On the 12th August 2017, Chris (our Commercial Director) and I had a periodic review of BDEM.
We assessed how things are going and what needs to be done next by putting the previous 6 months objectives into perspective and discussed what we’d accomplished within that time.
We revisited our #stage1 of a multi-staged plan and ensured that we’re moving in the direction we intend (or, if not, we asked why and ensured the new direction we’re heading in is wise) and set some objectives for the next 6 months.
Objective 1: Develop Community
The next immediate objective we want to achieve at BDEM is to create a community.
We’ve been saying this for quite some time and we keep referring back to it in our group discussions between the team.
We analysed how this objective was going, ensured that it was moving towards becoming our primary focus and strategised what this community looks like and what we want to achieve by developing it.
We realised that we’d started using ‘community’ as a bit of a buzzword. We needed to solidify what we’re saying when we say: ‘develop a community’. So, we asked: “what is ‘community’?” It was time to clarify this properly.
We are building our own independent platform that hosts music industry executives, artists, musicians, indie label representatives and our A&R team. This is our professional community.
Our ‘platform’ will need to provide a selection of functions that will entice these people to want to use the platform and interact and collaborate with one another within it.
Coinciding with that, we will also be building a community of listeners who want to interact with our artists. So, we need to have a separate platform to support this.
Before jumping into developing these platforms, we are considering all of the tools and platforms already available, that we can use to start bringing people together.
Our Head of A&R (Dave) had a couple of bevvies, came up with a cracking idea and created a WhatsApp group that we are now using to start building a user base for our professional platform.
This doesn’t work for listeners though, which we anticipate will be a much larger group of people.
We won’t be able to manage taking phone numbers and manually adding people into WhatApp groups, it’s just not practical and social media and/or forum platforms, such as Reddit, provide a far more suitable platform until our own is ready.
Developing a Story Behind the Startup Process
In order to give our community a commonality by sharing our story and giving community members a reason to trust our brand as their go-to provider.
These are exciting times for us at BDEM, and it makes sense for us to document and share our story! Doing so will help us reach a wider audience and, with good use of hashtag optimisation and sharing, we should begin to see that the audience we reach will be relevant and interested in what we’re going to accomplish.
As long as the content we put out is good, which we will work hard on ensuring is the case, this should go well.
So what tools will we initially use to share our story..?
I enjoy writing. Although I see clear room for improvement, I don’t find it incredibly difficult, as some do.
Until a couple of months ago, I have only haphazardly been blogging but I’m now committing to doing this properly and with a strict timescale of blog entries released.
My platform of choice is currently Medium. Beyond Linkedin, it’s the first blogging platform I’ve used and feel that it ticks all of the boxes. I spoke with a journalist last night who had not actually heard of Medium! This means that there might be a larger opportunity to reach more readers on other platforms, so at some time I may review this.
My writing style is currently completely raw, I have yet to fully recognise my ‘writing voice’, so this is something I will work on to try and make my writing more entertaining and less informative.
Building our Instagram Presence
We massively value Instagram as a platform. I can see it slowly change to lose a bit of appeal as adverts increase, but all in all it’s awesome.
Instagram is ‘trendy’. It’s super easy to use (and put down due to the posts only requiring super-short attention spans.
insta(nt) — yeh, I’m stating the obvious!
It’s not plagued by people moaning and long (often time-wasting) content. Negativity in the form of images and videos just isn’t sexy, so that stuff isn’t going to get followed or liked. I read once that Instagram is made for inspiration, and that makes sense to me. Instagram is a positive place to be. I like that.
Like Tumblr before it, it’s so easy to get lost in scrolling through collections of images. The algorithms in this arena work really well with a great reach potential. Instagram is relevant to our media and an excellent opportunity to reach niche audiences and networks and engage with people we want to work with.
I have personally lost a lot of faith in e-marketing of late. It’s been done wrong too many times and inboxes are way too convoluted due to people signing up to crap for one-off offers etc. rather than treating their inbox as their holy grail of only really valued content.
I wish I could unsubscribe from 90% of the stuff that comes through my email account, but doing so would take days which is unproductive.
Luckily, Google Inbox sorts this crap out of focus for me! This app has been monumental for my productivity.
What concerns me is that people without a smart email system will have inboxes caked with all the crap I filter out with inbox.
We know that if we’re making e-marketing newsletters they have to be really interesting and entertaining, but if these are lost amongst piles of crap they will be inevitably treated as crap also.
The catch 22 is that between our blogging and Instagram management, we will need to find a way to bring these two avenues of followers together into a funnel to our community platform. Email is the ultimate way to achieve this, so we will want to place absolute focus on spurring open rates first and foremost and concentrating on how we can ensure our emails stand out like a pony amongst horse shit.
As we’re not officially incubated yet, I feel that we can be openly vulnerable to the public with our internal struggles.
My first priority currently is to build a good culture. This sets the foundation of a strong initial team who will get shit done and inspire future team members to follow suit.
I also want to ensure that the company-wide vision is strong, one of the purposes for writing these posts.
Chris wants to see a first tangible prototype version of what we’re imagining BDEM is going to be like, and I do too. This is our next major step. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been simple.
We have a set of phases we’d like to follow to reach a desired point to launch BDEM officially.
Design and development takes investment that we don’t yet have, but pitching for investment is difficult without showing our ideas as more than just words.
1. The first thing we need to do is study platforms that have inspired what we have in mind.
2. Note what makes them interesting, what keeps people coming back.
3. Note what could be better.
4. Note what makes the platforms nice and easy to use.
5. Put together at least a flat graphic representation of what we’re building.
6. Strategise the steps we will take to build a non-operable prototype of our platform.
7. Take prototype into beta.
8. Take beta to market to a select section of chosen testers.
9. Approach investors with Beta.
Keep Momentum Internally by Using Public Exposure to Compel Us
When you become obsessed with something you begin to ask yourself really philosophical questions such as what is driving you to be so obsessed? What is it you want as an end goal of this? You find over time the answer to this evolves. It’s Alice’s rabbit hole.
But I don’t want this obsession to be only my own. To create something huge we need a loyal community as excited about what we’re trying to achieve as we are! So, I will continue to internalise, but I’m going to start expressing it more in posts like these, eventually providing a stable community space for like-minded fans of independent and electronic music.
Spending More Time Around Artists and People in the Creative Industries
I’m scared that I’m drifting too far away from my passion of music and people I truly want to be around — artists and creatives.
This drives me to keep focused on BDEM, as that’s my ticket to ‘freedom’.
There’s a TEDx talk on YouTube about ‘what freedom means to you’. To me, freedom means not being confined to an office and being out and in inspiring places and with inspiring people as much as possible but still productive and achieving goals towards my mission.
An office has its place, I like to be in one when I’m getting shit done, which I aim to be for at least 50% of my week upon completion of the startup phase of BDEM, the other 50% I want to spend experiencing being in studios hearing great music being made, and around people, doing inspiring shit!
This is something I’d like BDEM to become about as a whole. Remote working will be largely encouraged, as will working on-the-go, working whilst commuting, walking meetings and al fresco lunch meetings.
The days of being confined behind desks in offices is over. We know how to set our technology up to make this happen, and progress. So, BDEM will be a company with staff who always have it in mind to achieve daily/weekly/monthly objectives, but will be free where they can do that from so that we always have the ability to network with inspiring people!
BDEM should be like a Rock band, it exists for the freedom and craziness of all, but everybody is devoted to the band and making sure every single gig is the best they’ve ever done.
More Time in the City
I’m not about being in a small town and that’s been sucking energy out of me for quite some time. It’s also not a good environment for a startup.
On a personal level, I want to be able to come in from work, light an incense stick, doss on my sofa for an hour and then go “fuck this, I fancy going out for some Jazz/wine bar/food with friends/network and meet some new people/lay on a field in a park with a bottle of wine/go to a decent gym” on a Monday night.
In the city, every day is an adventure. When BDEM starts up officially, we’ll be in a city. We’ve got a few in mind!
I come further alive in cities, I feel I attract more opportunities and I just have a bigger sense of belonging. From now, I’m going to make an effort to spend more time in cities and meet up with artists and other professionals in the creative realm just to hang out and be involved in their poetic journey through life.
