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  MUSIC INDUSTRY SERIES
Interview with Rick Goetz Part One


Ivan David

ivan david

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For all our readers interested in the music business, here's a new series of interviews where industry players will give us their insights on the current music environment and give words of advice to aspiring musicians and music business enthusiasts.

This particular interview is with Rick Goetz, who provides strategic music business advice and marketing services for artists and corporations based on his experience at record labels like EMI, Electra and Atlantic among others. You can visit him at http://rickgoetz.com/ and http://musiciancoaching.com.

Here's part one of the interview where we discussed how the climate of the music industry has changed in the digital age, particularly for aspiring and emerging artists. We also talked about how musicians can be more diligent about taking responsibility for the many aspects of managing their careers.

Article continues below...

 
 


How has the music industry changed, especially for new acts coming to the market?

  "This is a very stock answer and one you probably realize yourself: Technology has made recording much cheaper, and it has made digital distribution completely inexpensive. There were only six major labels that you could go to previously, and there was a certain curating process that those labels went through and invested in. And that was really the only way to have a career of any kind.

"What you find now is that people are able to put their music out for next to nothing, so a lot of people are doing just that and flooding the market. Therefore, the discovery process for your average consumer has become a real chore. We're so inundated with music that it becomes hard to stand out – to the point where the words "Oh, hey I'm in a band" make people cringe.

"15-20 years ago and even before that, if you had a record out, that really meant something. It meant you had found an investor (most likely a record label), passed through a taste-making process, gone on tour, etc. There used to be all these prerequisites you had to satisfy before you could put out music. Now, for relatively little money people can just press up a demo or a full album and put it out to the world.

"Of course, the ease of putting out music has made being a developing act easier in some ways: You have a better shot at making a living. On the other hand, it makes what people classically thought of as success much more difficult. At one time, Michael Jackson was the ultimate pop star in great part because there were three major television stations and he was on two of them at any given time. I'm not saying someone won't come around who is that talented but the media is no longer set up in a way that you can possibly dominate all the airwaves. There are just too many different avenues. You have a million different television channels and complete awareness of any time an artist comes into your town, so it's not like you missed it because you weren't paying attention; there are email alerts, YouTube, social media and everything's on demand.

"On the other hand, it's become possible for many more people to make a living. And we're being constantly sold this idea that success looks a certain way. In my opinion, being a successful musician means making a living at playing music. I think people have it in their heads that it's supposed to look a certain way, and you're supposed to get a record deal, because they watch VH1 behind the music. I wrote an article about this phenomenon called 'Everything You Need To Forget About The Industry'. It's about why a lot of people fail because they have a very dated and unrealistic viewpoint of what success is. Today, it's easier to make a living, it's harder to become an icon, and the challenges you face are much different. Building a viable business has become the artist's and sometimes management's responsibility.

"Record companies aren't what they used to be, and many artists do not have a record label's budget or resources at their disposal. Therefore, it becomes harder for all of us to make money in the traditional way. Music supervisors and music placement provide one gateway (albeit a difficult one), but really the best avenue that artists have today are touring and merchandise. And if these artists become more widely known, what brings in the most revenue is endorsements. But the bread and butter of your average band or solo performer is going to be touring and merch, because a lot of people are just not the type of bands that get their music placed in commercials. And touring is not the same as it used to be either. It used to be just something else to do along with getting local press to write a story about you, but now both those things are much more challenging."

Now that musicians must be in charge of the different aspects of their career, how can they demonstrate greater entrepreneurship and take responsibility for their success?

"I can speak a little bit about entrepreneurship in general. The most important thing artists can do, of course, is take responsibility, which a lot of them don't. I hear the words "I just want to be the artist" all the time, and that just doesn't fly in today's climate.

"If, as the owner of a marketing services business, I sat there and said, "Well, I just want to market my existing clients. I don't want to chase new clients, and I don't want to prepare my documents with my bookkeeper to do my taxes," my business would fail. The same rules apply to those running the business of being musicians. Being an artist no different from running any other type of business, and people forget that.

