Sunday, 21 March 2010

A record label and how it will use you for money

In this blog I will look critically at Polydor’s catalogue and compare the strengths and weaknesses of Negus’ 4-point portfolio classifications (1999) relating to 4 artists. I start with a brief explanation of Negus’ theory, then a background for the label, Polydor. I then look at the different artists, their characteristics and how these ‘profiles’ fit the theory. I will conclude to what extent my example shows Negus’ theory to be accurate and offer alternatives based on the background reading and research I have carried out.

As there is a lot of uncertainty in the music industry and it is very difficult to predict the response of the consumer to a new artist or record, the record companies have increasingly begun to use portfolio management to make sure their catalogue will continue to be profitable. Different aspects of artists or records (hereon in referred to as ‘the product’) are beneficial to a record company depending on market conditions. Negus (1999) quantifies these different qualities of the product into four main areas: Stars, Cash Cows, Question Marks and Dogs.

Stars are high-turnover, high-investment vehicles for the record companies and are the main investment aim of the record company. The product requires a highly skilled workforce to facilitate their commercial success, but achieve very high dividends for the record company’s investments.

Cash cows require less interaction and influence from record companies as they appeal at a lower turnover level and a more fundamental musicianship level. They provide continual income through stable streams for substantially less investment.

Question Marks are the green shoots or research and development aspect of product diversification in portfolio management for record companies. These represent new ventures, accessing new markets for record companies and provide the evolving nature of the industry. Some further aspects of pursuing the question mark product are increased market capitalisation, labour force development and investment in new arms or departments inside record companies to focus specialist knowledge required for the product.

Dogs represent the non-profitable but non-economically beneficial catalogue of products sustained by a record company. Previously Classical music, more abstract Jazz as specific genres and the continuation of products released under specific labels have all contributed particular benefits to record companies through non-economic factors such as the development of image, informal organisational structure (social interaction inside companies) and cultures. (Negus 1999)

Polydor Records are a subsidiary of Universal Music and have their own label, Fascination (pop oriented). Their headquarters are London, UK and they have US distribution rights as well as some back catalogue US artists on other Universal labels. Polydor began as an independent sector of Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft for German exports. The two split when DGG became a classical music label in 1946 and Polydor began with popular music recordings, but continued to be the export label for all types of music for DGG for many more years as there were concerns about cultural and lingual differences. Polydor signed The Beatles in 1960 as ‘The Beat Brothers’ playing alongside Tony Sheridan, which set the precedent for the labels future. (Polydor 2009)

Over the next 50 years, experiencing business cycles, Polydor went through 3 company-name changes and 2 umbrella company shifts as labels were shifted around inside Polygram and PolyGram Label Group (PLG).

Universal Music was founded in 1934 as Decca Records and is one of the ‘big four’ music recording companies. It is the parent company of Polydor and has a longstanding history as the largest company in the industry with revenues of $6.14billion. Universal Music Group (or UMG) owns 10 major labels throughout the world, based in New York City, Universal City (its own tax-haven city set up on the edge of California) Santa Monica, Nashville, London and Romford. (Universal Music Group 2008). Polydor is part of a very large umbrella corporation which influences the company culture. Negus points out that the production of culture through the music business is in a direct two-way relationship with the culture of production that any single company chooses to adopt. With this in mind, we can look at the parallels between Polydor and Negus’ model of 4 types of artist.

Take That are a good example of the Star character-type in Polydor’s catalogue.
They are very high selling artists with record sales in excess of 25 million, alongside 2 very separate promotional pushes by their labels. Take That do not qualify as a cash cow even with their longstanding careers as they had a 9 year gap between their mainstream successes with no music created together. Take That have been branded ‘pop’ by numerous magazines, newspapers and reviewers which in turn rules them out of qualifying for question mark status, and their mainstream success clearly shows they do not qualify as dogs. Take That are an example of a ‘Style Band’ (Ridgeway, 2006) which means one of their unique selling points is a basis on carving out new styles, fashions, trend setting and a strong focus on culture. This in turn requires the large investments characteristic of a Star under Negus’ definitions, and the investment is (when successful) returned with high value endorsement deals, high record turn-over and a high turnout at live events.

