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Online Business Model for a Band? 420

Backes asks: "I've seen a lot of submissions about P2P, iTMS, DRM, piracy, and the RIAA, lately. Apparently everyone has an opinion on this and most seem think that the recording industry are a bunch of greedy people that stick it to the consumer as well as their own artists. After hearing some of the stories, I'm not even sure that getting signed to a label would be the best course of action for an aspiring musician or band. So what is a better option? What would you, the Slashdot community, do to make it big on your own using the Internet?"
"What kinds of features would a site need? Would you pay for downloads of MP3s from a band's site or not? At what price? Would donations work, or would everyone just freeload? How often would you need updates or new songs to keep you coming back? If downloads were free, would you then buy a full length album from the site just to get the CD? What special features should the CD include? How would you get your name out? What do you think is the best course of action for a band that wants to completely circumvent the whole music industry process and do it themselves?"
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Online Business Model for a Band?

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  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:31PM (#12121236)
    Groupie model first, then business
    • Groupie model first, then business

      Both of those questions are ill suited for Slashdot. What about Sci-Fi television show model?
    • by ZephyrXero ( 750822 ) <> on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:25PM (#12121616) Homepage Journal
      There are quite a few successful online-only artists these days. First off, sell your CD's through []. They take a very small cut of your profits and will put your stuff on iTunes for you (you also get a larger cut than the standard artist there as well via cdbaby). Next, put free downloads on your site. The only way people will know if they like your music or not is if they can hear it, right? Now...I would suggest putting them in a slightly over-compressed format. Meaning, it's a high enough quality to hear your music properly, but not quite high enough for them to be satisfied with just that file. I'd suggest either a 96kbit MP3 or Q0(~64k) Ogg Vorbis file... Now they can proceed to buy your CD or download a high quality file from something like The next step, and it's the hardest to get advertising of some sort. You can have the best music and the best site, but if no one knows about it, no one will ever see/hear it. This is the music industry's trump card currently, but it is possible. My current favorite band, Celldweller [], does all their stuff themselves, sells primarily online, and are doing pretty well (they had a song featured in the Spiderman 2 trailers last year). They even have a small distribution deal to get their stuff in mainstream stores like Best Buy and whatnot. Good luck!
      • by adoll ( 184191 ) * <> on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:15PM (#12121948) Homepage Journal
        I run sites for bands: 1 [] 2 []. The single most important thing for them is getting signed to do live performances. This means the site is promoter friendly, as well as fan friendly. Tell them when you are playing and where. Fans and festival promoters like to know when you are in their area.

        Have your promo pack on the site. Only one [] of my Clients does, but that gives them an advantage over the competition. Make sure the promoters know who you are, what you play, and what you need on stage for plugs and boards.

        And photos! Fans love em. Promoters need em. Find yourself a good PHP type package like yappa-ng [] and smile for the birdie!

        My $0.05 about music online: consider it your radio play. Release a few "singles" to your website (and wherever else you can) and don't skimp on the quality. The promoters are listing to a dozen MP3s a day and if yours doesn't stand out, then you won't be on stage.

        Shameless link to my own template []

    • by ndtechnologies ( 814381 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:59PM (#12121854)
      Well, the web hasn't been totally utilized as an asset for bands, in fact many underestimate the power of it. For years i had my bands music up on sites like Angelfire back in the mid 90's. Now in the world of broadband, I decided to start my own online Music Store [] because I wanted a way in which I could sell my music online, and still be able to make some money. At this point, we have over 20+ bands that have signed up, and we also work to get them gigs here in Nashville as well as feature them in commercials for our site on local radio stations. The artist doesn't get charged for it. The site takes a commission on the song sold, but the numbers work out so that the artist makes more per song sold, than they do on other competing sites. They set the price for their songs and the bands also earn more money as they sell more downloads. Best of all the accounts are free, and when someone purchases a song, it stays in their account for two years. None of this 90 day expiring DRM stuff. Also, the band doesn't have to give away their creative freedom. They can make the music that they want, without fear of being dropped. The bands choose when they want to close their accounts. We really try to do as much for the artist as possible. I am as frustrated with the Recording Industry as the next person. That is why I created my own.
  • I would like to know (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:32PM (#12121246)
    How to protect your music/lyrics from being stolen. If I have a band and we publish music on the web (for free, or a price, whatever) how can I protect them from being stolen and used by another band?
    • dress like KISS or Gwar, act angry.. throw in some weapons, sex toys and, believe me, they will not risk the consiquences of stealing something you might miss.
    • by GileadGreene ( 539584 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:47PM (#12121358) Homepage
      Uh, perhaps the fact that you own the copyright on your lyrics?

      And, just to please the slashbots, note that it wouldn't be "stealing" if another band used your material, it would be "copyright infringement".