I plan to be in a city at least one weekend a month for the rest of my life. If you have ways of helping me achieve this then please definitely reach out!
This post follows part 1 which describes the background of the Founder of BDEM and how it came to be.
Riding the Wave of Exhaustion
Arianna Huffington is right that you are not performing optimally without sleep and that lifestyle optimisation can go beyond the arena. I believe this is true, but in my direct experience there are too many variables for this to be sustainable for the average person and unfortunately some sacrifices to ideal health are inevitable at the very early stages of our startup. This is a sad truth and one that theoretically shouldn’t be (if I could just give up beer, wine or gin and reduce food intake I’d lose a lot of excess fat, for example). If I stopped drinking in the week I would probably go to sleep earlier and get 8 hours of sleep.
The reality: Working on BDEM evenings and weekends means that I have a reduced social life; food and booze is an escapism from boredom and ‘stress’ of working 7 days a week (I don’t associate with stress, but I know when I’m burnt out). I already exercise, I already meditate and I do take some downtime, where I can. It’s not enough.
I will also not get optimal sleep all the time I live with 4 other people in a tiny house with plasterboard walls.
This is a period of inescapable ‘hustle’, I have already built a tight schedule I have followed for some years which proved invaluable for productivity, but I still feel burnt out regardless of how organised I am. I don’t want to sacrifice any progress or productivity I make in the other aspects of my schedule or reduce time spent on anything, so I’m stuck at often having to sacrifice sleep or compromise true relaxation with intoxication.
The reason I’ve opened with this is because BDEM has a ‘get shit done, even if it’s hard and even if the circumstances aren’t perfect’ mentality. With this in mind, it sets the scene of how we’re going to develop our business to become a leader in Music Tech.
Taking Massive Action
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” — Bruce Lee
We’re a company who likes to get shit done. I spend a lot of my time at the moment on the strategy-side of the business but I know the importance of applying. So far, I’ve not had a chance to show it much and it feels like a lot of the company are struggling to comprehend where their part is in what’s needed to keep pushing through the phases of our development and growth.
We seem to have reached a plateau between where side-project startups have the option to be relaxed with action and where you have to take this action under a paycheque because otherwise you’ll lose your job.
I bet many side-project companies who have other people working for passion rather than a paycheque have this same issue, and I bet it’s the difference between pushing the boundaries into the business becoming a reality, or a side-project dying as a dream.
I will not let the latter happen with BDEM, I owe it to the music industry to create a disruptive alternative now I have committed so many years to the dream. Whatever it takes to generate the necessary investment to officially open office and have staff on salary.
Having Systems in Place and Following Them
Saying that we want to take massive action but realising that we actually need structure in place for people to follow is a catch-22. Whilst you’re building strategies and processes without openly sharing this with the rest of the team, they assume nothing is happening and don’t keep up momentum with getting shit done that they can control whilst there is a loose structure.
We brought in a Project Management system to try and more openly show progress of projects and a CRM system so that we can openly show the progress of relationship development with artists and other contacts. Our common goal was to boost collaboration and momentum to ensure progress.
Why is it that people recognise the importance of having systems in place and how that drives progress, but they still hesitate to use the systems properly and make excuses for not updating them?
We have tools to help us keep momentum and drive progress, but we’re not using them to their potential because we’re lazy with updating them and using them to drive progress.
This has happened at every business I’ve worked at and I can’t get my head around it. A clear path towards completing tasks is outlined on management systems, stagnation is impossible if these systems are used properly, yet people choose not to use them and don’t achieve what they initially set out to.
We need to get better with our system management and using each other to help move things forward when we are noticing things stagnating or we can’t fathom a way to push something forward.
Part 3 of this series describes some of our plan over the next 3 years, as it stands at the moment.
B-DEM Records has existed now for over 7 years, but as of yet it’s not my full-time venture. Inevitably, it shall be, ever sooner than planned with the exponential traction we’re already gaining in 2017. It is my absolute ambition to run a business centred around music.
BDEM is an independent music distributor who transform artist talent & passion into careers. We blend our skills in creative arts, business strategy and technology to innovate and deliver solutions for artists & labels ready to commit to music full-time.
We’re a busy little growing company (like a craft beer brewery of the music world), each with our own full-time jobs as well as our responsibilities as stewards of BDEM.
Where Did DBEM Start?
As we’re yet to officially break into the Music Tech market as a true startup, BDEM probably needs an introduction to most.
I can’t tell this story without telling some of my own, so this post will mainly be my story, sorry to those that know it!
Initially a Music Producer (and still so, albeit a lot less than I’d like), I took the usual path of a young artist after school and pursued my time in artistry through further education.
Unlike with other pursuits in education, where people actually get a job at the end, the idea with education in art is to milk it for as long as possible to buy yourself enough time to learn and create as much as possible with a safety net of parents and some help (in loans, not grants) from the state. I did the full educational career from diplomas to BA Hons degree in Music Production.
However, between school, college, term breaks and during my years in higher education, I also needed money to support living costs as I’d spent my entire student loan on studio equipment and a maxed-out Mac (recently died L), so I took up some jobs in sales to keep me ticking along.
The First Sales Years
All through my student life I was also working in B2C telesales. So, Sales, beginning on the telephone, has been a big part of my life from 15–16 years old onwards, I learnt a lot of the basics here. I did well at what I was doing and moved ‘up the ranks’ in the sales office. Once I’d got a taste of that “if you sell more, you can dictate your own income” mentality, my entrepreneurial journey had begun.
Some Success with Music Production
Somewhere within my time at Uni I started seeing some good results in my production work and was getting plays on BBC radio and support from some of the leading DJ’s in my niche.
The industry was going through some major changes (this was still pre-streaming as we know it, so that era for those that remember) and I spotted that our industry was not only becoming an industry that was losing a sense of being lucrative due to piracy, but also a ridiculously high entry point to obtaining a satisfactory wage in a career.
Even though there were whispers and dreams of still being able to make good money in an independent career in music, the general truth was that good money was reserved for the exceptionally talented and sellable.
This was so frustrating, I’d worked so hard and achieved so much in terms of skill and developing a network, but it just wasn’t massively paying off. I was annoyed, but that was a fuelling energy. My mind set was that I had the tenacity and self-belief to be successful in achieving this vision of some form of label or artist-enablement business, so I needed to find a way to do so.
Founding B-DEM Records
And so, my entrepreneurial instincts began to awaken… I learnt that if I wanted the security of wealth and to build something more than just a day-job, I had to be 100% dedicated in finding how to do that. I had to have strategy, I had to go above and beyond and I had to learn more about business and finance management. No shortcuts and a new laser-focus.
I was studying Music Business as part of my degree and as I’d already started networking and mentoring a few producers I decided to set up a label. From here forward I was thinking religiously about music, business and how the two combines.
I wanted my label to be different from the average EDM net label and so I invested as much as I could into making it professional, well-marketed and seem of a higher tier and calibre to compete with other labels who were occupying our musical space at the time.
I got deeply into this idea of good business understanding being the key to, well… Good business! I consumed thousands of medias on launching a business, marketing and business development in general. In 2010, I strategised & executed the first operational version of B-DEM Records.
Another big part of Uni was my Dissertation. My study was ‘Is the Sale of Music Commodities Soon to be Completely Replaced by Music Services?’this was a key aspect of what I was already thinking about for the future of BDEM, even as I was building a strategy for the music business market of the time. I had a head start on the way the industry was going — I felt it. Something was happening that was truly disruptive to the music industry.
When Uni finished, I was of course determined to make ‘this thing’ I’d started building real. I now had the foundations of a vessel to take artists other than myself from ‘lost artist’ to career. We put out a number of releases and created an awesome little roster and network of artists.
For me, I was working full time alongside the start of the label and my early twenties kicked in… I needed a car, I needed to escape my small town and to adventure.
I wanted to save money, I had a plan to get some real money behind me so that I could devote myself to working in music for a longer period of time and not be constrained to being a pawn; working to feed somebody else’s pocket whilst my freedom and expression went flaccid.