One of the cash cows in Polydor’s catalogue would be ‘Van Morrison’.
Van Morrison would qualify as a cash cow for Polydor mainly because of his longevity in the industry. He has been actively inside the industry for over 50 years and is not noted for major-selling continual singles (drawing on the likes of Michael Jackson as comparison in the Star world) – it could be argued that ‘Moondance’ and especially ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ qualifies Morrison as a Star, but this alone does not
justify Morrison’s transcendence to the higher level when argued that these songs are introduced over 50 years with low funding and little meddling (apart from early years with poor contracting) from record companies – such is the characteristic of a cash cow. His album sales have remained steady and his label changes suggest an artist in development when considered alongside his fan base, rather than desperate. Morrison has provided steady income coupled with a high level of musicianship – he started playing guitar, harp, and saxophone with an Irish band and is still today referenced as a very highly skilled musician – which are key factors in deciding Cash Cow status.

A Question Mark example would be ‘La Roux’. La Roux has taken strong influence from 80’s synth and reinvented the electropop genre as a serious competitor. It is characteristic of the question mark type because it has been a new venture for the new millennium, potentially opening up the label’s (and the owner, Universal) back-catalogue of 80’s music for reconsidering, thus targeting a ‘new’ market in today’s climate. (Petridis 2009) The evidence for the creation of a new genre with its own characteristics is shown in the act’s promotion with focus on Ms Elly Jackson – the female lead vocal – where the artist setup is an equal partnership between Jackson and Ben Langmaid. This shows that promotional tactics are in place to present a new venture for the label because it is being selective with the artists as to how they are promoted. It is a developmental process testing the waters and seeing how receptive the consumer is to this revisiting, and is the more specific, developed successor to the more Noughties-oriented Lady Gaga, who is on the same label with a similar approach.

In the final section, a Dog example would be ‘Yusuf Islam’. First we must realise that the characteristics raised by Negus’ theory are not all necessary for qualification into one of the categories: The portfolio management of a label will contradict the assumptions of the ‘dog’ as it will always try to (and indeed often achieve) increase record sales even when appealing to niche markets. Here, Cat Stevens, the well-known folk singer/songwriter went through an image re-launch appealing to the more fundamental characteristics of his previous works and exploring more freely his own folk, storytelling style. This justification applies to the newly-formed image of Yusuf Islam on Polydor Records rather than the cash-cow that Cat Stevens products represented. The image taps into Muslim culture, which although far from a ‘niche market’ is a newly tapped unique selling point for the British music industry. (Islam 2008)

Take That could be argued to be a cash cow through their large discography and proven long-term track record. They show their worth through sustaining commercial demand throughout a 15 year period at a level in the industry where genre preferences, styles and fashions are constantly changing. Their backgrounds in playing instruments and the point that they write their own songs is an indication that they can potentially appeal on the level of improved musicianship, characteristic of a cash cow product.
Further arguments against Take That qualifying as a Star product could include that they may not have required the same level of funding in marketing and promotions as they did their first time in the 90’s and so either investment levels, or equally, risk behind investment, are both dramatically lowered beginning their second release.

Van Morrison has a string of very high grossing releases throughout 50 years of culture change and musical influence in which he appears to have achieved worldwide success commercially. This would qualify him as a Star depending on the investment made in him to sustain his career and productivity; if this was very low, it could also be argued Van Morrison has the credentials of a cash cow, especially backed up by his high level of musicianship.

La Roux was a very quick start-up and so even though the artist can have been developed in the mindset of a question mark – that she is carving a new direction and genre with lifestyle hand-in-hand (du Gay 1997) – La Roux has very quickly risen to the level of star. Some more of the characteristics associated with star material would have been the large investments required by the label to enable the production of the culture surrounding La Roux and the large marketing budget that follows to minimise risk on investment.

Yusuf Islam is a particularly difficult characterisation in that he as an artist has many of the credentials of each of the areas Negus proposes.
Some aspects of the career, the bestselling albums as Cat Stevens, the large fan base, for example, constitute strong characteristics of Star performer. Other aspects may point towards the cash cow bearing in mind Islam’s long-standing music career and development.
Further still it could be argued that Yusuf Islam was a question mark investment by the label into a new genre rather than sustaining a more cult genre such as is typical of a ‘dog’.

The main strengths of Negus’ model are that it is an effective summary of the main portfolio management strategies implemented by record labels, and that through creating a division such as this we can more clearly see the intentions of artists and labels.

