Music Business

Interview with disco don Yam Who? aka Qwestlife!

General, Music Business, Music Production

I interviewed Yam Who? in this week’s blog post and asked him some questions that might just capture your imagination a wee bit. So who is  Yam Who?. He’s the internationally known alter ego of disco producer Andy Williams. One of the most consistent DJ’s on the circuit, every weekend you’ll find him rocking the dance floor at clubs & festivals around the globe including Glitterbox, Lovebox, Ministry Of Sound, Horse Meat Disco, Love International etc.. He’s featured on line ups with the world’s finest selectors including Greg Wilson, Joey Negro, Melvo Baptiste, Tiger & Woods, Purple Disco Machine & Danny Krivit. So let’s dive into the questions!

 What do you currently do?
Currently I wear a lot of hats, but in a nutshell I do the following:

  • DJ as Yam Who & Qwestlife
  • Artist / Producer as Yam Who & Qwestlife
  • Owner of 3 labels – ISM, Midnight Riot & Black Riot 
  • Songwriter
  • Journalist – Mixmag disco editor, providing a cutting edge platform for the modern disco, boogie & house scenes

 How did you break into the industry?
I started DJ’ing at university. Then there weren’t many DJ’s back then (it was a long time ago lol). Then suddenly it seemed to become very cool and there were too many. Throughout this period I always had the disco bug. I was also always into technology and instruments and I seemed to naturally drift into music production. I realised early on that the only way into music was through production and I started Yam Who. From this I naturally progressed into setting up ISM Records in 2009. Following on from ISM I sensed a missing niche in the market and started Midnight Riot and the label literally took off. I learnt a lot from starting ISM that really helped with Midnight Riot being the success that it is. Anyways all this led to getting a gig at Mixmag as their Disco editor and from here I ended up getting signed to Glitterbox which was a dream come true. I still remember getting a call from the team there and what a surreal feeling it was. I loved the label and they said they wanted to create some synergy and I now have an album coming out on their label under my production guise ‘Qwestlife’ with Tom Laroye.
I have to point out that this whole process spans 30 years, I started in music back in 1989. I firmly believe that the only way to break into the scene now is to set up yourself correctly, through things like Bandcamp and having a strong brand and releasing great music. Internet technology has levelled the playing field. The way to do it is through perseverance, ingenuity and creativity. 

How long did it take you to be a success?
As I mentioned above it’s taken me 30 years and it’s just really getting going now! There have definitely been key, formative events on the way, like when I first got into Hip Hop in 1983. MOre than just music this was a movement centred around music, dancing (breaking), art (graffiti)  and fashion – all things that I love. Even with Midnight Riot, I came up with the name after the Tottenham Riots in 2011. They had just happened and I was trying to get home at midnight, (I live in Tottenham)!
Everything comes together in a weird way. I feel nowadays everyone wants an instant fix but you have to take your time, hone your craft, practice and be creative as that breeds longevity. If it’s any consolation I’ve made a ton of mistakes on the way. 

What advice do you have for producers trying to break into the industry?
Persevere, be creative, hone your craft and hustle. Also make your music with passion, you have to come with the right intentions and be authentic.

How is it best to send music out to DJ’s, labels and Management companies?
I use SendMusic for this, as it’s so fast and reliable and you guys are brilliant at helping me out whenever I need it!

 What are your favourite go to plugins?
I’m a software junkie I think, but here are the staples:
– Arturia – V Collection
– Xfer – Serum
– Fabfilter – Pro Q, Saturn
– Native Instruments – Kontakt, Massive, Reaktor
Everyone has their own system, find what works for you, but really master whatever it is you use. Most DAW’s come with insane stock plug ins now to be fair. I also use a ton of hardware as well, loads of outboard synths. There’s something special and organic about capturing analogue signals that gives your music real warmth and depth. I think this can be lacking sometimes with solely plugins.

Do you have your own tracks mixed and mastered by someone else?
Yes I now use someone else, even though I can do it and used to do it all myself. But you reach a certain level where it’s better outsourced and I prefer the separation of the stages now.
Mixing and mastering duties fyi are done by a certain Matt Bandy, he’s great!

 What trends do you see in the scene this coming year?
The Disco vibe is just starting to really get going – it’s going to get bigger this year I believe.
Our debut Qwestlife album is out this year on Glitterbox, so excited for that and hoping that trends!
Also i’m seeing a collective of people / producers / songwriters making big songs again with  great vocals and great songwriting. It’s an exciting time in the scene.

Who are your favourite producers
There are a ton out there but right now i’m digging the following:
– The Vision – Kon and Ben Westbeech
– Art of tones
– Michael Gray
– Joey Negro
– Purple Disco Machine

How can our users get you music, for either getting signed to one of your labels or inclusion in your DJ sets?
If you go to my SendMusic Profile Page here, just send it via that! Like I said, it’s my file transfer method of choice 🙂

That’s it for this week. Finally, thanks Yam, it was great talking to you and best of luck for the rest of 2020. We look forward to hearing your art!

