‘The Feminist’ by artist Jose Schmitt is our first release as part of our BDEMUC series.
BDEMUC is a series of releases that B-DEM Records will be releasing exclusively through SoundCloud and sent directly to media and DJ supporters on our mailing list. These releases will not go public commercially and will not be available to the public other than as a SoundCloud stream.
We have chosen to release the BDEMUC series in this manner as we are (and will always be) a label that represent the listeners and the technology that is preferable to their music consumption needs.
Streaming is a big deal, as not only is it a well-favoured option, it is also a technology that allows for instant access to music on-demand - putting the ability for anybody with an internet connection to listen to any music they want, when they want.
BDEM are also advocates for the independent music industry and we feel that the major DSPs are yet to really give thought into discovery and exposure for independent artists and labels. However, SoundCloud have always supported the growth of undiscovered and up-and-coming artists.
It’s most important that we do what we can to help continue the longevity and development of platforms that support independent music by supporting the likes of SoundCloud.
‘The Feminist’ is a Deep House track written to be purposely ambiguous in nature.
Jose embraces feminism and equality and is an advocate for women to have both equal rights and the right to say no [or swear and kick about it if no isn’t enough], but he also believes that the postmodern masculine is losing his soul and sexuality due to the media both skewing the minds of both sexes when it comes to sex and sexuality, but also putting women on an overly-avert stance when it comes to non-aggressive flirtation.
‘The Feminist’ is a reminder to men and women alike that we can be sexual, slinky, flirtatious and charming and have fun; without being misogynistic or rude. Be nicer to each other and there’ll be more sex and more happiness.
On 26th and 27th April 2018 B-DEM Records attended The Brighton Music Conference. It was a great experience and a must for any music professional or artists looking to expand their knowledge of the insides and mentalities of the organisations leading the current Electronic music industry.
Here are some of our key takeaways from companies and topics we were most interested in hearing about, and general thoughts noted throughout the conference:
For some time, it's been on our radar that SoundCloud have been planning what they were previously calling their 'Artist Support Initiative'. At the conference they revealed a couple of their new initiatives, which we believe are what were previously mentioned.
This works by artists noting 'firsts' (basically gym-style PB's) and SoundCloud favouring and running marketing around their favourite picks. They're continuing to prop themselves as 'nurturers and growers' but they're also trying to grow their monetisation offering – which comes in the face of their own SoundCloud Premier offering, which we have since been told by the presenter is not just an offering for elite artists with high data but is a vehicle to that, primarily a tool for artists to get their first monetisation and marketing opportunities.
Public information about this offering is currently limited, but as SoundCloud has always been a great asset for our team, our artists and the independent industry we’re keen to keep updated on this and further understand how independent labels and service providers can work with the Premier service to further push our artists forwards.
We’re excited to see SoundCloud grow into becoming even more of a custodian for the independent industry and helping us battle the major DSP problem with 'the successful rising further to the top' and algorithms that don't compliment discovery but it's important we think about how we use both SoundCloud and Spotify as they both try to move into each other's spaces.
The discussion kicked off with a clever question that instantly sparked the continuing debate…
“Do you think about diversity when you hire?”
Sammy from The Arch, Brighton answered “to be honest, no.”
We could relate to this. As a company who consider themselves completely progressive and advocates of equality we thought “it’s not even something that would cross our minds because we’re not in any way averse to hiring anybody!” Plus, we're an early startup, so we're keen and willing to work with anyone who's really keen to get involved.
However, Natalie Wade of Small Green Shoots made us think more about the importance of hiring with 'moulding' and 'nurturing' in mind, rather than focusing too hard on talent and current skill.
This approach can help you hire in a more diverse manner.
We watched a talk on the continuity and definition of underground music.
Big takeaways for us came from Firas Waez of Waze & Odyssey and their manager, who spoke a lot about the 'behind the scenes' of booking artists for shows and the work and commercial mindset of agents and promoters.
Firas also mentioned the importance of really nurturing and growing undiscovered talent, which is a key part of what we do at B-DEM Records.
However, across the conference we also became more awakened to the importance of having more artists on the roster who are already [semi] established, generating good stream numbers and are out there making things happened on their own, as not only are they are the ones who will greatly benefit from the services of an independent label and service provider, but they are also the inspiration, mentors and ‘big brothers and sisters’ for the rest of the team.
We watched a talk called 'Creative law Presents - How Not to Get into Hot Water When Re-making Music'. This was a great seminar, but there were many grey areas and unanswered questions as always with law and licensing.