Some weaknesses that have shown very strongly include the cross-boundary characteristics of many of the artists, particularly with more established, long-term artists. It is found that the segregating of different artists in this way is also very limiting and can lead to a misrepresentation of the artist. Furthermore the grouping of ‘Dogs’ can be seen as both derogatory and counter-intuitive as today’s labels are more competitive, resisting working at a loss and in many instances showing success in their more a-typical acts – the business model of a label implies that loss making artists will not be contracted by the label as the responsibilities fall upon individual, career-seeking artist and repertoire managers.

Focusing on the wider implications of Negus’ model, channelling each act into one of these four areas has mixed implications. The simplification of such a diverse art form could be restrictive for acts and therefore misrepresent the label they are signed with and its cultural representation, although this simplification creates a much easier target market structure for media or commercial ventures, drawing example from the American radio system (e.g. Hot AC, Chart, Rock, Rap, etc. As genres being the markets and culture simultaneously (Negus 1999)).

Bearing the above factors in mind, the market direction and development including future portfolio management strategies could be affected by Negus’ suggested theory in a number of ways. If it is taken as dogma, the theory could fragment the marketplace, causing difficult structural mobility across genres and promoting insular, non-developing music over the long-term. Bands could become restricted to certain markets and demographics and this ‘production of culture’ could affect public perception creating an us-and-them scenario. If the theory is considered in a more liberal sense, it can promote the easier understanding of simple diversification of products for commercial use by labels, and help all areas of the industry gain an understanding of corporate strategy at major labels.

I have endeavoured to provide the least biased views of the content mentioned, but as many sources take strong vested interests it is sometimes not certain views are represented accurately or weighted appropriately. This text is an amalgamation of differing opinions and sources to create one particular analysis

Theo Smith is a session musician studying Music Industry Management at the University of East London

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Music Recording Industry

Click the picture to enlarge.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Guide to Music Performance: The Professional Musician's Toolkit

This is the first part in a series looking at the Professional Musician's Toolkit. Here we will look at the practical side of being a musician: playing well.

There are 5 main areas of music performance:
  1. Music Theory - transferable
  2. Technique - instrument specific
  3. Musicianship - transferable
  4. Teamwork - transferable
  5. Stage Presence - transferable
Mastering each section to equivalent standards creates the best platform for development as a musician, for example, a brilliant technique with clever chordal progressions and crisp phrasing will amount to nothing without good teamwork with other musicians and understanding your audience.

One mistake I hear many musicians complain about is to focus too much on one of these core areas. Ever heard someone moan:

'I'm so much better than them but I don't make any money'

This response is prompted by someone who takes great pride in their technique, theory and possibly musicianship, but neglects the humility required for successful teamwork and the experience required for dynamic audience reading and stage presence - don't forget in order to master your performance you have to make sure everything you do 'looks easy' (read fluent), no matter how hard it is!

Music Theory

These are the building blocks for music. It is the way you structure your thoughts about music over time - not necessarily knowing how to read staves, transpose parts for horn in F or write out manuscript in the style of Bach. Music Theory is the grammar of the language that is music and as with any language it helps to form a structure on which to base your ideas.

Without theory you will find all other areas struggle or are only able to progress to a certain point in time as you begin to find it harder to communicate your ideas to your fellow musicians - imagine a novel written only in present first singular tense; yes, you would tell a story: I do this, I do that, I do that, I do this, but it would be no match for even the next level of grammatical comprehension, let alone a novel or Shakespeare's works!


This is all about how you play your individual instrument. It includes scales, arpeggios, chordal progressions, harmonics, pitch bending, fine tuning, maintenance and even posture and breathing. Technique is the muscle memory required to play notes. It is the ability to get sound out of your instrument and the better the technique, the more sounds and the more range you are capable of at more varying speeds.

This is the area that causes the most controversy as it is what most musicians will value the most - fair enough, as it is what will take the longest investment of time and money to achieve and so pride becomes inevitable for this particular skill. It is not the only requirement of a musician.


This is the way in which you combine both music theory and technique to create your sound. It includes dynamics, articulation and phrasing. In improvisation it also includes choice of notes and chordal progressions relative to other music (but this is a crossover with teamwork, which we will see later).

