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We Made This!!
We’re in a different country!! Woooo! We are currently in a beautiful little camper stop in a small town in Northern Italy, just on the other side of the Alps. It is insanely beautiful here… and the mountains are HUGE. Aside from all the mozzy bites I have on me (23 at last count!) we feel like very, very lucky people to be here and to be able to see all this beauty every day
This week is the fifth in the series of posts linked to the book I wrote at Uni, ‘How To Make A Living In The Music Industry: 10 Rules and 10 Revenue Streams’. Last week the chapter was all about how it’s possible to make money from recording music - you can read the post and download the chapter here. This week the chapter is about composition services and how it is possible to make money as a composer or songwriter. It goes into detail about all of the different revenue streams and how much can be made in this area of the industry. And because we think you’re great you can download the chapter for free at the end of this post
For the love of composing
Composers and songwriters (for the purposes of this post I’ll just call them all composers) are the people who make the music world go round. After all, how can you possibly have a ‘music’ industry if there is no-one writing any music?? There are obviously music artists and bands who write their own songs, but the majority of the working composers in the world work behind the scenes. These are the creative souls whom the public in general rarely ever hear of, but without whom the world would be a very sad place indeed!
It’s for the love of composing and creating music that Bryn and I started this whole adventure. For many years we have both felt the need to compose music, working separately at first and then together. We both knew we wanted to be able to do it full time, hence working our arses off for a year to get the flat-from-hell sold so that we could buy the van, quit our jobs and free up all of our time - so we could create music 24/7 and ideally, make a living from it.
But as with anything in music, the road to profitability is not exactly straight. There isn’t one simple way to make money from music - it’s not like making a food product for example, where you buy your ingredients, make your product, sell your wares, rinse and repeat. That is a very straightforward, linear process, where it is quite simple to work out the time spent, the money spent, work out your costs, set your prices, etc, and make a profit. No, no, no, music is definitely not that simple. We make the music, sure, but it’s not like a cake where you have certain ingredients and then - voila! - here is your yummy creation, ready to sell to the world! Music is very subjective, so how do you know when it’s finished? Not everything you start writing gets finished. A lot of the creative process is just that, a process. Sometimes you need to write a bunch of drivel to end up with something really good. So by default, probably as much as 50-70% of what you write may never see the light of day. Going with the cake analogy, that means an awful lot of time ‘wasted’ (ie, not profitable) and a lot of cakes never making a penny.
But let’s forget about that part of it for a moment. Let’s say you have a composition that you are really happy with. Let’s say that, like us, you not only wrote it yourself but you have also produced it, so it is now ready to be unleashed into the world. Now you can just take it to market - like you would with your cakes - and sell it to the world, right? Well, yes and no. Sure, there are loads of places you can sell it. Just sign up with any one of the online distributors (these are companies who have agreements with online retailers and streaming services - iTunes, Amazon, Beatport, Spotify, etc - who can get your music on those platforms for a flat fee or a % of sales) and your music will then be there, ready for people to buy. But it’s not exactly like being at a market, where passersby will see your beautiful cake, be seduced by the glorious buttercream and simply must stop and buy a slice. Music is a bit trickier to sell.
Passive or active?
For a start, it’s very passive. Think about it. How did you hear the music of most of the artists you know and love? Hear them on the radio? See them at a festival? Recommendation from a friend? Chances are, you’ve been introduced to that act because you either just happened to hear the music (on the radio or a streaming playlist) or because someone you trust (respected DJ or a friend) recommended you listen. In both cases, there is little effort on your part. This is what I mean by it being very passive.
The majority of music discovery these days is online, but there are very few opportunities for passive discovery of music online, ie, where music will just play as you are bumbling along and you’ll happen to hear and like something. There are websites where music will start playing as soon as you arrive, but I think a lot of people (me included) find these websites quite annoying. On the world wide web, the person browsing dictates what they click on, what they hear, and what they read, so by definition, a person has to want to hear you before they actually do. Sure, there are hardcore music fans who go out of their way to find new music and will want to hear it without much persuading, but the majority of consumers do not behave in this way. So of course, we can have our music on YouTube, we can have it on Spotify, we can have it on iTunes and Amazon - but someone still has to actively want to click on it in order to hear it.
[Bryn chiming in here: Speaking of friend recommendations, can you think of someone who’d like our music? If so, let them know! The two buttons below will share our Wake Up video (or copy this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UUYL1PdMAM), take your pick and give someone the gift of music today ]
Tickling your brain…
So, how do you get people to actively want to hear your music? This is what is dominating my thoughts at the moment. Trying to get into the psychology of people browsing online - what makes them click on the things they do? What makes them engage? They are unlikely to accidentally hear our music, so we need to make them purposefully want to. But how?
