Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Digital Music Business FAQ - What is The Holodigm? - Match 27, 2010


The Holodigm Corporation is based in a one room cabin high in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is run entirely on volunteer and collegiate intern labor. It is also the fastest moving force in the creation of a new music industry paradigm. The central product is the first on line, audio-visual, interactive text book.

The Holodigm System provides a comprehensive training in the eight core professions of entertainment. Our online education program presents an industry overview and analysis of the systems, mechanics, protocols and politics of the contemporary music Industry. It is part higher education and part coaching and mentoring. Holodigm Society members gain access to a myriad of products and support services.

The Holodigm Seminars course provides the initial income stream, it is generating a loyal customer platform from which a myriad of production and manufacturing systems previously, provided by record companies, will be launched. The digital convergence has imposed a severe decline in the century old record business. This does not mean that the ancient concert business will suffer a similar fate. Those same digital forces, that have decimated the postmodern record business, are presently engaged in carving a new business model to address the future direction of millions of music professionals and fans.

Established in 2008, by veteran agent, manager and record executive John Hartmann, The Holodigm is an on line sanctuary for artists and entrepreneurs seeking to build careers in the music renaissance. The core demographic of our customer base is the millions of bands posting music on the Internet every day.

The infrastructure of the music industry is built around publishing, concert and record commerce. Every generation chooses a musical hero. The contest to be the one at the top of the charts generates the global music industry mechanism. As a new paradigm evolves the creative community has no template for how to launch a career. The Holodigm provides a map, strategy and method for bringing the band from the garage to the professional realm. We are the missing link in the evolution of digital and music.

With just one full time employee, and a free-lance, part-time staff of interns and professional advisers, The Holodigm has established a marketing position with its central product, The Holodigm Seminars. We have proven the profitability and scalability of our business model. An array of ancillary tools, text books, DVDs and interactive programs are in development. The on line “Songworks” and “Coaches” services will connect aspiring songwriters and bands with world class record production and song craft.

Over the next 36 months, the Company intends to replicate its success by:
• Expanding its promotional and Internet marketing strategy
• Increasing the on line content for The Holodigm Music “Academy” division
• Developing enrollment in The Holodigm Music “Society”division
• Continuing to develop the Holodigm Music “Media” division
• Creating reciprocal trade agreements with the primary music manufacturers.
• Building the infrastructure to provide full time Web rejuvenation and repair.

The business model leverages an extremely large industry with enormous systems that will not expire from the loss of one of its components. All economies considered equal, digimodernization will turn out to be a great thing for the entertainment industry.

The advent of free music and low cost infrastructure has brought the extant universal library of music to the widest audience in history. Collegiate level education in music and business is creating a higher standard and it will produce a music renaissance.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Digital Music Business FAQ - Making It Big - March 15, 2010

Making It Big

Lindsay Stanger asks:

It seems as though... 30 years ago when a band got signed to a major record label they were bound to at least be a one hit wonder if not a superstar. I have some friends that are either solo artists or in bands that were signed to major record labels and some even received a pretty hefty signing bonus...why is it that nothing ever seems to happen for them after they are signed?? Does the record label give up on them even after originally seeing potential? Is this common?

Hartmann responds:

All size is relative. "Big" is in the mind of the beholder and "making it" is a very nebulous term that has unique connotations to different people. One of the phrases most often used by music fans to describe their favorite artists is to say "they are making it big." But what does that really mean today? For a thing to be described as big something else must be regarded as smaller. The big four record companies have lost their way and the old system is no longer cost effective. The small artist owned and operated record company will emerge as the next big thing in music.

The standards of success in the old music industry paradigm were much more clearly defined than they are in the digital music renaissance. For more than one hundred years the concert business evolved in a symbiotic union with the growth and development of the record business. The technical link that bonded these two businesses together was terrestrial broadcast radio.

From the late eighteen hundreds, into the nineteen twenties and thirties, the antiquarian record business progressed from printed sheet music, to Edison's cylinders to shellac discs vulnerable to breakage. This was the acoustic period for recorded music. The play back systems of the day did not utilize electricity in their drive train or amplification mechanics. Radio receivers came in all shapes and sizes from simple crystal head sets to larger more elaborate pieces of furniture.

Music was forced to compete with comedy and dramatic programming for a share of the limited air time. Local stations operated at most twelve hours a day. Eventually radio replaced singing around the piano as the dominant form of in home entertainment. The "Great" Caruso, Rudy Vallee, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and many of their contemporaries sold millions of records on the strength of radio airplay. This led them to extensive film and personal appearance careers.

