Sunday, August 6, 2017

This is why DIY don’t work.

It feels like 2003 again. When the digital revolution started everybody was talking about that the labels and the publishers and all other professionals could be taken off that the whole thing could be handled by the artist direct. The system would provide them with the copyright money and they could solely live off their music.

 I was on the same path back then. My idea was to create the services that the artist needed to get the things out, like CD pressing, distribution some small marketing things. In the end, we had over 40 different services we could provide the artist with, it was the start of Musichelp.

As you can read in my post about how labels services should have been gone, they are still here.
The problem was not money. We profit a lot from these artists using our systems. The systems were good. It was the same systems I used my self to release records. Still, after almost 10 years in operation, we did a survey and checked how it was going. Around 8000 artists had gone through our systems in one way or the other. We put up the criteria that to “made it” they had to live from their music. Not just playing it you could be an artist making money of a studio you were running. Or an artist but wrote songs for others in the spare time. But you were not allowed to have a day job and just doing it as a hobby.
Out of 8000 artists, we pinpointed around 300 that fit the criteria.

We started to wonder why these 300 hundred. We could easily see that it was not the best acts that contained these 300. When we came up to was that these 300 had the help of someone professional. It could be a manager, a publisher but someone who had a bit more know-how than the general DIY.
Why couldn’t the rest of them do it? They had the same tools. The problem I saw was that with every new DIY that called us they invented the wheel again. The professionals build up knowledge about different things that are essential. This knowledge can’t really be thought out, we tried with info banks, seminars, we did everything to teach these DIY to get it right. Still, they did the mistakes over and over again.

Are DIY more stupid than others, no definitely not. It’s just that there are too many components that affect things that if you don’t do everything totally right it really won’t work. And actually, the most frequented question was

  -   I just want to be sure I’m doing it right now.

The second is the market. When you are a DIY you actually only have one product, your music. Let’s say I look for a song to a commercial for my brand. I really want this rock anthem to go with it. But you are doing slow ambient pop songs. Your product doesn’t fit the criteria. If you send it to me I will be annoyed because it won’t fit my criteria. If you just skip me, well then you don’t get what the customer needs. That will lead to that I probably won’t call you next time I’m looking for a song even if this time I look for an ambient pop song.

As a publisher or a record label, you have a catalog and you will get it pretty close to at least keep the interest. As a DIY this is really hard. And this applies to a lot of things like festivals, gigs etc. The DIY is like having a store with only one brand even just one thing. We got cheese, only Gorgonzola, nothing else. That kind of store is really hard to have.

Then there are the limitations. When I got my distribution deal we need to have 250 000 songs to get in and get that good percentage that makes sense to go through them. The big amount of songs gave the distribution a feeling of safety that all the work they do actually will give them something for that small percentage.

AS a DIY you don’t have that many songs. Okay, you say but we can go together with other DIY to build up to that many. Well, then you are not a DIY you are a record label. The problem will you have only one account and one password that should be distributed around to 1000 of members. Okay, so you let on a person do it. Suddenly you are just a normal distribution.

This can be gone around if you are a really famous artist and people are sure to make money off your release. And there are a couple of theses DIY like chance the rapper. Still, they have done their brand, and in most cases that can take years and in most cases it won’t work.

So a lot of doors are closed to a DIY. Sure we have put up companies mimic the options for a DIY artist to have the same as the big ones, in reality, that is not the case.

It’s also about the team. DIY is usually the artist some band members. Chace the rapper has 60 employees. Max Martin has over 15 people just to check out his rights in the copyright society systems. This is the part that the DIY world always forget. The team will be hard to create as a DIY. The record labels, publishers even managers most of the professional world has built in teams that they have tested and use. And to build these teams takes time and trial errors. As a DIY you don’t have that time to do these errors. We calculate that it takes 10 years to build up an artist to the level that we sat as “made it”. If you going to do all the mistakes we did you have to add 20 years. And 30 years well it will be too long without money to make it.

When it comes down to it. Most the time people that are talking about this DIY are an artist that gives out music that is a very Nish genre, like Keltic Metal. They usually also get their income from another place like working in a bar as a gig promoter or on a PRS something that holds music but really is just a 9 to 5 job that has elements of music. In these kinds of situations, the DIY world is fine. Won’t take you that big but it’s a neat little hobby.

The problem I see right now is these people are telling this to people that really want to be on “made it” level. I stop believing in this years ago. And yes I have the experience of answering the phone for ten years answering the same stupid questions every day since the DIY always invented the wheel again and again and again repeating the same mistakes over and over and over.

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