"Part of the reason people forget that being a musician is a real business is because music is so sexy. There are stories of people who spend their entire lives in banking who want to sleep with supermodels or something, so they invest in musicians to get closer to rock n' roll. You might laugh, but there is always some guy out there who has done nothing but chase money his whole life, hits forty or fifty and thinks, "Maybe if I'm in the music business I'll get a younger girlfriend or the respect of my peers or I will finally be cool.

"I think the first thing that musicians should do that many of them don't is take an honest self-assessment. I also think everyone should start as a one-person company. There are a lot of people that run out and say, "I need a manager. I need an agent. I need a...” What people don't understand is, when you're starting from zero with one album, there's no business; there's nothing to manage and no reason for a nationwide tour. It seems that most artists think, "Well, I recorded an album. I have spent all this money, and now I'm going to be big." People don't realize that there is a lot involved between making an album and establishing a real career.

"The people who I've seen that are successful as both musicians and entrepreneurs are people who start off keeping their overheads very low. They don't spend major label budgets (or the budgets major labels used to have) on recording. They really invest. They say, "You know what? I'm going to make sure I continue doing this over a long period of time."

"I've often watched artists spend $30,000 on their first album and max out all their credit cards. They go deep into debt, because they believe that they will be big, and will be able to recoup what they spent. I'm not saying this isn't possible but the odds of recouping a $30,000 expenditure on a first album (especially without a touring base) are about the same as getting hit by lightning. I believe all musicians should start out trying to run everything themselves. I think it is best to start a career thinking, "I'm going to be the person that books my shows and handle all of the business aspects of my career so I at least know what this job is that I will eventually hire someone to do." This might mean you have to learn how to do some of these things on the fly and by trial and error.

"The more artists take on and the more honest they are with themselves about what their strengths and weaknesses are, the more valuable lessons they can learn from the process. I think people should look at their first album as series of learning experiences and not much else. If I were an artist just starting out, I might say, "You know what? I'm going to buy some basic recording equipment, because I am really interested in developing a set of skills. I'm going to try to record some demos and to book my own shows." And after I do these things to the best of my ability, I might realize I am failing miserably at certain aspects.

"I can actually point to my own marketing business as an example, because I have run it a lot like a musician's business. I found myself trying to do my own taxes and really messed them up. I had to say, "I don't have the money, but I have to find it so I can hire a bookkeeper and an accountant," because I just couldn't do it myself. And I noticed that I kept putting off sending out my newsletter. I started out saying, "I'm going to put it out twelve times a year." And six months would go by without me sending one out. I realized I was never going to be able to do it myself, so I had to hire someone else.

"I realize that not everybody has the funds or the flexibility to do exactly what I did. But musicians have to realize that somehow they have to find people to complement them. And sometimes this can be very simple and affordable. As an example, I mentioned earlier that there is a lot of sex appeal attached to the music industry. And there are music business students all over who just need a reason to speak to people in the music industry, or what I call 'conversation currency'. They want to develop their skills as music business executives, so they pick up their projects just to meet people and get school credit. And if you are an artist, they would often be happy to help you out as part of their own development process. There are a lot people that you can find if you're diligent who will support your efforts simply because they want to better their career. I tell people who want to work in the business side of the industry, whether they want to do A&R, be a publisher or work in some other capacity that they need to find the best band they can, manage them and try to get them opportunities.

"Going back to the topic of entrepreneurship, what musicians often don't realize is that it is much easier to get an existing company additional funding than it is to run around with a blueprint of a business and say, "This is going to be great". You can have the best idea in the world and still not get funded unless you prove your concept to a potential investor. That's just common sense. If you look at guys who invest in companies – venture capitalists or bankers – they're going to go down to the balance sheets and say, "Okay, this company is making this much money and spending this much money to do so". Nothing predicts future success like existing success. For years, record companies would hear of an indie artist being spun on radio, call retail and say, "There's an independent artist spinning in Los Angeles, and we were wondering if anybody was requesting their album". Everyone wants to be a part of project that seems to be gathering momentum on its own.

