It’s the perfect time to be an independent musician! Yes, IT IS! Do you really know the power you possess as a creator? I mean truly, think about it for a minute... You create something that EVERYONE wants. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the mass majority of planet earth has an insatiable appetite for music. That’s great news for those who create music and it means you have the power to control your own destiny.
So what if Spotify doesn’t pay much for streaming music? Who cares that it’s difficult to make a living as an artist? Everyone knows that a career in music isn’t exactly the path of least resistance. And it’s not breaking news that the music industry has taken a dive since disruptive technologies have shaken things up. But you OWN your music and you can decide how you want to put it out into the world. Now is the time for action, creators! Who’s with me on this?!
There are plenty of thinkers who realize the problem of creating “sustainability” in the lives and careers of independent artists and many of them have been around for a long time. And the good news is that you as a creator can take your career into your own hands and you can help yourself by getting involved. Here are seven companies who exist only to help artists with their careers:
ASCAP / BMI / SESAC:
This first one is a 3-parter. Have you registered your original music with a performance rights organization (PRO)? You MUST. ASCAP has been around since 1914, BMI since 1939, and SESAC since 1930. PROs' sole purpose are to collect royalties for the use of your music in all mediums (Film, TV, Ads, Radio) including live music performances. These companies are incredible resources for artists and they are leaders in the efforts to insure fair payment for the works of songwriters.
I’ll save the specifics on the differences between the three for another post, but if you haven’t signed up with one of these or you’ve been putting it off, don’t wait any longer! http://www.ascap.com, http://www.bmi.com, http://www.sesac.com.
Did you know you can also make royalties off of streams on the internet? Yep, you heard right, and that’s where SoundExchange is here to help. Think of SoundExchange as a digital version of a PRO. Check out what they have to say about their advocacy efforts;
“We fight for fairness and the future of music. It’s our job to ensure that the creators of sound recordings, the recording artists who perform them and the record labels who invest in them, are compensated for their creative contributions. We take pride in the countless hours we spend advocating for the long-term value of music.” Sign up here: http://www.soundexchange.com
Content Creators Coalition:
I found out about Content Creators Coalition after reading David Byrne’s recent article in The Guardian. While Byrne’s article highlights the apparent “doom & gloom” state of the music business, he offered some great insights and also mentioned the work of CCC. There is strength in numbers, and CCC’s mission is simple;
“We believe that individual artists cannot be expected to negotiate with corporations the economic size of nation-states. As professional creators of cultural content we join together to aggregate our power and to represent our interests in discussions and decisions that not only impact our ability to thrive from our work but, also enrich society with the benefits of a flourishing creative economy.” - Content Creators Coalition
Sign up on their newsletter by visiting: http://www.contentcreatorscoalition.org
American Federation of Musicians:
Speaking of strength in numbers, the AFM is an international musicians union that’s been around since 1896. Regardless of your feelings about unionization (or the arguments for or against them), this organization exists to help musicians make fair wages for their work. For instance, from 1942-1944 the AFM enacted a ban on its members from commercial recording to put pressure on record companies to make a better royalty payment arrangement for recording artists. A union is only as powerful as it’s membership and AFM’s numbers have decreased over the years. They are still around, however, and it’s not difficult to imagine what their strength would be if every musician in the US and Canada decided to join the union!
More information here: http://www.afm.org
Is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers artists and fans to promote sustainability for the future of music. They build free open source platform tools for artists to control their careers and they aim to do for musicians what Wordpress has done for publishers, writers, and businesses. Cash Music is co-executive directed by Maggie Vail (formerly of the label Kill Rock Stars), and Jesse von Doom. They have a very clear message;
“We believe the best way to ensure a sustainable future for music is to invest in its creators.”
Visit Cash Music’s site to learn more: http://cashmusic.org
Of course, this only scratches the surface of the many companies and organizations who are going to great lengths to help musicians and independent artists with their careers. Can you think of others? What companies are you working with to help your career? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with us.