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What's the big picture of the music business?

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What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:15 am

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I'm am doing a study on the overall body structure of the music business from the songwriter/artist's perspective and would appreciate some feedback from any experts, executives, college majors, etc. This is a very rough draft that I've put together in the last few days citing Passman's book and Wikipedia mostly. If you have knowledge of the industry please post any changes I should make and/or any major players I might have missed. I think I got most of them in there. I'm still trying to figure out where the unions fit in (SAG-AFTRA and AFM). I see this is a UK based forum, I'm in the USA though so that's the model I'm seeking.

Basically what I'm trying to do here is plot a person who is both songwriter and artist as the center of the universe. From their angle, I'm graphing the relationship between them and the rest of the players in the industry as the product moves from creator to consumer. Thank you all very much for your help.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby Gone To Lunch » Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:27 am

I personally doubt the hierarchical structure chart captures the situation.

The PRS have put out business organisation charts that you may find interesting......
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby Bitsumishi » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:51 am

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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Dec 22, 2012 11:17 am

John1034 wrote:Basically what I'm trying to do here is plot a person who is both songwriter and artist as the center of the universe.

Well, put what you like then, because that's pure fantasy :-)

Remember Sammy Cahn's famous quote? "What comes first, the words or the music?" "The phone call!"
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby MarkOne » Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:20 pm

John1034 wrote:Basically what I'm trying to do here is plot a person who is both songwriter and artist as the center of the universe.

To be fair, this is what most Singer/Songwriters believe :D
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:37 pm

Gone To Lunch wrote:I personally doubt the hierarchical structure chart captures the situation.

The PRS have put out business organisation charts that you may find interesting......
Bitsumishi wrote:PRS Universe of Music

Thanks guys that's just what I was looking for. Well almost, now I just have to figure out where the UK and USA differ...

As for Sammy's quote, if you know science the center of the universe is wherever you are... and I am a singer/songwriter. But for the sake of taking a rip on Sammy, doesn't the phone call come because of the words and music? Afterall it's called the music business, not the record label business. Ohhhhh... LET'S GO! :round1:
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby oggyb » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:30 am

It could just as easily be called "the digital media racket"... :D
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:21 am

It's a difficult time to take a reliable snapshot of the business as a whole and even in more stable times no graph or mind map could really capture the nebulous nature of personal contacts and short term relationships that make up the whole.

What will work for your college (?) project may not necessarily need to be an accurate reflection of reality. Just as well because that could drive you nuts.

Do what will get you the mark.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:10 pm

After further research I've made some modifications. I've included trade unions and trade associations and made some other corrections. I'm not sure the hierarchical style tree chart can accurately capture the business but that's the one I'm using because I just want a very simple view, the simplest. Anyone's two cents would be appreciated.

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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:08 pm

Well, it lists many of the people who may be involved in getting a song from the writer/performer to the consumer. But as a flow-chart I'm afraid it sucks! Sorry. But, to take just one example, the music gets to the studio, meets a producer and musicians, then - just STOPS ?
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:51 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:Well, it lists many of the people who may be involved in getting a song from the writer/performer to the consumer. But as a flow-chart I'm afraid it sucks! Sorry. But, to take just one example, the music gets to the studio, meets a producer and musicians, then - just STOPS ?

This is not a flow chart, it is a tree chart. The product can flow through the lines in either direction.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:29 am

Well, OK. But I still can't see the chart adds any useful information other than "all these people might be involved".
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby zenguitar » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:46 am

The underlying flaw is that you put the songwriter/artist at the top of the tree. Fine for an ideal world, but in the real world you are somewhere near the bottom. If you can bring other benefits to the table (funding/contacts) you can start to leapfrog your way up, but otherwise resources trump talent. It's wrong, I know, but business is business.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:55 am

It might be helpful to try and draw a chart that 'follows the money'. That might be more helpful.

I have been a songwriter a number of times on projects. People know I can write song, so they hire me to write a song and I get a few bucks.

Or, a performer. Someone heard me play piano, so they hired me for a bunch of gigs.

Or an engineer/producer. They found out I have a studio, so they ask tor record and produce a project.

But the key is to know who pays for music creation (not the consumers), and follow the money. It would be helpful to be aware of all the different music creation customers: big studios, local TV stations, website owners, local bands, local companies, churches, ad agencies, local singers, bands who have heard of your reputation, schools, clubs, companies with their own advertising studios, etc.

