Word from LP’s management: “New Divide” is only the 3rd record in history to debut in the Top 10 on the American Billboard Hot 100 Chart & Modern Rock Chart simultaneously. The other two songs to achieve this were “What I’ve Done” & “Speed of Sound” (Coldplay).
If you haven’t heard about Metric, they’re a band who is seeing some impressive numbers on US and Canadian charts…without the help of a major record label.
They were #1 on Billboard Heat Seekers, #1 on Soundscan Top New Artists Chart, and had Debuts at #1 on Canadian iTunes Album and Rock charts, to name a few achievements.
From the LA Times: “The 10-track “Fantasies,” which took the band in a more pop direction, has sold 9,000 digital downloads in the U.S. since its release March 31, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In the music industry, which counts success in the hundreds of thousands, Metric’s sales figures may not seem like much. Nonetheless, taking into account an additional 15,000 downloads the band’s co-manager said it sold internationally, Metric is seeing a higher financial return than under a major record deal.”
FORT MINOR fans have asked me, “What’s up with Styles Of Beyond? Aren’t they signed to Machine Shop? When is their record coming out?” The answers are long and complex, but the short version is this:
S.O.B.’s record was supposed to come out years ago. Due to a variety of creative and non-creative decisions by S.O.B., Linkin Park, Machine Shop, and Warner Bros., we held back in order to work on the record and the release plans. After months of hard work by the group, we ended up finishing what we feel is a great record, entitled “Reseda Beach.”
Warner Bros., however, wasn’t as thrilled about the record as we were. They weren’t committed to spending a healthy budget on it; they intended to limit the hours and funds spent on its release. We felt that limiting the attention put on the record would basically cut its legs out from beneath it, and it would never get a chance. There was a lot of disagreement between everyone about this topic, but it essentially became a stalemate.
With that said, we’ve come to a few decisions. Firstly, due to ongoing differences between Warner Bros. and Machine Shop’s views on the creative and non-creative aspects of our albums, we will be putting Machine Shop Records on hiatus until another time. We’re not angry with WB. We had always hoped that MSR could be an artist-driven label with special attention on the best creative ideas and good music; until we see eye to eye with our partner, we can’t see how it could be a productive relationship. Machine Shop will still promote projects (like Linkin Park) with our marketing branch, but the artist development / record label part of the company are going to hibernate for a while. The market is too tough and the intentions and ideas of the two entities are too different for it to be a productive situation at this time.
Secondly, we worked out a number of other options for the Styles Of Beyond, and WB has generously agreed to let them explore options elsewhere. S.O.B. will likely be releasing the album independently. Look forward to more info about the record as it materializes, at http://www.myspace.com/stylesofbeyond. My bandmates and I believe in the group, and wish TAK, Skully, Cheapshot, and RYU all our best. You’ll see more about S.O.B. here one this site as their project progresses.
And lastly, some great news: in the meantime, RYU of Styles Of Beyond has been working with some mutual friends (including Apathy and Scoop DeVille, among others) on a new project called The Get Busy Committee. They just finished a new song and video for a new song called “My Little Razor Blade.” Here’s the world-premiere of the video and song…enjoy!
M: There is an incredible book entitled “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson that deals with the internet-age phenomenon of the shrinking “hits” and growing number of indie successes. If you’re interested in this topic, that book is a must-read.
Although there is a ton of competition in the music world (signed or unsigned), there are a many successful unsigned and indie artists, far too many to name here. Some go it alone, some sign unique deals with existing labels, and some start their own label. For example:
You may not know Joe Purdy, but this guy has reportedly sold 650,000 singles on iTunes, and he’s unsigned. According to topspin.com, Mr. Purdy bought himself a home and makes a great living, and hasn’t signed with a major. Since he’s independent, he retains the rights to the music and doesn’t have to share in the ways “signed” artists do, so he makes a LOT more per sale.
One Day As A Lion, Lyrics Born, and Tim Fite are some of the many artists signed to ANTI Records…I’ve heard their record contracts don’t look much like the typical record contract. With a free-thinking indie, the contractual timeline may be as short as one album (as opposed to, let’s say, seven). A short-term deal is a very appealing offer for the artist: if everything is working well, you CHOOSE to stay with the label. If it doesn’t work, you leave.
Ani Difranco has made a legendary career on her own for almost 20 years. By putting out her own records through her record label, Righteous Babe Records, she has been able to speak on topics that a major might be afraid to get behind, release records on her own schedule, and experiment with a variety of media and ideas that arguably work best outside the major label system.
Remember, the major labels may want you to think they’re the best (or the only) option, but the playing field is leveling out more every day. So, with all due respect, there is an untrue statement above: “it’s just not possible yet to make a good living being indie.” I’m happy to tell you: it absolutely is, and it’s getting even better.
