David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars
Where there was one, now there are six: Six possible music distribution models, ranging from one in which the artist is pretty much hands-off to one where the artist does nearly everything.
1. At one end of the scale is the 360, or equity, deal, where every aspect of the artist's career
is handled by producers, promoters
, marketing people, and managers.
2. Next is what I'll call the standard distribution
deal. The record company bankrolls the recording and handles the manufacturing, distribution, press, and promotion. The label, in this scenario, owns the copyright to the recording. Forever.
3. The license deal is similar to the standard deal, except in this case the artist
retains the copyrights and ownership of the master recording. The right to exploit that property is granted to a label
for a limited period of time — usually seven years.
4. Then there's
the profit-sharing deal.
5. In the manufacturing and distribution deal, the artist
does everything except, well, manufacture and distribute the product.
6. Finally, at the far end of the scale, is the self-distribution model
, where the music is self-produced, self-written, self-played, and self-marketed.
No single model will work for everyone. There's room for all of us. Some artists are the Coke and Pepsi of music, while others are the fine wine — or the funky home-brewed moonshine. And that's fine. Sometimes a corporate soft drink is what you want — just not at the expense of the other thing. I like Rihanna's "Umbrella"
and Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man"
. In the recent past, it often seemed like all or nothing, but maybe now we won't be forced to choose.