The advent of the Internet completely changed the way we do business in the music industry. Advances in technology and social media tools are revolutionizing the way we consume, produce, distribute and discover music. EDM artists have had a tremendous growth because they understood and utilized the power of new technology.
EDM is a brand inherently tied to technology. Artists often start from their laptops full of music, and grow to integrate new technology into their live production, using innovative software and other technology to deliver powerful live shows that pack arenas and stadiums.
Furthermore, EDM artists have harnessed modern technology’s power and design to foster a personal and intimate following. Modern technology and social media are designed to focus on the individual in a very authentic and meaningful way. This is in stark contrast to many other media, like television, where people are merely passive receptors to the information and big brand advertisements being broadcast to them. Basically, in those instances, they tune out. Social media is personal, intimate, and intentional. People proactively share, market, and distribute the music they like through their Twitter, Facebook, and other personal social media platforms. Many EDM artists understand this and use this personal and cherished space to directly communicate with their fans. They respond to tweets, comment on other people’s music, and regularly release personal videos about their creative process. The fans have direct access to them and not only hear the artist, but feel that they themselves are being heard. This creates a legion of loyal fans both online and off.
Additionally, many EDM artists were early adopters of the free music model, and even now, many top EDM artists (to the great consternation of their labels) continue to release their music for free through social media. Many EDM artists put their music up as samples to be remixed, reused and released. Then they use social media to comment, like, and share these remixes. Accordingly, fans feel like a part of the creative process. One artist’s song is not merely a single song to be consumed and forgotten, but constantly regenerated. This continues to push the genre to be innovative and fresh.
However, while such practices have helped push EDM into the spotlight, it is critical for EDM’s continued growth for artists to educate themselves in the music business. EDM is no longer underground; it is a thriving and vital business pulling in $4 billion per year. EDM artists have prided themselves on using social media and their own marketing and distribution skills to build EDM into the goliath it is now. This is another reason why they must now educate themselves to push themselves to the forefront of their business as they’ve pushed themselves to the forefront of music. After all, the music industry is still a business – a business ripe with shady business characters, unlicensed agents, and gangster promoters. Being uneducated in the basic tenets of copyright and trademark and failing to understand the deal points in traditional business relationships such as merchandise deals, record deals, and music publishing only creates a space where the unscrupulous can come in and take advantage as they did in genres of music before such as the early days of country, R&B, and rap. As the EDM scene began underground, many electronic artists are still “managed” by nightclub workers or back-alley promoters who are taking exorbitant fees in exchange for their incompetency. A successful business cannot be run like this. Unless EDM artists acquire music business acumen and the perspicacity necessary to protect themselves, these disreputable characters will destroy the brands these fabulous artists have built.
Get yourself a real, licensed music agent and a manager who is at a real company with loads of experience managing music artists, impeccable relationships, and has a team-player mentality. Get yourself a credible music lawyer who has experience putting together deals and drafting contracts for major music artists across multiple genres. It does not matter if your lawyer is not familiar with every single EDM artist in the world, as long as he or she is well-respected in the music business and well-versed in drafting, reviewing, and negotiating complex rights agreements worldwide, liaising with a stable of other specialized attorneys in other jurisdictions. Get a business manager (which is just a fancy name for an accountant in the music industry) who specializes in the music industry to handle your money and advise you on investments. Having a licensed agent on board is especially important as your career grows so your manager and lawyer don’t unintentionally run afoul of California’s Talent Agencies Act. Together, this business team will ensure that all of your rights are being correctly monetized, that your deals are sound, and that you are not being robbed blind by incompetent advisors.
Artist must take control of the future of EDM. They must understand intellectual property rights, including both copyright and trademarks to protect their assets. They must learn the basic tenets of the law, deal points, and industry customs to understand key issues and form strategic partnerships for touring, merchandising, branding, and more. They must learn how to build an effective team to realize the potential of their creativity and music. Only by educating themselves can EDM artists continue to design and drive their own success.
Join our panel at Canadian Music Week in Toronto on Friday, May 9th, called “Surviving the EDM Boom: Three Critical Keys to Success,” where we pull together some of the best experts of the EDM music industry to discuss the business tools necessary to sustain the remarkable growth and success of EDM.
– Dina LaPolt
Dina LaPolt is an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, California at LaPolt Law, P.C. For more information on LaPolt or her law firm please log onto www.LaPoltLaw.com and follow @lapoltlaw and @dinalapolt on Twitter.