Posted by MURRY (“Breaking Your Band”) – This guy, Nate, was talking about something funny that happened to his band…They had been selling their album through one of those websites…He said he Googled his band and found their album for sale on some random website for fifteen dollars, which is way more than it usually goes for…How do you protect against that sort of thing without the support of a label and its many lawyers?
M: Unfortunately, the only way I know of stopping that is to have an attorney send a “Cease And Desist” warning. It basically looks like this. http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/contract/cease.htm You can try to send the letter to them yourself, but generally a letter from an attorney will scare people more. And you should want to scare them as much as you can; what they’re doing is illegal.
If you think about it, if you’re planning on selling music, you’re probably going to run into these issues, so it might be a good idea to hire a music attorney (don’t hire a regular attorney, the music biz will be out of their realm of knowledge). I sent your post to our (Linkin Park’s) attorney, who responded with the following:
“Most bands come to us through other bands, agents, managers or business managers. A few find us on their own by looking at liner notes and stuff. Attending music conferences is also a good way to network. The AFM, ASCAP/BMI, etc. are also sources of information.”
Posted by Lynnie: …”The culture defines the threshold. The fans and the artists, together, declare their opinion about when the line is crossed.” I agree with that bit. I’m personally not a believer in ‘selling out’ – as long what the artist(s) is doing is lucrative, credible and honest, what does is matter HOW they did it?
M: “Selling Out” will always be a controversial topic, because it’s subjective. Your definition is likely different from Rihanna’s, which is unquestionably different from Pearl Jam’s. I think most artists want to “do things that are lucrative, credible, and honest” but sometimes you are forced to make decisions where those three things are at odds.
Here’s a scenario where it gets complicated: You have a single and an album you want to promote. The radio stations’ feedback isn’t good, nobody really wants to play it because they’ve never heard of you. A soft drink company is willing to pay you $50,000 to include your song on their commercial (you get money and promo). They’ll promote the song and ad, plus they’ll donate $5,000 to your favorite charity…but they expect you to let them put their logo on all of the ads and concert tickets (equal in print size to your band’s logo), and they want you to wear their logo t-shirt at 50% of your gigs, and in the ad. Tricky.
If you’ve got a good idea, maybe it does the idea a disservice to hold it to a smaller audience. But never make decisions that compromise or destroy the integrity of your idea in exchange for a larger audience. Don’t turn your band or song into something you’re uncomfortable with in order to make a buck.
I just posted here:
Taking my own experiences with my band out of the equation, let me just address this as a fan. There have been artists who use their music as a means to another end for a long time :) From 80’s glam rock stars who used their band as a way to get chicks and live the “rock star life,” to today’s rapper with a yacht-load of endorsements, there is always an “artist” who is eager to sell their art to get what they really want. On the other hand, there are those who are only concerned with the artistic process and don’t sell it out for anything. The music career is the goal, and the journey is the destination.
Most artists sit somewhere in between.
In general, the way an artist rides the line between best-seller and credibility depends upon their cultural understanding of what’s appropriate. They’re informed by the music outlets they hear locally and online, the music cultures they choose to be a part of, and what their social/cultural group’s feeling about “selling out” is. It goes without saying that if you live in Hong Kong (where super-pop music rules the charts) and your favorite artists are Black Eyed Peas and 50 Cent, your idea of “sell out” is going to be drastically different than someone who lives in Los Angeles and listens to Pearl Jam or Minor Threat.
The culture defines the threshold. The fans and the artists, together, declare their opinion about when the line is crossed.
My concern is in the motivation. In addition to the difficult business of “getting noticed” by the fans, some musicians have extra pressure to pay the bills. The music industry is locking new artists into oppressive 360-deal enslavement, and trying to gradually hack away at the rights they initially promised their older acts, in order to protect their bottom line. And as long as the bands allow the labels to take their rights, the artists will have more pressure to look for money elsewhere.
Although I agree with a good deal of what Klein says in this piece, it is immediately evident that there is no one set of rules that works for everybody…but there are guidelines to help you set up your set of rules, such as:
If you license your music, do it with partners who get you, treat you fairly, and whose product is consistent with your message.
Do your homework, and know what your rights are worth, so when you trade them for something, you know you’re getting a fair deal.
Put your brand identity, your credibility, first.
I’ll leave you with a thought from Klein’s interview:
“One of the advertising creatives that I spoke to talked about doing away with the middlemen of record labels, that ultimately music could be released straight through advertisers. And I just thought, “God, that’s so curious that he would see that as doing away with the middleman when it’s clearly replacing the middleman.” And I can’t say for sure whether advertising executives are worse than record executives, but I don’t think they’re better. So, yeah, I think there is a gap here. And what the Internet offers is some possibility of — if not completely removing a middleman — creating a more transparent middleman and one that doesn’t take away so much of the money.”