So, you know what the notes you could play are, you know how to play them on your instrument, now we look at Ways of varying your delivery:
  1. How loud or quiet, or how much of a change in dynamic through what period of time
  2. How short or long the note, how abruptly it begins or finishes
  3. The timbre of the note - how much weight or bright or dark the sound along with other effects or processes - most obvious with electric guitarists
  4. Phrasing is best described as imagining a particular melody or line of music as a sentence, it begins, flows together coherently, (even iambic pentameter flows to the end) and comes to a finish. There should be a logical flow to how a line is presented, or, artistically, there should deliberately not be any flow.]
  5. Music should be contextualised. It is not typically appropriate to play a Metallica's Kirk Hammett-esque ripped up solo for a twelve-bar blues solo at your local jazz club. I am not suggesting it isn't allowed - or hasn't been tried!
Most of this is done without thinking because it is the 'soul' of your music. Interestingly the contextualisation of music happens automatically through cultural influence where we see different genres of music as localised organic developments.

The sociologist in me would speculate that music is a carbon copy of current affairs, politics and civil mentality and that through studying it and its cultures you can piece together how people felt about different circumstances and see how situations developed or were dealt with - but that's another rant.


This is an interesting one, as it is not considered paramount importance straight away, but I would suggest that this is the lifeline of any aspiring musician. The ability to get on with people you meet as well as being reasonable and upholding professional integrity, and above all, working with others in an unselfish way.

Music will become convoluted and incoherent if members cannot understand each other or if one member chooses to solo or take the lime light all the time. The classic rock guitar solos would be terrible if you went to 5 hours of just Angus Young tearing it up all the time, non-stop, back-to-back, relentlessly. Similarly Oasis, famed for the utter resentment in the band, was not muddied in performance by one member jumping up and down trying to grab attention (in both examples, the whole band did it, to great effect.)

In summary, to have the wisdom to know where you lie in the band's overall sound and to blend (or stand out) appropriately is a key skill.

Stage Presence

Referring to live performance, this is the ability to choose an appropriate set, lineup, volume, banter between songs/commentary between pieces in order to make the audience feel at ease and have an entertaining (priority one) and fulfilling (priority two) time.

You must aim to be entertaining and engaging first and foremost. This will encourage repeat bookings. This will improve your performance and access to resources which will enable you to create your masterpiece. Very few achieve abstract messaging straight out of the can, it requires long-term development, an interesting back story (more on this in future marketing posts) and an understanding of what you are involved with/how to deal with different situations.

The seriousness aside, this is the most fun section - having done over 300+ gigs, I've done gigs where people have jumped on stage and thrown up all over the place, one where a sober man stripped naked in the middle of a town, others where everything you could imagine has been free to take as much as you choose, others that have been very prim and formal, many that have been full to bursting with very, very drunk nutters, and a couple with riots, death circles, world class professionals, local startups, celebrities, people who wish they were celebrities, playing with drunk people, playing with drugged people, playing with some of the most intelligent minds I've ever seen, playing in some of the most legendary places in contemporary music (100 club, for example) or some of the biggest venues (MEN Arena, Manchester) or some of the most unknown (someone's living room that fitted 2 grand pianos a full pa system and a 6 piece band as well as guests), some of the most expensive (Cambridge University Graduation Balls) and some of the simplest or most charitable.

Once you develop all the skill sets required to respond to different situations, you are able to achieve many interesting things and see many different places (and things! eek)

Theo Smith is a session musician from London, UK. He studies Music Management at University of East London.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Poppadom Paradox

"This is taking from a book by Julian Baggini called 'The pig that wants to be eaten'. I think it is an interesting observation in the persuit of globalisation, the 'glocal' promotions and in seeing into conflicts in today's society:

The Poppadom Paradox:

Im interested to know what we, as a planet, are trying to achieve in our global social cohesion as it seems a better understanding of our goals would help to unite humanity outside of war.

'As Life-transforming events go, the arrival of poppadoms at the table hardly counts as the most dramatic. But it gave Saskia the kind of mental jolt that would profoundly alter the way she thought.
The problem was that the waiter who delivered the poppadoms was not of Indian descent, but was a white Anglo-sSaxon. This bothered Saskia becaus, for her, one of the pleasures of going out for a curry was the feeling that you were tasting a foreign culture. Had the waiter served her a steak and kidney pie it would have been no more incongruous than his skin colour.
The more she thought about it, however, the less sense it made. Saskia thought of herself as a multiculturralist. That is to say, she positively enjoyed the variety of cultures an ethnically diverse society sustains. But her enjoyment depended upon other people remaining ethnically distinct. She could enjoy a life flitting betweeen many different cultures only if others remained firmly rooted in one. For her to be a multiculturalist, others needed to be monoculturalists. Where did that leave her ideal of a multicultural society?'

