscribers are all paying $120 a year (at the highest $10/month rate), that puts Spotify’s per-user spend at $30 a year, almost triple that of iTunes.
Except, there’s one gigantic problem here.  According to research recently released by industry analyst Mark Mulligan, roughly 70 percent of Spotify registered users are completely inactive, abandoned accounts.  Which makes the per-user numbers look something like this:

Spotify, revenue per user (per year).

Registered Users = Paying + Active + Inactive
Paying Subscribers (6 million): $120 a year
Active Users (24 million): $30 a year

Registered Users (80 million): $9 a year.

4 Dos and Don’ts When Writing Songs

Posted in MusicWorld on June 19, 2013 by Cliff Goldmacher#grayscale’);”>#grayscale’); line-height: 16px; margin-left: 3px; margin-right: 3px; position: relative; z-index: 1;”> #grayscale’);”>#grayscale’); line-height: 16px; margin-left: 3px; margin-right: 3px; position: relative; z-index: 1;”> #grayscale’);”>#grayscale’); line-height: 16px; margin-left: 3px; margin-right: 3px; position: relative; z-index: 1;”>#grayscale’); padding-left: 20px; padding-right: 3px; white-space: nowrap;”>LinkedIn
“Which do you write first, the music or the words?” This is the classic question that all songwriters get asked. In my experience, there’s no easy – or correct – answer to this one. Sometimes it’s the music, sometimes it’s the lyrics, and, often, it’s some mystical, organic combination of the two. More importantly, there is no one way to write a song. Some of the best – and worst – songs ever written were created using the same techniques. To that end, I’m going to cover four different ways to approach writing a song and some of the “dos” and “don’ts” you’ll want to keep in mind as you go through each one.
1. Writing based on a title idea/lyrical hook
Coming up with a really catchy title or lyrical hook is an art in and of itself. If you’ve got one, congratulations. Now that you’ve got it, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Do remember to make sure that everything in your lyric points to and supports your lyrical hook. Having a catchy hook only works if you build a foundation around it so that when the hook arrives, there’s a sense of drama and release.
Don’t forget to give the song real emotional content. It’s possible to be so focused on the hook and setting it up that you forget to be sincere. While the average listener might not be able to tell you why, the song won’t move them in the way that a song with genuine emotional content would.

Yes, Already: SXSW 2014 Dates Confirmed; Planning Underway

South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — music industry event in the world (with tech not far behind).  And just months after the last one finished, SXSW organizers have now confirmed dates for next year.
From March 7-16 of 2014, droves of creative and business professionals will gather in Austin, TX (although rumors have been flying around about a possible relocation to Las Vegas) to interact and foster each other’s growth in the film and music industry.
If you have an idea that you would like to bring to the table, the SXSW PanelPicker, a community conference-building platform, opens Monday, July 1st.  Applications for performers for the 2014 SXSW Music Festival will be accepted starting July 9th by Sonicbids.
Lastly, registration and housing applications start August 1st.
And if you’re an Austin local, be happy: you’ve now been given advanced warning on when exactly you should leave town!

Facebook Launches Photo Comments

image from upload.wikimedia.orgFacebook has launched a new feature that allows users to share images as comments on posts. Previously, Facebook allowed users to share an image as a comment only with a link. FB engineer Bob Baldwin, who helped build the feature wrote, When I’m talking with a friend, sometimes showing a photo helps me tell a story much better than words alone.”
Here’s what it looks like:

image from
I can imagine bands asking fans to post concert photos or running a photo-based contests.  How will you use it as a marketing tool?