We asked hosts Dean Marsh, Peter Oxendale, Jules O'Riordan and Saranne Tardelli-Reid about these few scenarios concerning sampling on LinkedIn post-conference but had no reply so we have decided to seek the answers to these questions independently.
Upon completion of the first draft of financial projections, we found that our initial projections were coming up short on reaching profit within the desired period. We were already showing growth potential, operational improvement, brand exposure and a strong and dedicated team beyond what we were projecting, so why were we coming up short?
As a growing startup, we were aware that there are companies out there who exaggerate their numbers to impress investors. We did the complete opposite... We want a business that’s sustainable and that is truly going to support our team forever. We’re not creating a business to scale and sell, we’re in this for life.
So, we ran our initial projections based on a "what if we fail?" mentality. This was out of lack experience and self-limitation from our Founder. In reality, 3 of our execs are from Sales leadership backgrounds. We all know the necessity of a strong sales effort and we're confident that what we're bringing to the music market is unique and of high quality.
As we became more aware that we want to be a company who plan to remain largely self-owned and dictate our own business practices (and not a company who allows ourselves to be acquired by bigger competitors in the market - i.e. a company built solely to sell), we were getting lost in conventional ideas; for example, we were looking to get into an office as quickly as possible, when in reality the initial team are doing an amazing job already working remotely. In reality, there's little need to change that immediately - all we need is for our team to be able to work for us full-time rather than around a day job. Our online communication is as sharp as it would be face-to-face in an office - and client meetings can be booked in advanced.
We also misjudged the human resource we'd need in the more advanced years of our startup. We have since realised how much potential there is for a full-time team, we can do so much with few people (we already are), and with a bit of an adjustment to how we manage and present our service offerings our opportunity for scale is huge without us needing a huge team in the early years.
We realised we could really adjust our approach to startup to be less conventional in the sense of grow big and grow fast - and instead we could operate a more sustainable startup period focused on strong operations and development, a strong a dedicated team and focus on our mission and cause as much as generating profit, which in turn will result in us being able to profit quicker.
Brighton Music Conference reminded us that there are companies less ambitious, less forward-thinking and less focused than us out there and that we’re doing everything right and for the right reasons – with this in mind, we can truthfully project better numbers than we were on our initial projections, that we are all holding ourselves responsible for hitting!
If we say we represent the Independent Music industry but we want to be as big as the Major labels and publishers, then what differentiates us from them?
The answer lies in ethical contracts with artists and reinvestment into the nurturing and growth of the less established or unsigned artists – not hoarding profit.
Our vision for the Music Industry involves earlier access to a career for artists and is driven by passion, work ethic and talent from artists. Commercial success is (of course) still important, but at the end of it all we watch art and culture, not numbers and our profits will be reinvested into these causes before shareholders cash out.
Moving into sync services as a revenue source for our artists is something we've been considering and researching for some time. We now have the clarity to see how we cross-over into this territory, with help and thanks to a very hungry and sharp Head of Business Affairs, Licensing & Sync at Hospital Records. At some point soon, we'll be taking the next step with sync.
Dave, our Label Manager, has previously mentioned that we may need a longer time focused on marketing our releases. We are continually thinking about how we manage this alongside keeping consistency on turnover of new releases.
This comes down to project management - we are going to get sharper on setting realistic completion dates for projects and sticking to them so that we can keep work rate high in quality and quantity.
Usually when we remember music for life, it's because it resonates with something else that has happened at the same time...
To help grow our ‘Timeless’ brand, we need to always continually be thinking about how we make our music resonate with emotions by coupling it with something else.
This could also be a good idea for our ongoing brand development and marketing material - we can start using 'timeless' things represented in our campaigns.
There are 3 different 'levels' of playlists that DSP's consider:
They see the editorial playlists as an entry point to the market, with the subscribers to these playlists then being able to add music to their own personal playlists which they feel creates a more long-term accumulation of streams.
Then, if virility is reached through streams from personal saves and playlists - a track could enter the algorithmic playlists which is where substantial traction occurs.
All-in-all, the conference was a reaffirmation that we're on the right track and as long as we stay hungry and with a sense of urgency, we'll smash this!! ⚾⚾⚾
Both a blessing and a curse, being focused in Electronic Music means that we tend to naturally build big communities of producers and DJ's.
We value instrumental music, but considering our passion for timeless electronic music we know that the formula can often mean that vocals are required.
Many of us, as producers, have come from a background of using samples to give our tracks human touch beyond synths. Many of us have grown used to the process of creating a full tracks using samples, only later to realise how much easier it would have been to work with a vocalist or musician when it comes to rights and ownership!
