Music – Five things for emerging talent to consider
“Thinking Beyond a Chart Position – ideas to help emerging talent survive the music industry”
From my own background as the voice of a number one selling record, I set up Forever Diverse Music Solutions C.I.C to help emerging talent with music publishing opportunities and run community focused projects.
How I went from the top to lost..
In 2000 I was part of a number one hit that sold several million records worldwide. Around this time I did a lot of touring and support, I had a lot of mainstream exposure.
The hit song was a Barry White cover. I was 21 years old at the time, and as you may expect, experiencing this kind of fame was a first for me. I would get flown by private jet to France to perform to 20,000 people, do interviews on breakfast TV and all sorts.
The hardest time in my career was dealing with the decline
People were expecting a follow-up record, but the creative choices I was making weren’t what people expected.
There was a slump in revenues, the money stopped coming in and the opportunities faded. I didn’t have the experience to convince the label the journey I wanted to take with my music.
I had to start again from scratch.
So I decided that I would just do what I wanted to do with my career. Being creative with break beats, DnB, and reggae, plus working with musicians who I had common interests with.
I got into social enterprise through working with Investec. I had some amazing support from the Beyond Business program and I was able to start from absolute zero. Now I help emerging talent with ‘thinking beyond a chart position’, ideas for staying afloat long-term and sync-licensing with community and social change at the heart of all we do.
As soon as I started doing what I really enjoyed, everything improved. I was playlisting music directly at radio, delivering high profile remixes, and performing live around Europe.
The whole experience taught me that ultimately it doesn’t matter what people think as everyone will have their own opinion of what we do. We just have to go with our gut. Stop for a moment to recognise our value and do what is right for us at the time.
For me, I managed to get through the challenges I faced in two ways. I had people in my family who were great; but it was mainly martial arts that helped me. The motto of perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit, the positive energy of the people around me and having a particular mindset was really important.
When you have nothing, and you have to face your fears and all those voices that say “maybe you should just give up”. Page by page, inch by inch you climb out of that hole.
I’m now also an active voice over artist and actor. I’ve had appearances in ‘Star Wars’, ‘Now You See Me 2′ and the market on ‘Eastenders’ as well as being the main visual and voice talent on other film projects and major commercials.
I think that success is all about the fact that you tried, not about reaching the target. Without going through the low point of my career I wouldn’t be where I am now or be able to help others in the same way.
Where are we now?
The music industry often encourages a ‘me, me, me mindset’. ‘Buy my record, come to my gig, give me that deal, wear my t-shirt..’ whilst the economic value of music continues to be eroded away.
Technology has and will continue to create a shift on many levels.
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Nielsen
Prior to downloading, our focus was to make an album, work hard to get exposure, earn a living from releasing it then tour to make more money performing and selling merchandise.
Now our audience simply want access over ownership
Streaming platforms and services like Youtube, Spotify, Pandora and now Apple Music, have made access over ownership so easy. The result is a decline in the economic value of songs. Millions of streams still do not guarantee significant amounts of revenue for artists and writers.
With the old model disrupted, new and innovative ways of making an impact emerge then dissipate.
Based on a recording from a WAFF-48 news report about an attempted assault in Huntsville, Alabama, Bedroom intrude went viral selling over 1,000,000.It achieved platinum sales in the USA and reached 17 in the UK charts making it the most popular video in 2010.
So what are the main ways to significantly monetise music?
Publishing (Synchronisation and licensing), ‘works for hire’ (Writing for others e.g. tv shows, events or artists), live performance and selling merchandise. (Still no-one makes a T-shirt my size) seem to be the main earners (for now).
Just being a great musician, getting massive exposure and working super-hard is still not enough. Where are the winners of the many music related reality TV shows now?
Given the competition, the shear number of artists and the ease of which to make and distribute music, how can emerging talent cut through the noise?
Before we do anything I believe it’s important to check our mindset and consider the following five points: