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Changes in the music industry have preceded the shift in publishing: physical to digital formats and now streaming and micro-payments; musicians choosing to go indie instead of joining big labels; and the need for multiple streams of income and building an audience online. Today, I explore these changes with David Kusek.
In the intro, I mention statistics about Amazon from Jane Friedman and a discussion on the dominance of Amazon imprints in the charts on the International Indie Author Facebook Group.
Draft2Digital shared a quote from Hugh Howey this week: “I think we are just moments away from entering an age where indie writers will have the same cachet as indie film-makers and indie musicians. Here’s a far-off prediction: I think we’ll see a point in our lifetimes where traditionally published material is made to appear self-published in order to give it street cred.” Interesting, given that the UK Guardian reported on big brand bookstore Waterstones launching tiny, independent-looking stores in small towns.
In my personal update, I'm back in the UK and writing a lot (happily!). I also share my thoughts on The Fourth Transformation: How Augmented Reality and Artifical Intelligence will change everything by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.
This episode is sponsored by my audiobooks, How to Make a Living with Your Writing and The Successful Author Mindset, both available now on Audible, iTunes and Amazon as audiobooks, as well as ebook and print formats.
Dave Kusek is a serial entrepreneur, digital music pioneer, and best-selling author. His online music school, New Artist Model, has helped thousands of musicians around the world pursue musical careers. Create.biz is his latest venture, an online business school for creative professionals.
You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher or watch the video here, read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.
- The current state of the music industry, given the digital changes
- How music streaming has affected musicians' income
- The intellectual property rights that musicians, like authors, must pay attention to
- On whether authors can quote song lyrics in books
- Why building an audience matters for musicians
- Creative ways that musicians are monetizing different areas of their work
- The future of the music industry
You can find Dave at Create.biz and at HackMusic.com or on Twitter at @davekusek.
Links from today's episode:
Free “Hack the Music Business” book
Transcript of Interview with Dave Kusek
Joanna: Hello, creatives. I'm Joanna Penn from thecreativepenn.com. And today, I'm here with Dave Kusek. Hi, Dave.
Dave: Hi, Joanna. Thanks for having me.
Joanna: Oh, it's great to have you on the show. Just a little introduction.
Dave Kusek is a serial entrepreneur, digital music pioneer, and best-selling author. His online music school, New Artist Model, has helped thousands of musicians around the world pursue musical careers. Create.biz is his latest venture, an online business school for creative professionals. And today, we're talking about what authors can learn from the music industry, which is super-exciting. And of course, Dave, there is so much, isn't there, that we're gonna get into?
Dave: Yeah, there are a lot of parallels and a lot of differences. It will be interesting to explore and to get your take on it as well.
Joanna: Cool. In 2005, you co-authored the best-selling music business book, “The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution.” So that's like 11, almost 12 years ago.
I wondered looking at now, the state of music, how much of that book is true today?
What is the current state of the music industry, especially in terms of digital and the changes that have happened?
Dave: Well, unfortunately, a great deal of the book has come true, which, on one hand, I'm happy about it, and on another hand, I'm not so happy about.
We've seen a destruction of the revenue model in the music business, and there are many, many parallels to writing. But in many ways, the music business has suffered significantly from the digital revolution, which is something that we could see coming.
I was summarily escorted out of many record label offices in the late '90s, as we began to really see the writing on the wall, and had conversations with many different companies and tried to make them aware of the change that was coming. And, they just didn't wanna hear it. So digital has certainly become the dominant format in the music industry, but at the same time, the revenue model has collapsed to a large degree.
Many of the things we talked about in the book have come to pass, things like Pandora and Spotify, all of the streaming sites. We pretty accurately predicted that. Things like the iPhone, which didn't exist at the time, technologies like Siri and Alexa that didn't exist at the time, we pretty accurately predicted.
And unfortunately, we wrote that book as a warning, in a sense, to a lot of folks in the music industry, and unfortunately, they did not heed the warning.
Joanna: It's really interesting, and I want to get more into that then. You said the destruction of the revenue model and the collapse of the revenue model.
Is that the collapse and destruction on behalf of the big companies who have basically built a model on sales of CDs and through record stores, which would be the equivalent to bookstores, and has the revenue model just changed? So has it been a destruction and are artists making, or more artists making more money in the long tail?