    • by shrewmy ( 37432 )
      I'm not sure how true this is, but i remember reading it before... and it said to email the lyrics to yourself. That way you have a copy of the lyrics with time and date stamped all over it.
      I'd think emailing yourself an mp3 or sheet music (if your band does that kind of thing... the couple i've been in havent) to yourself could protect the music in the same way
      • if this works, and I'm not entirely sure this has been tested in too many courts.. you would most certainly have to leave the mail UNOPENED and I would keep them all in a safety deposit box away from your house for extra security (like fire, water, theft, tornado, ex-girlfriend, etc).
      • It's called a poor man's copyright, but you need to mail a copy to yourself via the us postal service and make sure to leave the letter unopened. This basically will establish ownership through the date of the postmark.
        Make sure to note the outside of the envelope with its contents if you're planning on doing this more than once.
        • I've heard of people also publishing the md5sum of the music in the newspaper legal section; no idea of what the courts think of this. This will pretty well prove the files owner and date as its nearly impossible to get the same checksum on two different files on purpose. If the court actualy threw out the md5sum because its not absolute, they'd also have to throw out finger-prints and dna too.

          on the mail it to your self method, put the stamp and addresses on the back of the envelope, more difficult to ope
        • by belial ( 674 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @08:55PM (#12123018) Homepage
          I've taken copyright law classes specifically for the music business. The 'poor man's copyright' was brought up several times, and although it can be used as partial proof, it really doesn't stand up. In fact, it can hurt you.

          If you sue someone for infringement, you can use your dated envelope for evidence (although not proof) that your story is what you say it is, but damages can only be collected from the date your work is filed at the library of congress.

          If you were to file properly instead of going through the 'poor man' routine, you'll make out a lot better in an infringement case.

          Also remember, Copyrights are given for 'original' works. They don't have to be 'unique'.

          It is very possible that two people can come up with the exact same song. lyrics, chord progression, etc.

          At that point, the owner of the older work (who is claiming infringement) must show that the infringer had access to the original work.

    • by redivider ( 786620 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:20PM (#12121580)

      Register with the US copyright office. It's not expensive. Its $30 to register a whole album worth of music and lyrics. []

      There you will find Form SR (Sound Recording) and instructions on how to register.

      • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @06:07PM (#12121890) Homepage
        Just to amplify on the parent post, you automatically own copyright on anything you create once it's fixed in a tangible medium (recorded, written down,...) but yes, it is wise to send in the registration form and the $30 anyway. There are a couple of reasons for this:
        1. If you have to sue somebody for infringement, you have more remedies available if you did the registration.
        2. It proves that you really were the author, and that you wrote it first.
        BTW, point #1 can be important for OSS. If you don't do the registration, and someone violates the GPL, you can only sue them for actual damages. But your actual damages are likely to be zero, since it's open source.

        On a different topic, I have some exeprience [] with bypassing the traditional book publishing industry with some of my own free-as-in-speech books. Here's some advice:

        • Keep your expectations reasonable, and make sure that if you never see a dime of revenue, you'll still have had a good time doing it, and won't have lost any money you couldn't afford to lose.
        • Don't underestimate how much work it is to set up all the functions of a publisher (or in your case, record label). Taking credit card orders is a pain to set up, and entails continuing hassles. Are you going to have https on your site? -- another hassle, and another expense. What's going to happen with orders if you go on vacation? If you're cursed with success, how much bandwidth are you going to need, and what kind of webhosting costs will that bring with it? How are you going to advertise? Advertising is expensive, and it can be hard to tell if you've reached the right audience, or what the return was on a particular amount of money you spent on advertising.

    • There's no such thing as "stolen".

      It's merely "unauthorized independent marketing" - and you need it to be a success.

    • If what you are asking is how to prevent other people from covering your songs, the basic answer is that you cannot prevent them from doing so. There is a compulsory license in 17 USC 115, which permits other people to make and sell records of a recording of them, performing your music and lyrics.

      Oh, and all those people talking about envelopes and such are just morons. They have no idea what the hell they're talking about.
  • Magnatune (Score:5, Informative)

    by kernel_dan ( 850552 ) <slashdevslashtty ... m minus math_god> on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:32PM (#12121247)
    Check out Magnatune []. Motto: We're a record label. But we're not evil.
    • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @09:13PM (#12123156) Homepage Journal
      Unless you're actually interested in running a business, you should avoid having a business model. Running a successful business, regardless of the model, will take several people working full-time on overhead, and this is likely to eat up your band.

      The right path is really to find someone else (such as Magnatune) who has a business model which leaves you ownership of your music, gives you a return that you feel is fair, and involves business practices you think are ethical. There's nothing inherently bad about signing with a label, just like there's nothing inherently bad about getting a loan; it's just that the well-known labels are scams.
  • take the contract (Score:2, Interesting)

    by geekee ( 591277 )
    "After hearing some of the stories, I'm not even sure that getting signed to a label would be the best course of action for an aspiring musician or band. So what is a better option?"

    Don't be stupid. If a label offers you a contract take it. If your career goes anywhere, you can renegotiate a better contract after the terms of the first have been completed
    • by File_Breaker ( 16834 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:38PM (#12121298) Homepage
      Yeah, but then 99% of the time you lose all rights to your own music. I was in many bands and even when we got an offer that was pretty good deal we said no because we wanted to own our music and not have the record lable own it. You have to watch out.
      • by DoorFrame ( 22108 )
        Yeah, but has anyone ever heard of your band? Would they have heard of your band if you'd signed the contract?

        Take the contract, get famous, then worry about rights.
        • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:52PM (#12121398)
          Would they have heard of your band if you'd signed the contract?

          Maybe, maybe not. That's not an indicator.

          You've probably never heard of 95 percent of the bands that have signed on to a record label. Many, many times, the label simply does nothing with the band/artist. And they'll still prevent you from actually doing anything else creative.

          Sometimes it's in your best interest not to sign.