The process was rudely interrupted during World War II when the distant sources of shellac were no longer readily accessible. Manufacturing techniques and materials developed during the war enabled huge leaps forward in the analog recording and hardware delivery systems. By the mid fifties the modern record business was born out of the marriage of AM radio and forty-five RPM records. The low cost record player was easily acquired by the baby boomer generation.

Millions of teenagers were engaged in the collection and trading of "singles" as the seven inch, vinyl discs with the doughnut hole in the middle were called. Into this musical sanctuary of the young exploded the dynamic force that would drive the record business to unprecedented heights of popularity. Elvis Presley, The Hillbilly Cat, who would eventually be regarded as the King of Rock & Roll brought charisma, sex appeal and an incredible singing voice to an entire generation.

The infrastructure that was created to service Elvis and his contemporaries provided a vast public platform from which the postmodern record business would emerge. It was technology once again that pushed the envelope and prepared the way for the marriage of FM radio and thirty-three and a third RPM long playing albums. The driving force in this era was The Beatles.

Rock & Roll music eventually consumed more radio air time than all other content combined. The record business infused free recorded music and vast advertising and "payola" dollars into the system. A music hungry public fully engaged their heroes who reached the top of the charts and embraced the artist's records and personal appearances as their primary source of entertainment.

The process was slick and smoothly run. Hundreds of small record companies proliferated with many enjoying critical and financial success. As fame and fortune accrued to a steadily growing coterie of artists the public clamored to see their favorite rock stars in concert. The first to take advantage of this demand were the disk jockeys. Many gained enormous credibility with the radio audience by being the voice of the promotional vehicle and the self appointed arbiters of taste.

A disk jockey out of Cleveland named Alan Freed coined the term Rock & Roll and produced many of the earliest rock concerts and tours. A platter spinner from Philadelphia produced the first major touring events with "Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars" which were bolstered by his enormously popular "American Bandstand" television show. Both were caught up in the "payola" scandals of the fifties. Although no particular guilt was ever established, Freed was destroyed by them and died destitute. Clark went on to dominate music TV for fifty years.

During the last half of the twentieth century the infrastructures of radio, records and concerts became inter dependant and all three activities flourished together. During this time period there was a reasonable expectation that if you could get a record deal, mount a live act and demonstrate a modicum of talent and charisma you could have a productive career in the music industry.

This did not mean that everybody in the game became a superstar, far from it. In fact a core principal developed over time that prevails today. About ten percent of the artists competing at the professional level achieved financial success. This was enough to keep the industry healthy and growing. The remaining ninety percent of the artists failed to make a profit and moved on.

Today digimodernization has imposed a harsh new system on the music industry. Digital distribution of music has decimated the record industry. Low cost production and post Napster file sharing have drastically reduced the number of records purchased, while simultaneously putting more music in play than ever before. Mom and Pop record stores have disappeared along with the major chains. Within a decade ninety percent of recorded music will be acquired on line.

The myriad of record companies have been merged and consolidated down to four primary record groups that dominate the business. With the loss of control over the radio promotion and brick and mortar distribution systems they once dominated these four giants are engaged in a free fall of their own creation. Short sighted executive decisions vainly attempting to preserve the high profit, album oriented CD. The RIAA sued their customers and lost direct access to the fan base.

This accounts for the very small number of new artists achieving extraordinary success in the music renaissance. Only a handful of new acts have reached financial profitability in the past decade. The number of units sold to reach the top of the Billboard magazine charts has plunged from over a million units to slightly more than a hundred thousand. These facts reduce the investment dollars available to promote new acts. The cost of traditional radio promotion has remained the same or increased. Without the potential to sell a large volume of product the game, as we know it, is over.

While the record business struggles to find its digital life preserver, the concert business marches on, and continues to grow at a healthy pace. With all the recorded music ever produced readily available on line without the imposition of economics the fan base is building at an enormously accelerated rate. This new "free" form of promotion has created a global forum for fans to share music on a peer-to-peer basis eliminating the middle man and insuring the demise of the labels.

The next big superstar will be discovered and nurtured through the Internet and the potential for success is greater than ever. As a promotional tool the world-wide-web is infinitely more powerful than AM and FM radio combined. It allows artists and their managers to be proactive and independent about how they expose their music to the public. The musicians and producers can also market their music and branded products through low cost on line systems. More importantly they can capitalize on high profit margins by selling CDs directly to their fan base.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Reflectacles will be playing Brixton, a pretty sweet bar on Redondo Pier, at 8:30 PM this Friday, March 12. Also appearing: Merchants of Moonshine.