But things were changing. One of the structural points of our community at the time, Dubstep Forum (and then Future Garage Forum) began to disburse, and our artists weren’t as active and enthusiastic about putting music out with us. There was a hype now happening about how events were where the money was going to be in music. New net labels had come along and propped themselves as good event management labels and we weren’t jumping on this bandwagon. We knew that our strengths and future would be in releasing music and using digital technologies to do this.
We lost contact with a lot of our roster and I took a bit of a step back. I felt that I needed to shake up the way we were operating and build a ‘version 2’ of the label that operated with even more enterprise-level maturity & operations and build a business that systematically sources talent, works true A&R and has the right partnerships to put out music where we know we should be heard.
The balance between progress, patience and seeing results was taking its toll. I went through a stage where I quit jobs every year for around 5 years. I was reading a lot of Fight Club, American Psycho, George Orwell and Charles Bukowski and I was just so tired of bullshit sheep-people and corporative slavery. I did not want to be a slave to corporation, boredom or servitude. So, I walked out of jobs, I kicked off until I was let go and I challenged ignorant inhumane decisions.
Meanwhile, I was feeling shitty in myself. I didn’t recognise who I was and felt like I could achieve so much more. I got hard to work trying to understand myself.
I also carried on dedicating myself to learning more about business (I tried a couple of different little ventures with friends around this time and was learning a lot about developing and running businesses).
This era was the biggest rite of passage of my life and a dark time. I owe something to this time and what I learnt about myself. It set the continuation of a life of structure, vision, tenacity and introspection since.
Recollection and Vision
After myself, my attention went to BDEM. I discovered that the most important lesson in life to avoid getting in your own way is to always dedicate your mind to a mission and try to stay solely focused on reaching goals. BDEM is my mission, all else is a selection of distractions and stepping stones.
“The idle mind is the devil’s workshop” — Proverb
I decided I needed to learn more about the entire aspects of building, running and going to market with business. I got back into the books, incorporated the label as a Limited company and dedicated myself to running it as a side-hustle until the point I was able to jump ship.
By this time, I was a Marketing Campaign Manager at a B2B Marketing agency and being moved into a Business Development role for one of their side projects. This didn’t quite materialise and the strategy and action plans I brought to them were not ready to be implemented, so I left to seek the Business Development role I’d grown into. I found a BizDev role and then that company folded and finally I found Conxserv which was at the time developing into its next stage out of previously being a sole trader-based business.
Walking into Conxserv I was honest. “I’m trying to run my own business as a side hustle and my goal is to run it full-time within 5 years”.
“Fine”, the MD said, “we embrace people doing their own thing as part of our culture.” And so, I got to work, learnt what I needed to in order to be considered an expert in the consultation and solution aspects of this industry.
I cold-called businesses, often 30 an hour at least 6 hours a day and found myself in many 20 minutes + conversations with IT Directors throughout the day. I met with as many of them as possible, in their business, and learnt as much as I could about applied-technology in different kinds of businesses and where there were common issues. I learnt how to properly listen to customers and their business objectives to see what they needed and then built solutions to solve the issues. Because of Conxserv, I understand that tech is probably the most important aspect of business in this age, after people.
Conxserv has by far been the most challenging and educating experience of my career so far. From starting with the business, I was solely responsible for generating new business. I had nothing to work from other than the knowledge and inspiration given to me by the MD, Toby, and my previous B2B Business Development experience. Conxserv are a Network and Server Managed Service Provider, which at the time I knew limited-to-nothing about. I had to learn a lot (in a short space of time) about how the technical solutions worked or I would fail at consultatively selling them. This was real “you’re in at the deep end, you better learn to swim” territory.
I was determined to prove I could build and run a successful sales team and profitable revenue generation under a paycheque so that I knew I could do it for my own business without that safety net later on.
I took everything I knew already and applied it to Conxserv. I generated a load of new opportunities and the Conxserv Business Solutions department and I grew side-by-side at a rapid rate. What I generated in the first 6 months was enough to fuel my pipeline for around 12 months thereafter before drying up.
The freedom and mentorship from Toby allowed me to develop our entire sales and business development department which I now run as Head of Business Solutions, it allowed me to bring a single £500k revenue account into our client base last year and it further strengthened my tenacity to just get shit done, whatever it takes.
Meanwhile, I was exhausting myself daily learning about computer networks, business development, social media selling, relationship building, solution selling, business commercials, business processes and systems, IT infrastructure and operations, business strategy, product development and market intelligence. Anything strategy-related or business-related I wanted to learn everything about, and I was taking this knowledge and applying it back to ideas for what BDEM was to become — forcing me to learn even more about how to apply these aspects to the growth of a startup.
Sacred Vowels — Businesses Are for Life, Not Just Christmas
In Feb 2016, I announced B-DEM as dormant so that I could focus on solely the value I was taking from working at Conxserv. I thought that this would be taking a determined period of breakage from BDEM to focus on my own skill development, whilst hopefully building BDEM as a less demanding side project.
I quickly realised that I had invested myself too heavily to do this and that the market was changing in a way that opened many doors for a business such as ours. Besides this, I’d got other people involved and they’d also become invested in the development of the company and wished to see it continue. What a great feeling to know you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people who will pull you back to focus on your life mission (even when you feel despair) and to know that what you’re building has become something bigger than yourself.
When I incorporated B-DEM Records as a limited company, I realised something, this was no longer a sole-trader setup. We were a company now and that meant that as a Director I have responsibility to promote success of the company.
I needed other people around me to help me make the right decisions, to challenge me and to fulfil actionable goals that I couldn’t do all the time I was building the higher strategy and foundation structure of the operations of the business.
At first, I wanted to ‘give back’ to the people I know and love. Plenty of the people I’d spent a lot of my life with were interested in music and had some skills. But bringing relationships into business is a tricky game and friendships can quickly turn to politics. I had to pick the right team.
Eventually, this was driven naturally by the areas that I wasn’t able to focus on. After Tudor, who has been involved in our design and general consultation since the early days, Dave was brought in to oversee the Music Relationships side of the business including A&R, Talent Scouting and eventually Label Management. Chris came in to oversee Commercial Strategy and Liaison, Finance, Accounts, Business Development and as another Director. We’ve had 3 different Graphic Designers on board, and we’re confident that we’ve found our long-term choice in Charlotte.
We have a couple of other people around the edges that we’re excited to bring on-board officially too!
This post continues to describe where BDEM is now and where it is going in part 2.
Boring Bognor to Become Sussex Sweet Spot: New Visions
I’m no longer bored…
Bognor, judging on the feedback you gave me on my previous publication, you’re more bored of this town than me. And worst still, you’ve become so bored you’ve been swallowed by your sofas and become complacent. There is much closed-mindedness and opposition to any form of development, out of fear it will burst the mundane status-quo bubble and cause unwanted disruption.
The town has formed a reputation, its previous attractions have been destroyed and the general aesthetic has become ugly and boring, and it is now associated with rest and respite (by many circles). It’s often heard being referred to as a ‘place people go to die’.
Many of the resident older generation(s) are clearly very uncomfortable and unopen to change, most of the younger generation(s) do not participate in community debates. No wonder we’re plateaued.
Therefore, many lack any air of enthusiasm for more being offered from the town, they are either ‘happy’ with it the way it is or content in travelling elsewhere for their kicks. They’re apathetic even at the expense of others who still want some class and excitement in the town and believe there is potential to provide an exciting environment where they reside.
What is very irking about this situation is that many of these people who state that they want no change in Bognor are those that have moved here from elsewhere, with no prior knowledge of Bognor’s history or interest in the future of the town because their offspring live elsewhere in the country anyway. It’s a shame that the voices of these people shout loudest.
If there is to be change, it seems that it has to be led by both the younger generations and local businesses who have to shake up, get involved properly and drive themselves to be different to how they’re currently performing. For these businesses, this will open a whole new and lucrative audience and bring job satisfaction in the fact they’re giving back to their community.
The audience who travels outside of Bognor for social venues, networking, dancing, music & art events need to take a stand and realise that any of this is available on their doorstep if they make the effort to form the communities to support it. This will be ugly and DIY for a while, but stick with it as the town grows around your passion and it will change into whatever it needs to in order to support the community it hosts.
