New wave 80s artist Thomas Dolby Robertson told NARM attendees this morning that the successful label of the future will do more to help artists market their products on both new and old media outlets, while giving them more control over the creation and distribution of their work.
“What I love about these days is that the relationship between artist and fan is so much closer,” he said. “When I write new songs, fans can instantly hear it, so the relationship is much healthier than it ever was.”
Artists these days can more easily produce and publish their work, and reap a greater portion of the proceeds from it, than in the past. Labels, or some other form in intermediary, are only needed to acquire new fans who may not already be familiar with the artists.
“I’m not sure how you get from that self-published status to mainstream exposure,” he said. “Those are the services I require in the current market.”
He then outlined the difference between a signed artist in 1982 and a DIY artist today:
– Sales reports in 82 took 2-3 weeks. Today he get’s them daily.
– Royalty statements then were issued quarterly, now he gets them weekly. Payments are received in 2 days rather than 3-12 months. For unsigned self-published acts, royalty cuts are 80%-100%, from 12% in 1982.
– No longer do artists have to pass through such hoops as A&R reps, marketing executives, lawyers, etc in a label system to create their work. They can just post it online and make it available to the world.
“If you’re an artist starting out, this is the best time for you,” he said.
“You can make music unfettered by all of the obstacles I had to face. But new types of intermediaries are important.”