Pal

pal@sendmusic.com

 

 

 

 

 

Streaming revolts and artist cuts

Music Business

Did you know that 2002 was the peak of the global music industry in terms of revenue generated? Even more interestingly however is that last year the global industry generated somewhere in the region of 85% of the money it did in 2002 at its peak. The Recorded Music Association of America (RIAA) revealed that overall revenues in the US recorded music industry grew 12% to $9.8 billion last year, driven heavily by Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, TIDAL and other streaming platforms. Things look like they are on the up for artists and music makers, but in reality are they?

Recently in Germany a group of managers and lawyers representing some of Germany’s biggest artists have written a joint letter to the leaders of the four largest music companies in the world – Universal, Sony, Warner and BMG. The letter demands more money from the booming business created by the streaming platforms. Interestingly the letter doesn’t attack the digital platforms, but instead attacks record companies and implies that these record companies are taking too much of the streaming millions.

The artist’s representatives say that there is “an urgent and fundamental need to review and, if necessary, restructure the billing and remuneration model in the area of streaming”. BMG to their credit responded saying “we do not find it justifiable in a world in which record companies no longer have the costs of pressing, handling and delivering physical products for them to hold onto the lion’s share of streaming revenues”. The silence from Sony, Universal and Warner is somewhat deafening.

Just focusing on the streaming platforms for the moment, below is a list that shows which services pay the most from top down. Napster currently sits at the top and pays most per stream at $0.01900. The far right column shows how many streams would be needed to make the US Minimum Monthly Wage of $1,472. 

So the obvious question is where is all this money generated from streaming actually going? It’s hard to shed much light on how much major labels are retaining versus what they actually pay out to artists from their streaming revenue income but we’ve scoured the net and have got some indicative figures below.

Looking at recent investor filings from Universal Music Group’s parent company Vivendi, as well as Sony and Warner, it was found that the companies are totaling $19 million in daily streaming revenue. Yes that is a lot of money! Broken down even further, this trio of labels generate nearly $800,000 per hour just from music streaming services alone. According to the RIAA, streaming now makes up to 75% of these label’s revenues. 

Here’s the sad part though – record labels take as much as 80% of those earnings, as part of traditional record deals. Bigger stars who negotiate a more favourable royalty split still usually have to share around 50% of music revenue. 

This disparity has led to some music legends and pop stars complaining about how little they make from music streaming. If you remember, not so long ago Taylor Swift even went as far as removing all her music from streaming services at protest of the small percentage that artists receive. To her credit she forced Apple Music to renege on the refusal to pay artists for plays during free trial periods. She also forced UMG to agree to share it’s $1 billion stake in Spotify with artists when the label re-signed her.

It’s obvious the major labels and the tech companies are prospering in this new music streaming ecosystem. But it’s now time artists receive their fair share of the pie also, as at the end of the day, they are the ones who create the art we all love. Spotify has an admirable mission statement – ‘to unlock the potential of human creativity by giving 1 million artists the opportunity to make a living off their art’. It sounds great, but I believe they, as well as the other major streaming services, need to work with the major labels to make sure that they provide artists with a fair percentage of profits so they can actually make a living from their art. Otherwise we just run the risk of watering down the actual art, artists taking less risks and music becoming less inspiring as the music makers gravitate towards sounds that are more popular and generate more streaming revenues. I think I would seriously consider being an Independent artist in this day and age!

Pal

pal@send.mu

 

Industry insider interview with….Kemal

General, Music Business, Music Production

10 Key questions with….Kemal

Some questions to you guys:

  • Do you make music?
  • Do you want to get your music on the radio?
  • Do you want to know if record labels, blogs etc. actually listen to the music that you send to them?

Well in today’s blog and the first of this year’s interview series, I interviewed SendMusic co-founder and music industry aficionado Kemal.

What do you currently do?

  • I do a few things actually including but not limited to the following:
  • Produce the Diplo & Friends show on BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra
  • A&R for the Grammy nominated production trio The Invisible Men
  • Building SendMusic as the best platform to share unreleased music

How did you break into the industry?

  • I followed my passion for music. At University I started DJing. When I finished Uni my friend and I started working in Community (some might call it pirate!) radio. I also started writing music reviews for a magazine, putting on club nights and doing as many music related things as I could. It was just a case of connecting with people who had the same type of dreams.
  • It all culminated in me enrolling to do a sound engineering course. The universe then worked in my favour and I saw that 1Xtra were launching and advertising for jobs. It took me a year from the first interview to get a continuous role there – but I’d managed to gain some of the skills and experience needed with the things I was doing in my spare time and was able to work across both 1Xtra and Radio 1 late night shows before bringing Diplo to the networks.

What advice do you have for producers trying to break into the industry?

  • Your first 100 productions will be poor, get through these as quickly as possible. Try to make 3 beats a day instead of one a week – it’s a journey and a process. The quicker you get the 10,000 hours in, the quicker your path to success will be. Like anything that is skilled you need to really batten down the hatches and practice your craft, a lot, over and over again. I think anyone can make good music if they are focused.

How would a producer with a great track get it onto the following:

 A Diplo or other big DJ mix?

  • They would have to get a track to either Diplo or one of the guests we feature on the show. The best way to do this is to build your own brand. By brand I mean your artist name, releasing high quality music regularly and building a fanbase. This way other dj’s will hopefully start to like your productions and support you. Every Diplo show features plenty of music from hot new DJs / artists / producers. Try to get your music to these people instead of Diplo initially if you’re not getting the support you’re expecting. Research plays a big part of success here, find out who to send music to that has a connection to Diplo, or whoever you’re trying to reach. If your music is good, it’ll travel.