Too long have we placed the responsibility of development and provision of excitement in the hands of the council. If we want Bognor to be different, we have to do it ourselves however we can. And when we face adversity we just carry on, as it were.
Meanwhile, social entrepreneurs need to unite and show interest in the development and regeneration of the town and use their innovative skills to help build and manage platforms that support their businesses and grow the town economy through clever businesses and partnerships that work alongside community growth.
Call to Action
Would you not rather go into your home town and be proud of it as innovative, artistic, diverse in culture, fun, forward-thinking, sustainable, empathetic and accommodating for those in need, busy, aesthetically appealing and interesting? The council aren’t going to change anything quickly enough alone. Stop relying on politics to make change. It’s time to take action.
We need you in our town and you need our town to build a scene. Stop looking for Chichester bookings or elsewhere, and suss out where you can play in Bognor that will have an audience (or at least a venue that will support you in building one). Admittedly, this audience may not look as attractive as Chichester does at first. But if the right community is built around your presence then it will pay off.
It’s going to take some grit and pushing harder than usual, using social media and guerrilla on-the-floor marketing, and it’s also going to take some work from those of us who are passionate about developing your exposure, but it will be worth it.
All of your favourite bands that ‘came up’ through a scene in an area? Camden… Brighton… Sheffield… They led the scene, not the geographic location. You have to lead that scene by congregating where you are, not following trends to places that artists have risen out of before or where the people seem to be. That scene has already died before you got there.
It’s time to make an effort to make things look more aesthetically pleasing both inside and out. I don’t care if you’ve recently invested in some uninspired attempt at a renovation. You’ve either added a few licks of paint or used a box-shipped wooden effect. Where’s the character? What makes your bar unique? Not just in Bognor, in the world. That’s what generates interest. Have some imagination. Get quirky. Implement more plants — indoors and out! Invest into a good PA system and get some outdoor speakers for your garden.
Now, book some bands and DJ’s. All different kinds, but mainly interesting ones who are doing things a bit differently. Try and outdo your competition by getting a name for yourself for introducing people to music they’d not usually be able to hear in the area. Don’t have any experience with booking good music? Get a good partner. Email firstname.lastname@example.org telling us that you read this, we can help.
Finally, sort out your drinks selection. Be more inventive and import foreign beers, get decent wines and have a really good coffee machine. You may think that Fosters is your best seller now; but get a good partnership with some really good independent suppliers and people will be happy to pay a bit more per drink. Your margin may initially seem smaller, but once you get known for class and you can start charging £3 for a bowl of sweet potato fries you’ll soon see where you can really make a killing on margin. People will happily pay for the experience and atmosphere. I’m ridiculous for it — if you’re serving me a drink in a plastic cup I’ll buy 1 drink and then go find a venue that is serving glass. Then, I’ll happily pay more for the drink because I prefer my drinking experience from glass.
Get involved in letting us know what you need from the town to consider staying here rather than going elsewhere. Really invest into your town to help make it something special.
Ever been to Hastings? — They utilise their local pubs, they get involved in their community and they’re proud of it. It’s good for you too — you never know who you may meet out that you can speak with about job opportunities, interesting goings-on, events, quizzes, new hobbies. If we get our venues right you’ll be able to enjoy local musicians, eat food cooked by local chefs with local produce, enjoy local ale, the fun is endless.
Television sets and the internet have turned us into recluses! Let’s get out and enjoy our surroundings and community again.
And as a side note, let’s not complain about people of other nationalities ‘taking over’, they’re just filling a space that we’ve left blank whilst we eat our TV meals and complain about parking issues on our Facebook groups.
For those who are interested in making this town more entertaining, this does not need to be a case of us vs them. There only needs to be an initial area of town where like-minded people can gather to begin creating attraction. What I’d like to see achieved, collaboratively, is at least a corner of the town (at least initially) where people can congregate for sophisticated eating, drinking and networking. The town will always have areas more suitable for respite.
What I don’t think is reasonable is people living in the prime areas of town and their residency damaging the progress and nightlife of the town. If you live in the centre of town, you should be prepared for it to be noisy and busy late into the night, or you should be prepared to make way and move.
A lot of people have mentioned my comment about ‘loud music’ and they get worried that the town is going to become a noisy mess as a result. This mentality is killing the entire town. We have a great area around the Theatre facing the beach that would be perfect for sea-viewing dining, for example. But what do we have? Fucking mounds of fenced-off grass. Too much of this town is wasted on catering to the needs of those who complain that other people exist in the world besides themselves.
The more those that believe the town should have more entertainment in and around the centre and areas of the promenade, and act towards achieving this, the more businesses (and eventually the council) will invest. It will become more about the council considering how they can buy awkward people out of their current location for the sake of the growth of the town, and less about succumbing to the complaining residents and penalising the people who correctly believe that a town should be the provision of services and entertainment both daytime and night. This is how Bognor has the potential to grow like Brighton did.
Originally found on Medium
Small Town Sentiments: Boring Bognor Attempting a ‘Bitty’ Emulation of Brighton
I’m in the mood for brutal honesty. I’m bored. Genuinely bored of my life. Highly passionate and optimistic about my future and my everyday life, but highly bored of my present location and the opportunities it presents. Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey — but my current strategy to a better environment is to leg it.
Bognor Regis is incredibly boring. The picture above is supposed to be the saviour of that bore. Exciting huh?
I’m 27 years old and my life revolves around music and technology. I love live band music, I love electronic music — and I love it loud with a few bevvies to really get into it. I also really enjoy going out and meeting like-minded people and being surrounded by a ‘vibe’ of culture and something happening. The busyness, the volume, the selection, the freedom and the feeling that a good night doesn’t have to end until I’m ready to go to bed. Bognor has none of this.If I want to go out, these are my options:
Nope, that’s not what I need…
Going out to have fun is a logistical nightmare for me. I have to plan expensive travel and often accommodation just to go somewhere that provides what I seek.
What I seek is networking with like-minded people who are into tech, culture, business and music. I want to be around artists & entrepreneurs.
Is there a lack of those people in the area? I don’t think that there is! What there is, is a lack of platform and environment to support development of congregation and investment into the culture from these people.
Enter the Bognor Regis Creative Digital Hub
I’m going to take a little dig at these guys here. But I’m not trying to hinder their progress, the rest of this publication will be optimistic.
I would just like them to take off the rose-tinted’s for a second and consider there is a sociological change management required to achieve what is being fantasised. They won’t achieve any improvements to this town as a whole by putting web developers, social media marketers, a few local businesses and representatives from a council (who have done more damage than good to this town) together in a room to talk about how students will fill, and bolster the economy, of the town with the new uni campus and a digital business hub and this will make the town innovative. It won’t, students will just leave town to find the environments they need to grow — like I did and do.
Some open constructive questions to the hub:
- To work hard is good and having somewhere to do that is great also. But to grow a culture to develop a town, play hard is equally important. Where are users of the hub going to go to ‘play’ and develop their relationships outside of a working environment? Currently, Bognor will not provide.
- How does music play into the hub’s plans? Will there be music licenses? Alcohol licenses? Or is this just a place to go to sit in front of a laptop and attend networking events and seminars hosted by the same old Bognor hosts? Boring.
- What are you doing to create a more inspiring town for musicians and artists who are constantly pushed out of town by licensing issues, venues being closed down and a lack of audience due to residents going to other towns to spend their money?
And don’t ask me to come to your events to get these answers. If you are truly trying to change this town, your efforts need to be public. Very public, not contained in little ‘elite’ groups who try and control the development.
Why Brighton is the Role Model
Brighton openly invites diverse culture, it invites open-mindedness, it invites art and quirkiness, it says “fuck you” to the people who complain about music and says “well done” to the venues that grow a good band.
Why am I banging on about music? Because it’s music that brings people together best.
Brighton has a strong independent foundation and elevates anything which is homegrown or anti-establishment. Brighton has no time for being told what to do, Brighton will elect what it thinks it needed to make the world a better place. Will Bognor?
