Blog Archives

Bobby Borg Discusses the DIY Musician with dBs Insider

Bobby Borg recently sat down with dBs Insider to discuss the DIY musician. He is no stranger to this subject as he is a former major label, independent, and DIY recording/touring artist. The interview covered his books Business Basics for Musicians and Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, plus more.


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00124611The interview began with the questions that many aspiring artists may have, “How do I get my music out there?” and “How do I make a career in music?”

His book, Marketing for the DIY Musician, thoroughly explored this topic. It is a proactive, practical, step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. In a conversational tone, it reveals a systematic business approach employing the same tools and techniques used by innovative top companies, while always encouraging musicians to stay true to their artistic integrity. It’s the perfect blend of left-brain and right-brain marketing.

In Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, the first thing is important to realize is what marketing actually is. Marketing isn’t something that happens after your music is ready, it begins at the inception of an idea with a vision. You need to have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to do first. Marketing isn’t just advertising or promotion, they are subsets of it.

00139915For those that are interested in deal that artists garner from record labels to publishing, he discusses that topic in his book Business Basics for Musicians. The 300+ page book is the layperson’s guide to the music industry. In a conversational tone and an easy-to-scan format, it simplifies five vital areas in which musicians need to succeed: Career Execution, Business Relationships, Pro Teams, Deals and Dollars, and Future Predictions. Everything from copyright to record deals, managers, merchandising, and doing it yourself is covered.

The Business Basics For Musicians Book is more about the actual deals you’ll get in your music career. Agents, record labels, lawyers, managers, publishing deals.  Those are the things that it focuses on. The key takeaway from the first chapter in this book is making sure you really do want to be in the music industry, because for most people they give up too soon, they have false expectations of how quickly they are going to find success or sustainability in the business. The idea is to go out there, build some momentum on your own and then hopefully the managers and labels and the rest will come. You need to have realistic expectations of where you are at in your career.


Read the full interview here.

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Bobby Borg on Taxi Independent A&R

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, was featured on an episode of Taxi Independent A&R! He speaks about his book and gives you some insight on topics featured in the book. There’s even a little surprise at the end! Click play on the video below to learn more!

00139915

There has never been a greater need for musicians to understand the music business than now, when emerging technologies make it possible for artists to act as their own record labels, and new contracts are structured to grab the biggest slice of an artist’s revenue pie. But in a digital age overflowing with confusing and ever-changing information, musicians need trusted business advice from a veteran artist who can break down the basics in a language they understand.

Business Basics for Musicians is the layperson’s guide to the music industry, written by a professional musician for other musicians. In his book, Bobby Borg simplifies in a conversational tone five vital areas in which musicians need to succeed:

  • Career Execution
  • Business Relationships
  • Pro Teams
  • Deals and Dollars
  • and Future Predictions.

The book not only covers legal aspects such as copyright and record contracts, it also shows to how to deal with the people involved along the way: band members, managers, attorneys, talent agents, and producers. Business Basics for Musicians will help musicians to faster navigate to success.

Too old for Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back again to give you some tips on overcoming age discrimination in the music business. After a certain age you can’t become a police officer, join the military, or become a flight attendant, but in the music business things can be a bit different. After the age of 25, some find it difficult to get a record deal, but if you’re open minded and proactive you can find success in the industry. Here are Bobby’s thoughts!  (By the way, this article originally appeared on the Indie Music Bands blog several years ago, but Bobby’s words are just as relevant today!)


00139915Sign With A Major?
Major labels make up the majority of commercial recordings sold in the United States. As of this writing, the three largest record companies (or three majors) are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group. Each major is also part of larger corporations that run a system of distribution channels, regional offices, international divisions, and other music business companies. Therefore, bottom line profits and corporate reporting are of primary concern—and reps most typically seek younger more “commercially viable” artists who can theoretically ensure a faster return on their investment. Additionally, the benefit of seeking younger acts is that if successful, they could potentially reap a return on the label’s investment for several years to come.

