The Singer-Songwriter & The Record Company
(How do they make money?)
You want to be a professional singer / songwriter, so let me ask you a question: what business is the professional songwriter in? How exactly does a songwriter make real money? I'll give you a hint: it's *not* by selling records to fans.
To understand how to build a successful music business as a singer / songwriter, you need to understand how they traditionally make their money.
Record companies would love you to continue to believe that singers / songwriters make money by signing with them and "selling records" because it keeps their doors revolving with new talent to fleece...err...I mean, "nurture"...but this isn't the truth.
The Internet of its Day.
At the beginning of the 20th century, broadcast radio connected the nation. Radio was the "Internet" of its day, so local bands could have their music heard in many cities instead of just in their hometowns.
And many record companies quickly became successful because they had the connections to get local talent on the radio and in front of bigger audiences with live shows.
Now let's say you were one of these local acts trying to make it as a singer / songwriter. You've been writing songs for years. So you decide to visit a record company for a record deal.
The Original Record Deal.
The two of you make a deal, but what did this deal look like? What did they offer you? What did they *need* from you in return?
Important: ALL successful businesses fulfill needs (i.e. solve problems)
Well of course you needed the record company’s connections to reach a bigger audience through radio and shows...but what did the record company need from you, the singer / songwriter?
What Did The Record Company Need?
Ok now we're getting into the meat and potatoes of this article!
Traditionally, record companies were in business to sell one product: records. No, the ACTUAL VINYL. And their customers were anyone who would buy their vinyl records.
Now like any other business, record companies knew they had to make their product - their vinyl - valuable enough to sell to their customers.
...And people loved to listen to their favorite songs...
...So why not give people a way to play their songs whenever they want?
Record companies NEEDED great music to sell their vinyl records!
Product: Vinyl Records
Customer: Fans of Music
Record Company Needed: Great songs for their vinyl records
Give it a second to let it sink in.
I know you probably never thought of the record business like this, but that's because record companies have done a great job over the decades to make us believe that "records are songs" when traditionally they were only the medium the song was delivered on.
Singers / songwriters were in a *different* business. They were never in business to sell vinyl.
The songwriter was in business to create & publish their songs. So let me ask you: who's the songwriter's customer? Who *needed* the songwriter's songs?
Answer: The Record Company! The audience didn't need the songwriter's songs, but the record company did to sell their vinyl records.
In fact, a songwriter's customer was *any* business that needs music to sell their products to the songwriter's audience.
The only thing the songwriter needed was a way to make their songs more valuable. The songwriter needed an audience, the bigger the better.
Customer: Anyone that needs good songs to help sell their products
Songwriter Needed: An LARGE audience to make their songs more popular/valueable
THE BIG SECRET REVEALED!
So as a singer / songwriter, your customer was originally the record company, while a record company's customer was your audience; the fans of your music...and that's still true today.
As a songwriter, your fans are NOT your customers. They never were...and they never will be. But aspiring music artists are convinced they are, wasting so much time and energy trying to sell songs to their fans but never earning enough money to live comfortably.
So Let Us Begin.
Learning how to promote yourself properly to the right customer is very important to build a successful music business. But this comes later in the process.
If you're still at the beginning stages of trying to learn how to write great songs then join my training group.
Let's first learn how to write great songs like your favorite hits from the radio and train to become a great songwriter in four steps, and then be guided though building your music business:
Download my free 6-step exercise manual to prepare your lyrical content
for structuring. Having your song lyric fully fleshed-out before piecing it
together is important.
- Learn important skills and tips about each song section not taught in music
theory class to learn how to
structure your next song.
- Follow audio & video songwriting lessons to complete your
- Also, as a member get exclusive deals on all professional songwriting tools & courses offered on this website.
In a few weeks you'll have access to everything you need to start writing great songs. You've already taken the first step by searching for this info.
And reading this complete article proves you are passionate about entering the music business. So take the next step. There's no cost to join and no obligation to stay.
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Updated: February 19, 2020
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