‘Local’ does not just mean the town itself. If we succeed in what we’re trying to achieve, local will mean everything in between Portsmouth and Brighton. We will be the exciting mid-point of the coast. The magic? We’ve got a lot of venues for a small town. We don’t need more. What we need to do is change what we have:
- Rox Festival — needs to be more regular, more central, more advertised, with more features, better managed with more direct outreach to local artists rather than waiting for applicants, better division throughout town and better enforcement to prevent anything that will hinder the success of the project. There are plenty of amazing and experienced event managers around — the council should make the investment.
- Shutting down of music venues needs to stop. A different approach needs to be taken to encourage and support music but prevent illegal activity. Arun District Council should change their stance on enforcement and shutdown and change that to guidance and consultancy to ensure venues stay open.
- Where music licenses can be provided — they should be frequently offered to venues. If venues choose to waste the opportunity they are presented with, this should be exposed so that other owners can offer to buy them out of their premise.
- Outside drinking and dining needs to increase.
- The town centre needs bars and restaurants.
- Local pubs need to up their game DRAMATICALLY.
Aesthetics & Selection
Places don’t just become ‘hip and trendy’. Local venue owners have to make the effort to make things quirky and attractive. Just keep it clean, put some fairy lights up, get some Brewdog in the fridge, make sure there’s always some unusual/forgotten gem music on at a decent volume and make partnerships with some other local business people and craftsman. Look what Brighton venues look like compared with ours:
They make an effort to make things look cool and they realise that busy but sophisticated street drinking and dining is massively beneficial for the town’s economy.
Is everybody aware that David Bowie played in Bognor in his early career?
Bognor is technically well-situated to be a central coast hub to bolster art, technology, business and UK culture. But first, serious investment and commitment needs to go into the attraction of the town, because right now it is dead-end.
4 years ago this video was shot in Bognor, it says a lot about the way people think around here…
The best times I remember having in Bognor were when you could go to Oceans Bar and grab a decent cocktail, walk out of the open face into the warm summer evening and there being loads of people outside the bar and The Hardwicke opposite. The Thursdays bus used to pick up from here so there’d always be people outside these two bars with an eagle eye, but having fun and dancing to the music coming out of Oceans. Oxfords Bar (what is now what Oceans was) have actually done a really decent job with the interior of the place and has great potential:
I went to the Mud club rather than Thursdays. That place is so missed, the music there was great, absolutely on-point bookings — there was a great club culture and the variety of things on meant that there were general reasons to venture into town at the weekend.
That is nowhere near enough compared to what’s needed, but it was a start. It got people out spending their money in town instead of ‘pre-drinking’ or going to another town.
I want to make Bognor a great place to live in and I have some ideas of how B-DEM Records can support this. But, it’s got to start with a realistic viewpoint of the current situation.
Using the good things about Bognor and putting a bit more effort into making the town and the venues look more attractive will make more of an impact than is being considered. The street paving is not as important as what that path leads, or what businesses sit on it. This town will go nowhere without drastic change, and this Digital Hub will be a waste of time.
Leisure-time facilities tie in directly with the business and growth offerings of the town, if there is nowhere to go get comfortable and have a good time away from the working environment then people won’t stick around. Good leisure-time is fuelled by good food and good music.
If we want to be anything like Brighton, let’s make more of an effort to bring independent music into a focus as Bognor on a large scale.
Alexa May Kill Indepedent Music
The idea of a new operating system coming along and completely disrupting the way we operate computers is completely exciting. How cool that artificial intelligence has reached a stage where we can now successfully and efficiently control not only allowing medias, but also tangible real-life objects by our voice! And whilst on the subject of those 'allowing medias', I guess it won't be long before stand-by projectors come along that can be operated by Alexa, so that we only see things when we need to (great potential for saving energy wasted by doing tasks on a screen that can now be done by voice, great for helping human eyesight by staring at screens less and great for arthritic RSI injuries caused by keyboards as Alexa will just take you straight to the destination!)
But, I'm spotting that Alexa poses some real potential issues for the independent music industry.
In a previous personal blog I wrote of music going back to 'just play', rather than on-demand and discovery browsing, and how people will go back to loving music with less of an ambition to own it, instead using it to support experiences. Alexa has taken this theory of mine quite a bit further.
If the widely-used OS moves to become voice-led, I anticipate that there will be less use of Discover Weekly, social playlists etc.
There will be less of an inkling to say "I wonder what Chris is listening to", or "play me something I don't know" - because people will often already have considered some idea of what to ask for before asking, that's part of the novelty of Alexa. It'll be more about "Alexa, play something I can dance to", which will 9/10 be mainstream commercial music, big hits that the streaming platform will know people would want to expect to hear in such a playlist. So that means that music will have to be very popular before it even reaches the 'c list' levels of streaming. Spotify try and tackle the 'mainstream overpowers all' problem by using something that looks like the following system (taken from this report from BPI):
That alone, in the current streaming climate, is really tough on independent artists and labels when it comes to not being overshadowed by major-label-backed material, but now we're moving into voice-led OS (and speculatively people will add things to their playlist less) that system just won't work very well for getting new music heard.
At BDEM, we will be on board with implementing these new disruptive technologies into our strategies to help push artists in the direction listeners are based. But as promoters of independent music; what noise can we make to get independent music heard? What platforms can we lead that ensure people naturally sway towards dedicating time to new music discovery? How can we bring the marketing of this outside of the voice control system and into phsyical, tangible or visual prompts?
So far we're toying with the idea that this will inspire a new boom of radio, or radio-like platforms which will push new music in and around the mainstream stuff. We might invest some resource into going down this route...
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music Series: 1
At BDEM, we’re (mostly) all tech babies. Computers have been in our lives for most, if not all, of our lives and have greatly influenced how we listen to music. I’m just about the age whereby I still had a tape Walkman and recorded the radio to build mixtapes in my childhood, but that experience quickly whizzed through to annoying skipping unreliable portable CD players and then the cheap Ebay MP3 players and the misunderstood P2P platforms that powered them.
P2P was a game-changer for the music industry. This was the point that music not only became free, but became ON DEMAND. Music became a communist’s dream and naturally that’s a capitalist profit-driven businesses nightmare.
The major labels responded in a way that damaged the future of the music industry all round. The shutdown on P2P sharing had a similar result to the war on drugs, so as with the changing of chemicals to mask the type of drug being sold with that, illegal digital music distribution just kept changing to suit the needs of the consumer whilst the labels ended up losing more and more control trying to oppress and deny the listeners.
It wasn’t the loyalty of the listener that changed though and for most it wasn’t even about the fact the music was free. It was about the new easy way that had been widely discovered to access any music they wanted (from chart albums to super-rare bedroom recordings from new up-and-coming artists). Digital changed the way music could be enjoyed and listeners caught onto it quickly, trying to stop them doing that is like forcing people to walk 30 miles when they have a car. It can be pleasurable, but most of the time it’s just not ideal.
What I always found interesting was the way Grime artists used P2P. They used it far more wisely than the majors because they saw it as an assistance to business, not a problem. For the Grime artists it was about getting music into the ownership of as many people as possible and they exploited this with their ‘demo style’ freestyles, battles and chats which helped them elevate their careers into commercial territory by leverage of mass sharing with niche markets.
We get this, we’re part of this latter movement of the music industry and one of our core drives as a business is to find harmony between digital consumers and the artists that they actually truly want to support but don’t know how to with the tools they’re given.
We’re sure that part of the answer lies in digital streaming platforms. The accessibility of stored archives of music in data centres accessible via the cloud seems like the answer, and having that wealth at a single point platform (with self-management abilities) on both your computer and portable device is clearly pretty unbeatable when compared to self-owned MP3 libraries that you have to order, backup, purchase separately and search for from multiple sources.
In our next post we’ll look at the major players in the streaming platform market and assess some strengths and weaknesses of each.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 2: Soundcloud, Good for Inner Circle and Bad for Business
In early 2010 BDEM started its journey as a net label. We used the tools available to us at the time to build a roster and guide our music to the right listeners. The two primary examples of these tools were a popular niche forum called Dubstep Forum (or DSF for short) and Soundcloud.
I believe that Soundcloud deserves the 2nd part of this series, not just because of its excellent assistance in developing the digital music marketplace, but also as an example of how it failed to adapt to a quickly moving online world and eventually crashed as a preference for music fans.