With the growth of the Producer-Artist over the last decade, the skills and value of the Producer have changed to the public perception. But, the true value of a good Producer tends to shine when working with other artists.
The Producer can be considered the Conductor of the studio, they keep all of the elements working together and singing in harmony. They give the overall sound of a production its own unique and artistic style and charm.
We know that vocalists are also always seeking producers to bring out the best in their work.
That's why it makes sense that we put effort into seeking great vocalists to become part of our artist community.
So, we're seeking singer/songwriters or top-liners to work with the producers on our rosters to put their talents together to make great tracks!
We'll look after the interests of both parties to find good matches between vocalists and producers in our community and roster. As a BDEM artist, we'll be there to develop you with constant consultation and artist direction strategy. You'll 'll become a part of an enthusiastic, growing community that supports one another to push forward in their independent music pursuits.
Are you a vocalist looking for producers to work with? Or, are you seeking an independent service provider to support and consult you for growth from a talented singer to a growing independent commercial success?
Just drop our Label Manager Dave an email to open a conversation and we'll see how we can make it work!
The place of free music in the digital world is obviously something to consider as an artist trying to grow a fanbase and develop your musical career.
For one reason or another, sometimes some music you’ve made just doesn’t make it to the cut as a commercial product.
This could be for a variety of reasons:
If the work in question falls under the ‘doesn’t fit current trend’ bracket, our first strategy would be to keep pushing it to other labels, publishers and services providers until you have exhausted your options and a free release looks the way to go.
As a commercial artist, your dignity should be protected when it comes to making compromises on your livelihood.
If the work falls under the ‘not substantial quality, originality, relevance or emotional resonance’ bracket then the advice set out for free music in this article will be most relevant to you.
If you have made works that contain the works of others without their permission, you are likely to face some obstacles when you come to share this content with the world commercially. If a label, publisher or service provider agrees to work with you with uncleared works used you should question whether this company has your best interests.
The best thing to do in the circumstance that you have used a yet-to-be-cleared sample would be to find out who the rights-holders are and contact them directly. If the rights-holder is fond of your work, this may open opportunities with their labels and/or publishers, or at least you might be able to negotiate rights to use the material and take it to other labels and/or publishers.
Approaching any label, publisher or service provider with a work and license puts you in a strong position. You’ll be much more highly considered; as not only does it show that the original artist likes the work (giving it more value), it also gives opportunity for the prospective partner to open dialogue with professionals they may have previously not had access to, and therefore gives business value to your proposition.
Bootlegs are tracks that contain works of others without permission to use them.
We believe that if somebody’s work is used creatively and changed to something significantly different to the original, it should be classed as a new work. However, if the original work is audibly recognisable in any way, then we feel that permission should absolutely be obtained.
In other words, if you're using uncleared samples and a) have no intention to clear them, or b) think it's highly unlikely; just butcher them to eff, absolutely making sure they're not recognisable - even to technological analysers! Granular synthesis springs to mind...
So, straight up, we don’t really support free music unless it’s well strategised.
Free music helps to widen the value gap and makes people feel that music should be free.
If music is free then we as artists cannot find time to make it as often as the demand would like. Free music is bad for the industry and bad for the economy.
So, as an ethical company, we try to support paid-for music as much as we can and discourage artists from giving away too much for free, as we think this will benefit both listener and artist in the end.
However, if you have a high turnover of music being made or no specific topic of focus for your expression then sometimes you will end up making things that aren’t quite up to your own standard, or things that don’t resonate with many other people.
In the marketing world there’s a buzzword called ‘content’, which is basically mid to low-value media made entirely to keep turnover high and keep the producer in the forefront of readers/viewers(/listeners)’s minds.
Being an artist is a conceptual definition… But it has something to do with a deeper connection with the senses and nature (not necessarily like trees etc. but more the ‘root’ of the world, ‘the truth’). When art is made, a person manages to touch something immaterial and convey the felt emotion back through an expressive output.
'Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, then that creation is given a soul.' - Hayao Miyazaki
Art takes focus, a dedication and connection to something that goes beyond explanation – an experience or living life through a kaleidoscopic lens until your job is done and you’re onto the next one.
However, we can’t always create art of these depths. Especially if we must act robotic in our day jobs and ignore our creative impulses. So, sometimes we must make a bit of stuff to keep our razors sharp but without being able to dedicate to it enough for it to become art.
This becomes content, and the best way to use that content is the same way you would in marketing.
