Friday, March 23, 2012

The 5 music income streams

How do you cope in the music business, when global CD sales have dropped 50% in the last 10 years? in 2011, the US became the first country in the world to have digital sales exceed CD sales in volume and in income. In SA, CD sales have dropped 35% since 2007. The magazine Computer Music quoted an artist who put it like this: "It has never been easier for people to make and promote music, and it has never been more difficult for them to earn a living from it."

The truth is, if you REALLY want to make money from music, it is possible - but like most things in life, it requires work. To quote Seth Godin, a Stanford MBA graduate in marketing and one of the world's most successful bloggers, "Hey, if it was easy, everybody would be a rock star!"

Even though CD sales are in the toilet, there are actually FIVE income streams in music where it is possible to make a living as an artist, and probably another 50 in the ancillary music industry, which involve production, events, promotion, education and others.

An even with CD sales down, it is still possible to sell CDs. Adele, the fab British sensation who recently cleaned up with 6 awards at the recent Grammys, sold well over 10 million albums in 2011 - the biggest selling artist of the year, with sales greater than Bieber and Gaga combined.

So there is hope, people!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Goodbye EMI?

According to an article in a recent copy of the Financial Mail in South Africa, EMI has been bought out by Universal Music. So the Big Four have just become the Big Three. Only 3 mega labels remain: Universal, Sony and Warner.

There has never been a better time to be an indie artist, as so many have been telling us for years! It remains true that if the major labels don't adjust their business models, they will no longer be in business.

Karin Geldenhuys, owner of Super CD, told me in October last year that the traditional music store model has about 8 years of life left before it is no longer sustainable as a business model.

We live in interesting times...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Here's my version of music piracy:

This past weekend my sister's car got broken into, and they stole the master CD of my Christmas album out of the car. Initially I thought, "How strange!" But then I realised that music does actually have VALUE! As a musician, I sometimes forget that music is emotional currency and that people desire it. Now of course, it depends on whether or not the thief/thieves are part of my target market or not. If they're not, they will listen to the intro of the first song and chuck the CD away. If they are, the might well listen to the first track and be overcome with remorse and mend their ways - since the first track is O Holy Night!

Sometimes ya just gotta laugh at life...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When love takes over...

You have to admire Kelly Rowland. In the face of superstar Beyoncé, whose career has gone from strength to strength since the days of Destiny's Child, it would be easy to wilt under the pressure and feel the urge to succumb to Beyoncé's ostensibly bigger profile. There have no doubt been days when she's thought, "What the hell happened to me?" After all, Matthew Knowles also used to manage her. People have no doubt spent many an hour comparing the two artists. And since then Beyoncé's had more hits, got the man who owns music in America right now, has had roles in movies, has graced Oprah, and is loved the world over for her booty.

But Kelly seems like a real comeback girl. First there was the hit Dilemma with Nelly, which, in my opinion, is right up there with the best of Beyoncé, and now her collab with David Guetta has seen her extend her profile in Europe with "When Love Takes Over" burning up the charts and the airwaves all over the globe.

Not to take anything away from Beyoncé, but I have always loved the underdog. You go girl! Kelly's a survivor.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mickey J.

The tragic events surrounding Michael Jackson's death means that he is now forever etched in immortality. Sadly, it seems the more tumultuous the life of the artist, the more salient their brand becomes: Elvis... Kurt Cobain... Janis Joplin... John Lennon...

Still, there are exceptions: Madonna... Lionel Richie... Stevie Wonder...

Amazing that close to 30 years on, Thriller is still the biggest selling album of all time - more than double its closest competitors, according to Wikipedia. Will the music industry ever reach such zeniths again? And I wonder what Malcolm Gladwell would make of the fact that Mickey and Madge were both born in 1958. An Outlier story, perhaps?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Music education

SAMRO has approached MBAC partner Jon Shaw to set in place a new course to help educate SAMRO members about the music business. As Gilli Moon says, artists must wear two hats (especially indie ones): musician, and business person.

Education is the cry of the hour.

For more please check out

Friday, May 8, 2009

South Africa has 2 new Idols so now it's twice as irritating...

Due to a technical glitch, the latest winner of Idols SA, Sasha-Lee Davids, was actually beaten by around 200,000 votes in last Sunday's competition by Jason Hartman.

In a media interview, when asked how she felt, Sasha-Lee explained that what she wanted was the recording contract (M-Net has decided to declare both joint winners and double the prize money, while both will also get contracts from Sony BMG). Davids went on to say that it was the contract that she was after. Sadly, spoken like a true amateur... The South African media wasteland is literally strewn with the corpses of past Idols finalists who really have not had very successful careers, when compared with their American counterparts.

In the Idols vein, a recent article in the Saturday Star explains that real success actually means looking beyond the recording contract to the future by having the business savvy to see Idols as a means to an end, not the end in itself. Despite the hype, Idols is not a one-way ticket to Superstardom Nirvana, with untold riches, millions of adoring fans, massive CD sales and endless A-list gigs - it's merely a starting point and an opportunity.

For anyone who wants to really achieve sustainable success in the music industry, that's an important lesson to learn...