A Radio 1 playlist?

  • Again your focus should be to build a brand and create a fanbase. A producer or musician’s job is to make music that is undeniable and then try to build a big enough fanbase so that people talk about and support it. Trust me, Radio 1 will take notice, but it’s a long and lengthy process so keep at it. Put out as many high quality tracks as regularly as you can, to build a fanbase and get regular support. Also remember that Radio 1 may not be the best home for the music you’re making so try to find the right channel for whatever style of music that you produce. Use some thought here and consider what places are best for your music to submit to.

A Spotify playlist?

  • This I think has more to do with building a presence on the platform as you can now pitch for inclusion to playlists. Get as much support as possible and start with the smaller playlists. The cumulative effect of this is that it kicks in the Spotify engagement algorithm which works to put you in better contention for the larger playlists. Remember that to get onto the big Spotify playlists you need to probably be established with a solid monthly streaming number. Start with small playlists, even with 100 or 1000 subscribers, before long you will hopefully progress to 10,000 subscriber playlists and beyond.

How is it best to send music out to DJ’s, labels and Management companies?

  • First stop would be to look though the SendMusic directory (send.mu/directory) as we’ve got some major players in there – so sign up! Do your research, look at their relevant social spaces, they usually have demo drop details. Most of the information you need is on the internet, so just start digging.
  • Format wise I prefer when people send 1 track (your best!) and never more than 3. More than that and the reality is most people working in the music industry just won’t have the time to go through them all. I get 15 emails a day asking me to listen to music so if you’re sending 12 tracks it’s just not going to happen. If they want to hear more, they’ll get in touch and ask. Make sure that it’s a high res mp3 with contact details on how to get in touch, which is best done in using the file name effectively.

Does anyone really ever listen to the music at the record labels, blogs, Spotify playlists in your opinion?

  • Yes, most people get into the music industry because they are passionate about music. The underlying issue is that these people are inundated with tracks. Getting through as many tracks quickly and securely and sending feedback is why we created SendMusic!

 Do you have to have a massive social media presence to get signed now?

  • No, but you need something unique, whether that’s your personality shining through online or your amazing music making skills making you stand out. There are lots of smaller labels that support artists without huge followings. If however you’re definitely looking to be a top 10 pop star then yes, you most probably do need to work on your social media presence and have an audience already.

Do you need a Radio Plugger?

  • Radio pluggers help after you reach a certain level – when you’ve had time in a scene and built some connections. As a general rule of thumb they are more for pushing music to daytime shows and rotation. Good radio pluggers should have connections with presenters and radio production staff that can help get your music heard but you don’t necessarily need one – especially if you’re making underground specialist music.

What is the best way to keep on top of trends in music?

  • For music trends look out for what’s hot using different indicators, such as charts, sales / streaming, what’s being played on radio shows, in the clubs and in DJ mixes.
  • From a business angle read things like Music Week or Music Business Worldwide to find out about who is doing what at labels, publishers and more.

Is it better to be independent in this day and age or with a management company that can align you with singers and an infrastructure

  • This depends on the artist. I’m an advocate of doing as much as you can by yourself until managers approach you. Lots of upcoming artists think the answer is to get a manager, but the vision still needs to come from the artist – where he or she is going artistically. A manager is just an enabler. I guess the questions underlying this is – as an artist do you want full creative control or do you need help navigating the industry? It can be complex, there are lots of tricky roads to manoeuvre, e.g. record deals, publishing contracts, licensing, touring etc. You can do it all yourself (it’s easier than ever with more and more tools evolving every year) but the independent path doesn’t let you focus 100% on the craft of making music.

What plans do you have for SendMusic in 2020?

  • 2020 is already gearing up to be our best and most exciting year yet!
  • Our Mobile App will launch at the end of March and I think you are going to love it – there are also big plans in the summer centred around some key music tech events.
  • We’ll be heading back to ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) in October, where we were shortlisted as a ‘Company 2 Watch’ last year.

 

2019 & Beyond

AI, General, Music Business

Well it’s been a few weeks now since we saw in 2020, the start of a new decade and i’m guessing for many of you a reinvigorated drive to accomplish goals and realise dreams. It’s definitely felt that way for myself as a co-founder of SendMusic and a part time music producer – i.e. part time as in when I get a spare moment to create, which is quite tricky with 2 children and 2 cats. In fairness to the cats they are actually not time consuming at all really, the children on the other hand…  

For today’s blog post I thought I’d cover a few things at a high level. A quick recap of 2019, primarily focused on how SendMusic got better and developments we have coming this year and a look at the impact AI has had on the music industry. Then I will quickly highlight how the blog will be formatted moving into 2020. 

2019 

A lot happened in 2019, some good, a little bad, not much ugly. It was a great year for SendMusic, we saw rapid growth in the number of active users that we have. We also built the platform out more in light of some pretty cool ideas we’d been harbouring and also off the back of great feedback we’d received from you guys. Notable events included the launch of our 2 paid tiers which offer additional features allowing you do things like customise your SendMusic profile page to make it look your own, all part of the Personal Plan. Or even add really enhanced security parameters around the files you send, as part of the Security plan, Below is a side by side comparison.