“It’s a young man’s game,” said one A&R representative who wishes to remain anonymous. “We look for artists from age 15 to 25. It may seen harsh, but it doesn’t makes sense to invest an older race horse when you can get the younger thoroughbred crossing the winner’s line for years to come.”

Unless a dramatic shift takes place in the industry in the next few years (which is very possible—more on this later), then seeking a major label deal may obviously not be the wisest focus for more adult artists: plan and simple.

Go Independent
Independent record companies (also called indies) are in majority not owned or controlled by the majors, and are generally distributed by smaller regional distributors. With less overhead and investment risk, indies are more open to signing less mainstream and perhaps more adult artists than the major record companies.

Said one indie rep in a recent music connection A&R poll conducted in 2003, “We tend to stay away from age discrimination. I look to the music first and people who have maturity and a strong business sense. Of course they must still have a marketable image even when they’re older—but it’s the professional performers who keep their health and image a priority and can convince the masses they’re younger than their years. If they have talent and look the part, then who cares how old they are.”

Indies may not just be more open to signing more adult artists, but also older “brands” or “genres” of music. Indies are known to be the sanctuary (literally) for veteran artists are were once successful and no longer can find a home on a the majors. Case in point, Sanctuary records (formerly CMJ) made a name for themselves by signing several of the hard rock bands that were once very popular in the 1980s. Surely, labels like Sanctuary aren’t trying to market to the masses nor do they have the budgets, but by signing artists who still have a modest (albeit dwindling) fan base and who are still willing to get out on the road and tour, a potential profit can be made for all parties involved.

Read the rest of the article HERE!!

Getting the most from your entertainment attorney

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back again with 10 tips that will help you get the most from your entertainment attorney! Having written Business Basics for Musicians, Bobby Borg is definitely no stranger to the ins and outs of interacting with an entertainment attorney. Take a look at his tips below and let us know what you think!


00139915Attorneys are necessary to the business of music – and your music career. A good entertainment attorney reviews contracts you receive with your best interests in mind, translates contract clauses and complicated writing into terms you can understand, and knows what issues are most important to negotiate for in recording, publishing, and merchandising agreements.

Once you’ve hired an attorney, you want to make sure that the relationship runs as smoothly as possible. Attorneys are not inexpensive; nor do they have a lot of free time. Keeping this in mind, when you interact your attorney, make sure to get the most out of him/her. The following 10 Tips will help.

1. Be prepared and have a clear agenda

Before speaking or meeting with your attorney, be clear about what you want to accomplish. For instance, you might wish to discuss and better understand specific clauses that you’ve underlined in a music licensing agreement, and then want him or her to negotiate better terms if necessary and practical. Whatever the issue, just remember that an attorney will only advise you about what to do and never tell you what to do. Thus, looking at the bigger picture, be sure to have your values and goals clearly defined.

2. Take notes and/or record the meeting

Be sure to take great notes and ask if you can record your meetings. This way, if something isn’t immediately clear, you can review your notes or replay the conversation later. This is also helpful if you’re in a band and one of the members cannot be present. But just remember that not all attorneys will allow recordings during a meeting. Simply put: a recording provides clear evidence of a misstatement by the attorney, and it may be permitted in a court of law should you ever need to sue him or her. (Believe me, I know from experience).

3. Be on time and carpool

It may be easy for one band member to arrive at a meeting on time, but when all members of a group will be attending, you might consider driving together in one car to ensure that everyone is on time. Your attorney won’t be thrilled to have to repeat what has already been said for a member who walks in the door fifteen minutes late. And you won’t be happy with the bill either.

4. Appoint a band representative

It is a good practice to appoint one band member to serve as the liaison between the attorney and the rest of the band to avoid having every member of the group call whenever they have a question or want an update on a particular matter.

Appointing one member to make calls will also make life easier for your attorney, who won’t have to re-explain issues to each band member, and will also prevent the awkward possibility of each member getting his/her own take on a matter. By having a liaison, your group can put together a list of questions, and then one individual can make the call or attend the meeting. As long as your liaison is reliable and effective in relaying information to the other members of the band, this system usually works adequately.