"Today the process of getting attention in the music industry is more complicated than it once was, but it still comes down to the same thing: As an artist, you have to use the biggest bullet point on your resume, work on that and then make it grow into the next big bullet point. So, you might have a friend of a friend that is a producer and willing to do a track on your album for a small amount of money. You're not necessarily paying because you think the song is going to be so much better than the rest of the songs on the album; you're paying because it makes it possible for you to attach to a name brand: "I worked with X producer". Then, when you go to take another meeting with an executive and that person asks, "Why should I care?" you can say, "Because I have been working with this well-known producer."

So, musicians need to become multi-skilled. Is only focusing on the music ever a good idea in today's environment?

"The music always has to come first because without great music everything else will fail but I've been seeing people spending a lot of time marketing inferior products. It is as if the thought process was, "I'm going to skimp on the artistic side so I can rush this out." The artist will have only played five shows and suddenly feel a real need for a release as if there were legions of fans waiting for a new product. I don't recommend that.

"But once you have the music together (and the live show) then yes, you've got to give the business side a shot. It sounds so obvious but I get so many people coming to me as if the only way to make any headway in the business is with professional guidance.

"It is as if the concept of trial and error never occurred to them. I'm not suggesting that musicians have to do everything themselves forever, but I do recommend that they try everything so they at least know their strengths and weaknesses.

"This includes playing shows at a variety of venues, promoting their own shows, doing their own work on social media, working in the studio with different people etc. You have to act as if there is no help coming, because if you sit around waiting for help, you will likely be waiting for a very long time.

"I know this is a bit of a tangent to your question but there is no shortcut for hard work. You can find a million people out there who will point to an overnight success story. But then you will look at the story more closely and see that it was not actually an overnight success. So, if somebody wrote songs for ten years and then one hit, that person did not just suddenly get lucky.

"I think people like to believe it is possible to miraculously get 'discovered' without putting in the work. There's a popular cultural myth that tells aspiring artists, "You can be very lucky, and somebody is going to take you from obscurity to superstardom." It tells them that success can happen without hard work. This mentality comes up again and again, and I battle against it daily because of what I do for a living. But even someone like Justin Bieber may have been lucky at the beginning, but then he put a lot of hard work behind it after the fact to stay at that level."

You're saying you cannot avoid hard work and have to pay your dues?   "Most artists do, yes. There are some musicians who don't have to do as much as others. But when people hear that one success story that looks like it happened due to pure luck, they want to believe that it can happen to them, too. And maybe it can, but just think about the Boy Scout motto: "Luck favours the well prepared."

"If you want to be lucky in the industry, you still need go out and make sure you are working hard and being seen. It's the same thing if you want to be struck by lightning: Make sure you build a big metal wand and wave it around on a rainy day."

Stay tuned for part two...


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9.9.13




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absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'IN SOME WILD UNIVERSE' PLUS TOUR UPDATE
This video features the touring line-up of the band for 2015...

tytan TYTAN AND FRIENDS TO PLAY AT THE WEDFEST
Joining them will also be Midnight Messiah plus the promising young rocking sounds of Bad Touch, Knock Out Kaine and Piston...

rival sons RIVAL SONS WITHDRAW FROM SOUNDWAVE 2015
Australia will have to wait a little longer to see Rival Sons in the flesh as family matters take priority...

the answer HARDCORE SUPERSTAR WILL RELEASE NEW ALBUM 'HCSS' ON 20TH APRIL 2015
"This is nothing less than Hardcore Superstar coming full circle by showing our fans where we come from and what we still believe in..."

the answer THE ANSWER RELEASE BRAND NEW LYRIC VIDEO FOR TRACK 'LONG LIVE THE RENEGADES'
"The song is about just doing what you do best and having a bit of a bunker mentality..."

