Sonicbids CEO Panos Panay On Rethinking Music plus 5 Tips For Emerging Artists

image from This guest post is by Panos Panay, Founder & CEO of Sonicbids.

Last week, I attended Rethink Music. An event dedicated to, well, rethinking the state of the music business. A loaded topic, eh?  As I touched on in the white paper I put together for the event, if you take to heart what’s been written in the press about the “music business” of the past 10 years, one may quickly conclude that there’s not much hope left for 21st century performers.

A closer look, however, reveals that the music business is not so much imploding as it is evolving. Consumer tastes are changing and record labels and radio are no longer the cultural arbitrators they once were. Music listeners are moving away from the mass-produced music consumption habits of the broadcast media to the more tailored and personalized experiences of the social media age. And, just as importantly, artists are migrating away from the mass-market revenue model of the broadcast era to the mass of niches model of the new, Internet era.

Far from dying, the music business is alive and ever resourceful in finding new ways of making money and evolving. Here are some of the trends we’re seeing at Sonicbids and how it relates to today’s emerging artists.

The New Live Music Business
Live music is no longer just about what’s being performed in stadiums and arenas – and doesn’t always entail a show that involves a consumer buying a ticket. Live music is part of the experience at bars, coffee houses, art galleries, cruise ships, wineries, amusement parks, street fairs and countless other. House concerts have emerged in the last two years as the primary touring means of emerging artists. This is a vibrant, expanding list of people that are making live music part of the consumer experience. The live music business is not dead. It’s simply fragmenting, evolving, becoming more organic and less mass produced. 

Consumer Brands: The New Arts Patrons
As long as there is art, there will be patrons to sponsor artists. It used to the record labels. In their place, we’re now seeing consumer brands step in to act as both arts patrons and popular taste curators.  Large consumer brands like Diesel, Gap, Converse and more are spending millions on creating programs that use emerging music as a means of reaching consumers. What’s most promising for today’s emerging artist is the shift in consumer brands working with established artists to more “niche” artists. Today’s young consumers demand authenticity from the brands they endorse and emerging music. And what better way to deliver that authenticity than emerging music?

Fan as Collaborator
Much fuss has been made by the industry about the new music can. The 16-year-old who refuses to pay for music. But the music that most emerging artists see is not an antagonist. They’re a collaborator. Sites like Pledge Music and Kickstarter are helping artists raise money, not in the form of donations, but by selling album credits, unique experiences, exclusive concert tickets, one-of-a-kind merchandise and more. These are not acts of charity but acts of collaboration, co-creation and co-development.

And Music Licensing for All
Music consumption is not curtailed. It’s shifting venues from the record store to your TV set, local cinema or your next elevator ride. According to South By Southwest’s site, nearly $10 billion is generated annually on a worldwide basis from music licensing and performance rights activities. We’re seeing everything from large advertisers (ala Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” in a recent Diet Coke commercial), to video game publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision, to toy companies like Fisher-Price and Mattel using emerging music.

5 Tips For Emerging Artists
The good news is that the internet has put today’s emerging artists in control. However, emerging artists need to believe they are in control. Here are some quick tips:

  • Think of music beyond just “the stage.” Music is everywhere.
  • Build meaningful relationships with your fans. They’re your best friends.
  • Know who those fans are… Like any business, the more you know your customer, the better you serve them.
  • Treat your music like a business. Find time to make your music, but also time on how you’re going to market it. Create a plan.
  • Have a social media strategy. Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools for connecting with your fans and creating new fans virally.


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