You could put the person at the center as the person who initiates the project and puts up the money. That could be an lots of different people. But the services they use might be similar.

All the things you have listed are actually services to the customer. You have not listed the customers I think.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby hollowsun » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:58 am

And you've not included all those in retail in the music biz, software and hardware developers, major league manufacturers and smaller independent developers, etc..

And "PRO's" what? Watch your apostrophes! ;)
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:43 am

OK I think I've gotten everyone confused. Let me break it down. The study is centered around the songwriter/artist, that is why he is at the top. This is not a chart attempting to represent the clout or power of the music industry players. It is being designed for a songwriter/artist who is brand new to the business, to brief him an overview of the relationship between himself and all other major players in the business (only as it directly relates to him.) So hardware/software developers, etc., would not need to be included seeing as the songwriter/artist's lawyer does not draw up contracts between the two, neither does his business manager track the passing of finances between the two. The study does not follow the money trail from creator to consumer, it is not attempting to represent the hierarchy of music business players, but is centered around the RELATIONSHIP between the songwriter/artist and the rest of his tiny music world, as directly pertains to him.

hollowsun wrote:And "PRO's" what? Watch your apostrophes! ;)
Thanks. lol
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby DC-Choppah » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:57 am

In that case, you could just draw a box that says 'Customer' and connect it to the song-writer through perhaps an agent/manager/lawyer. That customer is the one you will be having contracts with. But that could be anybody.

Last song I wrote was for a novelist to use on her website and possible movie.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:13 am

Before the OP puts any more effort into creating something that cannot be created, let me tell you that the any attempt to create an org-chart of the music business as it is today (as opposed to the 'dream' music business that used to exist in a few people's imaginations back in the 60s and 70s) is a complete and utter waste of time.

All modern businesses are to a greater or lesser extent INFORMAL. All those people you have in your org-chart as subordinate to the artist (manager, road manager agent etc.) are always outside of any hierarchy. What you are trying to do, is impose the type of hierarchy once found in a Victorian cotton mill. This kind of structure hardly exists today, except in the imagination of some of the less talented university and business school lecturers who have not worked in the real world. Even manufacturing companies have most managerial positions as staff positions that do not have a senior and a junior. Accounts is not 'junior' or subordinate to production, any more than QC is senior or junior to marketing.

In old-fashioned manufacturing, we still have some residual hierarchies, (e.g. production manager -> foreman -> charge hand -> labourer) but in the loose and informal world of music, a visiting engineer can be working for the studio, or the studio can be working for the engineer. The producer may have employed the artist for one week and the artist may employ the producer the next week.

In the music biz, we all just rub along together in a more or less lateral structure.

A real org-chart of the music business would be to put those people in a big circle and then just draw a line from everybody to everybody else that they could possibly have to deal with.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:54 pm

Am I speaking English LOL? This chart is not graphing the hierarchy of the music industry. It is graphing the "hierarchy" of the songwriter/artist's relationship to the music industry. Those who he has the strongest relationship with are at the top.

The lawyer drafts contracts between him and all the others, the manager oversees and advises him on all the others, the business manager tracks the finances between him and all the others. They are up top because he has the strongest and most direct relationship with them. He sees them more than most.

Below is the producer (yes he has a relationship with the producer but mostly only when it comes time to record), the merchandiser (mostly only when it comes time to sell merchandise), the agent (mostly only when it comes time to tour), the publisher (mostly only when it comes time to collect publishing monies), the label (most of the time but mostly through his manager, lawyer, and business manager. There is little direct contact other than A&R as far as I can see.) Correct me if I'm wrong. This is where I want help.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby The Red Bladder » Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:34 pm

John1034 wrote:Am I speaking English LOL? This chart is not graphing the hierarchy of the music industry. It is graphing the "hierarchy" of the songwriter/artist's relationship to the music industry.


You are still trying to create a hierarchy. If you have an org-chart, you have a hierarchy. It may not be a conventional hierarchy, like my production manager to labourer above, but it still is a hierarchy, albeit one of relationships.

Assuming that we are talking about a successful artist, the most important person in his life will be his agent. The agent is often also the manager. Many successful artists employ management on a fixed wage or manage themselves (or get the wife/husband to do it).

Lawyers come and lawyers go. Some people always go to a different lawyer, some go to specific lawyers for different tasks. Any successful artist will have to have a different lawyer for each and every jurisdiction - obviously! Your US lawyer is not going to be the same guy as in France or Germany.

