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Is today a better time for songwriters to make money? why or why not?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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s wave's Avatar
Is today a better time for songwriters to make money? why or why not?

It seems to me much of an artists personal financial power lies in writing (owning) a song then owning and controlling 'where' and 'how' it monetizes. As well as the controlling of the 'sound recording, This way one can 'optimize' the financial revenue. In the old days songwriters really had to just through out their songs on a hit and miss basis and hope for the best. IMO today it seems a writer has better viable routes of monetizing and becoming fully and happily a self sustaining' artist. Do you feel the same?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
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🎧 5 years
It's hard for me to feel the same as the new boss (Spotify, distro companies e.g. Audius, etc.) is worse than the old boss. I think the only people who stand to make money are those who were part of the old guard regardless of genre(s). Only thing I'm non pessimistic about is the fact that I have immediate access (not to be confused with experience, what I'm lacking in) to anything I want to know regarding making music if it interests me, and my interests are: lyric writing, music theory, producing, vocals (rapped and sung).

I wish I was a full time musician in an earlier era, for me that would have been the era I grew up in: the 1990s.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #3
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by boombapdame ➡️
It's hard for me to feel the same as the new boss (Spotify, distro companies e.g. Audius, etc.) is worse than the old boss. I think the only people who stand to make money are those who were part of the old guard regardless of genre(s). Only thing I'm non pessimistic about is the fact that I have immediate access (not to be confused with experience, what I'm lacking in) to anything I want to know regarding making music if it interests me, and my interests are: lyric writing, music theory, producing, vocals (rapped and sung).

I wish I was a full time musician in an earlier era, for me that would have been the era I grew up in: the 1990s.
I never made much money in the old system... yet help create a few hit records in their respective genres. As for the powerful commercial popular genres... no go I was a rebel - and was NEVER accepted into the 'club' Spotify is horrible - and YT worse for making a living if you are not in the upper echelon. These are somewhat the new 'club'. BUT songwriters do NOT have to use them... and IMO you need the great songs themselves (and decent production) Song royalty (ownership) is maybe NOW more than ever the greatest leverage an artist can have. And this is an area I am focusing on. Great songs have their own inherent power. The trick might be to use some almost great songs to 'position' (slight branding) on exposure platforms Spotify and YT then bring out the big guns - not releasing these on the the exposure platforms but release them as 'indies' with FULL control. Just thinkin''' make sense?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave ➡️
artists...personal financial power...monetizes...'optimize' the financial revenue...viable routes of monetizing...self sustaining' artist.
There's some kind of world view going on here that I just don't get.

Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
What am I missing.... why would you have full control of the "great songs" but not have full control of the "almost great songs?"
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #6
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by markmann ➡️
What am I missing.... why would you have full control of the "great songs" but not have full control of the "almost great songs?"
The 'Great Songs' are usually the big money makers... while everything else is pretty much (financially) disposable. If you have to keep the full copyrights - lisc. - etc... it is better to sacrifice the lower rather than the greater.... IMO (but it is often just a guess - even so called experts have made mistakes for decades)
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave ➡️
The 'Great Songs' are usually the big money makers... while everything else is pretty much (financially) disposable. If you have to keep the full copyrights - lisc. - etc... it is better to sacrifice the lower rather than the greater.... IMO (but it is often just a guess - even so called experts have made mistakes for decades)
But why would you not retain full copyrights when you put songs out on streaming sites? I understand that you would lose a % of royalties to fees but not copyright. Am I wrong?
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #8
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by markmann ➡️
But why would you not retain full copyrights when you put songs out on streaming sites? I understand that you would lose a % of royalties to fees but not copyright. Am I wrong?
It becomes very convoluted very fast to try to give a 'simple' answer IMO. For example: your CHOICE of how a song is uploaded on Youtube... whether you have that song under an aggregator or distributor... or simply on your own. What you are ALLOWED to do on Youtube varies greatly - what they are allowed to do varies greatly- as far as your monetization AND what/how Youtube can monetize it! And it does not stop there. This bleeds over into MANY conflicting jurisdictions. This is exactly why many artists/publishers and sound recording owners stay 'away' from certain platforms. BUT IMHO I think when you are trying to gain awareness or create branding or what have you, It CAN behoove you to put out material on these types of platforms for indexing/ranking and SEO! (let's say - if you could put out a song on all major connercial radio in the USA as anew artist BUT you wouldn't receive any money from them - is it worth it? (heck yes) because you have instant overnight fan awareness - that can be rolled into a cash cow. I also think too many artists and wannabes starting out make a critical error by NOT understanding HOW they will be limited for 'future' business options and directing of revenue streams/monetization. Most people do not have much if ANY clarity of how signing up with CdBaby or Distrokid TuneCore limits future opportunities. Being self published (as a true indie) VASTLY differs from entangling with pub admins and the like. . this added middle layer thwarts you from even from much of the tracking your own songs. (and what is going on). Yes they all have their Pros and Cons... I am just saying is use 'forward thinking' most artists do not. tc
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks, S-wave, that was an excellent response. This is all of great interest because I have original material that I want to release but have not yet decided the path or paths I will take. There are so many options for distro, publishing, hosting, etc, etc, etc, that the task of deciding which to use is daunting.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #10
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by markmann ➡️
Thanks, S-wave, that was an excellent response. This is all of great interest because I have original material that I want to release but have not yet decided the path or paths I will take. There are so many options for distro, publishing, hosting, etc, etc, etc, that the task of deciding which to use is daunting.
Yea it is my opinion.. one of many... but I am personally adamant about one trying to become a full fledged 'SELF PUBLISHER' what is the down side... compared to just signing with DK and willy nilly 'I gots sta git it out there' DON"T be fooled here!!! (caution dangerous twisting roads ahead!) lol If you flop or don't get it... you still gain!!! You can always take the path of the 'music sheeple lemmings' later! You can back OUT of what YOU do but can you BACK OUT of something you agreed to with another entity easily? IMO do ASCAP SELF/PUBLISHER and all the bells and - what like $125 ish?? and then do the ISRC and the Sound Exchange... path etc... you are now the CAPT of your own ship... and yes you can change something later if it is 'not' your cup of tea... but man to track your own songs and material and recordings - and actually WHEN someone OWES you money... when I do things I want to now make positive cash flows from the start... NOT paying other people/pub admins etc (remember one-time cost does not equal a non-fixed member/subscription offer...) cuz the gate keepers can raise YOUR cost at will.... tc
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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🎧 5 years
@ markmann research Songtrust and SoundExchange.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #12
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave ➡️
Yea it is my opinion.. one of many... but I am personally adamant about one trying to become a full fledged 'SELF PUBLISHER' what is the down side... compared to just signing with DK and willy nilly 'I gots sta git it out there' DON"T be fooled here!!! (caution dangerous twisting roads ahead!) lol If you flop or don't get it... you still gain!!! You can always take the path of the 'music sheeple lemmings' later! You can back OUT of what YOU do but can you BACK OUT of something you agreed to with another entity easily? IMO do ASCAP SELF/PUBLISHER and all the bells and - what like $125 ish?? and then do the ISRC and the Sound Exchange... path etc... you are now the CAPT of your own ship... and yes you can change something later if it is 'not' your cup of tea... but man to track your own songs and material and recordings - and actually WHEN someone OWES you money... when I do things I want to now make positive cash flows from the start... NOT paying other people/pub admins etc (remember one-time cost does not equal a non-fixed member/subscription offer...) cuz the gate keepers can raise YOUR cost at will.... tc
The good news (I think) is that I own the copyright to the composition and recording of all of my music so far. I am also registered as the artist and publisher with my PRO. I've been doing some research on distro's and trying to narrow which to use. For example, one like Routenote distributes internationally and automatically supplies the ISRC. Beyond that things get foggy. I can see how having access to analytics could be interesting but what to do with the data is a mystery to me. My guess is that it would help to know how to target future music?
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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🎧 5 years
@ markmann you answered your own question re: analytics as real artists know their audience.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmann ➡️
I can see how having access to analytics could be interesting but what to do with the data is a mystery to me. My guess is that it would help to know how to target future music?
" having access to analytics could be interesting but what to do with the data is a mystery to me. "

That is probably the most important thing to have - insights from the data!

