Music industry professionals — especially consultants who work with a variety of clients across numerous sectors of the music industry — are behooved to stay up-to-date on the latest affairs and current events in the music industry. We do this a number of ways such as catching up with colleagues, attending conferences and networking events, and (the easiest) following and reading music industry trade publications and certain bloggers.
There are many publications and bloggers out there, and they range dramatically in terms of depth and breadth of coverage, level of objectivity, and overall value of insight.
Media analyst Mark Mulligan is known and respected for his in-depth and research-driven approach to offering deep dives into music industry trends via his work at MIDia Research and his blog Music Industry Blog while music attorney Chris Castle offers critical analysis of nuanced legal matters, especially those affecting copyright owners, on his blogs Music x Technology x Policy and Music Tech Solutions.
Then, there are some publications and some bloggers, while they offer interesting insight and news, can come off as “gossipy” from time to time (as one artist manager put it, when I shared this list in the Artist Manager’s Connect Facebook group); while others rant on about nothing of significance (said another).
Moreover, some publications are loaded with advertorial that is sometimes disguised as news (an “advertorial” is the term used to refer to an article that has been paid for (or commissioned in some way) by a brand and written (sometimes by the brand itself) for the purpose of advertising the brand without the content coming off as an advertisement — thus, advertisement + editorial = advertorial). Generally, you can recognize an advertorial and read through the advertisement to extrapolate what’s important to you (if anything). Advertorial falls into the wider spectrum of content marketing (content created by or for a brand to reach and engage target customers; including blogs, videos, advertorials).
Not all content marketing is inherently bad, though. Many articles written by or for brands offer enriching insight for its target audience, like this one that I wrote, which was published on Bandzoogle’s blog and RepostNetwork’s blog. While the article does promote my company TuneRegistry at the very end, the majority of the article details “5 Royalty Streams Every Indie Artist Should Know” and helps DIY musicians and artist managers wrap their heads around these issues.
So, whether you’re a seasoned music industry professional or an up-and-coming DIYer, if you want to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the music industry, subscribing to a few outlets may be helpful.
Below is a select list of the music industry publications, blogs, and newsletters to which I am subscribed. Where applicable, I included the name of the primary curator/blogger and their personal Twitter handles. Follow them or connect with them up on LinkedIn.
ArisTake (Ari Herstand | @aristake)
ASCAP Daily Brief (Dean Kay)
BMI The Weekly
CD Baby’s DIY Musician Blog (Christopher Robley | @chrisrobley)
Dae Bogan Musc (shameless self-promotion — Dae Bogan | @daeboganmusic)
Digital Music News (Paul Resnikoff)
Hypebot (Bruce Houghton)
Leftsetz Letter (Bob Leftsetz | @leftsetz)
Library of Congress Blog
Motive Unknown (Darren Hemmings | @mr_trick)
Music Ally (Wesley A’Harrah | @adreadpirate & Anthony Churchman)
Music Business Worldwide
Music Industry Blog (Mark Mulligan | @mark_mulligan)
Music Tech Solutions (Chris Castle)
Music Think Tank (Bruce Houghton)
Music x Tech x Future (Bas Grasmayer | @basgras)
Music x Technology x Policy (Chris Castle)
SXSW Daily Chord
The Trichordist (David Lowery)
There are several publications not listed here because they do not soley cover the music industry, but are still good sources of information when they periodically publish music industry related pieces (e.g. Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Forbes, Techcrunch).
QUICK TIP: Subscribing to many blogs and newsletters will result in many emails hitting your inbox. To keep your inbox free for your day-to-day business/personal email, create a new email address just for subscriptions (e.g. email@example.com). Then, all of the newsletters and new post announcements will go to that inbox and not clutter your primary inbox. Ok great, you now know how to keep your inbox clutter-free. But, what about keep up-to-date? Well, you can check the inbox once a week, twice a week, or whatever frequency that works for your schedule. I like to scan all emails on Monday. Some newsletters curate other stories, so they link to the same sources. Some publish original content. I like to read the headlines, choose what matters to me, and then read at my leisure.
My list is by no means exhaustive. And since I’ve already heard from some very passionate music industry folks about their support or disdain for some of the publications/blogs/bloggers listed, I’d like hear your thoughts.
Tell me in the comments what you read that isn’t on the list or feel free to share your opinion about any of the listed outlets.
As of this writing, there are currently 116,133 verifiable* payments owed to music creators and rights-holders that are sitting in unclaimed/undistributed royalties escrow accounts (referred to as “Black Box” funds**) in the United States.
The actual number of individual payments owed is likely closer to or exceeds 1 Million, however the actual number is unknown because the administrator(s) of some of the biggest Black Box funds have not made public their list of payees to whom they owe royalties.
Unfortunately, due to the statute of limitations on these funds many of these payments expire. Every month payees unknowingly forfeit their rights to these payments and the interest in the royalties revert back to the administrator. This happens because the payee does not contact the administrator of the fund to claim their royalties. Granted, most payees are unaware that these payments are waiting for them because the administrator is unable to reach the payee for various reasons.
It has been estimated that the global “Black Box” royalties could be in the billions of dollars owed to music creators and rights-holders.
Imagine working somewhere and then you do not receive a paycheck because the HR department does not have your new address. Not a perfect analogy, but not receiving monies that you’ve earned as a result of your hard work seems unfair.
THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM
So, I am happy to announce that I am working on a side project called Royalty Claim. Royalty Claim will attempt to work with as many of these administrators to aggregate their databases of millions of records of unclaimed/undistributed royalties and make that information available to the public. There are other services and insight that we will offer through Royalty Claim to help educate music creators and rights-holders on Black Box funds and how to limit/prevent their earnings from falling victim to the broken global music licensing ecosystem (such as taking control of your music catalog with TuneRegistry).
Also, follow @RoyaltyClaim on Twitter.
* These 116,133 payments are specifically verifiable because the list of payee names can be gathered from several databases.
** I am currently aware of over 30 funds and sub funds being managed in the United States. However, there are definitely many more that are “private”.
I’ve been hearing that Spotify is rolling out their BETA for their new Spotify Ad Studio, which they are comparing to Google Adwords and Facebook. Some artist managers I’ve spoken with are already in the beta and using it to run ad campaigns on Spotify.
One manager posted in a group that I’m in:
Everyone go to adstudio.spotify.com and check it out for yourselves. Apparently I already have access. The targeting doesn’t get as fine as Facebook, for example, and there’s a $250 minimum spend which gets about 10,000 airings at $0.025 each. There’s also a $5,000 maximum, I presume per campaign, and above that you’re getting into their Spotify For Brands territory which has a $25,000 campaign minimum spend.
They also specify that they don’t currently support driving traffic to songs or playlists. Their ad objectives are ‘Announce an event,’ ‘Raise brand awareness,’ ‘Drive people to my website,’ and ‘Other.’
If you’re interested in advertising content, they encourage you to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more, here’s a Google Doc with FAQs:
Generally speaking, with the industry being the Big Data industry that it has become, I feel that many of you how have experience with financial data modeling, forecasting, and other “financial/number people skills” could be a viable asset to numerous music companies.
Here are a few companies who specifically exist at the intersection of music and money, which could be a good transitional outlet for the right candidates: