Fri Sep 18, 2020

A Facebook friend of mine asked this question: Artists, if you had an opportunity to sit down with an industry executive what is the one question you would ask?

It is kind of interesting what the artist would answer. My guess is, of course, they will be aggressive and start accusing this person because they haven’t succeeded yet. Like that would be this person’s fault? Okay, in the old industry there was gatekeepers. That is long gone, everything is really open. The fact is that nowadays it’s not hard to sit down and discuss with even the biggest industry executive what the goals are and how to achieve them.

I ‘stole’ some of the questions here and tried to give what my answers would be.. I guess you can say I’m one of those industry executives, of course not the biggest one. The biggest one is only hired to build up the company. Most of the time, these people are the head of a company that doesn’t really matter what it is. They have been recruited from any type of business since it’s all the same, their job is for the company to make more money. Of course, the artist they work for matters, that is like a product that is important for a company. Nowadays, though few of them are in the process of choosing the product when they agree to take it on, it’s already popular. Let’s go back to the questions.

I would ask him/her how do they plan on competing and staying relevant in the age of streaming services becoming the modern era record labels.

Good question. The major record labels are NOT developing artists, some smaller ones do, the big ones are mainly taking on artists that are flashing through social media channels or apps like TikTok. Their job is to develop that artist with an already established fanbase to get more revenue and of course they take a percentage out of that revenue. The problem the majors have is that these careers and platforms change so rapidly that the career is only available for around a year. Another problem is that the money is not that big and a lot of cheating goes on, so most artists on the platforms are not signing up with the label since they can’t afford to share that percentage. This is though much safer to earn some money on an artist for a year then develop an artist for five years and then they might get slightly higher revenue. For the companies, this is a safer way to go.

That they are relevant, that can be discussed? But yes,they still give sweet deals to a big artist like Taylor Swift, so they won’t disappear in that kind of sense. The streaming services are not acting like record labels, they tried to do that early in their efforts but realized that they can’t predict anything anyway and all their attempts failed. A recent modern attempt was trying to break Ava Max through Spotify, she has the numbers, but not the fans.

I would ask, why don't they give back to up and coming artist, who is extremely talented, but don't seem to have a way, or the knowledge to capitalize on their talent.

I guess we already answered this one. It’s too much of a risk!

What are you guys actually looking for right now?

I guess I answered that one as well; they are looking for an artist that already has a fanbase they can capitalize on.

How do I get paid if I am not in charge of production or producing my own material?

Then you are a boyband that is hired as an actor who is hired in a movie. You get a salary. If you do your own material and you own it you can then license parts of it to get a better reach. The days when companies invested in recording and other items is way over.

Get yourself a lawyer that knows something about the music industry let him ask questions.

That is something you do when you are totally ready. Better to let them see the papers when you have them on the table. They are good at understanding the law. Most of them are not experienced enough to be updated or even have the knowledge inside the industry. A good lawyer needs to be researched, they are out there.

There were many more good questions but I will stop there for now and maybe I will  come back to them another day.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for February 18-20, 2021.