So the Jazz Record Business appears to be in the toilet so what does the developing new artist do now?
Well an artist friend of mine called me the other day seeking advice as he was planning to make a new CD at his own expense.
A brave guy indeed you may say and he is!
This friend is a fine player and composer who tours with several big acts and this would be his second release.
His first CD sold around 1000 units and some 400 units in Japan.
It was a very frustrating conversation as I realized as it moved along there was not much good advice I could actually pass on to him other than to just encourage him anyway I could.
He asked about getting a Record Deal with a label?
I had to say it was unlikely these days as I know of very few labels signing new acts at the moment.
He asked “Are there companies that just promote and distribute CD’s”?
I told him that one could hire independent Radio Promotion people and a Publicist to promote the CD and get interviews when the CD is released but he would have to pay these cost himself and the costs can be high to find effective help.
There are a few labels that will do this on the basis of recouping these upfront costs from the artists Royalty income but the problem is that the Artist only receives a royalty payment and if the CD ever recoups these promotion costs only then will the artist start making money towards his initial investment as there is no advance given by these companies and I do not recomend going in this direction.They make money and you don’t ,the same old story with no upfront money.
Overall it was a pretty negative conversation and not too enjoyable and this seems to be happening to me far too often these days.
Its not much fun to have to tell a talented artists they should not give up there day job believe me.
But there were some positives that came out of the conversation I thought looking at.
There is a business model I have seen work and not bankrupt the artist in attempting to get his music out and developing his audience.
The following maybe very obvious and known to many of you but I think its worth writing it down for clarity of what is needed and wanted these days.
1.Firstly one has to Record and Produce their CD for as few dollars as possible based on a realistic estimation of the sales one can expect.
One has to watch for the “not so hidden” costs as it is not just studio and musician fees one has to come up with up front.
Once the CD is recorded one has to press actual product and covers plus there is the cost of the Radio Promotion and Publicist one must factor into the cost of producing the CD and getting it out there.
I do know of one artist that never produced any actual physical CD’s and went totally Internet as downloadable MP3 files and that is an option that can be considered .
But basically either way the idea is to keep the front end costs to a minimum taking into account that one has to invest adequate funds to actually produce a quality recording that artistically reflects ones artistic vision.
I have seen this work now with several artists who have not only recouped their initial costs but made enough money to do another recording as the artist gets the bulk of the income on each CD sold this way.
This can be as much as $10 or more on a every CD sold so the math is easy.
1000 CD’s sold at $10 profit equals $10,000 in income so one would have to record the CD, press CD’s and covers,pay for promotion all for under $10,000 to break even and thats very possible to do these days with the advent of Pro Tools etc.
Hopefully the Artists one is touring with will let you sell your CD on “their” concert dates and of course one should get ones own gigs whenever possible and sell CD’s at every opportunity.
2.Then one should utilize every internet way possible to promote the CD.
Set up a website if one doesn’t have one already.
Get it on Itunes, Amazon etc and promote it through Facebook, Reverb Nation, an iPhone app, Youtube, iLikeit.com, My Space and Twitter etc etc.
Video a live show in the best quality possible and get it on the Internet every way one can and cross link all the sites wherever possible.
One interesting promotion idea I saw the other day is to get ones friends to review your CD on iTunes by using the social networks to promote the idea and request people to review the CD thus elevating its profile on iTunes or any web site as high as possible.
3.Of course there is always the possibility of your CD gaining its own momentum and becoming a “hit” and selling way above what one expected!!
Wouldn’t that be nice!
Good “Word of Mouth” seems to be ones best friend in this whole scenario and I know for a fact that is how Norah Jones had her massive selling CD a few years ago got started. Her CD totally took off on word of mouth and of course once things get rolling it gains a momentum of its own.
I know the above is probably very obvious and known by many of you already but I just thought it worthwhile to write it down as I get the same question asked of me week after week.
The key is to keep the front end costs as low as possible unless one can afford otherwsie but even then it makes sense to keep any project viable and profitable even if one has an investor or is personally stinking rich.Not a common scenario amongst musicians and artists you may have noticed.
“How does one make a Million Dollars with a Jazz Record Label?”
Start with $2 Million!
Horribly true these days I’m afraid but on the other hand there is a business model out there that can work and one can use to get ones music out to the public.
It seems to me that we have gone back to the days of things having to be very real and not hyped when one heard a band at club and bought their CD because one liked it not because some large record label hyped you to buy it.
It actually offers a tremendous opportunity to any artist as there is a real way to get ones art out there through the internet and word of mouth and I believe we are going to see and hear some real interesting and exciting new music as this business model progresses. Wouldn’t it be great to find another Coltrane with a different twist or a new Miles or develop a new format like Jazz Rap like the Jazz Rock of the 70’s.
New creativity is needed for sure but thats the subject of another blog one of these days.
We need some new music and composers that will revive the instrumental format and this is part of the overall problem of the decline in CD sales in my opinion.
Hopefully this blog is a positive approach to a very negative situation we find ourselves in, in regards to CD sales and will help rather than just talk about how bad things are which seems to be all to common these days.
Good luck and BTW don’t give up your day job 🙂