The destruction of money is not gone completely, is it? It's just changed. Explain what it is now.
Dave: Sure. Well, I do mean the destruction of the revenue model because the music industry has yet to recover from the beginning of the digital revolution. The industry is about one-third the size that it was at the peak in its heyday around the year 2000.
You've got an industry that's quite popular and quite visible, yet they've seen their revenues fall by 60%, primarily in the record business, in the record labels.
Unfortunately, the labels did not adopt the MP3 file as a format. They fought it, tooth and nail, and consumers embraced it wholeheartedly. And, we had a lot of the very early file-sharing services, Napster, and Kazaa, and many others that are, now they're gone, somewhat litigated out of existence. But consumers embraced those file sharing platforms wholeheartedly and really showed the industry that there was a huge market, an appetite for digital music.
It was very convenient, it's very portable. You could search very easily. It made the record store experience, something that translated online into a much more robust search, and exploration, and discovery experience, yet the record labels didn't monetize that format.
You can remember, they sued many of their customers in early 2000s for sharing files and “stealing music” when actually their customers are showing them an incredible desire for this format. And instead of really trying to monetize the format early on, they tried to change people's behavior in a very unsuccessful way. And as a result, the model has shifted significantly.
Yes, there are more people making money on the long tail, but not very much money. And I think the transformation that you've seen in the writing and author space has not really occurred in the same way in the music space.
You guys can still sell digital books, and it's very, very difficult to sell a digital recording these days. Unless you've got massive promotion, massive exposure, it's very difficult to actually monetize a recording, which was the fuel that drove the industry for decades.
Joanna: Well, that's really interesting. I just don't know enough about this area, although I was thinking about my behavior, I don't buy a lot of music. I listen to the same things over and over again, which is, I think, one of the problems for people in their 40s, you know, they probably still listen to a lot of music they listened to when they were younger.
I was watching “The Young Pope” on Amazon, and then the song is stuck in my head. I went to the iTunes store on my iPhone and bought the song on my phone while I was watching the TV on streaming Amazon Prime TV. And just thinking about that as a model. It's a small band who I can't remember on top of my head. That's the thing, you know, I search for the song and everything. I search for “The Young Pope” soundtrack. And so, the consumer's behavior has changed as well.
Just to go a bit more into the revenue model, because, of course, it used to be sale of physical discs or, back in the day, tapes and things.
Now is it more streaming micro-money, which I've heard there's a service that collects these micropayments for people.
And then, is it live events, and Kickstarter, and Patreon, and these kind of different online models, more than just sales?
Dave: Yeah, the transformation to digital in music began with the MP3 file being effectively free, so massive amounts of music was consumed in that format.
Then it moved to a paid download, notably Apple iTunes and their $0.99 download. Had a pretty good run there for a while.
And then it shifted to streaming, which is micropayments. And streaming has become the dominant format right now, here in 2017. 2016, it kind of flipped into streaming becoming the preferred format now.
And again, this is something that we wrote about in our book that music would be ubiquitous, it would be always on, always available, an infinite supply, every song ever recorded at your fingertips. And when you look at Spotify, for example, that's basically what it is. Every song you could possibly imagine is available there, either for free or for a low monthly subscription.
That's been great for consumers and fans of music. It's been great for bands, in a sense, that it's now possible to get really massive exposure and distribution of your music broadly and very quickly.
But it's very, very difficult to actually monetize those streams. We're talking hundredths of a cent per stream, and I've got many friends that are pretty successful musicians where they get checks from their collection societies for streaming and it amounts to a nice Italian dinner but you can't really live off of that.
Joanna: What is the website that's the main micropayment collector?
Dave: Well, there are several. It depends on where the music is presented. One company is called SoundExchange, and SoundExchange collects a lot of the streaming revenue and a lot of the web-related revenue.
There are still performing rights organizations here in the states: ASCAP, BMI, SESAC is kind of North American. There are performing rights organizations in every country that collect a lot of radio airplay and per public performance airplay. So if your songs are played in a supermarket or a restaurant, the performing rights organization collects money there.