What we are learning is that you have to trigger an emotion in someone. You have to make them actually feel something about what you do, long before they’ve even heard what you do. Going back to the selling cakes analogy - when someone sees your cake at a market, what makes them want to taste it? Is it the way the icing squidges out of the side a little bit? Is it because it’s chocolate and that is their favourite? Or maybe the cake is secondary and they just like the look of you behind the counter! It will be slightly different for each person, but what we can say for sure is that something has tickled a receptor in their brain which makes them think they want to consume it. This is what we must do! We must learn to tickle brain receptors! We have to inspire people, we have to interest people, we have to intrigue people! So that all they want to do is see more and hear more! I guess this is the nature of marketing - making people want something before they’ve experienced it. But it’s all new to us!
[Speaking of which, if any of you are a marketing wiz, or know someone who is (ha, I’m a poet!), and you would like to help - please do get in touch! We’d love to hear from you and welcome any and all assistance in this crazy mission of ours!]
How did we get here? Oh yes, composing Well, yes, composing is where it all began for us. It is all about the music and always will be. But let’s face it, if we want to make our living in this world - and we do - then we must learn to master many other artforms as well. Tickling brain receptors being one of them! We could just make music and create 24/7… but if we don’t try and sell our music at the same time then we definitely won’t be making any money from it… plus what would you lovely people be reading instead??
You can download this week’s chapter from ‘How To Make A Living In The Music Industry: 10 Rules and 10 Revenue Streams’ here
What do you think? Got any tips for actively engaging people? Or do you think we should just sack off the marketing and make music 24/7? Let us know on social!
Read on for an update of our travels!
Day 120, Friday 6th July, San Javier to La Salva del Camp
Had dinner last night with an old tutor of mine from Uni, Liz Lane and her husband. In Spain! So cool! Liz is a composer who was a real inspiration to me at Uni so it was really great to meet up again, and extra cool that it was in another country! You can find out more about Liz’s work here.
Today we drove up the east side of Spain to Catalonia, where we spent the night in a little town called La Selva del Camp. We had to call the local police to be let in to the camper stop we’d found so I got to practice my Spanish! Fortunately the officer understood what I said and I understood enough of what he said to get the code, so I must be doing ok!!
Day 121, Saturday 7th July, La Salva del Camp, to Chusclan Vignerie, France
Today Bryn drove. And drove. And drove! 10 hours in total! He drove so much he got swollen feet! And he drove so much that we got a very long way across France. We stopped for the night in a gorgeous free aire in the Cotes de Rhone region of France, actually in a private aire owned by the winery in Chusclan. Shame Bryn still isn’t drinking otherwise I think we would now have a hoard of wine in the garage! It was a really lovely spot, vineyards as far as the eye can see. Plus insanely loud cicadas! From dawn til dusk, all you could hear was cicadas, it was like there was a mini wind-up drummer toy in every tree!!
Day 122, Sunday 8th July, Chusclan Vignerie to Chianocco, Italy!
OH. MY. GOODNESS. We drove through the Alps!
Seriously this drive was incredible. Neither of us has ever seen a landscape quite like it. We are still in awe of it just thinking about it. If you’ve never been to the Alps you must, seriously, stick in on your bucket list - or better yet your next holiday list - you will not be disappointed. Literally every single turn in the road led to another breathtaking moment where we were just lost for words. All we could say was ‘Wow!’.
We started off in vineyards upon vineyards upon vineyards. Beautiful. Then came the first crazy mountain drive, round hairpin bends, winding along the road clinging to the base of the mountains rising up on either side. Then it opened out into pasture land - ‘Heidi’ country as I call it. Then some more gorgeous mountains just for good measure. Then rivers! Then lakes! Then more mountains! Beautiful towns! It was incredible. Made us feel very humbled. And very grateful. We will definitely be returning to the Alps in the summertime, I think we could easily spend about a month pottering about there, hiking, swimming, boating on the lakes, gaping in awe at the scenery… 100% recommended. Simply stunning.
Day 123 to 126, Monday 9th to Thursday 12th July, Chianocco, Italy!
We spent the week at a lovely little aire between the villages of Chianocco and Bussoleno in north west Italy. What a gorgeous spot. Mountains in front of us, mountains behind us, a little river running past us and a large vineyard next to the aire. Neither of us could get out of the van without remarking on some beautiful new vista we’d just noticed! The only downside was that there were shedloads of mozzies and midgies. I got bitten about 12 times one morning and it actually made me feel really unwell, very confused and tired like I was coming down with a cold or something! Fortunately it passed and I was fine the next day. Apart from that this place was just perfect
This week we have finished one of our chilled versions. It sounds really cool! Looking forward to sharing that with you all soon! We also had some time working on solo music projects. All sounding fab!
Ha, just remembered! The other really cool thing about this spot was that it was still used a lot by locals, which was lovely to see. It turned out to be the meet-up spot for the ‘old boys’ - at about 11:40am each day, one of them would arrive with two bottles of wine or cider (he was very friendly and offered us some!), then the rest would arrive every few minutes, in old cars or on scooters or motorbikes. They would sit at the picnic benches and set the world to rights! Or at least that’s what it sounded like to us! Very loud, very animated It was really cool to see the older generation still ‘having it’ and with a zest for life. That’s what I’m gonna be like when I’m 80