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How to Determine Artist Advances

A Guest Post by Symphonic Distribution

Digital Music Distribution, sell your music online

Digital Music Distribution, sell your music onlineIn this day and age it’s hard to go on any music-related website and not read something about how record sales are falling faster than ever. Even streaming has taken its first dip in years. I only say this because before you decide on what type of advance you would ideally want (if you have that option), you need to decide what type of artist you are: touring or not touring?

With the only real revenue for the 99 percent of artists not on top 40 radio being physical touring, the counter balance to the fall of record sales, it’s important to know where you are making your money from before taking an advance. If you have built a fan base and are already a proactive touring artist, the majority of your money, like most, is coming from show guarantees and merchandise sales. You may not be the biggest or even big at all, but you are able to tread water with your head above by managing your money in a smart way. So when it comes to advances you may look at it in a completely different light than an artist who has little to no touring experience and hasn’t made much of any gross income, and possibly even negative net income.

Here’s the trick to that first question: It doesn’t matter. The answer is and always should be the smallest amount you can take without starving yourself. The trick when negotiating the terms is to know how much will be spent toward marketing and promotion and have that number set. The less you take, the more you should be able to request toward that. This is what helps you make more money from where you actually make money, your live shows. With the rapid decline of record sales, it’s smart to plan for the worst. If somehow you find a label that hasn’t wised up to the state of the business and is still throwing large numbers your way as part of an advance, you need to realize that it’s not real money. That’s money they are crediting you with upfront and then taking from your sales in the future. You usually won’t ever see a dime after your advance from your label if you can’t pay off the advance you take from your record sales. That large advance also takes a chunk of your recording budget and marketing budget, and since you are the 99 percent you need, use that marketing budget to promote your new record to bring new fans to your shows where you sell merchandise and make your actual money.

Think of it this way. You take the smaller advance. You negotiate a larger recording budget and get a better quality album. You negotiate a larger marketing budget and generate more people to hear your new higher quality album. If your new album does beat the odds and you sell a good amount to pay off the owed record budget, you get extra money every quarter. It may not be a lot, but money is money and having it in your hands as a little extra icing on the cake is far better than starving until that next record advance. Let’s be honest, you more than likely blew the first one.

You also help your label out. Not all labels are “the enemy” and are trying to squeeze every penny out of you while pocketing the rest. Most actually signed you because they believe in you and enjoy what you do. By not taking a huge cut it allows them to increase their marketing for you and gain popularity in their respected scene through your brand. Remember, when you were young and innocent and just starting out at your craft, all your favorite bands were on that one label and they were all doing well. You didn’t care about other labels, you wanted to be on theirs because of who they worked with and what they were doing. Popularity is a powerful tool.

Hopefully this helps you determine what type of advance you should take. It’s always a gamble trying to “go big” in the music world. If you want to play your music as your career and not a brief successful stint then you need to plan to not be the next mega-star and instead plan on being able to thrive and adapt at any level you are at. If you do make that jump to the top you will have the skills to manage it and be set for life. Nobody wants to be the next MC Hammer story.

By: Grant Brandell
Service & Product Sales Manager for Symphonic Distribution

Symphonic Distribution was launched in the winter of 2006 by a Music Producer from Tampa, Florida. The company was launched with the intention of providing new and established record labels cost effective digital distribution to retailers such as iTunes, Beatport, Rhapsody, Amazon, and more with a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction. Today, the company has paid over 3.5 million in royalties and distributes music for over 6,000 independent labels and artists, worldwide, which include, Spain, India, South Africa, Brazil and Russia, and has expanded services to Mastering, Marketing, Design, Licensing and Publishing Administration. Symphonic’s team of nine passionate individuals pride themselves on quick responses and direct one-on-one conversations and advising with clients, from the basics of managing a Social Network to providing Technical and Audio Support to clients.

Check out Music Clout’s list of record labels currently considering new artists for representation.


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