Should the other members begin to feel they’re relinquishing too much control and are at the mercy of the appointed liaison, a band can always request group meetings via speakerphone or Skype so that everyone can listen in on the conversation. A second solution is to have everyone attend meetings in person but to appoint one representative to do all the talking.

5. Keep your attorney informed

It’s important to keep your attorney up-to-date regarding all business matters and developments. For instance, if your attorney is one of a rare breed who shops your band for deals, and you’re unexpectedly approached by an A&R representative from another label after one of your shows at a big convention like SXSW, your attorney should be the first person to hear about it. It makes sense to keep your attorney informed. You hired him for a reason, right?


Read the entire article over at blog.discmakers.com

Everything an Artist Needs to Know

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics For Musicians, wrote an article that is featured on the Music Connection website. In it Bobby Borg speaks about Producer Deals and the importance of dealing with an experienced record producer. Read an excerpt of the article below to learn more!


00139915While the proliferation of home recording tools has enabled many talented artists/producers to record quality masters right out of their own bedrooms, there are still just as many talented songwriters/performers like you who need help from an experienced record producer.

An experienced record producer not only understands the technical and creative aspects of bringing a recording to life, they also understand—should you ever advance your career to signing with a record company—how to manage budgets, deal with union forms and get guest permissions to use other artists. In short, they are expert project managers and know how to deliver a commercially viable record on time, on budget and at the desired level of quality.

While the role of a record producer is typically understood by most artists, the business aspects are more confusing. Thus, what follows is a brief rundown of when a producer may first get involved in your career, how the deals are negotiated and the producer’s fee structure.

(The following article has been excerpted from the book Business Basics for Musicians, by Bobby Borg.)

WHEN AND HOW A PRODUCER MAY FIRST GET INVOLVED
A record producer’s involvement in your career may begin at a number of different junctures and be handled in a number of different ways. The most common scenarios include: the barter system deal, the on-spec deal, the do-it-yourself deal, the production deal and the record label deal.   

A Barter System Arrangement
When artists are just starting out and have little or no money to pay for a recording studio and record producer, their first involvement with a producer might exist under a barter system arrangement with a local producer.

A barter system deal is a straightforward arrangement where the goods or services of the artist are “exchanged” (i.e., used as currency) for the goods and services of the producer. Just be sure that the terms of the arrangement are clear and there are no misunderstandings about additional ownership of songs, recordings and/or hourly fees owed.

The On-Spec Agreement
Another scenario for artists at the beginning of their careers is the on-spec deal.

The on-spec deal is a situation in which the artist makes contact with a local producer/studio owner (perhaps one who is a friend, fan or close relative of the band), and arranges to record at no cost under the terms of an informal agreement. Such an agreement may state that if the band gets a recording agreement, they will pay the producer a predetermined flat fee for services rendered and consider him or her as a candidate to record the final product for the label. If the artist never gets signed to a recording agreement, the artist never owes the producer any money.

Another agreement could state that the artist gives up ownership in the master recordings or shares in certain songs for a specific term. This way, when the artist makes money down the line, the record producer also gets paid. [Warning: just be sure to understand the terms of any agreement before signing and to speak with an attorney or consultant if unsure about anything.]


Read the article in full over at MusicConnection.com

5 Ways To Overcome Age Discrimination in the Music Business

Author of Business Basics for Musicians, Bobby Borg, has teamed up with Music Insider Magazine as a guest author on their page! You can’t avoid getting older, that’s what author Bobby Borg wants you to know, but there are some ways to deal with the age discrimination that may occur in the music business. Read below to see what more Bobby Borg had to say!


 

00139915Although age can be a sensitive subject for most musicians, you must accept that there’s a general prejudice against aging in the commercial music industry. Generally speaking, the industry views music as a youth-oriented business. While this might totally infuriate you, be sure that age discrimination can be overcome by reading these five tips. 