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPE HEADLINE TOUR FOR JUNE 2015
US punk pioneers will bring their distincitve sound to four countries over ten dates...

carl sentance BREAKING NEWS: CARL SENTANCE ANNOUNCED AS NEW VOCALIST FOR NAZARETH
Persian Risk vocalist Carl Sentance replaces Linton Osbourne to start the next chapter for the Scottish hard rockers...

rockingham firefest BREAKING NEWS: ROCKINGHAM RELIGHTS THE FIREFEST; GOTTHARD, DAN REED, STAN BUSH AND MORE ANNOUNCED
The AOR flag will be raised high yet again over Nottingham Rock City...

sven dirkschneider U.D.O. ANNOUNCE DIRKSCHNEIDER'S SON AS NEW DRUMMER
"His style of playing drums is fresh and really grooves heavily. It simply is exactly what we need for U.D.O..."

pentagram PENTAGRAM RE-SIGNS WITH PEACEVILLE RECORDS - ALBUM RECORDING UNDERWAY
Through four decades of adversity and triumph, Pentagram have become a legendary international act...

uriah heep URIAH HEEP 2015 UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
This tour follows on from the release of the band's acclaimed album 'Outsider' which enjoyed excellent reviews...

godsmack GODSMACK VOCALIST SULLY ERNA TO MAKE AN ONLINE POKER COMEBACK
For Godsmack fans this could be disheartening as Erna shifts his attention from music to poker...

heidevolk HEIDEVOLK LAUNCH VIDEO FOR NEW TRACK 'WINTER WOEDE'; NEW ALBUM ON THE WAY
The album and video mark the debut of the band's newest members, Kevin Vruchtbaert on guitar and Lars Vogel on vocals...

quo convention FIRST EVER STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION ANNOUNCED
There will be live music, very special guests and a packed programme this October for this very special celebration...

queensryche THUNDER CONFIRMED AS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS TO ZZ TOP AT WEMBLEY ARENA PLUS MINI UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
The group's first studio album in six years, 'Wonder Days', reminds us why Thunder are now more revered than ever before...

queensryche QUEENSRŸCHE TO TOUR EUROPE AND RELEASE NEW ALBUM IN 2015
It's a busy year for Queensrÿche with headline shows and festival appearances before the new album release...

dir en grey dir en grey RETURN FOR TWO EXCLUSIVE SHOWS
The Islington O2 Academy will be the scene for Japanese avant-garde Metal in May...

unleashed SWEDISH LEGENDS UNLEASHED REVEAL ALBUM TITLE AND ARTWORK
The founders of the Viking Death Metal movement are back and as brutal as ever...

status quo BREAKING NEWS: STATUS QUO ANNOUNCE 'AQUOSTIC' ROYAL ALBERT HALL GIG IN APRIL
This is the show that wowed the listeners of BBC Radio 2, plus those lucky enough to be in the intimate surroundings of Roundhouse in October...

monument MONUMENT ANNOUNCE UK TOUR
You want great British Metal? You've got it with Monument's headline tour this Spring...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ REVEAL LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'MY REMEDY'
Get a taste of the new album with 'My Remedy', the third single to be released...

Shattered sun LEGENDARY BRITISH MELODIC ROCKERS FM RETURN WITH 'HEROES & VILLAINS' ON APRIL 17TH
"We're on a roll! Some of the tracks on this album are better than anything that the band has ever produced, and Steve's voice is as good as ever..."

nightwish NIGHTWISH ANNOUNCE ONLY UK DATE THIS YEAR WITH ARCH ENEMY SUPPORTING
"Who would have thought about headlining at Wembley Arena one day when we were starting our UK touring history..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS GO UNPLUGGED AND PERSONAL: ACOUSTIC DATES ANNOUNCED
After last year's highly acclaimed unplugged tour, The Quireboys are pleased to announce a very intimate string of evenings early 2015...

killit KILLIT UNLEASH DEBUT VIDEO AND ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER LIVE SHOW
'Shut It Down' is the first single from the album and is out now and available...

state villains STATE VILLAINS TO RELEASE SECOND EP IN SPRING
State Villains have an honesty that harkens back to an era of integrity and a distinct lack of gimmicks...

chris slade BREAKING NEWS: CHRIS SLADE IS BACK IN AC/DC
Chris will rejoin the legendary hard rockers for their appearance at the 57th annual Grammy Awards as well as the band's upcoming tour...

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