If the artist is clever, he will be his own business manager, but employ a bookkeeper and accountant. Indeed, an accountant for the promoter is required at each and every big gig, to hand over the cashier's cheque for the remaining 50% of the gig money. There will also be someone there from the contingency insurance.

Like all people who are outside the music business, you have left the finance company out. When you are putting a tour together, your relationship with the tour manager and the finance company has to be very, very close indeed. It is the finance company that steers the whole thing into profit and deals with the promoters, raking in those all-important deposits that confirm bookings and give the tour legs.

The finance company also has to work closely with the designers and will be sitting down with them, together with the tour manager and the artist, to keep a handle on costs and cash flow (Cash Floe, gadd, how I loved that woman!) They all will be working closely with the various staging companies (lights, hydraulics, sound, pyro, rigging, trucking, etc., etc.) If the artist is working with one of the big international tour promoters, a rep from these boys will attend meetings as well.

As the man said above, follow the money! The money is in touring and licensing, so the money men behind these two activities are more important than all that guff about lawyers and labels, studios and producers that outsiders think of.

The music business is almost exactly like the circus business. I have known both worlds. In both worlds, it's all about money, trucks, food, bookings, agents, money, TV licensing, money, mud, lights, staging, money, merchandising, money, breakdowns (people and equipment) and more mud.

And like the circus, it is always informal. If you are a flyer in the circus, the riggers are the most important people in your life - but you still want to get paid and you still need to get booked next season.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:27 pm

Assuming that we are talking about a successful artist, the most important person in his life will be his agent. The agent is often also the manager.

This must be a UK thing, assuming that's where you're from. Passman says quite the contrary.

Like all people who are outside the music business, you have left the finance company out.
I wasn't aware of these guys. Who are they employed by? Do you know where I could find more info on them?



As for lights, sound, staging, etc., thanks for reminding me. I do need to include these. Correct me if I'm wrong, on major tours these are usually employed by the venues and charged to the artist right? As far as relationship goes, they're more in contact with the tour manager, not the promoter? What about trucking?
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby narcoman » Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:34 pm

Agents and managers are rarely the same person/team in the UK.
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby Scramble » Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:15 pm

>It is being designed for a songwriter/artist who is brand new to the business

If he or she is *new* to the business then most of your chart doesn't apply, does it? There's no lawyer, no business manager, no concert promoter, no merchandiser, just a few local gigs, maybe some recording sessions at a local studio.

Even ignoring that, your chart is pointless. How does it help you as a singer/songwriter? Or is it for a high school project?
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby John1034 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:16 am

Look, this chart is happening. Just make you're peace with it. :bouncy:

Let me defend my thread for the fifth time, and then hopefully people will actually start to contribute some useful information. (Not dissing those who already have: Shout-out… Gone To Lunch, Bitsumishi, DC-Choppah, The Red Bladder, and last but not least… well actually yeah, least… hollowsun! The rest of you can suck it.)


If he or she is *new* to the business then most of your chart doesn't apply, does it? There's no lawyer, no business manager, no concert promoter, no merchandiser, just a few local gigs, maybe some recording sessions at a local studio.


It is being designed to brief a new songwriter/artist on what their team might look like if they achieve great success. Suuure every team is different, not the same. I guess I’m just going to have to make a typical, AVERAGE, model then. Whew!



Even ignoring that, your chart is pointless. How does it help you as a singer/songwriter? Or is it for a high school project?


It helps a new singer/songwriter by saving them from going onto a forum and being brainwashed into thinking that the biz is way more complicated than it actually is. Or that you need a PHD or 20 years of gigging experience to understand basic principles. :blush:
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Re: What's the big picture of the music business?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:09 am

John1034 wrote:As for lights, sound, staging, etc., thanks for reminding me. I do need to include these. Correct me if I'm wrong, on major tours these are usually employed by the venues and charged to the artist right? As far as relationship goes, they're more in contact with the tour manager, not the promoter? What about trucking?

No, they're a large part of what goes in the trucks. And though you'll probably pick up a certain amount of local labour, you'll tour the vital members of the crew who set up and operate them.

I know this isn't what you want to hear, and you've married yourself to including this chart. But it isn't really much use. All you can really do is give a list of all the possible contributors and say "Many of these may need to be employed - and your music has to produce the revenue that pays them. Frightening, isn't it!"
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


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