Personal Plan $5 Security Plan $10
  • Send files up to 5GB in size
  • Store your files for up to 60 Days
  • Send files to up to 10 contacts
  • Customise your public SendMusic profile
  • Remove SendMusic branding
  • Hide the “Send Music to me” button
  • Change your background design and colors
  • Send files up to 10GB in size
  • Store your files for up to 90 Days
  • Send files to up to 20 contacts
  • Customise your public SendMusic profile
  • Remove SendMusic branding
  • Hide the “Send Music to me” button
  • Change your background design and colors
  • Watermark your audio files with an audio sting
  • Limit downloads and plays of each file
  • Send private messages to other SendMusic users
  • Listen to music sent to your profile for 30 days

Even more excitingly we have our mobile app coming, it’s in development as I write this and it looks incredible! More importantly than it’s look is the functionality it will bring when it comes to sending, receiving, storing and communicating around the music files you use. This is an area  we feel hasn’t been fully nailed yet by any one developer and we are excited to share what we think might just delight you.

If I were to sum up 2019 in the music industry as a whole two letters spring to mind – AI. Artificial Intelligence is already in use in many ways. It automates services, discovers patterns and insights into huge data sets and creates efficiencies. 

So what happened involving AI more so than ever? Well the AI generated playlist really came to the fore. 20,000 new tracks uploaded to Spotify every day and AI is critical for helping sort through the options and delivering recommendations to listeners based on what they’ve listened to in the past. The algorithm has in fact changed the way we consume and listen to music, crazy stuff.

AI also created more songs than ever. Google’s Magenta project produced songs written and performed by AI and Sony developed Flow Machines, an AI system that’s already released “Daddy’s Car,” a song created by AI. Then we had Landr mastering your tracks using AI and providing a cheaper than human service to do so. In most cases doing a very good job also!

Artificial intelligence is also helping the industry with A&R (artist and repertoire) discovery. It’s always been challenging to comb through music and find promising artists that haven’t signed to a label, but it’s even more overwhelming with the deluge of streaming music today. Warner Music Group acquired a tech start-up last year that uses an algorithm to review social, streaming and touring data to find promising talent. Apple also acquired a start-up that specializes in music analytics to support the A&R process.

In a nutshell, AI is well established behind the scenes influencing the music we listen to in many ways.

Blog

You’ll all be pleased to hear that you will be getting weekly installments of the blog, following the format below:

W1: Tips and Tricks

W2: Industry Trends

W3: Interview

W4: “Answer the Public”

W5: Music Technology, hardware

This week (as we’re in Week 4) I will ‘answer the public’ – basically responding to a question that is in response to a question that’s often asked online.

Have a great day!

Pal

pal@send.mu

Where to send music demos

General, Music Business

So you’re there, that magical moment, you’ve finished a track and it actually feels like it’s finished, (well if you’re like me a track never feels finished). Anyways I digress, what I’ve found out the hard way is that making music and finishing tracks is actually the easy part. The harder part for many musicians and producers is getting their music out into the world through the correct channels, where it gets the exposure it deserves.

Unsurprisingly it’s quite confusing what you should be doing with so many blogs, labels and streaming platforms out there now. It’s so easy to waste hours on futile efforts that don’t really lead anywhere. So the purpose of this weeks blog post is to hopefully point you towards some channels that can get your tracks the exposure they deserve. Before I dive in I would suggest one bit of admin that will save you a headache down the line. Set up a spreadsheet, at a minimum have a column with the track name, another column with the person / channel / blog that you’ve sent your track too and another column with any response or action they’ve taken. It’s very easy to lose track of what you’ve sent out and to whom. Finally remember to keep any communication with any entity you reach out to well written (no mistakes) and to the point (no waffle).

  • Blogs

Blogs are a brilliant place for discovering new artists. Getting your tracks onto a decent  blog can get you significant traction. Listed below are a few good ones to ignite your search:

Soundplate

YourEDM

Dancing Astronaut

Ear Milk 

So how do you get onto these blogs? Most have some kind of demo upload method where you can post a streaming link to your track, your artist details etc. However from personal experience I wouldn’t solely rely on this method. Here’s where some ingenuity on your part comes in, actually dig into the blog and articles / posts thoroughly. Usually there is an author associated with the content. Find their social media pages, contact them, build rapport and try to get them into your music too. Don’t be pushy, instead seek feedback, use your imagination and build a connection, remember neediness is never attractive! 

  • Spotify Playlists

The biggest playlists on Spotify all have demo submission forms through which to submit your music. However don’t get greedy here with the allure of success ad and trying in vain to get your music onto the biggest Spotify playlist possible. There’s many great smaller Spotify playlists out there that are easier to get your music onto. It’s extremely difficult to get your music onto a big Spotify Playlist as an unknown producer, singer or songwriter. I’d suggest trying to get onto a smaller playlist first and working your way up the Spotify playlist ladder hierarchy. If your track is good enough and people are listening to it in decent numbers there is no reason why your track won’t get onto bigger playlists. Some Spotify playlists for your consideration are:

Indiemono

Soundplate

Daily Playlists

Artist Intelligence Agency

  • Labels

There are a ton of amazing labels out there. Like playlists the bigger ones are very hard to get onto, i’m talking about labels like Spinnin, Defected, Monstercat etc. These big labels operate very professionally as business enterprises. As such, not only do you have to have amazing music, but they are usually also looking for a big fan base – it helps them sell more records / get more streams and generate more hype with less effort. 

