Submitted by Peter Astedt
The music industry will be in a really bad place fairly soon. I just got another email from a computer analyst company suggesting that I should try to find new artists on Soundcloud since it’s a platform used by artists that don’t want to sign up for distribution.
To be honest, if you as an A&R are only looking for numbers on Soundcloud, you are not really an A&R, you are just a person that wants to cut percentages into artist money. Today it’s not hard to get distribution, and it’s not expensive either. An artist that releases music and doesn’t want to get it through a distributor to get it onto normal listening devices is probably not even worth pursuing. They are definitely not taking their career for seriously. Soundcloud is a great tool for sharing music if you just want to share the music that you are making. In regards to a career it’s mainly just a promotional tool.
I get more and more of these from new A&R people thinking that they could discover an artist just by analyzing numbers on social media. The problem with this is that yes, you can find artists that you can scam by taking their percentage. Most likely though if an artist is going up through the numbers it’s someone behind it like a manager or producer and even sometimes record label that will help out as an investment. Something that the majors was very much aware of when they used this method a couple of years ago and found out how managers were a bit ahead of them and picked up small artists and when they contacted the artist the fee to get the artist upfront was so high that it was impossible to recoup the money. This of course ended up mostly in the management’s pocket. That was over six years ago that I first saw that strategy.
I guess it’s not a problem when you are just going to take percentages out from things going digitally. The problem comes when you are going live. Right now, this has not been a problem since live has been shut down. I guess it will be a striking problem pretty soon. I get it quite often from artists with massive numbers picked up by someone that they have no clue whatsoever how live performance is done. In fact, they many times have never been on a stage, at least I can’t find any live video of them on YouTube. Also, they don’t know what they are doing. One such artist told me recently that she needs good speakers on her show – I still don’t know what good speakers are? Another one was seriously asking if he needed to bring instruments.
They might have millions of listeners or viewers on social media but that doesn’t make experienced performer like Tina Turner or Madonna. Even if you are going direct to a big stage with great lighting and sound, there is a long path to be able to conquer with such an audience. Just sitting at home releasing music digitally with Autotune on and then cheating on different algorithms to get an audience. Your scam will be exposed when you try to do a live show. My guess is though in the next few years we will have a wave of really bad live shows from what will be called bigger artists.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.