When Soundcloud was released to the world, it was gold for us that were producing music and had our little communities of music makers (such as the DSF users). We’d build our ‘WIP’s’ (works in progress, for those who didn’t figure it out) and then share the music in a semi-private fashion with other producers for feedback on the sound. Soundcloud, being the clever little platform it is, allowed us to view a waveform on a timeline and place comments exactly where we were referencing in our feedback. Amazing. We’d then correct our music and republish it more publicly for a wider audience. When the music was highly favoured it would be pushed for digital release and us as the uploaders on Soundcloud were able to place links where our listeners could go off and download our music so we’d get paid for them enjoying the work.
So where did this all go wrong? Simply, in the last sentence of my previous paragraph. Our listeners were already able to listen to our music on Soundcloud, it was there and it was convenient, so why would they need to go off to another site, with another sign in, enter bank details and buy it?
That’s taking a very simple idea of on-demand listening and making it difficult for the sake of giving back to the artist. The listener shouldn’t be punished for listening to music without paying, the platform should be questioned and adapted so that listeners already contribute monetarily before enjoying the work; like a live gig, or an art gallery where they choose to charge for entry - or visitors guarantee a purchase.
What happened next? Artists started chopping down their tracks into previews, listeners scattered to listen to music in different places (meaning that steady 100 followers a week the artist was previously getting started to dwindle) and Soundcloud starting spazzing out and changing its platform in desperation to sustain their growth.
We’re now still in a limbo where the music platforms are missing the great functionality of ‘WIP’ sharing and comments within a paid environment. Kanye West took an ever-maverick shot at this reality when he controversially released unfinished music and kept changing the goalposts on the status of the release.
In the following parts of the series we will look at how the music industry has continued to grow in the digital domain. We’ll run through the options available and outline pros and cons. Then we’ll finish the series up by discussing what we believe will be the way forward for the industry so that it satisfied both the producers and consumers.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 3: Spotify The Conqueror
Along came Spotify… Honestly, along it came and what a relief. This one stuck – and I think it will for a long time now.
It works. Almost… (It still has its drawbacks in the fact it still supports the old industry (and the ‘cartel’), but that’s for another post.)
So why do I say that Spotify works? - Firstly, artists get paid.
There are OF COURSE on-going arguments about per play returns being so minimal that it’s daylight robbery compared with MP3 purchases - but we’re in the age of Insta-culture now, and MP3 is losing relevance. Things happen on demand, things happen ‘in the cloud’ and things happen with viral response. MP3 has no place in the short-term future.
Even with such a small return per stream, a quick look at The Spotify Charts is enough to inspire you to believe in the future of streaming. 4,000,000 plays DAILY at $0.006 is no laughing matter. Earning $24,000 a day (even with the amount which is stripped away in administrative fees) is no laughing matter. That makes you a millionaire every 41 days. So every year you earn $8,000,000 from a single track, in theory.
But yes, that 4,000,000 mark is artists like Drake and they are massively manufactured, globally marketed and highly advertised on the Spotify platform itself.
But I don’t believe the outlook is bleak for independent artists either. To earn a wage of $500 a day, you only need plays from 0.084% of the market. 500 / 0.006 = 84,000 plays. With 100,000,000 users (40M paid) there’s an increasing chance that high plays are possible.
Although this is the bulk of what we’ll be covering in the artist management areas of BDEM content, let’s briefly run over Spotify strategies that will assist with achieving reaching 0.084% of the potential market:
- Big-data intelligence – ‘Discover Weekly’: Spotify’s algorithms will naturally assist an artist’s growing presence by sharing music with listeners who frequently listen to music like yours.
- User Playlists – including those of popular and high-profile users: The more playlists you’re on, the more you get played. Whether that’s through people following those of high-profile users, or if it’s as simple as a listener who likes you so has added your music to a playlist which will have your song cycling again and again. This is a power of streaming music payments. They may be low, but they’re everlasting.
- Market preference – Spotify has 10M users for a reason, because it’s fast becoming the music consumption platform of choice for listeners. To not utilise Spotify properly is making it more difficult for your audience to reach your music.
Spotify is our place, for now. If you’re interested in learning more about how we help artists with their Spotify presence and growth strategies be sure to email us at email@example.com to request a non-obligatory chat with one of our artist development team.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 4: Tidal & Streaming Flaws
When Kanye first released Pablo on Tidal and told people it’d be exclusive there (for a while at least), I jumped at the chance of the free trial.
At first, I really liked Tidal. It was simple, it worked, the mobile app was faster than Spotify (at the time) and it was releasing music from my favourite artists that weren’t landing elsewhere.
The innovative business strategies bought forward by Tidal also pushed my buttons. It has unearthed a new issue for the industry in the face of platform exclusivity. Up until Tidal, mainstream artists were going as far as refusing to release music on select streaming platforms (i.e. Swift on Spotify in favour of Apple, or Adele refusing to stream) to strategically block out competition to their high-profile deals with their partners; but they were still keeping with the traditional model philosophy of ‘release as many places as possible to reach a wider market’.
This was new, an abundance mentality implying that artists are in control and fans should buy into their platform in order to enjoy the art and entertainment they provide. Scarcity sells.
A small ripple happened here in the media surrounding the platform. A theory that this splitting of platforms (and the respective separate subscription costs associated with them) would cause a relapse of pirating, because consumers would be expected to pay for multiple platforms to get music from different artists. Although that scenario is bad for artist, listener and business alike, it's also very exciting because it's shown another problem that needs solving, moving closer to an equilibrium in the digital industry that finally works for all involved.
Then I heard that Daft Punk and Deadmau5 were shareholders. WOW, this was clearly going to be a platform that will elevate electronic music, right? Nah. By the time my 3-month trial had ended I had heard nothing about their involvement and I was so bored of mumbling new-age made-up-word urban music about titillation that I couldn’t wait to get back to Spotify and ‘just press play’.
As far as I'm concerned, streaming is the answer. There is no longer a need to own music digitally now that technology has allowed for high levels of internet connectivity and large data storage in the public cloud (although I still think it's always going to be a necessity to have a tangible copy of your favourites). With BDEM, our current solution to the low Spotify returns problem is on ensuring that all traffic is pushed through the single funnel rather than allowing the music to be listened to in multiple places (such as platforms that don't pay at all). This has the intention of ensuring that plays aren't missed so that revenue is built and slowly encourages the industry to move further towards streaming from a paying platform rather than illegally downloading or streaming on sites that don’t pay anything. Let's remember that theft is still more of an issue than Spotify paying little. As consumers get used to paying £10 a month for unlimited music rather than nothing at all, the pay-out to artists will increase - and if Spotify don't raise that return, then a competitor will!
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 5: Take Apple Music Down
When my free Tidal trial ran out, I thought “I’ve done my ‘due diligence’ and checked this new kiddy on the block with an unbiased mind, and it’s proved not to be as good as what I was using. It’s time to return home to what was working, Spotify”. Then, I got offered a trial with Apple Music.
As far as I’m concerned, Apple Music was an absolute mess. Honestly, what is the point of this being on the market? It’s trying to do everything that’s already on offer but is doing it a lot worse at the same price.
I didn’t feel this way initially. When I first got Apple Music I had a nostalgic feeling, like when I first got my iPod Nano way back when I was at uni. I was chuffed because commercially and aesthetically, Apple make really appealing products that make you feel proud being sucked into the materialistic culture.
But I quickly felt differently about this product and instead felt that it was, by far, the most awful thing that Apple had ever released.
I first used Apple Music on my Android phone. Spotify had been a bit laggy in its previous patch that I was using prior to Tidal, so Apple Music felt quite rapid on first use. I began searching around for new music to listen to and building my playlists up as if Apple Music was set to be my new musical home. The user interface wasn’t quite as slick as Spotify’s and I found navigating around it a bit off-putting. A few tracks that I wanted I’d had on Spotify playlists were missing, “no biggy” I thought.
A bit of time went on with Apple Music usage and when I felt like listening to music I added it to playlists, associating with the vibe of the track. After a while I felt like I was hearing a lot of the same tracks. - That’s when I realised that Apple Music was missing the function that Spotify has that alerts me when I am trying to add a duplicate to my playlist. Apple was happy to let me crack on and do that as if it was a good thing to have more than one instance of a track in a playlist – honestly, when is that ever viable?
