Archive for July, 2011
This week, the Music Xray community is going to hear me talking a lot about BandMix – and for good reason.
The idea behind BandMix is pretty simple – like all good ideas. It’s classified ads for musicians – but on steroids. Need a new drummer? Put up an ad and all the drummers in your area will see it. Maybe you are a drummer and you want to find a band. BandMix will help you make that happen.
But the steroids part comes from the email alerts you get periodically when new musicians in your local area join BandMix. I mean, even if you’re not looking for new band members or a new band to play in, don’t you want to know all the new musicians in your area – even if only for the networking advantages? Of course you do – especially if you’re serious about advancing your career.
It’s free to join BandMix and in my opinion, it’s just one of the things you need to do to really be in the game. It’s just one of those sites musicians need to be on – kind of like Facebook.
Lastly, but not least – BandMix is run by cool guys. I met with them a few weeks ago after having gotten in touch to learn more about the company. I was especially intrigued because the site grew organically over time and never really just “burst” onto the scene. Bust they have hundreds of thousands of members. It turns out the founders, David and Robert were just smart diligent entrepreneurs with a real love of music and musicians.
Anyway, Music Xray is entering into a partnership with BandMix because the partnership makes sense and because the value they provide musicians is real, efficient and necessary. BandMix is an example of how the music industry is harnessing new technology and the fact we are all now interconnected to benefit musicians and the entire ecosystem.
Open an account at BandMix and you’ll see what I mean.
I was a hungry musician myself at one time and I was willing to do whatever it took to get in front of the right ears. I had to hustle, cold contact tons of people and find someone who could get me listened to by the people at the top. It paid off too because I eventually got signed. For me, those times were the 90’s. Musicians had to do that for the first decade of the 2000’s too. But not anymore.
Music Xray guarantees musicians get heard by the professionals they submit music to and they get a response for every submission the moment it is heard.
Yes, it costs them a few bucks. It’s part of what enables Music Xray to get results. However, we have recently had a few industry professionals ask to be removed from the site because some musicians are trying to save some money by directly contacting the labels or the professionals via email, LinkedIn, Facebook… you name it. Other professionals have asked to have their identities masked like this one here.
This is damaging for everyone. It makes it more difficult for us to offer a service that enables industry professionals a better set of A&R tools and it could cause things to revert to the way they were before, when you didn’t know who was seeking songs and talent and if you did, you couldn’t directly reach them.
Frankly, musicians who don’t feel confident enough in their music to spend a few bucks submitting it with the guarantee it will be heard, probably have music that doesn’t make the grade anyway. Part of the function of the submission fee is to reduce the load on the professionals. Additionally, the musicians who don’t value the work we’re doing for them (uncovering the opportunities and convincing professionals who used to have a closed door policy to open their doors – not to mention the technology architecture that goes into the site) and instead want to circumvent Music Xray, can’t possibly get upset at the people who think they should not have to pay musicians for their art. It’s sort of the same.
We got in this business to help create a better way for us all.
We are thinking about this issue, communicating with the professionals on the site to come up with ways to handle this – such as have them simply forward unsolicited emails and the names of musicians who are causing this issue. Perhaps we will ban them from the site. Perhaps we will create a wall of shame on the site and make some folks famous in ways they probably won’t appreciate. But we will definitely handle this problem.
Please keep in mind, there are many many musicians who use Music Xray in legitimate ways and play by the rules. We work to keep fees very low and we want to help as many musicians as we can. We are in this for the love of music not the love of money and we will do everything we can to prevent the few from ruining it for the many and to protect a system that is working for most. You have our word.
Here’s to great music and to an open, transparent way of getting it to the ears of professionals who have real commercial and exposure opportunities for it!!
Co-founder & CEO Music Xray
1. Receive ongoing affiliate fees for every musician you invite who opens a free account on Music Xray. Invite 100 or more musicians who open free accounts and receive an additional $1000. Click here to find out how to do it.
2. Are you new to Music Xray? Click here to get the musician’s guide to Music Xray.
3. Over 3500 songs and acts selected for opportunities since February! Understand one of the reasons Music Xray works by clicking here.
