This week I'd like to share an article with you written by Jimmy Landry. I spoke to Jimmy about his studio in New York, his new role with Virgin A&R, and artist development. He was kind enough to share the article below with me and would like to share it with all our members.
Unfortunately for artists looking to get on a major label, the music industry has drastically changed in the last few years. In my opinion (which is one that encompasses both the artist side as well as the business side,) there are four main factors for this change. 1. Illegal downloading 2. File- sharing 3. The ability to burn music from CD to CD with no loss of quality. 4. The re-allocation of the consumer's expendable entertainment dollar. Ie. the purchase of a video game over a compact music disc. Labels have lost a big chunk of the demographic CD buying sector between the ages of 15 and 28 years old.
What does this mean to artists? It means most major labels are in some trouble. They're in trouble because of the decline of record sales. It's basically a downward funnel: Loss of record sales> loss of money at the bottom line> make up for losses by lay-offs, budget cuts, less signings and signing only sure fire acts... ie. American Idol contestants with a jump start marketing campaign.
What does this mean to artists? If you you are looking to get picked up by a major label you must really have something going on. It comes down to great songs. Everyone always complains about "crap" on the radio but there is a reason why it's on the radio. Labels are not stupid. Most people don't realize that all songs are put into test markets before the national radio campaign kicks in. This means that certain radio stations in certain "test markets" (Ohio is a big test market) test songs for labels without mentioning the artists name. There is a formula for the response and then that information is fed back to the label by the radio station. There is correlation between radio play and record sales. Sometimes radio singles that are played all the time on the radio do not translate into record sales. On the other hand some songs that are "hooky" or "catchy" (and sometimes real corny) are played only a few times on the radio and catch on fire fast in terms of record sales.
The bottom line for artists is that the bar has been raised and the songs must be great no matter what genre. Must Have:
1. A great 3 song demo with 2 radio hits that could be remastered or remixed for commercial release. If the songs are exceptionally strong you may not need to have the demo commercially ready. On your demo you MUST put your strongest songs first.
2. A great live show.
3. Professional Representation.
4. A good presence for marketing and publicity.
Very Helpful: A large local and/or regional following. Soundscan sales of 3,000 + units. Local radio airplay of 15+ spins/week. National press or publicity. Youth (especially in certain genres) The good news is that the time is right for the independent artist if it's done correctly. As a producer I travel all over the country to work with artists and I have a mobile Protools system that will work in any studio. I usually track drums and bass in a studio and then everything else outside the studio "off the clock" on my system. In most cases I will then bring all the tracks back to a studio to mix. With this method, the artist can concentrate on great vocal, guitar and keyboard performances without having to worry about studio time. I also have the capability of getting great mixes out of my work studio in Boston Massachusetts.
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