It's a very fragmented financial system for musicians in terms of recorded music. You can sell it yourself off of your own website, you could sell recordings at your shows, you could sell downloads on iTunes or Amazon, or elsewhere, and you can have your streams out there. And what I just described, the revenue basically goes like this. So the most popular formats have the lowest possible revenue attached to them.
Joanna: How interesting. And when we're talking about this, I'm thinking Amazon clearly looked at the music industry and went, “Let's invent the thing that's inevitably coming, and invent the Kindle and e-books in that way.” And the micropayments now, a KDP page reads where you get paid per page read on the device, and also PLR and ALCS which are, in Britain, the collecting societies. And so they would collect for photocopies. So in that way, it's quite similar, I think.
Now, I wanted to drill down…you mentioned there are performance rights. I wanted to ask you about intellectual property when it comes to music, because I know there's quite a lot of musicians who listen to the show, as well, who are authors as well as musicians. And some people compose a soundtrack to their book for example.
Explain broadly, obviously there's loads, but what are the categories of intellectual property rights when it comes to music?
Dave: When you create a song, you're actually awarded six different rights, and there are two categories of rights.
One is in the song itself, the composition itself. It's sort of an abstract idea of the song, the melody, the lyrics.
And then there's the recording, or the physical manifestation, or the digital manifestation of that song.
So you have rights awarded in both categories and you can distribute copies of your music and either let that go for free or charge for it. You can publicly perform your music and receive a royalty from that.
You can license your music to others to record, which can be very lucrative for songwriters, and composers, and producers. You can license your music for film and television, which, again, can be very lucrative.
You can license your music for use online such as on YouTube, which is an emerging revenue stream for many musicians if you're able to embrace a shift in thinking. YouTube has a content ID system that basically watermarks and tracks intellectual property, and if you leverage that content ID system, anyone who uses your music is a potential distribution channel for you and a revenue stream for you.
There are lots of ways to monetize the music itself. You can make money off the lyrics. You can make money off the sheet music. But these days, the public performance of music that you would garner as a songwriter, or the public performance of music that you would garner as a performing artist, is primarily the way people make money. That's number one.
Revenue around that, selling merchandise, T-shirts, and that kind of thing, and then licensing and publishing your music as a songwriter so that other folks would record it or would be used on film, TV, or YouTube, or other digital properties, perhaps video games, that's probably the number two source of revenue right now.
Joanna: That's great because so many authors think that, oh, you just write a book and then you sell it on Amazon and that's it. But there are actually all these types of intellectual property rights when it comes to exploiting them.
And I wanted to pick up there, you mentioned lyrics, that the lyrics, there's a copyright applied to that. Many authors want to quote song lyrics as part of their novels, and generally, the overarching recommendation is, “Don't do that.”
Have you come across these types of things before? Would you recommend just not using lyrics in books because of this right?
Dave: Well, it's a good question, and I'm not an attorney.
Joanna: This is just our opinion.
Dave: I have found that if things are excerpted, you're often okay. If they're used in a way to illustrate a concept in the sense of fair use here in the U.S., you tend to be okay.
If you quote the entire song in your book, you probably need permission for that. And many times you can get that, but if you quote an excerpt, perhaps a verse or chorus, you probably can get away with that as long as you give attribution to the songwriter and the publisher.
Joanna: I'll just direct people to the interview with Helen Sedwick, who is an attorney and does talk about this in an interview I did with her.
Going back to the performance and the merchandise. Do musicians basically have to get out there and do these kind of live events? Is that just the way that most of them have to make money if it's their job?
Dave: Yeah, at the moment, that is one of the top two revenue streams.
If you're a songwriter and performer, you could make money licensing and performing. If you're more of a performer and perhaps play other people's songs or have a mix of things that you write or your band writes and other folks write, then your path to revenue is performing, at the moment.
I do think that there will be digital performance opportunities emerging as that becomes more acceptable to people, kind of pay-per-view concerts online, various experiments now that are going on in the VR space. I think that could have some real potential for people.
But, effectively, a musician is an entertainer, and your job is to go out and entertain people and that's traditionally been some form of a concert or live performance. That's really where music came from.
When you think back on…way back when…the music industry really is less than 100 years old. When you really look about how it was driven by radio and various formats that were distributed, records, tapes, CDs, etc., it predates to less than 100 years old.