Data can tell you how many streams per follower or listener, giving you an estimated value of a follower or listener. For one artist, this told us that a follower was worth about $1.20 from streaming, and had a life time annual value of around $80. (followers tend to buy songs and merch as well as stream)
Data can tell you what cities you should be targeting for shows or ad campaigns.
Data can tell you what songs are resonating with fans. The song you thought would be a hit, isn't and the one you threw together on a whim turned out to be the song that people like listening to over and over...so make more songs like the one that resonated.
Data can tell you the age, and gender of the listeners. Had one band I managed a few years ago that thought their demographic was 24-30year old males. Turns out it was 16-24 year old females, which prompted a rebranding and targeted promotion.

Data is how "the Bigs" know what to release, when to release, how to release, and to whom they should target that release. Tours are planned around cities with streams and sales. There are ways to even track piracy in a way that is beneficial.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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s wave's Avatar
Last couple of replies are just great. Kudos! Let's see... first IMO the big reason WHY the new mucic producer sheeple go off the cliff is such things as they see no easy practical way of landing on a hot great 'Spotify playlist' or 'other' without signing ith CD or DK etc. BUT I see no reason why you can NOT break into decent playlists by yourself - and put signing with pub admin and aggregators off until you give it a good try. The upsides are huge here. I knew nothing about this YET I met a bunch of playlisters (organically) from different parts of the world and started recommending new artists to them - and I would say I have around a 80% placement rate... many of the artists were shocked and even almost broke down in emotion and thanked me dearly. But as I am helping others, I am vaulting and cementing my relationships with the playlisters. RecStu - you are right... what we think we know and what we should know are often far apart in marketing ones songs. It is all about where the market is... and more importantly the share (rate?) of the specific demographics where the song naturally promotes itself through word of mouth etc.

The simple thing of JUST 'survey monkeying' ONE fanboy reveals just about all you need to know let alone a couple dozen... When I establish my first record company label.. there was ONE edge I had OVER the big boys (7 major Co.s) and it came about by a whim almost. As I was flooding the right radio and media... (as a NOOB) lol I released my artists ablums and song 'packaged together' in a box. And amoung the human interest things I put in there was a SASE postcard adressed right back to me with about 5 questions... including a blank space of where the radio programmer/manager/dj etc. wrote what they liked! and what the disliked. Remembering that most DJs or radio people love to talk emote and discuss things - as these cards started coming back at a high return rate... I now NEW what each station would play and who at the station would play it. It made things easy - I build a quick organic connect with a few hundred national radio stations... and off we went.

Today is not different in my mind IN FACT some of it is EASIER! believe it or not by figuring out the platforms AI algorithms and things simple little things - (not too hard) just applying one self? ...
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #16
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
[QUOTE=RecStu;15437470
Data can tell you how many streams per follower or listener, giving you an estimated value of a follower or listener. For one artist, this told us that a follower was worth about $1.20 from streaming, and had a life time annual value of around $80. (followers tend to buy songs and merch as well as stream)
Data can tell you what cities you should be targeting for shows or ad campaigns.
Data can tell you what songs are resonating with fans. The song you thought would be a hit, isn't and the one you threw together on a whim turned out to be the song that people like listening to over and over...so make more songs like the one that resonated.
Data can tell you the age, and gender of the listeners. Had one band I managed a few years ago that thought their demographic was 24-30year old males. Turns out it was 16-24 year old females, which prompted a rebranding and targeted promotion.[/QUOTE]

I didn't realize you could collect that much data. I can see now how having it can be a huge asset. I know that you can get certain data from a site like Spotify if you have an account but I've never seen it so this is all new to me. I assume the analytics are collected from multiple sources?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markmann ➡️
I didn't realize you could collect that much data. I can see now how having it can be a huge asset. I know that you can get certain data from a site like Spotify if you have an account but I've never seen it so this is all new to me. I assume the analytics are collected from multiple sources?
it depends on your distributor. But the data points i outlined in my post is just from spotify.

