The music industry has undergone a revolution over the past two decades that seemed to threaten its very existence for awhile, but which has since revitalized the industry in many respects says musician Ru Hazell, the Director of music coaching and instruction service Not Out Productions LLC.
Music industry revenue, the bulk of which is now derived from streaming services like Spotify, is expected to double over the next decade to over $40 billion. That figure doesn’t even include the live event market, which has been temporarily waylaid by COVID, but which was otherwise projected to hit over $30 billion by 2022.
Needless to say, there’s a huge market out there for musicians, and virtually anyone has access to that market now. No longer must artists appeal to a small collection of record executives that once stood over the music industry like stalwart gatekeepers, turning aside all but a small trickle of music from reaching the public’s ears.
Now, musicians can go straight to their intended audience with their music and have the capacity to directly control all aspects of their promotion and branding. Ru Hazell marvels that this is possible now, but also cautions budding artists that it means they have a lot more work to do and skills to master than just creating great music (don’t worry though, that’s still the most important factor).
He shares several important tips on managing your way through all aspects of the modern music industry, from social media promotion to copyrighting and trademarking your work.
Artwork, Logos, And Merchandise
Don’t underestimate the importance of your visual branding. Aside from your music, it will have the biggest impact on your success. Ideally, your logos and art should be representative of your music in some way, but it’s even more important that they be memorable.
The choice of logo is a vital one says Ru Hazell, as it should remain unchanged throughout your band’s life to remain instantly recognizable. Stylization and colors are the two major elements you control in logo design, and each can create a very specific mood and feel, so you may want to research further to ensure the vibe your logo gives off is the one you’re aiming for.
Free logo maker software can help even artistic neophytes create professional looking logos in minimal time. Alternatively, you could outsource the logo creation process to a more skilled artist through a freelance platform like Fiverr.
A popular and effective branding method for bands is to use a striking image or “mascot” that defines them and can serve as their go-to branding image for albums and merchandise. Disturbed’s “the guy”, Illenium’s phoenix, and Motorhead’s Snaggletooth are just a few examples of popular brand mascots.
Trademarking Your Art
The final step on the artistic front will be to trademark your work, which is done through the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). You’re expected to put forth a reasonable effort to ensure your logo and art doesn’t conflict with existing trademarks, though this can be hard to pull off without hiring a trademark attorney.
Social Media Management
Social media will be your main avenue of engagement with fans and newcomers to your music, so managing your channels should get a lot of your attention.
Rather than approaching social media as a platform to fire off random things that pop into your head at any given time, Ru Hazell recommends approaching it with a long-term plan that involves mapping out your content strategies anywhere from a month to a year in advance.
In that way, you can carefully curate and maintain the image you want to portray and the audiences that you want to appeal to and reach out to, which is a challenge when you’re just winging it with disjointed posts.
In addition to your regular posts and updates, you’ll also want to engage with your audience through live sessions on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, getting to better know your audience and them to know you. Lastly, don’t be shy about using paid social media advertising to market yourself and build your audience.
Make Use Of Smartlinks
Trackable smartlinks are a great way to send people to your music and gather more information on them in the process, including who they are and where they’re from.
Copyrighting Your Music
The moment you record original music, you are the copyright holder of that music. That alone doesn’t give you much protection from copyright infringement, however. For that, you’ll want to formally register your work with the U.S Copyright Office.
Doing so requires a $35 fee for an online registration but puts you in a position to instantly act on any copyright infringement of your work. Otherwise, you could be left waiting months for your application to be approved before you can take action against infringements of your work.
Ru Hazell points out that you can copyright your song’s lyrics and music, as well as an arrangement of other songs. However, you can’t copyright song titles or chord progression sequences within songs.
Getting ISRC Codes
In addition to copyrighting, you should get an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) for each of your songs so its sales can be tracked and submitted to agencies like Nielsen SoundScan (your tracks must sell for at least $0.39 to qualify for listing).
You can apply for ISRCs through the Recording Industry Association of America.
Register With A Performance Rights Organization
To collect royalties on your copyrighted works, you’ll need to register with a performance rights organization (PRO) like SoundExchange, BMI, or ASCAP. By doing so, you’ll be able to collect royalties on your work every time it’s played on the radio, used in a TV production, or at a live event.
PROs offer different admin rates, payment schedules, and layers of coverage, so consider the pros and cons of each before deciding which one to sign up with.
Ru Hazell knows firsthand how daunting the music industry is, but stresses that there’s never been a better time to be part of the industry and that nothing and no one can stand in the way of your success if your music strikes the right notes.
If you are interested in even more entertainment-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.