So it’s better to initially think about getting your music onto smaller independent labels. You’ve got a much better chance of getting your track signed, you’ll hopefully get exposure by a hungry team and you will also learn the ins and outs of signing a record.

There’s a few ways to contact these labels, some are:

Find their general submission email

A submission form on their website

Contact an A + R at the label (do some digging around their site, find names etc. and reach out as necessary!)

Don’t worry if you don’t get a response, these labels get hundreds of tracks sent to them everyday. There’s a million and one reasons why you didn’t get a response, even though your head might well be telling you that the music you make and submitted is crap. Don’t listen to your head in such a scenario and keep sending your music out there. 

  • YouTube channels

YouTube channels have the same power and reach as Spotify playlists in our current era, as such they are really important when it comes to reaching (potentially) millions of fans. 

Just check out the numbers on these famous YouTube channels:

    • NCS (13M subscribers)

If you go to the ‘About’ page you can normally find details of the channel and contact details. Otherwise work back and try to find an associated website or social media account linked and dig to get a contact. There is an excellent Google Chrome extension called Hunter that lets you find email addresses associated with a web page. Check it out below and happy hunting with that one! 

Hunter

Finally

All of these things come down to how hard you hustle. Obviously you need good music first and foremost. There are some who get lucky, those anomalies that get discovered as barely pubescent teens uploading their first track randomly onto Soundcloud and it getting discovered and going viral. I have to point out this is kind of like winning the lottery, most artists who ‘make’ it have to have a strategy to get their music into the hands of the right people and have had to push and take knock backs multiple times. You really need to develop a thick skin in this industry and take rejection as just a part of the process and nothing personal. In the end I hope you get the success you seek, keep on pushing and go get what you deserve!

Send Music to Spotify Playlists

General, Music Business

In today’s world Spotify playlists have a huge influence on monthly song listens. They are especially important for smaller artists who might not yet have large followings. Getting onto one of the top playlists out there, like “Today’s top hits”, “Rap Caviar”, “United Kingdom Top 50” etc. enables an artist to reach huge audiences and hit massive streaming figures. Take KREAM as an example, they have only 4000 followers on Spotify, yet they are reaching almost 5 million monthly listeners thanks to 3 million of their listeners coming from 5 key playlists that they appear on. The term used to describe this phenomenon is ‘playlist leverage’. In KREAM’s case they are getting over 800 times more monthly listeners than they have followers. 

It’s no surprise then that the push by record labels, music promotion companies etc. is to get songs into curated playlists hosted by streaming services such as Spotify and Apple. According to the EU’s Joint Research Centre, getting a placement on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist can generate $117,000 (£90,500) in revenue. Getting added to Today’s Top Hits, a playlist with over 23 million followers raises streams by 20 million and is worth between $116,000 and $163,000. These playlists have become the tools used by labels and managers to measure success. A playlist now can break an artist, the playlist really is now king!

So we then come to THE question, “how can I get my music onto a top playlist”? Below is some useful knowledge if you are trying to get your music onto Spotify playlists.

Not all Playlists are created equal

The in demand playlists are extremely competitive and difficult to get a placement on. They are usually owned and curated by either Spotify or a major label. Companies or indie labels own some playlists and individuals like you and me own the rest. Generally speaking one has to work their way up the ladder, from the bottom of the playlist pyramid to the top.

Spotify Playlists

Spotify curated playlists are top of the pyramid and can have well over a million followers. Songs that get onto these have usually been road tested on the smaller Playlists. Spotify look at data such as plays, skips and finishes to decide how well a song is performing. If your song performs well it has a better chance of getting onto a Spotify Playlist.

It should be noted that some Spotify Playlists are curated, while others use an algorithm to choose songs in line with a listener’s tastes.

Major Label Curated Playlists

Major Label owned playlists get decent numbers of listens. They’re often used to plug label artists to get plays and hopefully land a spot on a Spotify Playlist.

Individual Curated Playlists

These are curated by people like me and you, indie labels, radio stations, music bloggers etc. If you’re an artist breaking out, it’s a good idea to start hustling your music by landing it on one of these smaller playlists. There’s more chance of landing your music on one of these playlists and getting it out there to actual listeners.

How to get your music on Spotify Playlists

  1. Sign up for Spotify for Artists

Creating a Spotify for Artists account gets you verified and makes you credible. You also get access to features such as analytics and notifications when your music is added to playlists.

  1. If you already have fans direct them to Spotify 

Get some activity going. Get your friends, grandmother, uncle and any other fans (if you have them) to start listening to your song on Spotify. Share links to your Spotify page on your social media channels, include a link in your email signature, use any means necessary to promote your music! Spotify playlists look at data like plays, finishes, skips and listen duration. Curators are looking for those tracks that are getting love already. It’s a numbers game. 

Releasing new music with a regular cadence is another good strategy, it gets fans excited about following you, so keep creating and releasing.