I also wrote an API to both Apple and Spotify and so i could get even more data about users that playlisted songs etc... while my conversion rate decreased (meaning the people saw the popup saying I got access to their info and they bailed out), i got better info such as an individual's age, subscription plan, their city, email - whatever Spot would give me. Since the people that clicked through my app were people interested enough in the music to playlist a song, I knew they were potentially able to be monetized so the value to me was higher per click-through.

My distributor gives me a lot of data as well, but they are by invite only.

Then add in data you can get through Facebook/IG advertising, google analytics etc and now I can pinpoint things more. e.g., 67% of people that hit a landing page to check out songs are using Android phone, and of them the majority are using Samsung, therefore I am going to make sure my landing page is optimized for Android phones, and when Android is detected I am NOT going to offer them Apple play/iTunes to buy or stream from. When I run an ad, I am going to target Android users, who like Spotify, that follow certain bands, read certain magazines, have certain political affiliations, drive certain cars etc... and once a campaign is finished, I can comb the data to refine my targeting more

All of this data is called Structured Data.

I will also do blind surveys from time to time with questions that require potential fans to type answers. I have access to a machine learning/artificial intelligence tool that can comb through the non-structured data (open ended answers) and surface the most significant topics for me to act on. From that I can identify the type of things that get them to click on a link to a new song, video, website etc.

I can also scrape public comments from FB, Amz, YT, IG, Twitter, etc to analyse.
You might release a song and get a bunch of comments about what people like and don't like. If you have a small following you can probably spend an hour reading it and identifying the top 2-3 topics that are mentioned. But if you're like one of my friends that has 80k followers just on FB, they need a tool to scrape and analyze comments from new releases.

Data is everything.
Do most songwriters and musician know what to do to get the data? No. Do they know how to get insights from it? No. Most managers/agents don't know how to get this level of insight. But the few that do, are making full time incomes. You might not have ever heard of them. But they can pay the bills.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Here for the gear
 
Also one of the things I am testing at the moment is to take the top 20 songs in a given genre over the past 20 years and running the lyrics through AI analysis to see if there is a trend in what makes it a top 20 song. Themes, chord progression, length, etc. I haven't looked to see if this has been done. and I may not get to it for a while, but I bet I can train the AI to then predict whether or not a given set of new song are likely to chart.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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🎧 5 years
@ RecStu who is your distributor and what is your API?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boombapdame ➡️
@ RecStu who is your distributor and what is your API?
UMG. :D

Shouldn't have said wrote an API, I wrote an app using available APIs. It only runs on the domains/servers I control because it requires some dependencies.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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🎧 5 years
@ RecStu what's your app called?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #22
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by RecStu ➡️
Also one of the things I am testing at the moment is to take the top 20 songs in a given genre over the past 20 years and running the lyrics through AI analysis to see if there is a trend....
Here's another factor you can throw into your analysis mix - repetition of lyrics. If you haven't seen this one, they found that lyrics are not just getting more repetitive over time, but Top 10 hits were consistently more repetitive than the rest of the Top 100, even back in the 1960s. Not really any AI here, just stats from applying Lempel-Ziv compression to the lyrics, but really interesting:

Are Pop Lyrics Getting More Repetitive?