Before putting music out for free, you should think whether there are other commercial opportunities you could pursue. One of those opportunities is the potential of getting your music into sync.
What might seem like a sub-standard works as a standalone track might truly come to life when combined with video.
There is a multitude of different ways of getting your music into sync:
In this capitalist world, nothing an artist gives away should be truly free. If you’re not generating a monetary return for your efforts, then at the very least you should ask for an opportunity to potentially convert the interest into something monetary later.
The simplest way to assure this is by making sure that a free download is in exchange for an email address or Twitter follow.
There are plenty of platforms available that help with this, commonly known as download gates. Search for this on Google and you should find many free options.
You will want to consider how to drive new people to download your free music and the ways you can achieve this. You will build up a mailing list over time, which will effectively become your paying fanbase with the right nurturing.
Get that social network bubbling and everything you do there forward will be exponential.
If you’re an artist struggling to find use for your library of music, we can help you find sync opportunities or help you strategise how to deliver the music to listeners to support your other campaigns, and have a range of different payment tiers to suit all clients. Be sure to get in touch for a chat!
We've put some ideas/tips together for singer/song-writers, rappers and vocalists to help take your efforts to the 'next level' when it comes to increasing streams, likeability and a buzz around your music.
Success with music does not begin at the marketing, touring and press release stages, it goes all the way back to the creative process.
Art should be done for art's sake first and foremost - so, enjoy the process of creation without any pressures or agendas. Only when you have some sort of flesh, meat and bones on a work should you start thinking about whether or not it's good enough to go into the public, or sell.
When it comes to art and creative expression - go nuts! There's no rules... There is absolutely no reason to ever start thinking about how commercially successful a project will be ahead of its 'completion'.
(Is any art really ever finished anyway, isn't that just another argument around what is subjective?)
At the aforementioned stage, you would have effectively reached what what is effectively known in the industry as a demo.
Since bedroom producing and the rise of self-made music, the place of the demo has become less spoken of. Artists consider what they submit to labels as 'the finished product' and can get very defensive over making changes if the label makes any suggestions to change the track.
But, if the independent industry wants to perform at the standard of the majors on a commercial level and support themselves at a more than modest level, we also need to be prepared to take product development as as seriously as them. Independent does not mean amateur.
For sake of using a single term, let's call it post-production. When it comes to product development, there are some things you need to think about in order to make your artwork more commercially viable.
After the demo is complete, a track can be re-visited with an Executive Producer who will listen to the demo and consider various points of interest, such as:
A bit of critical contemplation at the end of your initial creative process could probably be beneficial regardless of what music you make.
Of course, all of these tips can be applied across any composition or production with a bit of creative thinking.
Whether or not it is a good thing (and still part of the creative process) to further 'sculpt' your art to be more commercially viable once you've already reached a 'finish' point once is subjective and up for debate, but we believe this sort of open-mindedness and consideration of making your music more open to a larger audience is an art form in itself.
Happy music making and product developing!
As we approach our official startup as a company and commence efforts to secure seed funding, we are tidying up some of the potential mistakes we have made as learning curves along the way; in order to ensure a secure commercial and legal position for our future.
We wish to be proactive and address these issues prior to any problems arising, and we have taken the necessary action to have new contracts drafted with our Music Law Consultant, for future releases, that extensively cover relevant and up-to-date positioning on record releases, licensing and sample clearance.
As such, we have decided that we are to going remove some of our back catalogue from all stores and digital service providers to start a clean slate with proper sample vetting and clearance.
Due to our loose contracts around sampling and licensing in the past, it is regretful that we have to remove some of the work from our back catalogue, including tracks:
Whyrez - Bring Me to Madness
Lojt - Way You Do
Sepia - Crushed
Mr Beeb - Lost & Found
Mr Beeb - Girl You Know
Mr Beeb - Goin' 747
Clueless - On The Street
Clueless - Sync Situation
Ollie Macfarlane - Feel About You
Ollie Macfarlane - A View from the Edge
Ollie Macfarlane - Couldn't Tell
Ollie Macfarlane - I Don't Say A Thing
Brock UK - Do You Feel Me
As you can imagine, we're quite gutted to be removing 13 great tracks from our legacy - but we're keen to move onward and upwards and ensure our foundations are stable and legitimate for our developing roster.
The unavailability of these tracks will be effective from today.
Bandcamp is a likeable brand, a company with solid ethics and that they're doing well, still in profitable growth and putting artists first.
They seem like nice people, and they were likely the best option for artists through the transition from physical to digital medium.
