March tidbits

by Matt @ Kurb on March 12, 2008

NME to closedown?.But there were glum faces and dark mutterings among the assembled media insiders. One key reason for this gloom was the magazine’s circulation figures for the second half of 2007. Averaging around 64,000 per issue, they are the lowest ever, and a steep decline on previous years. Given NME’s growing profile online, on TV, at festivals and branded tours, these figures seem a strange and bitter pill. Some industry commentators are even speculating that the print version could close within months. “Who reads the NME then?” Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs singer asked pointedly.

Is “Selling out” the only way to cash in?

Rock’s anti-corporate ethos has softened in recent years (read: totally disappeared in the case of most artists), and labels’ opportunities for nontraditional revenue have grown through licensing and branding partnerships. But that hasn’t made life any less complicated for musicians trying to retain fans and make a living. As a just-released NPD Group study pointed out, 48% of U.S. teens didn’t purchase a single CD in 2007. And while legal purchases of digital music are on the rise, it’s not nearly enough to make up for declines in traditional CD sales.

Ad supported music discussion @ SXSW from Coolfer:

it seems that many people are not comfortable with the melting pot (I kinda hate that word but I’ll use it here) that is today’s record business. Different parties are going to have to live with the existence of different business models. Not all music is going to be given away at social media or artist websites, and not all music is going to be a paid download with a predetermined amount going to the owner of the sound recording. Hobbyists can give away their music while full-time professionals need a decent income. Between the two extremes are artists who want exposure and something in return for their work. Celebrity pop stars don’t need the same sales model (or sales channel) as does an established jazz musician or singer-songwriter 15 years removed from a hit. There will be different types of contracts, different rights and different levels of ownership. It will be difficult to say if any one is better or worse than another, or if any one “cheapens” music or does harm to the tenets of intellectual property. They’re just different.

Fan Based revenue models @ Coolfer

It’s fun to see all the different ways artists can gather funds and release music. Some artists can speak directly with their fans and tap into what is basically a very cost-effective sales channel. There’s no waste in resources when fans pay upfront and the finished project requires no marketing dollars or distribution fees.

Jill Sobule has raised more than $80,000 from 552 fans to record, manufacture, distribute and market her next album. (Online Fandom, via Digital Audio Insider) It took just 53 days to reach the goal of $75,000. Different levels of participation get fans different payoffs…$10 gets a download, $10,000 gets you into the recording studio with Jill. And yes, somebody did pony up $10,000. (Her menu options mimic the way some artist make money at artistShare.)

Marillion was able to gather $725,000 from its fans to record and release a new two-CD set. Over 12,000 fans responded to the band’s call for funds late last year. The band has received financial support from fans a number of times in the past, both to record and tour (this article at Sound on Sound recaps those projects).

For those artists that need the help of others, is becoming a more formidable option. The company received an additional $2 million in funding. helps artists raise money from fans for their projects and collect £2 per album sold.

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