          • by bfields ( 66644 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @11:12PM (#12123840) Homepage
            You've probably never heard of 95 percent of the bands that have signed on to a record label.

            It's also worth noting that you've almost certainly never heard of 99.99% of the succesful musicians out there. Where by "succesful" I mean, they make a living, and enjoy and excel at what they do.

            If your primary goal is to "make it big", or become "famous"--well, I think your priorities are weird, but I also think you're setting yourself up for disappointment....

            --Bruce Fields

    • Yeah, and when standing at the crossroads, be sure to make a deal with the devil. You can always back out later... right?
    • Re:take the contract (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:05PM (#12121475)
      Don't be stupid. If a label offers you a contract take it. If your career goes anywhere, you can renegotiate a better contract after the terms of the first have been completed.

      I agree, don't be stupid. But that's all I agree with.

      90% of signed bands never release a second album, because their label dumps them first. Meanwhile, just about all bands make negative money from their first contract. This is important, if you sign with a label, you will end up in debt, you will also end up not owning your own work made while on contract. Standard label contracts are really that abusive. They get away with it, because prior to the internet, they were the only game in town.

      You know why Prince changed his name for a few years to that weird multisexual symbol? Because his label owned his name. We got to hear all those jokes about it, when it was really a creative way to escape a hideously abusive recording contract.

      Don't be stupid, don't sign with a major label. You never win the lottery, you ain't going to win the label lottery either.

      If you are good, you don't need the labels anymore (and chances are they don't want you because "good" does not usually equal "easily packaged up as sex symbols for young teenagers").

      Make your own way.

      Release your current work to the net with a Creative Commons [] license. Promote your live performances, sell doodads.

      If you are good, you'll gain a following after a while (years probably - so don't quit those day jobs just yet). With a substantial fanbase you can start working on commission. Here's how in a nutshell:

      1) Set up an escrow account that people can deposit money in via paypal, credit cards and electronic checks.

      2) Name your asking price for the release of a new recording - a whole album or just a track or somewhere in between.

      3) Make sure your fanbase knows about your offer, publicisize it every which way you can.

      4) When enough people have pre-ordered your new music (via the escrow account) to reach your asking price, release the new performance with a Creative Commons license, and take your money.

      If you continue to make good music, each time you release a new track to the public, it becomes advertising for your next commission. If you get popular enough, say just 1 million fans (out of the possible 1 billion or so people on the net), you can really start raking in the bucks on the commissions - ask for a cool $1M to release your next album and all it takes is just 10% of your fans to pay $10 and you are now a very well paid artist. Your fans are happy because unlike with RIAA music, they really will own the music they buy from you, no guilt, shame or jail time for sharing copies with all of their friends and strangers too.

      Everybody wins, except the RIAA and their old guard distributors, and nobody will shed a tear for them.
      • Re:take the contract (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TeknoHog ( 164938 )
        You know why Prince changed his name for a few years to that weird multisexual symbol? Because his label owned his name.

        That's funny, considering Prince is his real first name. How greedy can the record companies get?

      • Make your own way.

        Release your current work to the net with a Creative Commons license. Promote your live performances, sell doodads.

        [and so on...]

        So how much money have you made so far?

        Or are you talking out your ass?

        That's what I thought...

    • You go in the studio you know you'll get hosed again you make an albumn you don't option it. You're still in to them for 3 more albumns. Finally you press something good and they take it two more.

      They have hundreds of artists and they need like 5... they will own all your work until you produce 3 things that make them some money.

      Find an independant label, do your recording and mastering yourself you'll be a better and more independant musician for it.
    • Not so sure (Score:3, Informative)

      by HangingChad ( 677530 )
      Don't be stupid. If a label offers you a contract take it.

      A friend and I set up a web site for my wife's music and did some basic advertising with SingingFish. Her top download song last month had 13,336 downloads (lo res mp3's), second place 2,450 plus the samples. We've started getting several inquiries a week about the due date of her next CD. And we're not even pushing it that hard. This was spending less than a hundred bucks on advertising.

      I'm not at all certain you'd be able to make a huge am

    • Don't be stupid. If a label offers you a contract take it. If your career goes anywhere, you can renegotiate a better contract after the terms of the first have been completed.

      That seems to be the advice you hear from a lot of different people. I've been through one record deal already and have talked to a *lot* of other bands in the same position, and it rarely works out like that.

      Also, in most cases a major label deal guarantees *one* album but locks you in for *seven*, all at the sole discretion o

  • Remember... information wants to be free. You have no right to earn money. Just provide all of your music. We will download it, and then tell you that if your music weren't crap, we'd pay for it.
  • my take (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:34PM (#12121266) Homepage Journal
    It seems to have worked for some 'indie' bands recently, using viral marketing - offering demos or live versions of their songs via p2p, or even the full song to get publicity

    After they get a name for themselves with fans who download music to check out new stuff, they make an effort to get signed, the problem here being the production of new material if they used their best to get a name for themselves online

    I don't think the internet would ever top the playing in bars to get your name out, but if mixed with services such as - while sharing live or demo versions on p2p, you could build yourselves a name quickly. A lot of things would also depend on the type of record label who would sign you, the 'indie' kind who give out songs online for promotion, or the big labels who try to stop download and have huge budgets for promotion
  • give away a lot of your songs to start with, until you devlop a following. People won't be very willing to pay for something they have never heard before. Most stores offer some sort of display to listen to their new music. You should offer free, decent quality files with no DRM to get your name out into the world.