  1. Promote your own music by creating your own Spotify Playlist 

Start creating your own playlists to promote your music. Include tracks you love from artists you love. Perhaps try to collaborate with other upcoming artists on your own playlist, have fun with it, be creative in curating the tracks you add. You can again share this Spotify playlist link out into the world.

  1. Start pitching your songs to Independent Spotify Playlist Owners

First find playlists that represent the genre of music you make and make a list of them. Then do some digging to find contacts at these playlists. They often have a Social Media channel linked to them such as Facebook, Youtube or Instagram with contact details on these. Otherwise there are Music Industry Directories, essentially Spotify or Apple playlist directories with contacts to reach out to. These cost to access but are worth it if you are serious about pushing your music. An excellent one is The Music Industry Connection – https://www.themicco.com/

  1. Pitch your music to blogs

Lots of bloggers have their own Spotify playlists and are always on the lookout for the next big track so consider this as a potential channel to hit up also.

  1. Submit directly to Spotify Playlists

If you have a Spotify for Artists account you can submit directly to Spotify for consideration in playlists. The track needs to be unsigned and submitted at least 7 days prior to the scheduled release date. You can only submit one track at a time, you can submit a new one after your first track is officially released. When submitting you need to include metadata such as genre, mood, instrumentation etc. Spotify use this information along with the existing information that they have on you to find potential playlist placements.

Summary

It takes hard work and dedication to get onto the bigger Spotify playlists. Aim low initially, learn how the system works and get your music placed on a smaller playlist that matches the genre and mood of the music that you are making. Playlists are definitely the power channel when it comes to getting your music hype and plays in today’s world. Ultimately people are always looking for new music that’s good so get yours out there and hopefully watch it spread virally. It might even get on a few of the cool playlists I’ve listed below. My fingers are crossed for you.

♫ Today’s Top Hits ♫

♫ Your Favorite CoffeeHouse ♫

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Episode 9 – SendMusic to Make Standout Music

Music Business, Production Tips

My production partner, Matt Thurtell and I just released our latest single! “AiEW” (short for All I Ever Wanted) under our production guise – ‘pirateblood’ via Spotify, happy days! Check it out here: https://open.spotify.com/track/53s4tbe5er9xoHpCMPaNuq

As part of my life outside of co-founding SendMusic I am also a music producer. SendMusic comes into its own during the music production process (yes I would say that but it actually does!). For our workflow Matt and I bounce down versions of the tracks / edits we are making or have made and send them to one another using SendMusic (he’s based in Italy near Rome, i’m in London). We can then listen to the tracks on the go via the inbuilt audio player – SendMusic was created to be a ‘mobile first’ tool. One of the most useful features is that when either of us listen to the file we receive the sender gets an email telling them that the file they sent has been listened to. That’s so useful when I need to know Matt has listened to the music I’ve sent him and it gives me the opportunity to harass him until he has! Everything that I receive goes into my SendMusic ‘Inbox’ and the files I send go into the “Sent’ folder which makes it really easy to get access to all the music files I receive and send quickly. As well as this I’ve also added my SendMusic profile link to my socials, (i.e. my Instagram and Twitter) – https://send.mu/pal – so anyone can click on this and send me music directly really quickly. Finally i’ve customised my SendMusic page by adding a background image related to the work I do. You can now customise your own SendMusic page by changing the page colours or by adding a background image of your choice and you can remove all SendMusic branding which makes the page look completely your own. This is a really neat feature for producers, labels, A and R’s, Mastering Engineers, well anyone really, who wants to have a unique looking page through which to receive music in a beautiful way, that looks like your own and essentially aligns your brand with how you want it conveyed to the wider world. Why not give it a go 🙂

Anyways, I’ve made music for a long time now and as mentioned in older posts it’s gotten a lot easier to make music and release it these days. I really do believe this is a great thing as it means more people can make and release music, meaning we should be getting lots more better music. However in reality and from speaking to record label A + R’s and other music industry people it also means there’s a ton more poor quality music out there, making it in turn a real slog to listen and sift through to find that next gem. So if you are making music how do you stand out these days, well i’m sure there are quite a few ways but i’ll share some of those with you below and how SendMusic really helps in the process. I’m not going to lie, it isn’t easy but with hard work and dedication it is possible. Here are 4 quick tips to try and stand out from the crowd:

1.Focus on making great music, the art. Regardless of anything else, if you haven’t got great authentic music there’s not much point in moving to any of my suggestions below. This essentially means hard work in the studio, practice practice practice, A/B testing against big tracks in the genre you are making to check the mix you’ve done etc.

2. Once your music is good enough – GET IT OUT THERE. You’ll soon know if it is any good. Send it to tastemakers in the scene, to blogs, Spotify playlists etc. This is the hustle part and as much as it’s a known thing to do we music / artistic types are generally really crap at this. We procrastinate, we do it half heartedly or worse still we send it to one label and don’t hear back and give up. The music business is about learning to accept rejection, not giving a damn and continuing to push. It’s not easy, you need to be focussed and keep on keeping on. This is where some infrastructure can also help, e.g. being signed to an independent label or having a manager who will push the business hustle on your behalf.

3. Learn the Music Business – read “All you need to know about the music business”: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Need-Know-About-Music-Business/dp/0241001633/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=music+business&qid=1561925083&s=gateway&sr=8-2

4. Have some sort of social media presence (and a SendMusic page lol). People need to know you and see what you are doing. You need to build a fan base and engage the people interested in you by interacting with them. Again this can be a slog and needs discipline.