Artists can set their own prices to have control over the perceived value of their product. This means that artist royalties for mechanical sales are one of the highest offers on the market and the links to sales pages integrated nicely with SoundCloud.
They quickly became respected as a company who put artists first.
They represent the transitional period between physical music mediums and true digital accessible music (i.e. streaming).
In May 2016, Bandcamp posted an article boasting about their business growth and insulting the streaming industry movement and then did it again in 2017, indirectly implying that their model is a better solution.
They have a very anti-stance on Spotify & dominant streaming platforms, backing common statement that these DSP’s are heavily Major Label backed and therefore squash independent artists.
This has some huge truths… However, streaming is the way that the mainstream consumers want to listen to music and so denying them this is just another way to constipate the industry.
Bandcamp has streaming capabilities, and should be placing far more emphasis on developing and marketing this side of their product.
The solution is to make streaming a good business model, not to deny it and try to argue that download sales are the way forward (when really, they’re massively more of a nuisance to manage for listeners).
Their ‘subscription-based music streaming is an unproven business model’ argument is only as relevant as Bandcamp being an ‘uncontested artist-centric patronage 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 performs better than its classic competition and it’s something growing rapidly, but not yet as profitable as the broken option.
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. Streaming prevents piracy because it solves one huge issue over sales - accessibility.
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.
Streaming offers consumers (at minimum):
Bandcamp is often looked at to an alternative to record labels but it's as a platform that relies on artists and small labels to make their own marketing efforts.
We would far rather see music platforms putting a lot more emphasis into proper discovery tools in this convoluted and overly saturated digital music market. Artists shouldn't really be marketing, they should be making art. And labels should be responsible for higher strategy and marketing & sales campaigns, not necessarily spending all of their time and resource running product-specific promo campaigns.
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, the streaming movement has gone far beyond that and is considered not just in a music context, but in alignment with all technological advances.
As we move deeper into a highly connected digital reality - we’re talking about self-driving cars with intelligent streaming platforms built in, we’re talking about a further decrease of wiring, plastic waste/oil use and more minimal living without hoarding of CDs and vinyl. 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.
Bandcamp seeing the likes of Spotify as the enemy for two years running is the wrong strategy for them. They need to clarify that their argument is about the independent vs mainstream markets, and not the technology consumers use to listen to music. And if they’re so adamant it’s the big streaming platforms that are the problem, not the streaming model, the why don’t they also find a way to monetise streaming on their site and app?
BDEM015: Oxidan - Promise // Available on Spotify: 24th March 2018
Oxidan is the next artist on our roster to drop a debut release with us, and we're SUPER excited to be the ones to be able to release this into the world.
Promise is a 2-track 2-Step Garage release with two very different tracks, but still somehow keeping a cohesive sound and concept.
Oxidan claims that he crosses over genres depending on the mood he's in. If he's angry or annoyed, he'll do something heavier like Dubstep, or something with a gritty "in your face" bassline. If he's happy or in a good mood, then he'll do something "a bit easier on the ears".
Promise, as a multi-emotional release with tracks made for two very different purposes, shows that we're setting up our future with Oxidan where we can expect multi-genre releases all across the electronic field.
Oxidan is dedicated to pushing the music hard this year, he's sick of working for buttons so he's decided he's going to get big, like living next to door to Will Smith big.
Its a frame of mind he's had for half a year now, and it seems to be doing the job. He's on that Law of Arttraction path.
Oxidan's story for Promise is that he made it during a tough time with his girlfriend, of which the conclusion was the need for him to make a promise. The same day he had to make it, he found the vocal sample for this track and thus the track came to represent his promise in a musical form.
With the dominant minor chords expected in a Future Garage track, this track should be 'melancholic'. However, this track actually gives really nice warm and pleasant vibes which are just as fitting if you're sitting watching the snow as if you're enjoying the warmth and embrace of a late summer night kicking it on the beach around a little fire. There's a warming feel to the track which gives it a season-less advantage, where some Garage tracks are typically suited to either summer or winter.
The track is rhythmically built aroud some lovely percussion and breaks that drive the warm bass sound and pull the beautiful chords and vocals along in a well-glued fashion.
These are the classic 'Future Garage' feels that we came to love and it's refreshing to hear it being made in high quality in 2018.
The B-side of the release is a club track. 'She Freaks' is inspired by the thought of a DJ/Producer spinning his tunes in the club, looking down at his girlfriend lost in the music, showing full support and dancing like Amber Heard in The Rum Diary.