    After you've got some fans, then try to sell them something (cd, download, tshirts) and I think you will do better than starting with DRM.

  • by Peterus7 ( 607982 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:36PM (#12121279) Homepage Journal
    Get one of your fat friends to do something really stupid, videotape it, and put it up on newgrounds with a music track. Then sell t-shirts.
  • by peculiarmethod ( 301094 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:37PM (#12121288) Journal

    Well, I am not famous, yet.. but I am working on exactly what you speak of, and here is a simplified version of what I am doing:

    I have a living room studio where I record all of our practices and jam sessions to firewire harddrives. I use 24 channels to mix down about 6 different sized diaphram condensers and a few 57s here and there. There's all the gear we need (amps, bass, guitar, two keys, and a trap set), effects, a PA, and we have and now own the only copies of all our material. We all learn and teach each other to engineer.. play.. compose.. we all treat it democraticaly when decisions are to be made about lyrics, composition, song selection, mastering, mechandise, etc. With all this in our own hands, we all sell CDs and merch at our gigs and in our spare time (running to local record stores and getting things on consinement), and reinvest certain monies from band oriented sales into necessary things like legal docs or advice.. expensive promotional materials such as ads, cds, etc. Repeat.. profit. we've removed the need for a label at the expense of not having everything all at once. But with a bit of work, the band can work like a sucessful startup company, and we're having one hell of a time while we're at it!

    pego the jerk
  • Model (Score:4, Insightful)

    by seaniqua ( 796818 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:37PM (#12121292)
    Unfortunately, I don't see a band making more than a moderate regional success without the aid of a lebel. The industry is just too closed to outsiders. You won't get your album shelved in Sam Goody, Wal Mart, and the like without the aid of a high-powered record company. The only other option is to join a smallish, "indie" label. While you still won't make MTV (most likely), a good indie label will be able to get you some exposure in independant record stores, radio stations, and the like. Some idie labels even band together in loose organizations, and can manage to get more clout that way. With this setup, you might be able to get a regional distribution in major outlets, but you still won't make the billboard charts. Sad to say, but if you want to be a rock star, you still have to play the label's games. At least until I get my plan to revolutionize the record industry underway...
  • A Sure thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:38PM (#12121302) Homepage Journal
    I don't know all the details behind becoming a big band, but one thing is for sure: If you go on your own, and you suck, you're going to go nowhere. (Hopefully you would realize this, though.)

    There have been 'big names' that were mediocre groupd/people that their labels hyped like crazy (and who also generally had looks to help them out.)

    Anyone looking for wide recognition would do well to become local stars. Especially if you live in a bigger city, being a local star, with fans who will post on the internet, will help your career if you try to be independent.
  • Star Wars Kid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kai.chan ( 795863 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:38PM (#12121304)
    "What would you, the Slashdot community, do to make it big on your own using the Internet?"

    Having a site with your work isn't enough these days. Unless you are the best of the best out of the billions of sites with the same type of content as yours, you won't be recognized. Although it might sound like a joke, but doing something wacky and weird will get you all the attention on the internet, as people start propagating and promoting your site to others. Take Star Wars Kid,, Yata, etc, for example, instant fame in a matter of days. Now, shifting from wackiness to the content you are promoting might be a more difficult challenge.
  • You're either a musician or you're not. Play the music; everything else will take care of itself.

    I realize that doesn't answer your questions, so, in order: Flash, no (prefer FLAC), $0, kinda/yes, weekly, yes, doesn't matter, publicity (and you just blew it with a front-page /. article and no link, or does this "band" not yet exist?), and just play, respectively.
    • so, in order: Flash,

      HAHAHAHA you haven't done this much have you? That's a great way to further limit your audience. If you want your music and name to get out there, you're going to need to stick with stanards that everyone can use. HTML, MP3, CD you get the idea.
      • That was the most obnoxious thing I could think of without being over the top. :-) I actually don't mind flash on sites, as long as it's navigable without it.
  • CD Baby (Score:3, Informative)

    by fohat ( 168135 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:42PM (#12121326) Homepage
    I'm currently considering being my own label and selling CD's through CD Baby []. My experience with them has been positive so far.
    • And I'm currently considering becoming a CD Baby client: their CDs are cheaper, they support Free Software (Ruby!) and their web site is awesome (lots of advice and ideas about other genres I usually don't listen to).

      This is also my idea of the future of music: try to innovate, be different and better. I recently discovered trip-hop music and I guess most of its sounds will only be mainstream in ten years. Be different! (Think Different!)
  • by deathcloset ( 626704 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:43PM (#12121330) Journal
    play shows.

    That's all.

    The "recording artist" is becomming something of an anacronism - or will become so IMO.

    We are returning to a time when musicians get payed to actually perform their music, not just record it.

    Ask a signed band, and the record company always, always gets the biggest cut of the money from record sales.

    the band just counts on the sales driving concert attendance...but it's not really SALES driving the attendence, it's the people hearing the music.

    and that hearing can now be achieved without the expenses of distribution from a decade ago.

    that's truely why the Recording Industry is going to the toilet. The fleets of trucks driving to the stores and the warehouses of duplicatation equipment are already outdated - and that was really all that we needed those guys for. They didn't MAKE artists, the found and held them - like a zoo animal.