In conclusion, to make music is easier than ever now, but to stand out and get heard is harder than it’s ever been, especially as making is so accessible to the masses. However if you’re disciplined and focussed and work hard there is every opportunity out there for you to have a career in music. Ultimately it comes down to you and your mindset and setting up the correct infrastructure to make your dream a reality. Keep pushing and best of luck!

Episode 6 – Starting SendMusic Part 1

Music Business

So this week’s blog post is about our little startup baby, I guess that kind of makes us tech parents and I definitely have some stories about the whole birthing experience, a few of which i’ll share briefly. SendMusic is the startup that we co-founded and hopefully you use to, yes you guessed right, send music! There are in fact 3 of us who co-founded this fledgling beauty, myself – PaL, Kemal and Ben, who is currently cycling around the world with his bike, para-glider and laptop in tow.

SendMusic started as a prototype a little while back now, just over a year to be more exact, from very humble beginnings, i.e. a very basic looking and functioning Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Actually thinking back it it now reminds and encourages me of how far we’ve come, which can at times be easily forgotten. SendMusic has been fully self-funded or as is known in the game ‘bootstrapped’ by us. The reason behind this was that we never wanted to be at the mercy of venture capitalists who probably wouldn’t care about what we were trying to achieve per se, but just wanted growth, bigger numbers and MORE money, essentially forcing upon us targets to hit  in as short a time as possible.

For us SendMusic was always about growing steadily and being something really useful and fresh. My co-founders and I are all music industry people ourselves working in and around music. and we saw a gap in the market for a service through which you could easily share your music, promote your brand and use really intuitively and quickly. Through being in the game we had realised that all the other products that did this had too much friction at different levels and, for want of a better expression, were a bit of a ball ache to use. Things like too many unnecessary steps to just send a file, poor UX, drawn out user flows, we identified a number of pain points with existing systems on the market. So the idea for SendMusic was born. The first thing we did was to think about what we wanted to achieve and we then thought about the product features required to do this, those things that would eliminate the existing pain points we had identified. We then prioritised the features to build and identified the most basic feature set that we could build out to prove if our idea had legs or not, so the SendMusic  MVP was born. Basically an MVP is a smart way to:

  • Release your product to market or test users in the shortest time.
  • Reduce implementation costs.
  • Test the demand for your product – before releasing a full-fledged product.
  • Avoid failures.
  • Gain valuable insight on what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Work directly with your clients and analyse their behaviors and preferences.
  • Gather and enhance your user base.
  • Get user feedback.

We initially released our MVP to music industry professionals we knew and friends involved in music to test and gather feedback from them, was SendMusic worth making into a fully fledged product? We quickly realised that the uptake and usage was more than decent and people actually found benefit from using SendMusic, it was a good feeling. Some even said it became quite indispensable to their daily workflows.

On the other hand we also identified a number of bugs and were fed development ideas via user feedback on how to improve SendMusic and potential features to implement. User feedback I might add is super useful, you are given ideas and challenges that you wouldn’t have thought about yourself, I guess it’s collective intelligence coming into play.

Anyways, the idea to push on and create SendMusic into an actual thing had taken shape, data and feedback had proved this and we were going to run with it!

To be continued…

 

Episode 5 – Times they a changing – the Playlist be reigning!

Music Business

We live in an era now where things we feel might last a long time often don’t last quite as long as we had expected. As civilisation has advanced through the passage of time so has the rate at which we adopt new technology and then discard it with this trend ramping up exponentially, especially in recent times.

Not so long ago we listened to music on Walkmans,  then iPods and now it’s our mobile phones usually paired with wireless headphones that are providing the soundtracks to our lives. I remember when artists were getting discovered on the once legendary MySpace, this was eventually superseded by SoundCloud and now it seems we have a new king in town – Spotify and namely the Spotify playlist.

So what exactly is a playlist. Direct from the horse’s mouth (Spotify!), a playlist is a collection of songs. You can make them for yourself, you can share them, and you can follow the millions of other playlists created by Spotify, artists and fans. I believe playlists are so popular because you get to pick the music you want to listen to, so unlike older linear media channels where the music is programmed for you, now you can listen to what you like all the time. Great right? Well the obvious downside to this is that you can in fact get stuck into lazy listening habits, not listening to anything new, but instead the same playlist you created 4 years ago. The onus is now on you to find great new music, or is it?

You’ve all probably (if you have Spotify), seen the playlist called Discover Weekly? This is an algorithmic playlist, meaning it’s been curated by a Spotify AI system for you that’s assessed your listening habits and found similar music to suggest to you. Another famous algorithmic playlist is release radar. Last year, Bryan Johnson, director of artists and management at Spotify UK, said that Release Radar alone is driving more streams than any of Spotify’s in-house playlists, and certainly far more than any curated playlist that isn’t managed by Spotify’s editorial team. Yet musicians are spending all their time and energy seeking placements on bigger curated playlists.

So if you are a music producer or artist, how do you go about getting onto an algorithmic playlist?