"We've all seen our birds get hyped over us when we DJ." - Oxidan
'She Freaks' is one for the real Future Garage ravers of the 2008-2012 period. It has that dissonant, dark, intimate club vibe but with the rhythm and 2-Step swing to pull it into sexy. The track is full of amazing punchy basses and intricate changes of sounds which create exciting rhythmical patterns.
Voice control is continuing to both develop in terms of technology and implementation.
The idea of a new operating system 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 medias, but also tangible real-life objects by our voice!?
The potential for voice control is absolutely huge, it really will change how we interact with computers (meaning all computer devices, not just desktop/laptop varieties!)
It won't be long before stand-by projectors, that can be operated by the likes of Alexa, are used - so that we only see things when we need to (a great potential for saving energy wasted by doing tasks on a screen that can now be done by voice). This will help human eyesight by eliminating the need to stare at screens and will be great for arthritic RSI caused by keyboards or smartphones. We're moving into an augmented reality, and voice control is a big part of that.
But, voice control technologies pose some real threats to the independent music industry that need to be addressed to ensure new independent music is discovered and shared with prospective new fans.
Understandably, the listener is moving more and more towards a 'just play' solution for their music, with algorithms and technologies that detect and execute everything from curation to mood detection and all in between.
Much like with the radio of yesteryear, music consumption will increasingly be about continuity over control. This is great news for discovery but introduces some really scary problems.
Firstly, with budget & industry weight and buy-ins to the technologies that host and play the music, the majors would be able to manipulate the curation in search results to ensure their music is played in response to specific search queries, thus suffocating the independent artists and labels.
Secondly, voice-control adds to the risk of music devaluing to the point it becomes just a supplement to other activities, rather than an enjoyable pleasure in its own right.
Thirdly, if a listener does like a new artist they're introduced to through voice-control, they need to be able to easily escalate that new interest into interaction with the artist so that the enjoyment of listening to the track can be escalated to a long-term 'relationship' between artist and fan.
Voice-control also poses a threat to other new ways people are discovering music. Spotify's Discover Weekly, social playlists etc. will all be less likely to be used, just because of the way search works. It will be uncommon that people ask their devices what friends are listening to or to "play me something I don't know" - because people will often already have some idea of what they are asking for.
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.
Ethical relationships between labels and artists aren't just about giving the artists a higher percentage of royalties.
Independent labels should also manage and educate artists about the importance of making the right choices to be sustainable professionals. Being an artist is one thing, but making a stable career out of it is something that requires a lot of business sense and strategy. Nowadays especially, labels should be actively working in artist development services as well as record manufacturing and releasing.
The whole reason that defined artists have [personal] managers, where other creative professionals (marketers, designers, strategists etc) don't, is because artists need managing.
Well, if you're 100% devoted to your art - which requires you to always be in a state of living purely to feed a selection of philosophies & concepts and to create a representation of something intangible (a way of living which is often mistaken for 'selfishness') then you're unlikely to be able to deal with the logical and sociological pressures that come with forming a business around your work.
A good manager understands this and uses it as a the foundation for the relationship between them and their artist(s).
It's time that we understood that most artists are not 'entrepreneurs', even if society would have us believe it now.
Modern Western society has adopted urban music as their 'popular' genre, and Hip Hop lyrics are often around self-made success through hardship and money-making, making it an expectation for artists. Especially now that they can grow their own digital following.
In reality, artists are still more like Rock Stars or the best Jazz Musicians. If they were fortunate enough to earn loads of money, without the right management, they could well burn it, themselves and their future career.
But that doesn't mean that artists are likely to spend all their money on drugs and partying. Artists can just as easily waste way too much money on expensive restaurants, gym classes and personal trainers, unwise investment decisions, or any other expensive frequent costs that can go unnoticed separately, but quickly add up to put wealthy people into debt.
And aside from all of the financial management, artists need somebody to manage their public relations so that they're exposed enough to keep enough attention to generate revenue, but also a gatekeeper to prevent distractions.
More importantly, they need somebody to keep them on track artistically and find the right people to help an art work find a marketable home.
All in all, the team around the artist should never get in the way of the artistic vision and output, but all the best artists are also aware that there are other 'artists', masters of their own crafts, who can help take a work from something good to something great.
To be honest, Tidal hasn't crossed our radar for a little while. They've been very quiet - especially since the Kanye / Jay-Z fallout and subsequent suing between one another which largely involved Tidal.
When Kanye first released The Life of Pablo on Tidal and told people it’d be exclusive there (for a while at least), the free trial was well worth jumping on. Again, later when Jay Z released 4:44 solely on Tidal it was another reason to give it a shot.
