my music business

So my friend Jessi asked me the other day if I could answer a few questions about the music biz and artist management to help her out with a college project she’s doing. There are certainly more qualified people out there to answer these questions, but I appreciate that she asked and so I’m happy to share my thoughts, not only with her, but you as well… enjoy:

* * * * * *

Jessi: What is your background (education and experience)?

Me: I went to college at Belmont University and graduated with a double-major in Music Business and Business Management. I did two internships while in college. The first was with a small artist management company called CommonRock Entertainment who was, at the time, working with The Normals, Bleach, and Sanctus Real. The second internship was with the EMI Christian Music Group, working in their mainstream radio promotions department. And finally, once I graduated, I did one more internship with Creative Trust Entertainment – a larger scale management company who was, again at the time, working with Steven Curtis Chapman, Third Day, and Warren Barfield.

Jessie: How did you get your start in the Music Business?
Me: I moved to Nashville under the pretenses that I was a good musician and could write good songs. Neither were true. As such, I dropped the idea of spending a life recording and performing and instead took up an interest in the various business aspects of music. Artist management immediately appealed to me, and over time marketing, brand development, and web marketing became of interest as well. Ultimately my internships led to a job at EMI Christian Music Group, and I have been there since working in digital sales & marketing.

Jessi: Which artists have you worked with in the past and who do you work with now?
Me: Artist management has always been more of a passion for me than it has been a job, and as a result I have always been a part-time manager on the side in addition to my work with EMI. I have primarily worked with Beau Bristow (, an independent Nashville based pop/rock artist, over the past four years.

Jessi: Describe a typical day’s activities
Me: The great and fascinating thing about working in the independent music scene is that every day is different, and it is this way because every day is a fight just to keep the artist moving forward. There are so many artists – both on major labels and independently – vying for the attention of an audience. The independent manager’s constant struggle is to help the artist connect with people continuously, on a limited budget, and help grow an audience base, whether this is through performances, online awareness, publicity, partnerships, or any other number of opportunities.

If the artist is currently recording, most activities focus on publicity, like overseeing the design of the artist’s website, creating press packages, and connecting with media outlets to prepare for the launch of the new record. If the artist is on tour, activities center around keeping the artist moving on the road – advancing shows, pitching to venues, drafting contracts. The independent artist generally does not have their own booking agent, so the manager usually fills this role, which includes a lot of email and phone correspondence, and attending conferences to connect with buyers and venue owners.

The manager is ultimately the whatever-needs-to-be-done guy – whether its as a travel agent, web manager, publicist, roadie, booking agent, graphic designer, producer, merch guy, and sometimes most importantly, counselor.

Jessi: How do you view the future (technology and business models) in this industry?
Me: Technology, for better or worse, is everything in the future of our industry, and unfortunately we’ve been ignoring that fact for far too long. There are a ton of people evangelizing about what the “new model” is going to be for the music industry, and frankly, I don’t believe there will be one “new model”.

We’re going to see a ton of different models emerge over the next several years, and a lot of it is going to be propelled by what is going on in the independent music scene, because these artists are in the best position to react to market changes and provide their customer with what is being demanded. We’re going to see a hybrid of customers – some will want their music immediately through a digital format, and others will want to hold that physical copy of the album in their hands. Labels will need to efficiently provide opportunities for both.

As time goes on there will be a lot of different experiments carried out – some will work, and some will fail miserably: There will be artists who offer their music for free, or at a price to be determined by the consumer. There will be artists who offer subscriptions to their content for a set annual fee, and over the course of a year the customer gets all sorts of things like new albums, artwork, and show tickets. Some artists will begin to offer their new music in a serial-type manner, releasing EPs every few months instead of a new album every couple years. Labels will experiment with so-called 360° deals where they will be the wholesale provider for not only albums, but books, T-shirts, posters, and other swag as well.

I think the bottom line is that the new model will be experimentation as labels and artists struggle to cope with a new consumer base that believes music should be ubiquitous and free. Some will embrace that mindset, and others will fight it… the most successful will likely land somewhere in the middle, and at the end of the day, I have always felt that the most critical component of selling music is that the artist must have a relationship with the consumer. Music at it’s core is an emotional experience, and when the quality is high enough and a bond exists between the artist and listener, people will pay for it.

  1. No comments yet.

  1. No trackbacks yet.