    Give your music away, if you love it set it free. They will come to see you play if you rock :)

    and I hope you do :D

    link to your bands website?
    • RIGHT ON! MOD UP!! This is what I have been saying for the longest time. The CD now is just an ad. Performance, merchandise, maybe the artwork to hold the music is whats for sale. Go out and perform and work just like the rest of us, no offense, but thats how it should be. Otherwise, if you love to play music, good enjoy it,money is irrelevant. Give away the tunes, play 5 days a week, and of course, be something people want to hear and you are set.
      • by wtmcgee ( 113309 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:11PM (#12121517) Homepage
        I disagree. I enjoy the live show as much as the next guy, but saying the studio album is simply an ad is a bit naive. I'm way too busy (and live way too far away from any decent venues) to see every band I enjoy playing live.

        The album format may be dying (slowly, but yes, it's dying), but for someone who spends way too much time in a car or at work, live music (and ESPECIALLY merch - I don't want a t-shirt of my favorite band ... i just don't care about such things) is not a viable way for me to support artists.
        • You can disagree, but you'll be wrong.

          The simple truth is that, from the band's point of view, albums are advertising expense. Bands do not profit from albums.. even the tiny slice of royalties they're officially given are inevitably taken by the labels.

          If all you do is buy albums, you are doing nothing, nothing at all, to help the band survive. It's not worth feeling guilty over it, but it is a good reason for the bands to find new ways to distribute their music... if they can actually make a nickel a tu
    • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:42PM (#12121737) Journal
      A lot of people, such as myself, who work in a totally electronic realm don't "ROCK". At all. We sit behind a laptop. Playing live is a boring exercise in futility. As far as the audience is concerned, I might as well be playing tetris or minesweeper. I make sure I grimace as much as I can when I hit the spacebar.

      That said, I do agree with you and think that there will be a general trend toward live performance. As usual, China is a model: musicians there don't make shit from their CDs - they're instantly pirated. They make their living from constant grueling tour schedules.

      That's fine when you're in your 20s and you want to "rock", but it really sucks for people who are older or have family obligations.

      I think he crux of the matter is one of raising consciousness among consumers.

      Sure: go and trade your mp3s on P2P, but: if there is something you like and you listen to it more than a few times, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND BUY IT, YOU CHEAP ASS MOTHER FUCKER.

      And if you can buy it directly from the musician(s), all the better. Go for it. By doing so you support the people who made the stuff and deserve your money. They have to pay rent too.


  • What I would Do (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Travelsonic ( 870859 )
    1. Offer decent quality samples or one or two(more as I made more music) full tracks, ABSOLUTELY NO "Digital Rights Management" (DRM), it has proven itself to be nothing but a worthless, overcrackable piece of shit. 2. Price the individual songs, or singles, and full CDs at low prices. - Single songs: $0.99 - $1.10 - "Singles" CD: $5 - "Full CDs": $7 - $10 3. Use a website to promote my stuff, try to get music on as many sites (pay-per, or free) as possible, including, ITunes, Napster,
    • If you want to take the honest approach it might be useful if you provide a log for your fans with detailed information how you spend your (music-related) time and what costs are involved. If they see exactly how much time you spent on your songs you might get more people to pay for them (at least in the beginning when your profit/hour is low).
  • Give It Away Now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:46PM (#12121350) Homepage Journal
    Give the music away for free, with URLs embedded in the MP3 ID3 tags etc. Sell the things you can control access to, like concert admissions, copies of CDs for people who want that (many still will), t-shirts and other merchandise. Try to license your songs to people selling other things, if you think that's cool. If you sell the songs, there's a cost to sales, and you'll wind up spending lots of other money on other promotion and marketing. With the Internet offering so much free distribution, the music itself is the most effective, cheapest promotion available. And the primary idea is to get as many people listening as possible. So help the music get to the people who want it, and your audience will be more interested in paying for the rest of the package.
  • I'm not a musician, and have almost no musical talent at all, but I know what I like to hear. That said, I think that the number one thing is:

    Step 1: Be good. If you don't write good music, you stand no chance of making it big, and doing covers forever won't get you ahead for long. Dispatch was a great band that had a huge following, and it certainly wasn't because of a big-name label that they were so popular. I also know a lot of people from HS and college who were in bands, and to be quite honest,
  • My friends in the band HPD [] have done pretty well just playing shows and getting their name out via Myspace. Unfortunately, they haven't released an album yet, because quite a few people ask to buy one after a show. I think they'd tell you that it is most important to get your name out locally by doing as many shows as possible.

    It all depends on what you want to be doing. If you want to be heard on the radio 24/7/365, then you probably need to try to get with a major label and hope you don't lose your sh
  • is your band anywhere near being a financially successful venture?

    if so, have you quit your day job yet?
  • good read:

    The Problem with Music []

    for those who dont know him: he's a very good musician and a famous producer (nirvana etc), too.
  • I'd say the best thing to do is to give away the music for free. Submit copies to the local community stations both in your area and across the country (if you can afford it). The community stations love indie artists and has been the best way for me to learn about good artists. I assure you it hasn't been through the main stream radio and record stores.

    Use your website to promote the music by giving it away as non DRM files, and put them on P2P networks. Make money through concerts and T-shirts and anythi
  • First off, let me say this--don't quit your day job. Don't go in this for the money. If you're truly passionate about what you do (and methinks your fans will be able to tell this), you won't be afraid of supporting your hobby rather than your hobby supporting you.