And if you go to prior to that, music was pretty much a performance situation. There weren't many of these other revenue streams, and quite often, the performance was subsidized by a patron. You see that today with Patreon and Kickstarter, other sites like that. It's basically a digital version of this patronage model that has really supported the arts for forever.
Joanna: We have a lot of wonderful Patreon supporters who support this show, so it works for spoken word as well. But I was on Patreon because I think it's starting to tip over into the mainstream. I think it's been on the edge, but people are now getting it and starting to use a lot more.
I saw that Amanda Palmer has $33,000 a month from Patreon, which is just…I think it's either per month or per creative thing that she does. But I mean, that's incredible. So clearly, she's a big name, or she's not a big name, she's actually quite a niche name, but she has built up an audience over years. I think she was the first one to use Kickstarter for an album.
These type of new models can be very successful, but you need an audience.
Dave: Well, she wasn't the first one to use Kickstarter by a long shot, but she was the first one with a sizable audience to use Kickstarter. And I think she was the first one to gross over $1 million on her project.
Joanna: Yes, I think you're right.
Dave: But it takes an audience, and it's so critical. A lot of what I do in my everyday life is helping musicians and creative people create and develop their audience because that's the tender of the realm these days.
If you want to have a successful career, you need to develop an audience or fan base, and once you have that, you can do wonderful things. And Amanda is a great example of that.
Joanna: What do you advise musicians? How do they build up a fan base, because it's exactly the same for writers?
Dave: You've got to focus on it. You've got to get yourself in a position where you're able to collect emails. That's the preferred way to do it, as you well know.
And you want to drive your social interactions to your website where you're collecting email and you're trading email for something of value, could be songs, could be lyrics, could be insights into your work or your life. People have a lot of different takes on it.
The holy grail of the moment is having a large following represented in an email list that you are then able to directly promote your shows to, your music to, your appearances to, your merchandise to, your friends to. It gives you just so much flexibility in terms of how you pursue your career.
An interesting thing, when you think of the heyday of the record business, which is what really people think about the music business…you know, you think of The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles, and Elton John, and, you know, massive stars, the labels really had no idea who their customers were. They had no mailing list. They thought their customers were Waterloo and Tower Records.
And so, when this digital shift occurred, and the labels found that people were basically just grabbing the music for free, they had no ability to communicate directly with a fan base. They didn't have a fan base in a 2017 sense of being able to identify and directly reach your fan base, other than perhaps at a live show where you as…you're Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and you're on the stage, you can say whatever you want. But the label didn't really have that power.
So in a sense, I think that we're in a transition period in the music industry where it is difficult to monetize recordings, it's difficult to monetize the most popular digital format, but it's pretty easy to start building your audience.
And I think as we go forward in the next few years, the musicians that do spend energy building an audience and creating relationships with their audience are going to be in a better position to take advantage of the new formats and new performance opportunities that there may be online. The music business has always been driven by format changes, radio to vinyl, to cassette tapes, to eight-track tapes, to CDs.
Then there was this MP3 that they really just completely missed the boat on, and now you've got streaming which, the tech companies are doing quite well off of, you know, Amazon, Apple, Spotify, Pandora, they're taking the lion's share of the revenue there.
The labels are getting a small piece and the artists are getting a tiny, tiny piece. But I think there will be another format that we'll see in the coming years that hopefully, artists with a fan base will be able to embrace those formats and really capitalize on them.
Joanna: I really like that. And I think you're right. I also think that the format thing…I mean, I just can't believe that what we have as eBooks now are the ultimate form of reading, I mean, there must be better eBooks. And we're starting to move towards it, but as things shift, you have to kind of upgrade your format, which people aren't really used to, especially authors, but I think musicians, as well. So I think I agree with that.
I also wanted to ask you, you talked there about the massive stars, you know, like Elton John and, you know, people who are now dying. Lots of people obviously last year: David Bowie, you know, Prince, these mega, mega stars.
I've been feeling with books, because the publishing model has been very similar, the megastar authors who are older, they're in the mid-sixties. There's Stephen King, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, the people who, every year, are at the top of the Forbes richest author list. They are all pretty old and they've all been traditionally published for 30 plus years. So they're kind of part of the old industry. They're not part of the new industry, and they won't be.