There's something alluring about the exclusivity of a streaming platform. Having the artists you're wanting to listen to as the key shareholders in the tech business feels similar to buying luxury clothes, somehow. But if Tidal does become a platform that's marketed in that manner it's going to have a far more restricted target market than the likes of Spotify, but could giving it some strong differentiations - more on that later in the article.
On first use, Tidal is really likeable. It looks nice, it's simple, to navigate, it works, the mobile app [was/is?] faster than Spotify and it was releasing music from some of the leading artists in Electronic and Urban music, music that wasn’t landing elsewhere.
The innovative business strategies bought forward by Tidal also make it an appealing platform. It raised a new issue for the industry...
Until Tidal, artists with commercial power were experimenting with methods to maintain power over their assets, such as refusing to release music on selected 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’.
Artists only releasing on a single platform, saying to listeners they may need to pay multiple subscriptions to access all the music they wanted, was a new proposition to listeners who were just getting used to the idea of even paying for any subscriptions! It was positioned from 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. The philosophy being based on scarcity selling.
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 to eventually reach a solid streaming solution for both artists and listeners.
Tidal includes prolific shareholders including DeadMau5 and Daft Punk, so we were hoping they would develop the platform in a way that was marketed and appealed to the electronic music audience (as well as their primary niche in Hip Hop/RNB/Urban) - similar to how Beatport is in the MP3 world. As shareholders, the mentioned artists could be using their profile to really grow and push up-and-coming artists in their space through the platform, giving it a unique discovery edge over other streaming platforms in the market. So far, there doesn't seem to be much of this happening.
Tidal doesn't seem to be taking advantage of this potential advantage they may have as a 'speciality' provider. We think that this could be make or break for them.
It works. Almost…
Artists Get Paid
Of course the renowned argument is that they don't get paid enough! There are many on-going questions as to where this money is getting stuck and challenges to make it happen.
Listeners Can Consume Easily
We thoroughly believe that music streaming that generates revenue for artists (both through adverts and subscriptions) is the future of music consumption. This will be especially evident when voice control starts to become more mainstream for playing music.
Listeners want access to any music they want, when they want to listen to it. In the age of the internet, this is not a harsh demand...
It is our job; as labels, publishers, technology platforms (DSPs) and other service providers to create and manage a solution that ensures listeners can consume easily, and that artists get paid enough to develop their careers as artists and not have to subsidise their passion by working in corporations that destroy their souls!
Why Not Apple Music, Deezer or Tidal?
At BDEM, we use all of these. We want our artists' music to be on as many platforms that are in demand as possible (that recuperate our artists with revenue earned), and it is said that Apple Music and the others even give a higher payout per stream than Spotify.
However, Spotify has the highest userbase of all the DSPs and the most advanced technology. This bring a lot of advantage to our artists in terms of opportunities, and as long as those opportunities are evident it makes sense for us to put all of our marketing eggs in one basket, as such, and invest our resource into using the advantages of Spotify to support our artists' growth.
The Majors Have Their Grubby Paws All Over It
It's no secret that the Majors are heavily invested in Spotify and therefore have power over decisions, and take the majority of the revenue (leaving Spotify in their position of turning over billions but still not making a profit). - And, it is widely criticised that the majors do not pay the right amounts of that back to their artists.
This is a situation we're watching closely and assessing whether we're always going to have a place on Spotify as an independent service. As long as there is opportunity for our artists, we'll have presence. As soon as it shows that the playing field isn't fair, we'll find another way to make a fair solution elsewhere.
The Market Has Changed
Some are still arguing against streaming and its viability commercially. claiming that per-play returns are so minimal against MP3 purchases that there's not going to be enough money in it.
But we're now talking about a multi billion dollar industry, one that is still in early growth stages.
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 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. The point is, there is chance and opportunity there for those that play the game right.
It's highly likely that these deals are much better for the major partnerships than $0.006 per stream. However, the deals with artists are complicated, and it's unlikely that artists are seeing $8m from each track per year.
But we don’t believe the outlook is bleak for independent artists either, with more users picking up the use of streaming platforms and Spotify going public, it should bring more money into the business, bring more power back to the DSP and introduce fairer payouts directly to the creators. If not, then people will either have to get used to only listening to manufactured music from the majors or they will seek new ways to consume new / up-and-coming / independent music and we'll be there with a solution that ensures our artists are properly reimbursed!
Some of us had a tape Walkman and recorded the radio to build mixtapes in our childhoods, but that experience quickly whizzed through to annoying skipping unreliable portable CD players and then the cheap china-made MP3 players we could get off of Ebay for under a fiver, that we'd fill up with tracks we'd download on our 28/56k internet connections from P2P platforms.