    When it comes to your music, distribute, distribute, distribute--on P2P, on the Web, you name it. Radio isn't that inaccessible--one of the DJ's for a local station here plays MP3's he finds from bands just like yours and I'm sure would also a
  • being a band (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pronobozo ( 794672 )
    If you want to try and succeed on the net, you have to get hits, lots of hits, more hits than you could probably get. For every million, there 100,000 that'll like your style, 50,000 that'll visit your site twice, 10,000 that'll be a fan, 1,000 that'll buy a cd.

    Get hits is key, use internet as your main tool, everything else is too expensive. Find the indie radio stations, sites, genre related communities. It's your only tool but the best tool. You can get thousands of people hearing your music everyday
  • Depending on what style of music you are into there are plenty of zines where you can sell your CD's or have people do reviews.

    Also again depending on your style of music you can find very large distributors that will sell your CD's for a %. Basically if they like your cd's they will buy them at a large discount, and sell them through other zines or catalogs and websites.
  • Multiple Strategies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wwahammy ( 765566 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:56PM (#12121425)
    Part of what the internet gives is number of different avenues for bands to get their music out. Getting onto Napster for its subscription service could be a really good idea as it allows people to relate your music to more established bands' music. For example, people won't necessarily check out a new band but if they see this new band is similar to say Korn they're gonna be more likely to give it a whirl and with the subscription service they're not out anything. If you don't like the idea of selling people DRM music, I believe you can just distribute it on these services as a subscription album not for individual sale.

    I also think something like Magnatune is a good idea in that it gives you a more direct distribution channel. One of the advantages of smaller bands is that people tend to actually buy their music instead of getting it over P2P networks of a band that's on the radio.

    I think something that's been mentioned too that is important is the idea of giving out certain tracks while selling others. Live versions could be given for free while the album version could be downloaded from a service.

    What's most important though is creating a buzz and fans. Getting the music out there is relatively easy, its actually finding listeners and a group of loyal fans to preach the gospel so to speak is what's hard.
  • I have some friends that have done this. Quite a few, several bands. They're pretty popular locally right now, but they are young enough that only one has released a full length album.

    They have a decent web site up. That's the one thing that has helped most. When they just had a flash movie on a web server, it did almost nothing for them. Everyone was just going to the fan sites to get their info in a readable format. Now they have some band info, photos, bios, and free downloads of mp3s of some of t
  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @04:59PM (#12121440) Homepage

    Only way to go.

    Set up a monthly subscription plan whereby people who like your music can log on and see live (and prerecorded live) streaming video (and audio) of concerts and jam sessions on a regular (weekly, whatever) basis.

    All the money goes directly to you (and your bandwidth provider, of course - somebody's going to take a percentage of your earnings, and that's a fact.)

    Do NOT concern yourself about "pirating" of your content - it's irrelevant to your success. It's merely "unauthorized marketing" and will do you some good.

    Secondly, do major marketing. Look at The Corrs - they went to practically every country on the planet, as they say, "selling each album door-to-door, country-to-country, stage-to-stage". They feel it's only right if someone buys your music, they should have the opportunity to see you live. (And the Net allows that without the jet lag.)

    And they have a cameraman following them around practically twenty four hours a day, given all the documentary footage they're released over the last ten years. They have a good Web site. They log on to their fan sites and post messages (both Sharon and Caroline Corr logged on to the Corrboard in the last couple weeks to thank fans for birthday wishes). They walk across traffic to sign autographs. Treat your fans right - they buy your music.

  • I'm waiting for that first new act to realize they can make a ton more money selling $7 CDs themselves over the internet than going through a label selling them for $20 and giving up their catalog to the man. As soon as the first band is succesful making it work, the floodgates are open!
  • Firstly, if "making it big" is your main concern, stop now. There is no formula for this and infinite talent won't lead to it. You need a mixture of talent and lots of luck.

    Anyways, my comments:
    Give your music away. You will never, under any circumstances, make much money from your music and if you make most of it available for free, in high quality, available to your users, you will get a larger (hopefully) audience by the songs being freely distributed from a central spot. Keep in mind this has bandwi
  • ...I'm an ardent supporter of independent music. My advice would be to seek out an indie label with good distribution and venue connections - if they can help out with CD packaging/reproduction and access to places to play, you're a few steps ahead of the game. Chances are they'll leave the marketing decisions up to your band for the most part, leaving your band in better control.

    The smaller labels know that they have to form partnerships with musicians rather than act as parental figures as the large con

  • That record companies have seldom been the reason for the success or failure of a band. I'll go over a couple bands just for sample's sake. Led Zeppelin became famous early on for their relentless touring and wild antics. Eventually, this lead to a fan base. For a more modern example, Nirvana's Curt Kobain was miffed when some record promoters tried to promote his band as a bunch of lumberjacks with a backwoods vibe. Nirvana's big break came at the hands of MTV, who put Smell's Like Teen Spirit on the
  • And focus on it.

    In general, artists make money off of concerts. If you start out assuming that all your money will come from concerts, you can afford to have all your music online for free. Just make certain that the music you put online if not in some index directory, listed like:

    • Song 1
    • Another Song
    • Song 3
    • Here's a Song

    Instead, list the songs in a way that will associate them with the concerts and make people want to come to the concerts. For example:

    We'll be playing down at the Three Frogs next

  • Among all of the talk about RIAA and Copyright laws is the bog question: So, what's a band supposed to do then to put food on the table if they can't charge for CDs?

