Some Thoughts About The Music Industry

This morning I was spurned into tweeting a lot about the music industry because of the article below:

Agnes Siap Go International Lewat Perusahaan Michael Jackson…

I think Agnes has good potential to break international markets; I really think she can. But some details of the article piqued my attention because they seemed incorrect. So I did some digging, and eventually spent the day tweeting about the music industry in general.

The tweets are as follows:

  • Agnes, sorry to disappoint, but Sony/ATV is a music publishing company, not a recording company.
  • Sony/ATV is a publishing company, and EMI is a recording company. you know, the EMI which is drowning away already.
  • Sony/ATV as a music publishing company will manage composers and offer songs to recording companies. They don’t release records.
  • now the international recording arm of Sony is Sony Music Entertainment. Notable artists: Beyonce, Shakira, Usher, Michael Jackson
  • EMI is also an international recording company, home to The Beatles, former home to The Rolling Stones. Currently in financial trouble.
  • but yes, Sony/ATV is partly owned by the Michael Jackson Family Trust. The other partner is, obviously, Sony.
  • oh, apparently Citibank took over EMI from Terra Firma 2 days ago. Eventually, they will sell it again.
  • the other two international recording companies – or simply Major Labels – are Universal Music Group International and Warner Music Group
  • Major labels have the reach, knowhow, power and money to make the Justin Biebers of the world.
  • Think of major labels as startup incubators, investing money in new talent. Unfortunately, not all investments will succeed
  • Major labels also put up a lot of money upfront for production of the album, for promotion/advertising; money that might not recoup
  • so naturally, major labels would spend more investment on Justin Bieber than, say, The Mars Volta. More chance of recouping investments
  • the thing is, with a tech startup, you have some degree of measurability on the chances of success. music? not so much.
  • eventually Citi will sell EMI, most likely to Warner Music Group
  • And like many international companies, major labels have become stuck in bureaucracies and financial statements – and less about the music
  • anyway. actually, the best way for an Indonesian artist to ‘go international’ is sign with one of the major labels based in Indonesia.
  • the major label will have the reach to distribute music globally, easier in these digital times. And they’ll spend money for marketing.
  • but before anything else, the major label has to be convinced that it is a good investment to release your music.
  • just to add: signing with the local company of the international label is not enough – you have convince the international HQ as well.
  • but if you manage to make a deal with a major label, it will save you the hassle of dealing with each & every country for distribution deals
  • ok, just to clarify. The 4 major labels as we know them, are not labels. they are marketing and distribution companies.
  • under these so-called major labels, reside many record labels, that use them for marketing and distribution internationally.
  • but here’s the thing: you can do marketing and distribution yourself in this internet age. Many companies can give you the reach you need
  • with luck, skill and good music, your Youtube clips and free downloads will spread globally.
  • the thing is, the difference between internet sensation, and global sensation, is money to burn on marketing.
  • and the major labels will NOT spend on something they cannot control, or doesn’t have a large chance of success.
  • so as an artist, you have to think like a businessperson. which is better for you. A contract signed is only the first step.
  • but i’ll admit: it would be easier for an Indonesian to go over to the US and sign with a record label there to go international
  • now what is an indie label? by traditional definition, it is a label which is INDEPENDENT of the major label system.
  • I’m pretty sure many will disagree with that definition of indie label. Agreed, the definition has evolved to many other things as well.
  • So, in the traditional sense, Musica and Aquarius are independent labels. No connection to the international companies.
  • but now I like to think as indie labels as startups. Doing everything by themselves, with a certain level of idealism to their product.
  • the good thing about being an indie label, is you can finance your albums of choice, then make distribution deals with other companies.
  • for music distribution, you can produce the albums (and the CDs) yourself and ask another company to spread them to stores
  • the downside of that is you spend your own money for producing the CDs. Still costs money.
  • Even if you can produce your album with virtually no money, it will still take money to print the CDs and distribute them.
  • you can also partner with one of the recording companies and ask them to print the CDs and distribute, for revenue share.
  • for distribution deals, usually you have to spend marketing money yourself. upside is, you can negotiate for higher revenue share.
  • there’s also something called master licensing. your recording master is licensed by the label for marketing and distribution.
  • upside is, the label has no say whatsoever in your music. the downside is, it’s a simple yes or no. no in-between.
  • for a master licensing deal to work, the label needs to be convinced that it’s a good business case to spend money on it.
  • it all goes back to the artist. if you want to make money from playing/selling music, you must study the industry.
  • sorry to say, aspiring musicians: you cannot rest your future on a few good songs. You have to make a business plan for it.
  • today is a good time as ever to make money from music. but it cannot be made by popularity of the song alone.
  • you have to be able to look at your music from a business perspective. major label, indie label, distribution deals.. all choices.
  • so I’d recommend to any artist that they need to learn the business side of the industry. Or even, partner with someone who understands it.
  • you can make money from: songwriting, album sales, shows/performances, making ad jingles, and so on. Think about it.
  • if you want to read more about the music industry and where I think it will go, look at my Barcamp presentation here
  • RT @lowrobb: Anyway, I made a 15 slides Music Entrepreurship presentation a while a go
  • oh, ternyata Agnes kontrak sama AMI/Sony-ATV. Bukan EMI. then who the hell is AMI?
  • AMI is Associated Music International Ltd. apparently. I won’t give you the site URL because Chrome considers it a malware site.
  • investigasi makin dalam, ada press release dari AMI di websitenya Agnes…
  • kalo baca press release di sini…, jelas dinyatakan bahwa yg ditandatangan adalah kontrak publishing, bukan rekaman.
  • I’m happy for Agnes in signing with an international publisher, but it’s totally different with signing an international record deal.
  • that said, there are international publisher offices in Jakarta that can sign her for international songwriting contracts.
  • there are several Indonesian composers signed to these international publishers already (whether or not the material is used elsewhere).
  • RT @lowrobb: Music industry working on global copyright database –
  • So we don’t misunderstand: music publishers represent composers/songwriters. record labels sign artists for releasing albums.
  • if you are an artist who is a songwriter/composer also, you need contracts with both publisher and record label.
  • in simplest terms, a music publisher’s job is to sell songs to the record label so that its artists can sing them (among other business).
  • di Indonesia ada perwakilan UMG Publishing Group, Warner Chappel, Sony ATV, Peer Music, EMI Music Publishing, dan … satu lagi lupa.
  • 6 perusahaan music publishing itu adalah yang paling besar di dunia. Nah AMI, berdasarkan press release itu, bagian dari Sony/ATV.
  • jadi ga perlu jauh2 ke UK untuk sign international music publishing deal. Di Jakarta juga bisa.
  • I repeat: kontrak dengan music publisher cuma 1/2 perjalanan. harus kontrak dengan record label juga (atau produksi dan distribusi sendiri)
  • nah kalo mau international record deal, baru paling ideal ke UK atau US… emang pusatnya di sana.
  • ok thanks koreksinya @santarully. International music publishers di Indonesia: SonyATV, Fuji Pacific, Peer Music, UMG, Warner Chappel.
  • Agnes itu kontrak rekaman dengan Aquarius. Gue nggak tau detil kontraknya gimana, tapi kalo mau rilis album int’l, pasti Aquarius ikut andil
  • @jokoisme intinya sih, Agnes kontraknya sama AMI/SonyATV itu sebagai pencipta lagu. bukan sebagai artis utk rilis album.
  • @jokoisme ya go internationalnya bener sih, tapi bukan untuk rilis album… labelnya nggak jelas siapa…
  • @Hotmanism yah, mudah2an sih dapet label barunya cepet yah…
  • @jokoisme ya selama nggak ada di atas hitam dan putih sih… yang ada baru press release dari AMI itu. nggak ada yang dari sebuah label
  • @jokoisme sisi positifnya adalah, mungkin aja lagu2 ciptaan Agnes akan dipakai artis2 US dan UK… sebuah kebanggan juga kok
  • @jokoisme you’re welcome 🙂 mudah2an Agnes cepet dapet deal label juga, takutnya Agnes dan fansnya kecewa kalo nothing happens. thanks 😀
  • DISCLAIMER: gue ngetwit soal Agnes ini supaya lebih jelas aja ya; bukan mau ngejatuhin ato gimana. supaya tidak terjadi salah kaprah.
  • @dreaddaddy biasanya sih wilayah berlaku udah jadi standar kontrak major label ya. bisa Indonesia doang, bisa global.

