In a recent issue of Music Week, a host of key players from the artist services world spoke to us for an indepth look at the thriving sector.
More and more artists of late have been opting for the independent route to market and promote their music, and also to make sure their royalties are collected. And this is having a profound ripple effect in the industry.
“The paradigm has definitely shifted, with the entry barrier being lower than ever and artists no longer depending on gatekeepers,” Malena Wolfer, head of artist services at independent distribution and services company Believe UK told Music Week. “The industry is ever-changing and streaming services and new platforms such as TikTok enable artists to reach new audiences without big budgets or extensive marketing campaigns. The key, however, is to have a savvy team around the artist that is aware of key trends and technologies and can adapt to new situations when required.”
Here, some top names in the artist services sector give us their top tips on how to make the independent route work for you...
1. DON’T GO INTO DEALS BLIND
Signing the first deal on offer might not be the best option. Instead, explains Paul Hitchman, president of AWAL, you should “arm yourself with education and information, to make the most informed decisions and choices about your career”.
2. BUILD A TEAM
This usually starts with a manager. Some companies are adamant that there should be a team behind an artist before committing to a deal. “We would generally only engage with an artist who has a manager/management team working with them,” says Nicola Spokes, UK label head at Caroline International. “The artist can continue to do what they do best – create – and their management team can be the point of liaison with us on the release campaign. If an artist isn’t represented by management, that’s something for them to consider before going down this route.”
3. BE FLEXIBLE
Artist services companies usually have the capacity to offer various ways for artists to reach their market, providing solutions that are specific to each project and level of development. “Our across-the-board services offering means we’re able to serve specific artist needs across a full spectrum of DIY creators,” says Rich Orchard, director of market development, UK & Europe, at CD Baby, whose clients include El Alfa and Aloe Blacc.
4. THINK LONG-TERM
Working with an artist services company may be project-specific, but it’s worth considering longer options. “As the market is becoming more and more competitive, we really encourage artists and managers to choose a partner that can cater to their individual needs rather than just chasing the best deal terms,” says Malena Wolfer, head of artist services at Believe. “Appointing a team that understands the artist and is willing to go the extra mile really goes a long way in this day and age.”
5. CONTROL YOUR RIGHTS
Experts suggest favouring deals that allow you to retain ownership of your master recordings. “The further you can go without signing away any rights, the more options and the more leverage you will have as your career develops,” says AWAL’s Hitchman.
Subscribers can read the full artists services feature here.