    Its pretty much agreed that recording companies abuse artists and consumers alike, but what is the alternative. The biggest suggestion so far is live performance. Being a big fan of seeing bands live, I could imagine this working.

    My question is this: Are there any good examples of moderately successful bands and the economics of what they (not
  • They Might Be Giants (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phantasmo ( 586700 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:15PM (#12121543)
    Check out They Might Be Downloads []. Their prices compete with iTMS, but you get high-quality, LAME-encoded MP3s without any DRM. You can also pay a little extra to get FLAC rips of selected albums.

    Give away some songs for free (maybe enter Songfight! once in a while and link to it), but just let people know that the songs are for sale and that they're DRM-free for the customer's convenience, and that you trust them. Charge a reasonable price and make the site easy to use and you'll get customers.
  • Most of the successful small bands that market themselves that I'm familiar with make most of their money by selling things other than strictly the music itself, since they know anyone can pirate that.

    Among them are:
    • Go on tour and sell tickets
    • Merchandise: shirts, pins, hats, posters, etc.
    • Limited-edition/signed stuff
    • Simply ask for donations
  • Playing at bars and clubs is one of the first things you need to do. Few people will go out of their way to download music from someone they've never heard of. Now, the next trick is, you've got to convert the people who came to your show but have never heard of you before into fans. Here's my idea on an approach that might work.

    After the show, have the band members at various exits handing out cards/flyers/whatever. The cards should each have a unique ID number on it, and a URL for the band's web page
  • ...get yourself C&D'd by Sony, then get Lars to help getting you out of it - made for plenty of publicity... b eatalli.html []

    Oh, and it just so happens that my own site has a bit about Beatallica, including an interview from just before this all happened... []

    ...nothing to do with why I'm posting of course...


  • by kwalker ( 1383 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @05:56PM (#12121833) Journal

    The recording industry ARE a bunch of greedy bastards that are just in it for the money, so any place they can squeeze out a few more bucks, they'll do it. And they know the power of Intellectual Property © ® and all the fists full of money that can generate, so they do everything they can to extend and expand copyright, so they can retain monopoly rights on something they paid someone to create but somehow they own.

    But the real question is how can you make it. Well, to make it on-line as a musician, this is what I would do:

    • Make sure your website has features to keep and gain fan attention. Make sure you have available media such as:
      • MP3s, WMAs, OGGs, and AACs of your music in lower but still acceptable quality. I'd say 56k-96kbit, so casual listeners can listen but true fans would want to purchase high quality (192-512k) copies and lossless copies. Doesn't even have to be all your music. Imagine it like singles played on the radio. You can even have a tip section for each song so they can donate if they feel like it. And since you're distributing these files, you could have an introduction where you thank them for listening and direct them to your website, and put meta-data tags (ID3 tags and OGG comments, and I'm sure WMA and AAC have similar info blocks) on the files so it shows your information in iTunes, Winamp, Windows Media Player, XMMS, and so on.
      • Maybe setup a Shoutcast [], or IceCast [] channel. "All $MYBAND! All the time!"
      • Videos of the band. Again, low quality, Windows Media, Quicktime, screw Real Player. Make them stream-only for free and offer to sell downloads of higher quality copies.
      • Sell swag from your website. Audio CDs, DVDs of shows you've played, music videos if you're inclined to make them; T-shirts, hoodies, baby-doll shirts and all that crap that Cafepress [] will make for you. Turn album covers into desktop wallpapers, and have band photos for download. Make cell phone themes and ring-tones, sell those for $0.99 or even $0.50. Find a local starving-artist to help with the media if you want.
      • If you've got the time and energy, have a band blog, podcast, or even for have those for individual band members.
      • Promote your site with other artists and promote them on yours if you like them or if you think your fans would like them. A couple of banner ads on your site (provided that they're not obnoxious) in return for a couple banner ads on someone else's site.
    • Get signed with whoever you can, but make sure you retain copyrights and possibly distribution rights. Get your music on iTMS if you can. Look into on-line record companies/distributors like Magnatune [] or MP3 Tunes [] as long as they won't interfere with you hosting your music on your own if you want.

    Make it easy for interested fans to find you, refer you to their friends, buy stuff from you. Make your website easy to find and accessible. If you're not so good with visual media or website design, you probably know of a geek or a family member who is good at that, you could have them make a site for you (Payment would be between you and them). Once you're big enough, see if you can setup some tour dates. Sell CDs there, give out business cards with your website URL on them. Give away CDs with a few singles on them. You can even have an introduction on the CDs and DVDs and direct them back to your website, especially on any CDs you give away. Put a data track on audio CDs and DVDs that has some promo material or music files for your band and a link to your website. Remember everything can be used to promote yourself/your band, so make sure you've got it there where you can. But don't be obnoxious about it. People understand self-promo

  • ... It's a way for the fans to reach you, and for interested parties to find your music... But you won't be found if no one knows who you are. The only reason left to sign up with a label is their publicity machine; they would potentially get your videos on MTV, advertise in Spin and get your songs on TV and movie soundtracks (of course it's more than likely they'd just sit on your contract and do nothing, but that's another issue.)

