Several months ago Michael Ricci approached me with the idea of starting a column dealing with the business of jazz. During our subsequent conversations we both agreed that jazz musicians needed more tools, more ideas and more education on how to successfully monetize their music and strengthen the jazz scene as a whole. Given my formal educational background (recently completing an MBA), business knowledge (forming Pitch Artist Services) and experience, (over a decade as an actual performing jazz artist and bandleader) we felt we could help address a need through a regular column at All About Jazz.
So through this forum, I plan to share ideas and experiences with the goal of helping my fellow musicians navigate through the business behind jazz. I'm also excited to disseminate information that will help strengthen the jazz community and our music. Now without further ado, I'll leap right in and discuss a burgeoning business model for future record labels.
The new successful models for record labels will revolve around collective brand marketing.
We all realize that the traditional record label model is as obsolete as a typewriter. Finding a new model that works has been a substantive topic of debate and general consternation. I argue that the new successful models will revolve around collective brand marketing. Essentially this model has existed in the independent jazz arena for quite some time, and I feel that we will see more growth of this model to fill the traditional label gap.
What does a collective brand marketing organization do?
Simply put, it is a collective of like-minded artists who use a collective brand to market their individual recordings. In other words, this organization takes over the collective marketing and bargaining power that a traditional label model once did to market an artist's albums and bring them to the marketplace. This is where the similarities end, however, with the old-school record label model. Here are the differences. The artist's produce, own and retain all rights to their recording projects. Artists may be individually responsible for their own distribution and they will generally pay some sort of subscription fee to the organization.
Why is this situation beneficial for an artist?
Firstly, artists retain ownership rights. Secondly, they benefit from collective marketing, co-branding and building off of the strength of their label-mate's work. Thirdly, with brand cultivation through a strong artist selection process, the collective will gain greater market share and exposure for their members by providing consistent quality to consumers in one place. Finally, artists will retain total artistic control of their projects.
Why do brand marketing collectives work?
The main reason is aggregation. A certain level of aggregation is necessary to cut through the clutter of the long tail online. By associating with a collective of powerful brands you can aggregate the quality and therefore create an exponentially more powerful collective brand that essentially creates a bump in the long tail. This bump helps your work cut through the clutter. As the collective gains market share in its given niche, so does each individual member's work.