In The City 2009 - Day 3 Summary
Blog by Louise Dodgson under Creative & Branding, Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers
Pub-label-ublishing: Defining The Lines Of The Future
There often seems to be a great deal of mystery surrounding how music publishing works, and it is an area that many unsigned bands and artists are unfamiliar with. However, this is definitely a route worth looking into further for emerging artists. With the decline of recorded sales around the world, the publishing and live music avenues are set to become stronger than ever and there is no question that they will always be in existence.
On the panel was Andy McQueen of Notting Hill Music, a music publishing company in the traditional sense operating for around 20 years, and Simon Pursehouse of Sentric Music, an artist-friendly service who can collect publishing royalties, as well as hunting out sync deals for film, TV and games for their acts. Sentric Music currently have 1300 artists on board and will work with bands & artists of all levels and genres, just sign up free of charge on their website.
Some interesting points that the panellists were keen to point out to the audience was that the structure of publishing deals is set up differently to that of recording deals, and the balance of power does lean towards the songwriter. Artists can work with publishers and receive an advance from this type of contract before attaining a record deal, if they choose to opt for a record deal at all. Advances from publishing deals do not necessarily have to be fully recoupable, and other alternatives such as sponsorship can be drawn upon to cover these costs. An existing case of this would be a sponsorship deal struck between Fightstar and Jagermeister, which just goes to show that there is more scope available for emerging talent to receive the funding and development they need without turning to a record label in the first instance. In a day & age when you could produce a t-shirt with a tag allowing you access to a downloadable album, and still be classed as chart-eligible, then is there really any need to put out a record in the traditional sense? It’s certainly worth investigating all options available.
The top tips which both Andy and Simon had to share for bands working with or hoping to work with a publishing service was firstly, try to record to the best quality you can afford as on the whole TV and film companies will only deal with high quality recordings. However, bands and artists who receive an advance or any kind of royalty income from their music will no doubt be advised to use this cash to record better quality versions further down the line so their tracks will be open to more potential revenue streams. And secondly, hang onto instrumental versions of your tracks. They may come in very handy for publishing purposes!
Merchandise can be a great way to bring in some extra cash for your band. Representatives from Backstreet, Live Nation Merchandise and Stormcrowd were all present on this panel to share their gems of knowledge, and although they did seem to echo a great deal of points made in yesterday’s ‘Something From Nothing’ discussion, such as forming a strong connection with your fans, understanding what they want, and making them feel special and privileged, there was also a lot of other useful info to bear in mind.
In terms of the products bands and artists can offer their fans, the whole panel were in agreement on offering both a cheap option, and a more pricey limited edition option. If fans are willing to pay more for something really special, then give them that choice. Ultimately, a limited edition option does not necessarily have to be expensive to produce, it just needs to have value.
Merchandise does not have to be sold through traditional retail outlets, and you may be able to track down a more niche provider for your promotional items. Social networking is a great tool to help you push new merchandise you have available and hopefully bring some sales your way. Finally, wherever possible try not to sell off your merchandise rights too early in your career. With physical sales dropping all the time, merchandise is a serious commodity in the current music industry climate.
There was what promised to be a great night ahead of us for the final hours of In The City 2009. Swound! were playing as part of Rocksound showcase and their description as a ‘hyperactive rock band’ seemed like a fun start to the evening. More punk pop than rock, they were certainly an energetic bunch and weren’t afraid to indulge in some witty and downright cheeky banter with the crowd. Cries of ‘Stop....Hammer Time’ and other childish lyrics about Goldilocks raised quite a few laughs as well. A good start, but now to get serious...
We decided to plant ourselves in Night & Day for the rest of the evening for what looked to be a stellar line-up. Young British Artists didn’t disappoint with their lo-fi stylings, a la Guided By Voices. May 68 were on the bill yet again, although I don’t think I was as impressed second time around. At times I was confused about whether their tracks were originals or covers of The Rapture...or perhaps that was the alcohol starting to take effect!
Dutch Uncles were great as ever! We’ve been hearty fans of their melodic, new wave sounds since they were The Headlines. They certainly have picked up the pace since those days and were tighter than ever, and with some quirky dance moves thrown in for good measure, let’s hope their performance at In The City finally gets them where they rightfully deserve.
And the final band to round off another great year of In The City was The Drums. They were clearly the band that everyone had been waiting for, and the venue filled up quite quickly! A blend of 80s and 90s dance-infused pop, combined with a lot of surfing references, you’d be inclined to think they had jetted in straight from the West Coast, rather than Brooklyn. Look out for these guys, they’ll be popping up everywhere before long!
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