So what I'm thinking is it's the end of mega stars and it's now more about this long tail. Because, as a consumer, you want this little bit.
Not everyone is listening to the same thing. Not everyone is reading the same thing anymore or watching the same thing. We're all in these sort of sub-niches.
Do you see that parallel?
Dave: Yes, I do. I think there's a huge fragmentation of opportunity for people, and it is really important to define your niche and to create some activity around your art. I mean, an audience doesn't really form around nothing. It forms around some form of energy and some form of creative expression.
And to the extent that you can focus your energy on a niche, define it, promote yourself in that niche, you can be very successful, as you well know, as long as the revenue model is there to support what you're trying to do.
I have a question for you.
Dave: As you see transition, you talked about a payment per page view on KDP. How do you feel about that, rather than somebody downloading one of your books for a few dollars, being paid in a micropayment?
Joanna: Well, I'm one of those people who doesn't do that model. It's an exclusivity model that only happens on Amazon if you're exclusive to Amazon, and you opt into KDP Select, which you basically can't publish on any other platform. I'm someone who doesn't like one company to control all my money. So I don't have any books in KDP Select.
It's something I am going to look at this year, but…and some people have done really well with it and other people haven't. And some people have been earning, you know, like six figures a month, and then they changed the algorithm and they end up with, you know, like four figures a month. I think making your revenue stream dependent on one company is a really bad idea.
Dave: Yeah, I would concur and I think that that trend of pay-per-view, not in the kind of ultimate fight club sense but in the, you know, something passes by your senses and either you're paid or you're not, I think it's a very dangerous revenue model for creators.
I think it perhaps can be a wonderful revenue model for the distributors, the Amazons and the Apples of the world. It can be extremely lucrative, especially if you're a device maker. But if you're an author, or musician, or photographer, or filmmaker, that's pretty shaky ground as we move forward, and I would really watch out for that. Anybody listening, it's very shaky ground.
Joanna: It is.
Dave: And I can tell you from the music business, you know, we've, unfortunately presaged a lot of the other creative industries. And, yes, you can learn from the music business, but be careful you don't make the same mistakes.
Joanna: Absolutely, and I think building up your own audience, I mean, I look at Amanda Palmer and if you want to make money and be an artist, you just build your own audience. That literally is the answer.
And the only way you build your audience is by producing your art and telling people about it in some way. Now obviously, she's quite extreme in her openness and vibrancy, and everything. Most people listening are not her personality type, but there are lots of ways to do it.
Now, I did want to ask you about merchandise, because one of my picks for this year, and in fact, I'm doing one myself, I see the trend towards digital, but there's also a trend towards beautiful print products. Hardback books with beautiful images, and fonts, and hand lettering, and lovely texture.
There's this dichotomy between cheaper digital and more expensive print products. Is that happening in music, with more expensive free music or cheap music and expensive old LP covers or other merchandise?
Dave: Yes, and that's a very good question. As the revenue from recordings has decreased, artists have been forced to become very creative in how they can monetize their work.
Merchandise, for example, is a huge revenue stream for the road warriors out there that are playing 200 shows a year or more, and it's gone way beyond the T-shirt. Premium merchandise, a signed guitar, for example, can command thousands of dollars.
I recommend to my students and my members that you create a tiered set of merchandise. And you look at the bottom end, it's things like stickers and photographs that are impulse purchases for people. Then, the traditional stuff, hats, and T-shirts, and banners, and posters that people will be interested in.
And then you look at a higher tier where you're actually creating higher value merchandise. So it could be…very popular these days is a higher weight vinyl. I think, 7% or 8% of revenue in recording this past year was vinyl, if you can believe that.
But people are personalizing not only artifacts like records or guitars, or clothing, but they're personalizing experiences also for their fans. “Come behind the scenes into the studio with me, either virtually through Skype,” or something, or literally, or, “We'll have a writing camp where I'm going to invite 30 people at $2,000 a pop and we're gonna write songs together.” And, you know, I can make $60,000 in a weekend if I'm an artist thinking that way.
Merchandise and creating higher value products is very lucrative for many people. Personalization is important with print-on-demand. I think that's something that authors could look at, because people will pay for things where you give them a special message, or you give their husband or wife a special message. They will pay significantly for that.