P2P was a game-changer for the music industry. This was the point that music not only became free, but became ON DEMAND. We as the listeners finally had a way to access single tracks as and when we wanted them, sometimes when they weren't even available to buy.
The major labels responded to P2P in a way that damaged the future of the music industry all round.
The shutdown of P2Ps had a similar result to the war on drugs, so as with the changing of chemicals to mask the type of drug being sold, illegal digital music distribution just kept changing to suit the needs of the consumer. Meanwhile, the labels ended up losing more and more control trying to oppress and deny the listeners.
At the time, it wasn’t really even about the fact the music was free. People still wanted to support artists. The listeners were just in awe of the new easy ways they could obtain music, accessing 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 was like forcing people to walk 30 miles when they have a car. Most of the time it’s just not ideal.
The way Grime artists used P2P was a demonstration of how the spread of music between communities eventually lead to the growth of a culture and market. They used P2P 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. 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 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, but there are still some questions to be answered - especially from an independent music respect. 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 (with self-management abilities) on both your computer and portable devices is clearly unbeatable when compared to self-owned MP3 libraries; that you have to order, backup, purchase separately and search for from multiple sources.
The problems at the moment are with fair distribution of earnings - the majors have a lock-down on the streaming platforms and deals that mean that take a huge percentage of the earnings. This is suffocating both the streaming tech companies and the independent labels and artists who only end up with a small portion of the earning split.
There is a problem with royalty collection across both production rights and copyright, with some grey areas in both copyright law and neighbouring rights that need to be solved so that artists get what they have actually earned against their play count.
There is a problem with collection agencies not paying artists properly.
Many of us are looking to the Blockchain for a potential solution for tracking rights. However, this is something the whole industry at every stage has to tackle diligently, doing what we can to ensure the right information is in the right place to drastically improve the chances of our artists getting paid properly.
Something for artists to consider very early on:
This is the tag that will represent your brand that is going to follow you around for the rest of your career!
If you're reached the stage you're defining yourself as an artist, chances are you would have already chosen a name to represent yourself. But depending on the stage of your commercial development, you might still have time to change this to something that's going to benefit you longer-term.
Are you planning a new album and have under 5000 followers on your social network? It might be a good strategy for you to consider changing your name now before it gets too ingrained on an extended scale.
It has to fit with your artist persona and image. Ask yourself what you're representing. What topics are you covering? What sounds are you making? What political ideals do you want to represent (or not)?
What position are you as an artist? If you're a singer/songwriter you're probably safest choosing an 'actual' name (which can be an alias of course), whereas producers or rappers might choose more of a 'tag' name. Maybe you'll always be performing with a band? Even as a single artist you might want to define what your band name will be (think 'Spiders from Mars' or 'The Wailers' for example).
Make it unique!! You really want to consider this. Our artist Brock UK has the UK handle because there are 13 other Brock's on Spotify. If you're one of those Brock's you're going to be in a nightmare when it comes to royalty collection, trademarks, gig flyers, buying your website domain and SEO. All of these things need to be considered to aid your commercial growth as an artist.
So, you don't need to go as far as making sure your artist name begins with 'A' so that you're at the start of a phonebook or other chronological list so much now we're in the digital age, however this is still something important to nail.
BDEM014: Brock UK - Blindside // Available on Spotify: 27th January 2018
BDEM014 is our first release since 2014 and a welcome new addition to our release legacy from our long-standing artist and label manager, Brock UK.
Blindside is an EP made of 2 Speed Garage stompers, built with intention to purely please the dancefloor. Reminiscent of the white label Garage white label vinyl releases of the yesteryears, we've started a series to give a modern digital twist to the concept.
The first track, Blindside, is a Speed Garage vibe-provider that could have been pulled out of the 90's, given a shinier mix, had the bass weight pumped and spat out for Generation Z to say "wooooow WTF is that?!" We can see this having serious advantages in those moments the dancefloor starts to go sleepy, this is sure to put a rocket in the raver's pocket.
The second track, Do You Feel Me, is one to get you on high-alert. Instantly rattling your brain with a dissonant alarm-like sound - bringing you back to the planet with some nice vocal cuts. Likely useful mid-set, getting people pumped as the tempo rises.
Collectively, what we have is an EP from the modern-day Speed Garage King. We don't think anybody is putting Speed Garage out to the standard of Brock UK and we're sure DJ's are going to be going nuts for this release when they see what it does to a dancefloor.