1. Understand the Rationale: The idea is that a musician’s life expectancy in the pop, rock, R&B, and rap genres parallels that of an athlete’s career span in the sports world. As you approach the age of thirty-five, your chances of succeeding have significantly diminished.

While this is somewhat paradoxical, since musicians’ skills tend only to improve with age and experience, understand that most larger record companies rely heavily on youth, vitality, and sex appeal to sell music. They also prefer signing younger acts that, if successful, can bring them a return on their initial investment for several years to come. Be clear that these companies are businesses just like any other, and bottom line profits comes first and foremost.

 

Read the entire article HERE.

 

Predictions for the music industry: Part 2

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back for Part Two of predictions for the music industry! This time, they focus on artist branding, live performances, and new products that might evolve for musical artists. Check them out below and let us know what you think!


00139915Music isn’t going anywhere – we dance to it, graduate to it, and get married to it. But one thing is for sure, the music industry will continue to change and grow. As we head into the bold new musical landscape, indie musicians must keep their eyes on the future.

1. Shifting demographics mainstreamed (Dan Kimpel, Music Journalist)

In making predictions about the music industry in 2020, I envision that the topography of the music landscape will be much more inclusive of artists who are representative of the shifting population demographics.

I believe that Latin artists, communicating in English, Spanish, and “Spanglish,” will be mainstreamed, and that Asian-American singers, bands and producers will become major creative forces. Songwriters will continue to bond together into “writing camps” and will exert an ever-greater influence as shapers of talent and as arbiters and producers of content. Mixers and remixers will become more dominant, as Electronic Dance Music (EDM) continues to unite the globe through worldwide anthems.

What will never change is the power of motivated, forward-thinking creators to configure music to challenge, change, and inspire the lives of listeners.

2. A focus on exciting music – not the latest technical trends (Mike Gormley, LA Personal Management; former manager of the Bangles, Oingo Boingo, and Danny Elfman)

While the focus in the music business has been on the latest technological trends and delivery platforms, innovative, great music will always be the future and true savior of the industry, whether it be the year 2020 or 2025. When jazz arrived on the scene, it was controversial, exciting, and real – as was rock, rap, and EDM. It propelled the music industry forward and gave it life. But what’s next?

The year 2020 will be marked by a new direction in music that shakes up the world once again and puts the focus back on the art and the talented creators, and not just on technology. Those artists who create something unique will thrive.

3. Extended product lines and stronger brands (Fred Croshal, Croshal Entertainment Group, LLC)

In 2020, music will be consumed virtually everywhere – on platforms that are seen today and others that have not yet been envisioned.

To survive, musicians – more than ever – will have to embrace this technology, but they must also realize that music and the distribution and sales of it will only be a one part of the their revenue pie (and perhaps even the smallest piece).
 
Artists will have to extend far beyond just selling recordings (streams, downloads, CD, vinyl, or whatever new format is discovered), hitting the road, and selling merchandise. Artists will need to grow their product offerings into licensing, sponsorships, production, co-writing, acting, modeling, restaurant franchising, investing, directing, educating, and other new creative ventures unknown today in order to survive and thrive in the new music business.
 
Thus, in 2020, protecting the artist’s true vision, values, integrity, authenticity, and overall brand image is paramount. Those who understand marketing will grow brands stronger than ever – relating to target markets and engaging fans on a far more personal level than they are doing now.  

Long gone are the days of the “mass” broad stroke mentality and narrow mindedness in marketing artists. It’s a new world today and it will continue to evolve in 2020 and beyond. The marketing savvy artist who can grow with it all will thrive.


Read the whole thing over at DiscMakers!

 

Predictions for the music industry: Part 1

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, shares some insight on what the music business will be like in the future in this two-part interview at DiscMasters. No one really knows what the future holds and the music business and the technology surrounding it are constantly changing.  Here are Bobby’s thoughts. Check them out below!  (We’ll past Part 2 next week!)


00139915 What can we expect in the year 2020? Let’s see what a group of attorneys, music publishers, managers, and music industry entrepreneurs had to say about this. Enjoy.