Some more responses to fans’ comments and questions here on MS.com:
Posted by ritzifying (in response to Music Middle Class): Oh well. Opportunity isn’t easy to find in Pennsylvania anyway. I guess not having money and not being from CA or NY, YouTube and MySpace are still the best ways to go. :p
M: I’m happy to inform you that this is not true; you have access to the entire world online! I’m not going to promote any specific businesses that will partner with you in doing this, but there are a bunch of web-based services you can sign up for to sell your music online. Record your music at home, sell or give away the mp3s online, and promote.
Posted by ArielCahen (in response to Music Middle Class): I was going to post a comment when I saw this: “I guess this middle class of artists always existed, it didn’t evolve all of a sudden. They just needed a platform. and see? Globalization, Internet and social networks provided it (Wasn’t that the way LP started out, too?)”, by SaraLX. The only thing I do not agree with is that this middle class of artists always existed. They didn’t. I think it’s a new phenomenon that, yea, became possible thanks to the globalization and the technological revolution (internet and the new medias). Nowdays you can record a song on your notebook, upload it onto myspace and take it out with you on your ipod. It makes it simpler for you to reach people anywhere…
M: Correct. As few as fifteen years ago, when home recording software and the ease of internet promotion and distribution were not widely available, recording artists were either “signed” or “unsigned.” I think it’s safe to say those terms are outdated. Today, it’s all about creativity, technology, and rights when choosing from the myriads of methods of making and putting out your music.
Chester’s back is recovering well. He is still scheduled for regular visits to the doctor, but he’s able to go about most of his daily routine. He had a scare the other day when he was recording a vocal; in the middle of a take, his back seized up. he thought he might need to go back to the hospital, but after some rest and doctor’s advice, it relaxed again. Things are looking good. Thanks for your support!
Chi from Deftones is doing better. He still has a long way to go, but everyone seems optimistic. He’s in our thoughts…on a related note, please remember to wear a seat belt.
Following up on the post earlier this week about Ian Rogers, it should be mentioned that Ian spoke at the Grammy MusicTech Summit in Seattle this week.
I was unfortunately unable to attend (read: I didn’t get an invitation…maybe next year, HA), but one thing that Ian spoke about that i found particularly poignant was the emerging “middle class” of artists.
The music industry of the past was divided sharply into “big guys” and “little guys,” and working or signing with one of the “big guys” was the only was to see big success with your music. Today, there’s a new category of people who make music and make a good living doing it, and have virtually no connection to the major-label music machine. For some reason, when these folks sell 10,000 albums in a direct-to-fan format, the major labels still look at it and go, “so what?” mainly because the major labels can’t make a profit only selling 10,000 copies.
That’s the problem…for them.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with some things Ian said in his talk:
“I’m really sick of reading everyday that the music industry is falling apart because the top-line revenue of four companies isn’t what it used to be. I really think it’s a myopic way of looking at the music business…The physics of media have changed, and as a result, it’s really ridiculous to think that the winners, or even the definition of success, will remain constant…”
“Any of us [in the music industry], myself included, that are not either the artist or the fan, are just potentially in the way. So it’s on us to provide value. To provide real value. And that’s fine with me. I’m very happy to say, OK, my company has to provide real value. My company is not about lock-in. It’s not about me owning your masters. It’s about me providing value to you, and if I can’t, well, then I should get the hell out of the way.”
“There’s certainly a new middle class of artist who’s growing up, and success means getting paid to make your art, not getting on the cover of Rolling Stone.”
Sounds a lot like what we’ve been talking about here on MS.com. Stay tuned.
here’s the rest of the article on techflash.com
Music marketing is a topic that has come up before, here on mikeshinoda.com. This week, I had a great conversation with a guy named Ian Rogers, who runs a company called TopSpin. Since I’ve posted a few times about the positives and negatives of putting out your own music, I figure I should tell you about TopSpin, a new company that is making tools to help you do it.
One of the founders of the company worked at DigiDesign, inventing ProTools. ProTools and similar programs have leveled the playing field of recording an album. The question is: now that you’ve recorded a professional-sounding album at home, what do you do with it? These guys want to answer that question: by leveling the playing field of putting it out and promoting it.
From their website:
“Topspin is a media technology company dedicated to developing leading-edge marketing software and services that help artists and their partners build businesses and brands. We help artists manage their catalogs, connect with fans, and generate demand for music…Upon full release, the Topspin platform will offer artists a variety of ways to market directly to fans, to find new fans, and to gain maximum return on investment.”
Look at their website, under “For Artists,” for info about how to get down.
PS: I hear he’s not some poser on that skateboard. Apparently, he can actually skate.
EDIT: Lowering the character count to 140 in comments was a mistake–it’s back up to 700 now. I’m not turning it into Twitter (yet, at least). And no, I’m not on twitter because I don’t have enough to say at this point to make it worthwhile.