I think there's a lot more to do there. And that's a very interesting intersection between physical and digital. “Can I print merchandise-on-demand that is customized or personalized to my audience?” I think there's a lot of revenue there.
Joanna: Are there any particular sites that you recommend to people? I think people only really know, you know, the sort of older sites like Zazzle, which are just not very good quality?
Dave: No. The answer right now is no. I think there's a there's a big opportunity.
I think unfortunately the merchandise space in the music market is quite resistant to change. It's largely a cash business. So you could be a merchandise company and you go into a, you know, Wembley Stadium where U2 is playing and, you know, you make $2.5 million that night selling merch. It's all cash.
Do you want to necessarily transform your business to become a very transparent, very traceable digital business? There's quite a bit of resistance. So, no, there actually aren't very many popular merchandise sites. It's usually the band site themselves that's selling that merchandise or it's available at the performance that you go to.
Joanna: I agree. I think there is a big gap there. I'm looking at the moment at this merchandising space and going, “Okay, but if you want the quality, then print-on-demand can be quite difficult because of that, especially…but with personalization, you need that.” I think that that will come. Let's say that's gonna happen in the next couple of years.
I also wanted to ask you about indie vs big labels because indie author has become…you know, it's what I call myself, I'm an indie author, I'm an independent author. I am not attached to a large company that is owned by Rupert Murdoch or something like that. But there is still stigma. There is still the separation between traditionally published authors and indie authors or self-published authors.
How did that shift in music, because it does seem that that has shifted?
Dave: I think there are similarities and there are some distinctions that are worth noting. I think, in the book world, it's possible to have a decent, if not better career as an indie author because you still got the ability to monetize your craft.
In the music world, your default position is you're an indie artist. Everyone starts as an indie artist. No artist ever gets signed to a label or publishing deal without first being an indie artist. It's a myth that you're signed and then developed into a talented performer.
These days, you first got to prove that you have an audience, that you're able to fill the room in successive evenings in a city, that you've got a mailing list, that you've got awareness, that you've got streams that are getting played before any label or publisher will even think about signing you.
Now, I think because the revenue is difficult for an independent musician, it really comes from performing live and selling merchandise. That's where you can make your money. And it's a difficult life, you know, living on the road. You've heard all the horror stories, I'm sure. It's a very difficult life. You can do it when you're young, for a while, and then it becomes less appealing to people.
I've worked with tens of thousands of musicians in my online school, and no matter how successful they become as an independent artist, they always want to get signed to a big label. There is no stigma. They're always chasing that brass ring, no matter…if I hammer it into their head that, “You're gonna be more…you'll be in better control of your destiny, you'll keep, you know, 80% of the money yourself, you can do whatever you want, you have complete creative control.” At the end of the day, 95% of them come to me and say, “Dave, can you get me a record deal?”
Joanna: It's interesting because I think the publishing industry is shifting more into that, certainly with nonfiction, they want people with an audience. With fiction, you still get these debut hits where the first book comes out and they see if it becomes big, and then they put money into it. But I think it's changing and a lot of big-name indies have been picked up by traditional publishing. So that is an interesting parallel.
Oh, I could talk to you for hours about all this stuff, but we are running out of time. I do want to just ask you one last question, which is, thinking about the future.
Upfront, you mentioned AI, we've mentioned VR, some of the technologies, perhaps a new format that's coming, discoverability perhaps with AI machine learning engines, or something like that.
What do you see coming in the next five years? What are you excited about in terms of the industry?
Dave: You've touched on many of the things that I would try and answer that question with. I do believe and am searching for the new format that is an entertainment experience that's largely based on music. I don't know what that format is yet but I expect that we'll see one shortly because the record companies, they're suffering. And they need a kick in the pants, if you will. They need something new to sell to people. It's been their business model forever, is, “How can I reissue the catalog on a new appealing format?”
I think that there's quite a bit of economic pressure to see some new format come, whether it's some form of VR or some kind of immersive concert-like experience that you can appreciate from your living room.
More likely than not, it's gonna be that where you're able to purchase things during the show and perhaps get that personalization happening. I can't point to a company right now that's, you know, “Put your investment in that.” But I think it's gonna be somewhere in that realm. That's my best answer.