Since February alone, more than 3500 songs and acts have been selected for opportunities on Music Xray. From my understanding, the ratio of submissions to deals is more than 10 times better than at online submission sites. Music Xray distinguishes itself by being an A&R platform – a site dedicated to finding the most appropriate songs & acts for each opportunity and to helping the industry bring its A&R efforts into the 21st century.
Sure, the great deal ratio is due in large part to the great A&R tools Music Xray provides to industry professionals to help them quickly and easily identify the music they are seeking but it’s also partially due to Music Xray’s modest submission fees.
Yes, it’s true. Submission fees, as small as they are, require musicians to filter their own music and submit only the songs they believe are the best for each opportunity. When musicians don’t over-submit, the industry professionals are less overwhelmed and the quality of what they hear on Music Xray is significantly higher than almost anywhere else. That keeps the industry professionals more engaged on Music Xray.
Then, there are the musicians who have not yet understood how the changes in the music industry of the past decade have changed the A&R process. Many do not believe – based purely on principle – that they should have to pay anything at all to have their music considered by the industry. They do not realize that even the ways of the past that seemed free were not free and did not come with guarantees their music would be heard and considered.
Those later adopters, who remove themselves from the equation, create a smaller pool of competition for the early adopters – and therefore more deals.
Greater competition outside of Music Xray:
If 3500 deals were done on Music Xray, it stands to reason that there were 3500 fewer deals available outside of Music Xray – meaning that it’s getting increasingly difficult to find deals elsewhere and that’s to say nothing of the increasing challenge of breaking through the noise and clutter to distinguish yourself and your music.
Remember, there are literally millions of emerging musicians and millions of new songs created and posted online every year. There is no way the industry can filter through all that music to find what they are seeking “out there in the wild”. That’s why Music Xray is changing the game and small submission fees are one of the reasons it works.
This past week we left our New York digs and spent some time in Nashville, which for generations has been relatively closed to non-local songwriters and acts.
That is, until now.
At Music Xray, we have been focussing our efforts on your behalf to ease open the doors of Music City. This is something not even the songwriters’ associations have been able to achieve for their members on a regular basis. In some ways, the opening of these Nashville doors is historic for this industry.
Today’s newsletter will have a special emphasis on Nashville.
The Music Xray Team
The music business has changed in countless ways over the past decade. It’s only natural that the A&R / professional-talent-discovery process would change as well. None of what is written here is theory. It is working in practice and thousands of songs and acts are selected for opportunities.
Let’s remember for a moment what it used to be like for industry professionals:
A&R professionals limited their intake of new music to trusted contacts and their referrals. Even so, they listened to large amounts of music. They had to keep track of who submitted what, deal with overflowing and sluggish email accounts and/or stacks of CDs. Often, they were relentlessly pursued, hounded, called, emailed, ambushed and otherwise hunted down by almost everyone from whom they’d received music for their consideration. These and other issues involving legal concerns were precisely what led so many companies to actually close their doors to submissions from people with whom they didn’t already have working relationships. These inefficiencies and policies of not accepting unsolicited material shut out countless independent musicians, deprived the industry and audiences of some very worthwhile music, and created a community that operated, to a large degree, based on who you knew or could get access to.
The Music Xray Way
Music Xray has implemented a way that enables over 1200 music industry professionals (and growing) to open the doors of opportunity to independent musicians everywhere. Submission fees are an integral part of it but they do not exist as a significant revenue stream for any industry professional. In fact, many of them direct their fees to various charities. You can read more about that here.
The submission fees serve as a barrier to avoid submission overflow. The industry professionals on Music Xray can raise or lower the fees as needed to speed up or slow down the rate at which they are receiving submissions. Music Xray requires the professionals to listen to and attend to every submission. If they fall too far behind, we suspend their account and they loose the ability to use the highly useful A&R tools provided on our site. Due to the fact that they must attend to every submission, they cannot afford to receive so many songs that they can’t keep up. The fee-barrier helps them keep things manageable.