In the evenings, I jumped on my Mac and cracked on with the BDEM v2 strategies. I chucked music on to pull me through. Although I’m more of a playlist guy now, I still do love an album sometimes and throw one on. I was always a great collector of CD’s and when I switched to Spotify I naturally saved all of the albums I loved onto ‘My Music’. It was so simple and so easy to navigate to when I wanted to find it. Apple Music on the other hand - what is all that jumbled shit?! Can’t you just show me my albums where they’re supposed to be, why do I have to keep changing things from list to tile view? Why do I have to switch between iTunes purchases and streaming music? Oh cool, music I upload onto iTunes goes into the cloud and I can listen to it roaming. Nope, that doesn’t work either. For fuck sake, where is that album that I starred? Why has the star disappeared? What is this buggy shite?
Then there was finding new music to listen to. How much I missed ‘Discover Weekly’ and ‘Recommended for you’. Then there was the one thing that the media was indicating was supposed to make it good and a contender, Beats Radio… Didn’t even work – kept cutting out. Absolute shambles.
My simple conclusion is that I believe that companies should not enter into a market and immediately claim themselves a leader off the backs of a completely different product (being a leader in downloadable music doesn’t instantly make you a contender in streaming). Sometimes you’re just too late to the party and you’re never going to be the life of it because the partiers hadn’t had time to warm to you, and you hadn’t had time to choose the right music to play for your audience.
Personally, I feel that with Spotify’s big data analytics and AI, Apple Music will never be able to catch them. Hang up the gloves, it’s not your fight.
Written by Josh Smith
Steaming Music 6: YouTube
YouTube is for videos. Music (without supporting music videos) has found itself on YouTube by people either using it wrong or illegally.
I have a feeling that the phenomenon of uploading music to YouTube happened around the same time that MySpace went down and there was a weird void between artists (and pseudo-curators who want to share other people’s music, but in a non-creative way) being able to upload music online for people to listen to pre-release.
YouTube is a huge opportunity for exposure for artists, there’s no denying it. It’s a place that very few internet users don’t travel to at least once a day and it’s almost built to play music, except that it’s supposed to play videos.
Do I have biased gripes with YouTube? I guess I do. I don’t like the way that in order to get this previously mentioned exposure it has to come through a channel that exists to curate, upload and share music under their glory and their subscription model. Yes, a number of the listens an artist gets from a music-sharing channel will convert to a visit from an intrigued listener, or if you’re really lucky maybe even an MP3 purchase, but that doesn’t compare to the alternative which is micro-payments for every play made.
I guess that my real issue with YouTube only surfaces when I compare it with Spotify. I think Spotify is great as a growing social platform. If we look at how the ‘music sharing channels’ would operate on Spotify, it looks a lot better for artists.
The artist, or their label, have submitted their music to the distributor (Spotify), which means that they can reclaim money on every play that’s made. Now imagine that the music channels that exist on YouTube, with all their followers who trial all of their uploads to see if it’s good music, were on Spotify instead. Artists would be getting (Albeit tiny, but accumulating) payments for people enjoying their music. Then, listeners could simply add that music to their own playlists and the amount of plays they give to an artist would just grow and grow.
Things get deeper when we then think about Spotify’s recommendation algorithms. Consider if one of those tracks managed to get 5,000,000 plays as a result of it becoming popular on an uploaders playlist – Spotify, unlike music sharing channels, have the resources to share that track to a more extended audience who will appreciate it (based on their listening history). – More exposure, more plays, more fans, more money, [more problems – maybe? Doubt it…]
Although it’s convenient to some listeners who have gotten used to using YouTube as their choice of music provider, it’s not built for it. Think about those times music videos have been taken down and you’ve lost it from your library? Not cool right. YouTube may continue to try and invest into making YouTube a better platform for music, but it’s never going to keep up with the services that are music-centric and it’s never going to be able to give back to artists like the alternatives do either.
If you value the art you’re consuming, consider how you might be helping or harming the artist who’s provided it for you. All art is unique and even though there’s an abundance of it available, one piece may change your life through subtle ways. Think of an artwork that has changed your life in some way, or that you associate with a big experience in your life, then imagine it gone because “oh well, if I can’t have that song there’s always another one to listen to”. Art doesn’t work like that, art will change your destiny in little ways you don’t even know.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 7: Bandcamp
Bandcamp is a likeable brand. They seem like nice people and they were likely the best option for artists through the transition from physical to digital medium. Artists could set their own prices in order to have control over the perceived value of their product, royalties to artists were the highest offered for MP3 sales with a distribution partner without selling to listeners directly, they quickly became respected as a company who put artists first and the links to sales pages integrated nicely with Soundcloud.
The problem with Bandcamp? They represent the problem with the music industry.
They represent the transitional period between physical music mediums and true digital accessible music (i.e. streaming).
In May 2016, Bandcamp took the liberty to post an article boasting about their business growth and insulting the streaming industry movement, indirectly implying that their model is a better solution.
The article starts by throwing around its metrics, a 35% growth over a year. But just what exactly do they mean by growth? Profit? - A good effort, and at least they’re not exploiting the tax loopholes associated with some of the big players in the streaming industry (as hinted to in their ‘now-quaint revenues-exceed-expenses sense’ comment).
In reality, all their metrics only indicates a good brand and marketing presence rather than a new industry model. People buy from Bandcamp because artists have been sold the idea that Bandcamp is a solution that gives more back to artists, then artists sell that idea onto consumers.
Their ‘subscription-based music streaming is an unproven business model’ argument is only as relevant as Bandcamp being an ‘uncontested artist-centric support plea model’. In this respect, streaming music can be looked at like electric cars. It’s something that everybody knows is required for a better world, it’s something that actually performs better than its classic competition and it’s something growing rapidly but not yet the leading option. Also, like electric cars, what holds it back is those making capital from the old ways.
Eventually consumers move along and they find easier ways to consume music as indicated by the pirating crisis that gave birth to all of these new industry solutions. What’s clear is that streaming music is the easiest way to both store and play music on demand. The only things stopping people having unlimited access to any music they like are internet connectivity, subscription costs and release legalities – all things which are increasingly being assessed and improved for listeners.
Bandcamp do focus all of their energy on being the best solution for artists. Their metrics reflect that they provide a service that consumers respond to, but what it doesn’t do is offer the buyers a better solution – something that will work better for them on the long term.
Streaming offers for consumers (at minimum):
- An on-demand option of music.
- Simple to use platforms.
- Personalised recommendations based on user data analysis.
- Marketing and music exposure through listening automation and automated playlist curation.
Bandcamp as a platform relies on artists and small labels to make their own marketing efforts. Whilst I’m sure a lot of them are capable of this, I personally would far rather see these artists and labels putting the time it takes to accomplish strategizing and running good marketing & sales campaigns, into making music instead.
The fact is, we’re talking about a future. This digital music age is more than just a choice for consumers between whether they want to buy CD or MP3, this movement is completely aligned with technological advances across the board as we move deeper into a highly connected digital reality. We’re talking about self-driving cars with Spotify built in, so a potential for taxis that you can control what music you want to listen to on your journey.
We’re talking about a further decrease of wiring and an increase in space-saving in an ever-overpopulated world. It’s not just the way consumers are choosing to listen to music, it’s why they are. These are the factors that matter.
The truth is, I think that Bandcamp feels threatened by the growth of the streaming model. That both makes me sad to see a company that means well falling into irrelevance and pleased to see the industry as a whole moving towards a new solution that suits both the consumer and the artist.
Bandcamp lives in a world where they want to let consumers continue in the status quo, regardless of the fact that it will become increasing difficult to do so. BDEM lives in a world where we embrace the future and want to see us move towards a technologically-advanced world that assists us on our day-to-day, makes things that should be easy, even easier, and gives us that feeling of freedom to be creative.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 8: So, What’s the Answer?
To understand how the music industry is developing, it would pay to consider the philosophy of the growing IoT (Internet of Things) movement. IoT is the merging and blurring of lines between the digital internet and physical realm. It’s about connectivity of devices and using analytics of data to drive efficiency from things in the real world.