Joanna: I totally agree. I don't know if it's because I'm an introvert, I don't like crowds, so I will never go to a live concert. I just won't. I just don't want be with crowds.
But I would love to go on, like, a virtual ticket, like a VR experience. I'd love to be…I'm showing my age, like Bon Jovi. I'd still like to see Bon Jovi because I'm that old. And I'd love to be able to do that in virtual reality so I don't have to actually be in a stadium. So it's kind of odd. I totally agree with you there. So tell people where they can find you and all your resources online.
Dave: Sure, I have two main projects that I'm working on now. One is called CreateBiz, that's create.biz. And basically, we're developing content marketing and business-related online courses for creative people, for writers, for musicians, for visual artists. So if you go to create.biz/penn, that's P-E-N-N, you can get a guide to content marketing for creatives.
As far as the music side goes, my online school is called New Artist Model, newartistmodel.com. We have courses in basic music business, in online marketing, in songwriting, in music theory. And I have a book that you can also get for free. It's called “Hack the Music Business.” If you go to hackmusic.com, you can get a copy of that book for free.
Joanna: Oh, I'm gonna go and get that. That sounds great. Well, look, Dave, this has been so fascinating, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you're gonna do in the next year or two, and us, too. So we'll definitely connect again. So thanks so much for your time.
Dave: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you for having me, and good luck to you.
What do you think about the parallels between the author business and the music business? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.
Fascinating interview! I’ve watched the musc industry go through this seismic shift, and the book industry is following. I’m always intrigued to hear from the music side, how they’re coping, what its like.
Zach Bohannon says
The game industry is being heavily impacted by indies as well. The new Nintendo console that launched last week, the Switch, had more indie games available to buy at launch than Nintendo 1st party titles or big 3rd party publishers. And some of the most popular indie titles are throwbacks to the video games of the 80s and 90s. Very interesting times.
Joanna, you are the Godmother of the author indie family. Great interview! I didn’t want it to end.
What incredible similarities in the music and book publishing industries. It’s amazing that human nature seems to be hardwired into so many to fight emerging technologies. It became crystal clear to me when one of you noted that the music industry tried to change consumer behavior rather than monetize their behavior.
Thanks for providing such substantive interviews.
If any of you regularly consume Joanna’s content, consider supporting her on Patreon. Great investment!
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Eric 🙂 I’m so glad you find the show useful!
Marc Nash says
I used to work in music retail and saw the digital revolution from that perspective. The industry is on its knees and I doubt it will recover. TV talent shows is the driving force for ‘new music’ because it has the only sizeable audiences. Serious bands cannot make any money except through touring and merch, which is how the Arctic Monkeys did it as an unsigned indie group initially. The Long Tail is great for the consumer, because we can get really obscure and niche stuff, but it does no good to the creatives who can’t survive from such meagre pickings. As to parallels with literature, well it’s true that publishing houses were similar to record labels in having economic models that had to get with the programme of technological change. The indie publishing labels are similar to the indie labels of punk, but as Dave says, all those bands were desperate to be signed by Major record labels and were snapped up which defanged any creativity punk and subsequent music trends may have had. Has publishing learned the lessons of the music business? We’ll have to see, but as with musicians, I’m fairly gloomy about the prospects of making a living for the vast majority of indie writers. We don’t have merch like bands do. Reading tours aren’t going to bring in the big bucks. To put in the work needed to build an audience kind of implies you don’t have any other calls on your time (bands have managers), but without an income from writing, then you have to work elsewhere and therefore don’t have the time.
Joanna Penn says
I’m always on the positive side – and I am an example of someone who has made it 🙂 It took 3.5 years of working before and after work and then weekends for me to build a business from writing, and 10 years on, I am making more money than my old day job. It IS possible, but you have to put the hours in. That’s no different in any industry.
Vic Stathopoulos says
Every time technology format or trends change we have to adapt. I am glad vinyl is making a comeback because I like physical products. I enjoy looking at record / cd covers reading the lyrics and info. With downloads most times I can’t even remember the artist’s name. Book-wise I prefer physical books and turning the pages. I find it tiring reading of computer screens. Very interesting article. Thanks.