His commentary:
'Saskia is right to feel uncomfortable. There is a problem at the heart of liberal multiculturalism. It advocates respect for other cultures but what it values above all is the ability to transcend one culture and value many. This places a major constraint on the extent of its respect. Te ideal person is the multiculturalist who can visit a mosque, read Hindu srciptures and practise Buddhist meditation. Those who remain within one tradition do not embody these ideas, and so, despite the talk of 'respect', they can be seen onlyt as inferior to the open-minded multiculturalist.

There is something of the zoo mentality in this. The multiculturalist wants to go around admiring different ways of living but can do this only if various forms of life are kept more or less intct. Different subcultures in society are thus like cages, and if too many people move in or out of them, they become less interesting for the multiculturalist to point and smile at. If everyone were as culturally promiscuous as they were, there would be less genuine diversity to revel in. And so the multiculturalists must remain an elite, parasitic on internally homogenous monocultures.

It may be argued that it is possible to be both a multiculturalist and a committed to one particular culture. The paradigm here is of the devout Muslim or Christian who nonetheless has a profound respect for other religiions and belief systems and is always prepared to learn from them.

However, tolerane and respect for other cultures are notht esame and valuing all cultures more or less equally. For the multiculturalist, the best point of view is the one which sees merit in all. But one cannot be a committed Christian, Muslim, Jew or even atheist and sincerely believe this. There may be tolerance, or even respect, for other cultures, but if a Christian really believed that Islam is as valuable as Christianity, why would they be a Christian?

This is the multiculturalist's dilemma. You can have a society of many cultures which respect each other. Call that multiculturalism if you want. But if you want to champion a multiculturalism which values diversity itself and sees all cultures as of equal merit, then you either have to accept that those who live within just one culture have an inferior form of life -which seems to go against the idea of respect for all cultures - or you have to argue for erosion of divisions between distinct cultures, so that people value more and more in the cultures of others - which will lead to a decrease in the kind of diversity you claim to value.

In this concrete example, for Saskia to continue to enjoy a diversity of cultures, she must hope that others do not embrace multiculturalism as fully as she has."

Interesting paradox.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Creating a world for your customers to live in - Marketing and its direction in the modern environment

Theo Smith

Looking at BMW as an example of cutting-edge marketing tactics, we can see how the emphasis in consumer interaction has shifted from sales orientation into a dynamic, package deal. Today we want to buy into an experience, not just a physical product. We look at different options and think about aspects such as

· What is the environmental impact of the product I am buying?

· What is the company’s approach to business? (a prime example is Apple’s modern youth vs. Microsoft’s cumbersome heritage)

· What do other consumers think?

· How is the product being developed over time to match my needs?

Amongst other things, these aspects of how a company presents itself and its products to its sector are indicative of the change of focus. A brief history of how marketing has come about can help to put into context how some companies work, and more importantly can show us where to place our marketing focus in future projects:

The Production Concept – 1800’s – 1930s

The industrial revolution was retaliation to the lack of supply verses demand present in almost all sectors. Products were hand-made and took time to produce. The factories then made products on a large scale and the demand was catered for. There was no need for anything beyond having the stock ready to sell, because everything was in short supply.

The Product Orientation – c.1920s – 1964

Then because everything was produced to such a large scale, we achieved a surplus. There were too many factories producing the same products and this homogenisation was countered by product differentiation. Now we had an economy of many different products, but the focus for innovation was from the managers and owners themselves; the products were not always relevant to the market, their main remit was to be different, not necessarily functional or relevant.

The Sales Orientation – 1957 – 1998

This is when the clever stuff started happening and marketing as we know it today was invented. Managers began to choose which of the masses of stock they had access to (as a result of the product orientation and varied products) based on what their customers wanted. A good example here is how supermarkets began to develop, basing their stock on what was bought, letting the consumer decide what should be stocked. This rapidly streamlined all the legacy strategies that had been used (production, product concepts) and paved the way for modern retail with extensive consumer data collection. The Tesco Clubcard epitomises this marketing strategy, taking information on where you shop, what you buy, what combinations of items you buy, what you buy based on where things have been placed in the shop, how much you spend, your demographic profile, and many more. This clubcard also marked the beginning of the new era of marketing strategy where consumers are invited to care about the business and be personally involved. Tesco very simply offered clubcard points to tie consumers in, then offered further discounts on alternative services to create a working long-term relationship between business and customer:

The New Era: Marketing Orientation – 1988 – now

Now companies fight to make you care about them. Their PR reflects an interesting back story you can associate with, and they sell you experiences, not products. Using the internet and further data analysis, companies can target their demographics specifically in creating this experience: Disney Land does not sell a stay in a hotel and a trip to a patch of land with some metal frames that throw you around and some pretty scenery, it sells you an experience. Apple does not sell you a small, low-quality sound output versatile playback device, it sells you the iPod brand, it sells you a whole world of iTunes, the new apple library store and the AppStore, it tells you it is cool and you can be part of its club. This is backed up by economic theory, such as Rostow’s Take off Model, and Daniel Bell’s Post-Industrial Society.