Really cool to see someone else thinking in terms of data - maybe not so much for songwriting, but certainly for helping indies reach audiences & find fans via the cheapest & most efficient/profitable methods!
Old 1 week ago
  #23
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henryrobinett's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
How do you expect to actually make money under today's system? I made money on the old system not much of anything under the new. I just don't see a pathway to making money. If people don't BUY music you can't make significant money. Radio is so dispersed and spotify is so criminal how in the hell is it going to happen?
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #24
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boombapdame ➡️
@ RecStu what's your app called?
Ive not given it a name. It's something that used PHP and the various APIs. It's a web app
Old 1 week ago
  #25
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s wave's Avatar
I recently went through the Spotify (hit chords etc,) and made a few posts a week or 2 ago for my fellow SEO wrecking Crew... and tech savvy artists... I will see If I can find it and post it... I do know that Spotify pie charts for chords/hits etc. are all over... expecially if you do a good narrowcast 'google' search for them - might save ya a bunch of time... thx for sharing... let's keep THIS thread goin on target. I do a lot of back door linking/rabbit holin' to FB and up into prominent song buying groups... this works real well - they tend to just buy or stream as 'giving back to artists' type thing - but most are sincere... and love being on a personal level.. with the artist.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett ➡️
How do you expect to actually make money under today's system? I made money on the old system not much of anything under the new. I just don't see a pathway to making money. If people don't BUY music you can't make significant money. Radio is so dispersed and spotify is so criminal how in the hell is it going to happen?
Every million stream is 4-5k. If you scroll through Spotify playlists, a huge number of indie artist are pulling 20ish million plays a year which is 80-100k.

Syncs are also up massively from the past, many commercials and shows and movies and video games want to use actual music instead of made-for-tv music like in the past, so that's become more of an income stream for people. National commercial syncs pay six figures.

If you can average 20 million streams a year on Spotify, a handful of smaller syncs (5k each or so), and one big national commercial every few years, you can eek out a nice six-figure average. That's no small goal though.

And the majors are still putting out music constantly, so the classic "write for a major label artist" opportunities are still there in the same numbers as the past, though songs may not make as much. That used to be the ONLY way a songwriter could eek out a living, you were either in with the big boys or you weren't a full time songwriter.

Being a songwriter and nothing else has always been a tough slot to land. Most were part of acts themselves that toured and made money, on top of writing songs for others.
Old 1 week ago
  #27
Gear Guru
 
henryrobinett's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Spotify is pure unadulterated BULL***T.
even if it's true 4-5k for a million streams - you think that's REAL MONEY?????
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #28
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett ➡️
Spotify is pure unadulterated BULL***T.
even if it's true 4-5k for a million streams - you think that's REAL MONEY?????
I agree it could be more. But yes 100k for 20 million streams is real money that has been attained by quite a lot of people.

How many people were songwriters and nothing else in the past? It’s not all that many.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #29
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henryrobinett's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 ➡️
I agree it could be more. But yes 100k for 20 million streams is real money that has been attained by quite a lot of people.

How many people were songwriters and nothing else in the past? It’s not all that many.
But they were there. Just because most couldn't doesn't mean we should take it away. I knew several very successful songwriter. I made money from songs back in the day. Not a huge amount because it was jazz. Jazz. And I made thousands of dollars. For the same number of plays on spotify I'd make $2. It's simply criminal and musicians are just going a,ong with it and GRATEFUL.
Old 1 week ago | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett ➡️
But they were there. Just because most couldn't doesn't mean we should take it away. I knew several very successful songwriter. I made money from songs back in the day. Not a huge amount because it was jazz. Jazz. And I made thousands of dollars. For the same number of plays on spotify I'd make $2. It's simply criminal and musicians are just going a,ong with it and GRATEFUL.
They still are there. If you made money as a songwriter off a jazz song it had to be because of a significant label releasing where it landed on radio or retail playlists or landed syncs.

Opportunities for jazz are definitely lower now with no relation to streaming, it’s university curriculum music now, not popular culture money making music anymore. Unless you’re writing period music for something like Soul, new jazz music is just not going to be listened to.

I agree, be a SJW who rages against the machine, that’s how progress comes about.

But meanwhile there are ways to eat off music. The good ol “personal responsibility to thrive in the system in place” vs “fight to change the system.” A good helping of both is needed for an individual to thrive.
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