There are 3 key steps to this:

  1. Build your Spotify following – get your fans to follow you on the streaming platform
  2. Focus on good activity to engagement ratios – Spotify don’t care as much about streams (a vanity metric) as they do about what your fans do with your music: adding your song to a playlist, listening to the whole song without skipping, sharing it on social channels.
  3. Release more music regularly –  the more tracks you release the more chance you have of making it onto an algorithmic playlist

So whether you’re an artist or fan, things are changing and they will continue to change, that’s for sure. Any music makers now have to seriously consider the Spotify playlist as a force of nature within the music sphere and the algorithmic playlists are what you should really be looking at to exploit.

Pal

pal@send.mu

Episode 4 – Royalty – bow down

Music Business

It’s great to be in the presence of royalty, go on take a bow. Ok, right, i’ve got my ego in check and can now begin. I’m sure some of you guys using SendMusic have had music published whilst others don’t know what that means. I’ve been in both positions and yes, the music industry can be very confusing, especially so when it comes to getting paid when your music gets played. To begin, as an artist the first thing you NEED to do is sign up to a Performing Rights Organisation. Examples of this include PRS, BMI and ASCAP. The whole point of their existence is to get you paid! PRS is the main Performing Rights Association in the United Kingdom and I am signed up to them.

As the name implies Performing Rights Association collect one of the biggest forms of royalties: Performance royalties. In music, royalties are paid to owners of copyrighted music. How do you copyright music? You register it with a Performing Rights Association like PRS. It sounds confusing yes, but just create some music and then register the tracks you’ve made with the Performing Rights Organisation you’re signed up with to understand the process and what to do.

There are four different types of music royalties. Each music royalty type also has separate and distinct copyrights. The four sources of royalty revenue in the music industry are:

1. MECHANICAL ROYALTIES

Royalties generated for the physical or digital reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works. This applies to all music formats such as vinyl, CD, cassette, digital downloads, and streaming services. For example, a record label pays a mechanical royalty to a songwriter every time they press a CD of their music.

2. PUBLIC PERFORMANCE ROYALTIES

Royalties generated for copyrighted works performed, recorded, played or streamed in public. This includes radio, television, bars, restaurants, clubs, live concerts, music streaming services, and anywhere else the music plays in public.

Performance Rights Organisations often collect performance royalties. 

3. SYNCHRONIZATION ROYALTIES (SYNC)

Royalties generated for copyrighted music paired or ‘synced’ with visual media. Sync licenses allow the right to use copyrighted music in films, television, commercials, video games, online streaming, advertisements, and any other type of visual media.

Furthermore, a synchronization license does not include the right to use an existing recording with audiovisual media. A licensee will also need a master use license before using copyrighted music with a new audiovisual project. This is an agreement between the master recording owner such as a record label and the person seeking permission to use the recording. Any use of protected music in an audiovisual project, whether it’s a full song or short sample, will need a master license as well as a sync license. 

4. PRINT MUSIC ROYALTIES

Print royalties are the least common form of payment a copyright holder receives. This type of royalty applies to copyrighted music transcribed to a print piece such as sheet music and then distributed. Additionally, these fees are often paid out to the copyright holder based on the number of copies made of the printed piece.

The next logical question then is who gets music royalties?

The following either receive or distribute royalties for copyrighted music:

1.SONGWRITERS

Songwriters are those who write both the music and lyrics for a song. They receive either mechanical, performance, or sync royalties depending on the usage of their recordings.

2. PUBLISHERS

The publisher is the person or company responsible for ensuring copyright holders receive payment for the use of their music. For example, a music publisher will obtain the copyright from the songwriter in exchange for royalty privileges. They also issue licenses for the use of music they represent as well as collect licensing fees. These fees get split between the publisher and the songwriter.

3. RECORD LABELS

Record labels are responsible for marketing and distributing an artist’s recordings. Generally, they issue contracts that allow them to exploit recordings in exchange for royalty payments over a set length of time. They also often have the master rights to a recorded song, but not the publishing rights. Moreover, record labels generate royalty income from mechanical and performance royalties. The artist then receives a percentage of these royalties.

4. PERFORMANCE ARTISTS

A performing artist is anyone who performs the songwriter’s original work. Performers do not have publishing rights unless they are also the songwriter. Moreover, public performances of copyrighted music generate performance royalties for songwriters. These fees are often collected by the PROs such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.

5. PERFORMING RIGHTS ORGANIZATION (PRO)

PROs collect public performance royalties and distribute those fees to the songwriter and music publisher. These organizations also track performances and broadcasting of registered music played in public. The PROs in the United States include ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.

6. MECHANICAL RIGHTS AGENCY

Mechanical rights agencies manage mechanical licensing rights for the music publisher. They also issue those rights to anyone reproducing and distributing copyrighted musical compositions. These agencies often charge a set percentage of gross royalties collected for their services.

7. SYNC LICENSING AGENCY

Sync licensing agencies acquire the rights from record labels and music publishers to issue licenses for syncing music with visual media. They also distribute royalties for sync licenses to whoever owns the master recording rights.

In conclusion, there is a lot of information you need to digest and understand in order to really make money from music. Sign up with a PRO, like PRS or BMI. Register any music you make. Understand the royalties available to you and finally get the book “All you need to know about the music busniess” by Donald S Passman and you’ll be better positioned for the business side of music.