1. Artists are more like tech start-ups and less like wandering minstrels (Greg Victoroff, Esq.)

In the brave new world of pop music in 2020, writers, musicians, vocalists and producers will be more similar to engineers and inventors, creating new apps and software. For those who innovate and monetize, there is vast potential. For musicians who aspire to just be record label “employees,” income from artist’s royalties alone will be insufficient to support a full-time career. To succeed in the world of digital music now and in 2020, musical artists need to think of themselves more like tech start-ups, and less like wandering minstrels.

2. Success that’s earned on your own: DIY style (Don Gorder, Chair and Founder, Music Business/Management Department, Berklee College of Music)

In 2020, as it is today, the marketplace will be overcrowded with music. There will still be the select superstar whose songs reach the masses through the efforts of a support team, but the vast majority of musicians will need to continue taking on a DIY approach to their careers to get seen and heard.

The good news is that technology will continue to advance and make doing it yourself even more possible than it is today. Successful do-it-yourselfers will continue to leverage the latest social media platforms and analytic tools to connect with their fans and fund their projects, partner with product and service companies for branding and advertising campaigns, license their music for film, television, games, ads, etc., leverage relationships with electronic media as part of their marketing strategy, and book and promote their tours and concerts – all with an ultimate goal of getting their music to the ears of the curators of the outlets for consumption, which will exist in business models that are still emerging.

Cutting through the clutter will continue to be a challenge, but great music combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and a lot of hard work will be the winning formula.

3. Affordable DIY services that capture new revenue streams (Tony van Veen, CEO, Disc Makers & CD Baby)

Many music industry trends over the last years have not been favorable toward artists and songwriters: we’ve gone from selling CDs for $10 to downloads for 99¢ to streams for under half a penny. While royalties in general will improve, it has been more difficult than ever for musicians to monetize their music.

As a consequence, independent artists and songwriters will continue to become more and more conscious of how to leverage their intellectual property into alternate revenue streams. In addition to the companies that already exist, you will see many new businesses offering affordable services to DIY artists to capture performance royalties, Internet royalties, mechanical royalties, YouTube royalties, sync licensing for film, TV, games, and commercials. Each of these incremental revenue streams may be small, but in the aggregate they will become a needle-moving part of the artist’s revenue mix.

 

Read the whole thing over at DiscMakers!

 

Bobby Borg on The Jazz Spotlight

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians: the Complete Handbook from Start to Success, was on The Jazz Spotlight Podcast and talked with Yannick Ilunga on a wide range of topincs, including the importance of learning the business side of your music career, how to set (and accomplish) goals, and the future of the industry. Click on the link below to hear the whole interview!

>>LISTEN<<

00139915There has never been a greater need for musicians to understand the music business than now, when emerging technologies make it possible for artists to act as their own record labels, and new contracts are structured to grab the biggest slice of an artist’s revenue pie. But in a digital age overflowing with confusing and ever-changing information, musicians need trusted business advice from a veteran artist who can break down the basics in a language they understand.

The book not only covers legal aspects such as copyright and record contracts, it also shows to how to deal with the people involved along the way: band members, managers, attorneys, talent agents, and producers. Business Basics for Musicians will help musicians to faster navigate to success.

 

Business Basics for Musicians by Bobby Borg

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, discusses another key point that can be found in his book. In the video below you will hear him talk about business relationships with Aaron Mercier of the band, Kings of Carnage.Click play and let us know thoughts in the comments below!

00139915There has never been a greater need for musicians to understand the music business than now, when emerging technologies make it possible for artists to act as their own record labels, and new contracts are structured to grab the biggest slice of an artist’s revenue pie. But in a digital age overflowing with confusing and ever-changing information, musicians need trusted business advice from a veteran artist who can break down the basics in a language they understand.

The book not only covers legal aspects such as copyright and record contracts, it also shows to how to deal with the people involved along the way: band members, managers, attorneys, talent agents, and producers. Business Basics for Musicians will help musicians to faster navigate to success.