You participate in the A&R process:
The fee also requires the musicians to participate in the A&R process. If you see an opportunity on the site in which you are interested and you feel like your song is up to par, you will likely make the submission. However, if you weigh the cost of the submission versus the strength of your song and decide not to make the submission, you are in fact helping the industry pre-screen by taking your song out of consideration. If you don’t feel your song is strong enough, it’s likely the A&R professional would agree with you. By not submitting, you are increasing the chances of those who do submit, decreasing the amount of inappropriate music the professional must hear and making the A&R process more efficient.
By the same token, the fee helps the songs you do submit not be drowned in a sea of songs that other musicians have opted not to submit. The fees are a very useful tool in the pre-screening process.
What the fees are not:
Music Xray does not permit industry professional to use the fees as a significant revenue stream nor to pay for prizes in a contest-type scenario. Exceptions are made for professionals who use the fees to help offset the costs of screening and for industry professionals who are providing career coaching or song critiques. They should be paid for their time and expertise just as are attorneys, tax professionals and other types of consultants. We let them set their own price and we allow the market to determine if they are worth it.
Music Xray closes down accounts of professionals who are discovered to be hosting false opportunities. Our team vets each professional and each opportunity but we also rely on community policing. We enable our community of musicians to leave comments (positive and negative) on the profile pages of the industry professionals. It helps keep everyone on their best behavior.
Music Xray refunds money to submitters when too much time has gone by without a response (usually 45 days).
The responsibilities of the musicians in today’s music industry:
As companies have left the role of artist development, that responsibility is increasingly falling on the shoulders of the musicians themselves, their immediate business teams and their financial backers if they have them.
To be an artist (performer or songwriter or both) in today’s ecosystem requires you to think of yourself as a small business. When businesses spend money to develop new products and services they spend even more marketing and selling them. They make sure their customers get a taste. They spend money on advertising, they give away free samples, they spend money on trade shows, business trips, negotiations… In short, they spare no expense when it comes to getting the deals that generate the revenue and eventual profit.
Most musicians “get” that and they actually do those things. They just do them in the ways they’ve always been done – ways that seem free but actually have huge costs in time and effort which also translate to money.
Music Xray provides a place where you can get that done in a way that costs less in terms of both time and money. Music Xray is a money and time SAVER for you, not an additional cost. It should decrease the amount of money already spent trying to get deals and significantly increase the effectiveness of your efforts.
Circumvention of Music Xray’s platform
We understand that accepting submission fees is difficult for a process that seemed free in the past (but really wasn’t) so we know how desirable it can seem to want to avoid the fee and find another way to contact the industry professionals. Because this happens from time to time, some industry professionals on the site refuse to be identified. They get too many email submissions and it defeats the purpose of being able to use our great A&R tools that help them find what they are seeking and keep everything organized. Many of them just forward those submissions to us and we’ll contact you and suggest you use their Music Xray drop box and we will probably send you a link to this post (awkward!)
But it just doesn’t make sense to circumvent the system. Here’s why:
When you submit through Music Xray, you know the person on the other end is going to listen to the song and you’re not going to have to call-in a favor or pester someone to make sure that happens. Whenever you send an MP3 via email or a CD via the post you don’t really know for sure if they listen and then you find yourself either feeling crappy because you never hear back or feeling crappy because you have to call back and hound them about the song – and if you’re like us you probably hate being that person.
With Music Xray, you know that if they don’t listen, our community managers are just going to have to contact them to tell them we’re closing their account because they are not attending to their submissions. We have leverage you don’t.
So, if you are making submissions and not getting selected, you just have to live with the fact that your music isn’t grabbing their attention despite being listened to or you have to get better by maybe getting some professional critiques and some coaching – also available on the site.
This is not theory
None of this is theory. It is working in practice and due to Music Xray’s innovative A&R tools and platform, over 1200 industry professionals use Music Xray to conduct some or all of their A&R efforts and over 2500 songs and acts have been selected for opportunities - and that’s just since February!