Streaming music could be considered a form of IoT in the entertainment industry. We’ve gone the full cycle – from live music around a campfire where music was on demand in the form of Traditional Folk Music, to the recording of music and the rise of the commercial artist and pop star, to the collapse of the first music industry, to the rise of on-demand digital music and now we’re entering into a realm where that ‘on-demand’ premise extends into maximum accessibility.
We have multiple competitors in the field of digital music streaming, but the ones who survive and will become our go-to choices will be the ones who innovate, provide the best revenue streams for artists, provide the most accessibility for listeners and the ones who understand the ‘sharing economy’ and find and exploit ways to profit in it.
As the border between what is internet and what is reality continues to merge, it is unlikely that the way we use the internet (such as a browser, or even a computer) will be the same. We’re going to be more device-led, and with the development of voice-controlled devices such as Amazon’s Echo, or Google’s Home, non-evolving platforms like Soundcloud or Bandcamp will become less easy to use and will continue to fade.
Therefore, technology leaders will continue to grow as music providers and music industry strategies will increasingly need to revolve around developing technologies and leading distributing platforms. Independent artists will either need to take a more entrepreneurial approach to marketing their products, or they’ll be lost in the depths of data.
As part of our artist development and label services, we’ll be sticking to the strategies outlined in this series and ensuring that we always take a forward-thinking approach to the music industry. We’re driven by the sharing economy, efficiency and giving freedom to artists for them to create their art.
If you’re interested in learning more about how BDEM can help you develop as an artist in the new industry, or if you’re a business in the developing new music industry, then be sure to get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org We’re always keen to discuss ideas or run through how we might be able to help you achieve goals.
Written by Josh Smith
B-DEM Records has focus on signing electronic music with a timeless feel.
We are believers in the future of streaming. We sign talent and music that brings innovation, class & high musicality, and share it with the world.
A one-stop solution for artists, a brand platform that covers all of their business requirements whilst they focus on what they do best, making the music.
We release music that can still be loved in years to come.
In order to achieve this, we set out to sign talent and music that brings innovation, class & high musicality, and then share it with the world. We follow a strict vetting process to ensure that our music is released in the highest quality industry-standard commercial formats. We have an extremely effective and innovative promotion team that ensure music is delivered to the ears of the right people.
Our emotional scope ranges from soul & emotion through ecstasy & euphoria, to bump & groove; conveyed through electronic music genres. Our signature sounds thus far have been variants of Garage, House, Dubstep, Trip Hop, Hip Hop and Grime, but we are frequently looking to expand this list and move into more varieties of exciting areas of electronic music.
We are believers in the future of streaming.
BDEM is centred on basing our marketing efforts around our Spotify releases at every stage of promotion. Cutting out other listening platforms encourages not only pay per listen (increasing revenue), but also encourages tracks to reach more listeners through popular playlists and charts. In the downloading world, listening stops when marketing efforts do. In streaming, an interactive and evolving world, music is always available and alive to be unearthed and resurfaced.
We act as a one-stop solution for artists, a brand platform that covers all of their business requirements whilst they focus on what they do best, making the music. We will also always make sure that our consumers are able to obtain high quality music in the easiest manner possible with a minimum expenditure. We’re a solution, not just a label in terms of releasing music.
BDEM was founded in 2010. As a lover of music and business, the founder had a vision to create a label that exceeded the expectations of the many ‘net labels’ in existence and create a company established enough to challenge that of the leading Indies and eventually sit up with the majors. - A strongly engrained philosophy of our label is that business is not something to be feared, it is something to help artists prosper and allow them the freedom to do what they love. We don’t believe in limiting our potential.
In the first few years of BDEM we created a great little following within the Future Garage scene. But it was clear that more needed to be done to meet the ambitions of the founder to expand to become something very special and a power to be reckoned with.
The initial label years saw an increase in revenue, but it was evident that there was something wrong between signing the music from our artists and delivering it to the consumers. We found that a lot of our issues with increasing business growth were due to the industry-expected release procedure, which was clearly out of date.
In 2014 we decided to freeze operations to take time to strategise a more cohesive plan to ensure that the label was to be growing, profiting and promoting to a level that makes genuine impact on the industry and not just a niche scene, this lead to the process of implementing new operations and went on to become BDEM v2.
BDEM is no longer the sole proprietorship that it was for the first few years, we now have a team of people working for the company, moving it out of startup phase and into becoming something great. We can already feel the tides of momentum pulling us forward. The more support we receive as a label, the more we can give back to our artists.
Josh Smith – Managing Director, Founder
Josh started as an electronic music producer in high school and continued his academic studies up until graduation of his BA Hons Music Production degree at the University of Brighton in 2011. For around 9 ½ years he produced under his first alias 'Whyrez' (which transitioned through two different spellings), this introduced him to the industry at a professional level. In his time within this role he had multiple BBC Radio plays and various releases on labels such as L2S Recordings, which was the most influential and successful UK Garage label of the period. He also had music with Olivia Louise featured in a Universal Pictures movie directed by Noel Clarke called 'Legacy'.
Although he followed in the path of his inspiration to become a music producer, in learning and studying the methods of making money through music he began to discover that music was not his only love and he also had a keen taste for business itself.
In 2010 he founded B-DEM Records with the purpose of creating a forward-thinking record label releasing electronic music with a timeless feel. The edge in the marketplace was to have an up-to-date model that reflected the technology and methods of consumption by listeners and provided above-average services for their artists from quality control to marketing strategy. BDEM was created with the vision of being a complete solution for artists to make music to a commercial standard and release it for consumption of the relevant market.
Dave Brock – A&R Manager
Dave has spent the last 6 years cutting his teeth in the electronic music scene and is now an established Producer, DJ and Event Promoter.
Dave, formerly producing under the Alias ‘Lojt’, has released music on Basslight Records, L2S Recordings and BDEM. Within this role he developed his networking skills by liaising with other artists in the scene and pushing music to blogs such as Girl8bit, OnlyVibes and a slew of other channels and webzines.
As a DJ, curating music is one of Dave’s strongest points, relentlessly networking and constantly searching for fresh new artists and pushing them through his Sub.FM show. Out in the club field, he has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Todd Edwards, El-B, Altern-8 and has become renowned for high energy sets and vast music knowledge.
Dave has joined BDEM management as Chief A&R Manager with the intention of planting the label not only at the forefront of the Electronic Music scene, but also into the history books.
Outside of music, Dave enjoys long walks on Runcorn beach and drinking craft beers.
Tudor Watson – Web Development Consultant
Tudor & Sally of Tangent Web Design have been key members of the BDEM team since it’s founding. They have assisted the Managing Director not only with the development of the website, brand image and our online presence, they have also been pivotal in mentoring and directing the MD in general business advice and also art, tech and music-related advances.
Lewis Yates – Visual Artist Consultant
Lewis has also been a key member of the BDEM team since founding. He is solely responsible for the coherent image and style across our release artwork. Lewis is the man who turns crazy ideas and concepts only translatable through imagery into a tangible existence.
Lewis Brown - Brand, Marketing & Aesthetics Consultant
Mark Dobson – Mastering Engineer
Mark is the newly appointed mastering engineer for the label. Mark & Josh met at university where they both studied the same course. Mark has been chosen to be the designated engineer for the label due to his crystal clear audible sensibility and ability to make tracks sound how they’re supposed to. As an artist he is both a highly talented ‘organic’ musician and master of electronic manipulation, it is this dual understanding that gives him a sonic edge in the mastering realm.
As a producer, Mark works under the alias Ambassadeurs, of which he is highly successful releasing albums with highly reputable labels and seems to be touring the world constantly! Mark also runs his own record label called ‘Lost Tribe’.
Christopher Garcia - Commercial Manager
Christopher is the latest in additions to the BDEM management team and with an established background in Financial Services and Business Development he brings a different skillset to BDEM. Along with actively managing new business formations and business structure his duties include; the oversight of contractual and commercial agreements, risk assessment and the adherence of financial KPI’s while of course, working very closely with founder Josh on the strategic development of BDEM.