Remembering the basics (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) along with the music-industry-specific Hear-Like-Buy mantra, you can work towards creating a world for your customers to live in.

In summary, a successful promotional effort tying in with a marketing effort to target your specific demographic for business is to focus on developing your service aspect of product delivery. Ask yourself the question:

How can my customer-contact be improved so that the customer experience of my service when delivering my product is best in my field?

In the music industry, this will be a compelling back story along with clear aspirations and good quality music, that is delivered professionally and consistently, matching the expectations your target demographic has.

Theo Smith is an occasional contractor to Wood Wind & Reed and a studio musician. He is currently studying Music Industry Management at University of East London, focussing on how the industry is changing and the development of new talent to embrace its ever-changing structures. The views expressed here are personal and do not represent the views of Wood Wind & Reed or its subsidiaries.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Your Guide to understanding the Music Industries today.

Theo Smith

First, I would like to let you know the music industries are the largest they have ever been. Contrary to the doom and gloom predicted by the press, it is only the plastic jewel cases for CDs that are declining in numbers and some very public copyright lawsuits that reflect some archaic business structures in the industries.

Secondly, it might be good news to you that now is the easiest time to enter the music industries as an artist as due to new technologies introduced at exponential rates over the last decade, we have a plethora of mediums through which to present our art.

We have seen some apocalyptic predictions for the recording industry, with articles such as this BBC speculation, ‘Rock Profits and Boogie Woogie Blues’, which suggests that the ‘music industry’ will never be as it was in 1996. This is a misrepresentation of the truth and a misunderstanding of the distinction between ‘music industry’ and ‘recording industry’.

The Recording Industry

The recording industry has seen a change in economic structure from Oligopolistic competition (The 4 big labels) into monopolistic competition, where there are many, much more equal, lower turnover recording labels, studios and artists. This means that the barriers to entry (that elusive record deal we all used to strive for) are lowered and the audience (consumer) decides based on exposure. The music industry is an exception to typical economic structures as there are no substitute goods – if you like one band and another band that you don’t like is cheaper to buy, you will not buy the lower priced band instead. We have seen that audiences instead find cheaper ways of attaining the same product such as the well publicised Napster or more recently Pirate Bay. It is the development of the artist’s fan base that is key in creating any income stream and the consideration of the economics of abundance – use the .mp3s and illegal downloads purely as a marketing sunk cost in the development of a fanbase in order that brand recognition can focus your audience on scarce resources you can then charge for: live events, merch, publishing, etc. More about income streams for artists can be found at Dave Kusek’s Income Streams for Musicians.

Startups and Early Career Development for Artists

There is no longer a lottery as to who will be the next big name, instead it is much more of a focus on the individual musician and their business prowess. The age of the rock star throwing things through hotel windows has finished, in order to survive in the industry today you need a strong marketing mind, good pr outlets, a concrete internet presence and the following formula represents the effective combination of required skills:

In summary, the music industry today has a lower barrier to entry, but is still focussed on the artist’s fan base. Because of new technologies such as social networking, mobile devices and other internet portals, along with the traditional marketing and PR techniques, artists are given a more equal chance of beginning their careers and a much more quantifiable way of measuring their impact through page views, fans and interactions. The new chart shows for each country’s top 40 are shifting from the amount of CDs bought (or even the much reduced .mp3 industry’s statistics) towards who makes the largest impact online which is reflected in live performances long term.

The Recording industry has declined whilst it reforms, but all other areas of music industries are increasing and taking over the focus of success for an artist in today’s climate.

Theo Smith is an occasional contractor to Wood Wind & Reed and a studio musician. He is currently studying Music Industry Management at University of East London, focussing on how the industry is changing and the development of new talent to embrace its ever-changing structures. The views expressed here are personal and do not represent the views of Wood Wind & Reed or its subsidiaries..