Let me tell you this: I have nothing against Agnes Monica. She is a beautiful, talented artist and I think it’s about time the world knew about her. I am just worried that the media is overblowing her ‘go international’ announcement yesterday into something it’s not. Agnes and her fans deserve better than that, and I am hoping the tweets above will provide some insight into the music industry. I trust that her management team knows all this already and have made the necessary steps.

There are many cases where internationally-known music artists began as songwriters/producers/industry workers for other pop stars, before becoming the pop stars themselves. These names will be familiar: Kanye West, OneRepublic, Ne-Yo, Lady Gaga, John Legend… the list goes on. Let’s give support to all our Indonesian musicians to make sure they find their way to international markets, whatever that may be.

About barijoe

Failed Musician, Reformed Gadget Freak and Eating Extraordinaire.

5 responses to “Some Thoughts About The Music Industry”

  1. Nuwri456 says :

    Hello there and top of the morning to ya, depending on where you hail from :-D. I would like to know if you’d mind if I place some of your Hot! article in our blog? this would be great reading for our readers? if not I can understand.
    Awesome work, ” I’m Lovin it ” MacDonald’s anyone? 😀
    Sincerely, Nuwri456 on Youtube.

  2. Thomas Purkerson says :

    The whole Common and Drake situation,has made me consider of why Hip Hop rivalry is healthy. some new hip hop artistsjust don’t have that edge that old school hip hop folk had.

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