    So if you're going at it alone, you have to do more than put your music
  • I'm a fan of rock and roll, and have a huge mp3 collection. Most of them are from legit sources. However, I am completely fed up with the RIAA and haven't purchased a new (and only a few used ones) CD in years.

    Except... I have a handful of favorite indy bands. I go to their shows, try to tell local bars about them, buy tshirts and CDs and tell my friends.

    I'll play their music for friends, and I'll give them a few mp3s, under the condition that they must buy the CD if they like them enough to keep (and exp
  • If your music is any good, you can sell at prices that are a tenth what online and main-street music sellers charge. And even with rampant piracy, if the fans buy direct from you, you're bound to do better than if some thieving back-stabbing record company is taking 99% of the store price.

    The only function those guys have is marketting.

    So - the question for you is: How do you get known without a full-scale commercial marketting engine behind you?

    I'd suggest doing cheap/free live concerts - giving away
  • ... what I've done is this []. Sorry for the shameless plug :-)
  • 1. The most important part is to hire a *good* web designer who can design a web site that does a good job promoting the band and not the designer. Too many bands have web sites that do more to promote the designer's ability to do inane things with flash and not the band.

    2. If you're going to give your music away, just put it on your web site. Don't waste time with P2P stuff - the only people who use P2P for music are pirates and stoners swapping Phish shows. If you want to sell music online, just use iTun
  • Easy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NachoDaddy ( 696255 )
    1)Dump the concept of the album.
    2)Songs are released over time as they are conceived and recorded.
    3)Music on the website is free, however copyrighted and owned by the band.
    4)You can order a custom compilation on DVD or CD for $5 plus shipping.
    5)Band's main revenue stream is from performing their music, and merchandise at the venue and on the website. Tickets cost $50-$200, depending on the artist.

    Remeber that music is a performance art. Most of what you pay for and not ironically the biggest whiners about
  • What would you, the Slashdot community, do to make it big on your own using the Internet?

    Well, first of all, I'd be realistic and realize that out of the tens of thousands of bands, only a handful "make it big." And by make it big, I mean make any real money. A first hit record usually won't make you much more money than a mediocre full-time job. There are a few bands and artists that have a series of hit albums and they start to make real money off of those albums, but they make the really big money off
  • Something no one seems to have mentioned, but which is a very important part of a successful band:

    Don't Suck

  • I was in a local band eons ago - called "Acid Toad Secretion", named after an incident when a teen licked a toad to get high and went into convulsions - and I personally did much of the booking and advertising. The reality is, whether your a recognisable band or not, club owners and journalists will not seek you out. There's enough demos and promo kits falling on their laps to keep them busy till the next millenium. Bands (ATS included) need to pound the pavement and make the cold calls for interviews and gigs. Networking with similar bands and share billings is also important. Make friends. Lot's of them. I found at least 50% of my time was spent on the promotional/networking aspect of being in a band, another (extremely annoying) 20% was spent on technical issues like soundchecks, soundmen, equipment... the remaining was the good stuff: actually jamming, rehearsing and making music.

    It wasn't easy for us, but after a few years of hard work and patience we had our own following who supported us and dug our music. If the music is good, people will eventually hear about you. Posters and other schwag (no matter how polished and professional it looks) won't go very far nowadays. Word of mouth is the best form of advertisment, the rest will have to be done by lot's of gigging (which will make you better and tighter) and making those phone calls to any entertainment publication that will listen. Create a positive "buzz" where you live, and keep booking those shows. Don't ever let people forget about you. You'll find your band's rep is bigger and better than you actually are!
  • by soliptic ( 665417 ) on Saturday April 02, 2005 @10:17PM (#12123558) Journal
    ...but of course I only see the article after it's "old news", and my post will probably remain unseen by the hordes.

    Anyhow, I'm in an independent band, keiretsu []. As our members have a lot of side-projects, we started an organisation d:art recordings [] to oversee things. However, the name is a con really - we're not a record label, it's just a device for common publicity and branding.

    How do we use the internet? Well, many different ways:

    • Mailing list - obvious, but essential. Harvest email addresses on a clipboard after gigs, then you can remind people who liked you when you next return to that city.
    • Gigs listings [] - let people know when they can see you
    • MP3 downloads [] - we've had tons of listeners from people thousands of miles away, where we have never and maybe will never do a live gig. Although nothing has come off yet, we have even had promoters contact us about tentative international dates.
    • CD Sales [] - We provide free MP3 clips of every track of our album, and a full download of one of the tracks. I also share this album preview pack on P2P clients like Soulseek. If you like what you hear, you can buy it, via Paypal (or the good old fashioned of snail-mailing me UK currency). I've despatched dozens of CDs across the pond to America.
    • Running a forum so fans can chat with us.
    • Getting interviewed [] on genre-orientated websites, and getting our downloadable tracks featured on genre-orientated websites [] and MP3 Blogs [] to further boost our online profile.
    It goes hand in hand with the real-world, of course. Our CD booklet prominently features our URL, as does the large banner we display behind or above the band at gigs, wherever possible.

    My overall verdict: the internet is an invaluable marketing tool, and you can't neglect the online facet of operations when trying to push an independent music act. It's too big these days. On the other hand, you have to be very unique and special indeed to turn "the internet" alone into a profitable business model. Without continuous gigging, which is still the most effective way of getting yourself heard and building up a fanbase, our online CD Sales would probably not amount to much.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354