Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Skinny on Crowd Funding and Direct Payment options

By Mike Galaxy

There are many crowd or "Fan" funding choices these days for bands and musicians. Have you researched which one is best for you?

Getting money from the three F's (fans, friends and family) can be difficult especially if you are struggling at selling your music and merch in the first place. But what if you were to give them something in return for their investment? Many Crowd Funding services are useful when trying to gather funds to record a new album or prepare for a tour. 

One of the more successful Crowd Funding participants was Amanda Palmer formerly of the Dresden Dolls who raised an astonishing $1.2 million dollars using the Kickstarter funding platform earlier this year. But, don't get hopes up so quickly. Only about 50% of all campaigns reach their goal. (it should be noted that some funding platforms like IndieGogo and Pledge Music, allow you to adjust your target amount to reflect what you have earned effectively allowing you to hit your funding goal and bumping up those averages). 

When deciding on a funding campaign, there are many things to take into consideration. Platform reputation, ease-ability, and fee's. Digital Music News recently reported on this as well and posted the following fee's from some of the biggest of the Crowd Funding platforms.
Below are the fee's earned on campaigns. 

Kickstarter: 5% (plus 3-4% Amazon payment processing fee.)
PledgeMusic: 15% (this includes credit card transaction fee)
Indiegogo: 4% (or, if you don't make goal you keep the money and give 9%)
artistshare: 15%
Sellaband: 15%
Rockethub: between 4% and 12%

Other things to consider when deciding on a platform are (in some cases) the additional banking transaction fee's. Note that direct to Paypal fee's will run 3.5% to 4% on every transaction, and the fast growing Square App is earning 2.75% on transactions. As of September 2012, Paypal announced their competition to the little Square card reader offering a blue triangle credit card reader for your iPhone and only taking 2.7%. Even individual credit card companies are jumping on the "Band Wagon" preparing for their own versions of card readers and crowd funding options. Google, Visa and Mastercard have been testing Mobile Wallets using NFC or near field technology for a while now allowing users to pay for items with their cell phone and never having to swipe a card. All you need are two NFC capable phones. Transactions like this allow the payment to be deducted from a pre-paid account or charged to a bank account directly.

Hypebot.com reported this week about Brazilian based Queremos launching their own unique crowd funding campaign to help with booking shows and tours. Rather than funding an entire album or a tour, fans pool their money together for one show by selling refundable tickets in hopes of raising the minimum amount required to bring the artist to their city. In essence, the band and the fans co-promote the show together in order to ensure that the band makes it to the gig. This is particularly great for fans, as they get to now play the role of promoter by ensuring that word gets out about the show and that the target is reached in order to bring the artists to their town. Most of the promotion for the shows naturally occurs within social media according to Queremos. 

This concept is truly ideal for fans who wish to see a particular artist who wouldn’t typically plan a stop in their town, as artists and labels oftentimes skip hitting particular markets on tour due to an uncertain draw and would rather not risk taking a loss for the gig. However, if a show is successfully funded through Queremos, then artists are pretty much guaranteed the viability of the gig and can ensure that they will see the required figures in order to plan the stop.

This page will be updated frequently. If you have any additional information to share, send it to mgalaxy (at) bandpromote (dotcom). 

Excerpts credited to: www.DigitalMusicNews.com , www.Hypebot.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Will Radio Royalties Save Music?

By Mike Galaxy

The US is one of the only  countries that has given radio a pass on paying mechanical royalties to bands and labels. To "Radios" defense, spins at stations with large audiences is damn good exposure for bands. Although radio is still a major source of artist discovery for many of American music fans, terrestrial listeners have dwindled with fans opting for more user friendly services like Pandora and Spotify. In the 80s we would fill our glove box up with cassettes, but these days your car can be filled with nearly limitless digital music. So why the need for radio...and commercials? There are still many Americans who prefer a DJ to dictate what's cool and what's not. There are still many Americans who like to listen to Rihanna, Bieber, Taylor Swift, Coldplay etc.. over and over and over to the point the listener is ready to kill it at the local Karaoke bar.

Ok, back to royalties. Radio has paid out performance publishing royalties for nearly 100 years since radio began pumping out Christmas Songs over the airwaves. Clear Channel has just inked a ground breaking deal with the country label Big Machine (Taylor Swift) (Distro Universal) to pay the label royalties every time their artists are played on all 850+ Clear Channel stations. FYI, Clear Channel controls the airwaves having AM, FM, Internet station iHeartRadio as well as 12 stations at satellite radio XM. Their annual earnings for 2011 were over $6 Billion...yes that's a "B". To give some perspective, that's about the same as General Motors entire revenue for 2011. Who says radio is dead? So yes, it's about time radio start sharing some of those profits with the very people that help them make their "Billion$". Frank Sinatra's wish, and tireless fight for these royalties has finally come to fruition. It's a start!

So why are they offering these royalties now? Some suggest it's a preemptive move to avoid potentially higher royalty rates which Congress has been mulling over and would likely pass in the coming year. Remember, internet radio has been paying these mechanical royalties since their inception. Some how terrestrial radio has avoided it till now.

Who will actually win with these royalties? Yep! Rihanna, Bieber, Taylor Swift, Coldplay etc.. With thousands of spins each week, that translates to some big bucks for the labels. And since they have these crafty 360 deals, they'll be recouping revenue from any angle possible. But what about the indie virtually unknown artists? You'll get to bump up from the hard shell taco to the Double Decker. ; ) But hey, it is still great exposure and hella bragging rights to say your band got played on ENTER YOUR LOCAL STATION CALL LETTERS HERE.

So why did Clear Channel opt to pay out additional royalties without the instance of the FCC, The Library of Congress or even the National Association of Broadcasters? It's clear! Radio is declining and labels are turning more effort and attention to the online music services for discovery and delivery. Clear Channel wanted to beat out the other broadcasters with sweetheart deals early on and making nice with the labels so the labels will continue to slide them their best new acts and other goodies. I'm anxious to hear how CBS Radio (Formerly Infinity Broadcasting) and Cululus Media will respond. 

UPDATE June 13, 2012
According to Arbitron stats, 93% of Americans still listen to broadcast radio. (Arbitron is to radio what Neilsen is to TV.) That's nearly 243 Million listeners...and they suggest that 15% of them are under the age of 12 while 600,000 new listeners joined in the past year. Huh? Is this all the hard working Latino laborers? You can't drive by a construction site without hearing pop Mexican songs. I will say that at least 50% of my music listening is to LA's KCRW and more specifically Morning Becomes Eclectic which features new and emerging bands and artists. Until Pandora can replicate the DJ discovery experience, broadcast radio will dominate. 

Stay tuned for more details and developments on more radio/label deals.

Photo credit: WKRP in Cincinnati (CBS)