A guy, who’d refused The Beatles
Back in 1962 The Beatles came to audition for UK music labels. Right away they were told that guitars don’t fit and they were given studio’s instruments. The band played 15 songs in an hour without hearing a single comment. But the group manager and artists were sure — the contract would be signed. But The Beatles were refused. The official reason for the refusal was that “bands of guitarists are out of fashion”. These words became notorious for the label Decca (now Universal Music Group) and Dick Rowe (head of the department responsible for performers and repertoire) who was remembered as “the man who refused The Beatles”. One man did believe… It was George Martin, at that time a producer at EMI records in the UK.
This story is not uncommon in today’s music business.
And this story is still happening. Music labels are difficult to reach, artists often do not have enough power to reach them. And those who finally get to the A&R people and producers of the Big Three major labels, and if signed, get a pretty small percentage of the total earnings. This story is not uncommon in today’s music business.
At the dawn of the sound recording market, the contract with a well-known label was a necessary condition for success of the artists. In the last 50 years the probability of becoming known to a wide audience was low even for the most talented performers. A signed contract hopefully provided the artist with an impressive advertising campaign and access to retail stores in addition to quality recording at the studio.
According to the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), the investment of today’s labels from the Big Three to the new artist, can range from $ 500,000 to $ 2 million. The average cost of the recording is from 150 to 500 thousand dollars.
We can now see, a third of the revenues are deposited in the pockets of labels.
One of the recent published IFPI reports, says that it was calculated how much all legal entities earn from one music subscription for $ 9.99. Publishers and authors receive $ 0.98, performers — $ 1.35, labels — $ 3.14. The remaining $ 4.52 goes to overhead, taxes and to the streaming services themselves. We can now see, a third of the revenues are deposited in the pockets of labels.
In protest against the monopolization of the industry by labels in 2016, American R & B singer and rapper Frank Ocean released the album, ‘Endless’. The long-awaited release came out in a unusual format — a 45-minute video. This visual album was supposed to be the peak for Ocean’s career and, as it turned out, the last contractual commitment of the singer to Def Jam (owned by Universal Music Group). The album went into an exclusive stream on Apple Music. But critics were delighted, it was a triumphant return.
The next day, Apple Music released another exclusive — a studio album by Frank Ocean, ‘Blonde’, recorded on his own label ‘Boys Do not Cry’. ‘Blonde’ topped the music charts almost instantly. But the main effect was breaking from the Universal company. In fact, Frank gave the label a pacifier, and immediately released a real pearl, which created the independent artist scenario that shows it’s possible to create market value without a major label involved.
Is there a solution? Can the release outside the label be really profitable for the artist? Where should young talents get funded for promotion? And how could You earn from your favourite hits?
The key is to make audience reactive to the music, and be creative in how one does the marketing and promotion.
It is all possible, although not easy. In today’s marketplace, it is possible to do it DIY, do it yourself. You have to be very creative, think of new ways to connect with an audience. Yes, a label can, and does take the risk of signing new artists and if promoted and marketed, can create “hits”. But, not all artists need hits to be “successful’’. The key is to make audience reactive to the music, and be creative in how one does the marketing and promotion. It is an age in the music business where all things are possible!
The project designed to modernize the industry. First community-based music label. Community choose songs they like. Experts help to record and monetize the hit all over the world. This is YOUNK. Coming soon.