100 W. Torrance Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA.

Come and support your local Rock n' Roll movement. Tickets are $10 in advance, so please contact Hartmann or your favorite Reflectacle for purchases. We do, indeed, deliver!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Digital Music Business FAQ - Stairway To Heaven - March 5, 2010

The Stairway To Heaven

amarti76 asks:

In a recent lecture you talked about how an artist can make it to the big top through an alternative means, through climbing "the stairway to heaven". What are the advantages of taking this route as opposed to other more "conventional" methods. Is one way more preferable over others in order to ensure an artist long run success?

Hartmann responds:

The ancient music industry has evolved a system of mechanics and protocols that govern its traditional activities. The performance of live music in front of paying audiences can be as simple as one person singing in the street, for donations, and as complicated as tens of thousands crowding into sports arenas for major music events. The singular difference is measured by gross box-office potential. The dollar bills and loose change that land in the troubadour's guitar case are just as vital to his survival as the million dollar pay days that superstars take from larger venues.

The street musician is providing the very same service, from rock bottom, as the major artists provide from the big top. The primary difference is how many zeroes follow the number of dollars earned from the performance. The concert production business is the primary activity of the music industry and provides the core infrastructure around which the rest of the game is conducted. Every performing artist is in competition with all the other artists great and small.

Singers, musicians and bands seeking fame and fortune in showbiz must overcome the gravity in the elevator to the big top. There is a natural resistance from those in power to relinquish the rewards to the new contender. The baby band is competing for the same entertainment dollars as the established artist. Those earning the most, at any given time, fiercely resist the emerging artist's success by holding on to their spot in the ever changing music market place.

The competition is conducted by entrepreneurs and the creators of music through the traditional relationship between artists and personal mangers. Regardless of the nature of their financial arrangement this marriage of careers makes the manager the CEO of the artist's corporation.
The pursuit of their shared goals creates the commercial activity that generates box-office receipts and ancillary income streams through marketing of branded merchandise and recorded music.

Although every management team faces the same challenges in overcoming the circumstantial resistance to their success, each career has its own unique set of characteristics. Some are enabled by extraordinary talent, beauty and charisma. Often fledgling artists are supported by circumstances that have nothing to do with their inherent talent. They have access to the big top through one of the pathways on the stairway to heaven. Accessing these alternate routes is more about luck and natural selection than the artistic or entrepreneurial skills of the core team.

There are five paths on the stairway to heaven. The most powerful is "nepotism." If your father is an established star with proven talent and popularity, you as his offspring will be given an opportunity to demonstrate your craft. If you reveal prodigious creative and technical ability the public may embrace you as a star not having fallen far from the parental tree. Such public appreciation can lead to instant access to the star making machinery and insure your success.

A second route to the big top is "personal wealth." If you are a trust fund baby with deep pockets, you can invest your capital in the development and maintenance of your career. During the postmodern era the costs of mounting a live act were traditionally born by the record companies. With the advent of digital downloading the major labels can no longer justify huge investment in new artists. The loss of this financial source does not effect an artist who can fund his enterprise.

Corporate "sponsorship" can also provide an alternate route to the big top. As the digital convergence continues to erode the traditional systems for marketing and promotion, more and more business enterprises are seeking a direct connection to their customer base. By providing vehicles, cash and equipment to musical attractions many companies are actively engaged in the growth and development of new artists. This will increase as Internet advertising proliferates.

The fourth pathway is the slippery slope of "talent TV." There is no question that the talent contest television format has catapulted a handful of artists to the top of the charts. A few of them have even built what appears to be enduring careers. Conversely, it has brought the dreams and aspirations of many thousands of aspirants to a dead halt. Regardless of how far into the process one evolves, the careers produced are more about celebrity than talent. The notoriety accumulated in a few television exposures does not form the basis of an enduring career in music.

There is a long established tradition in showbiz that performers can sometimes "sleep" their way to the top. This is probably the riskiest and most painful method of building executive access to the people, systems and mechanics of the music industry. However, its efficacy cannot be denied. If you are an artist married to the president of the record company, it is reasonable to assume that you will get productive attention from the vice-presidents and staff, thus ensuring a concerted effort. There is a recent case that proves even in divorce such an artist can come out well ahead.

Regardless of how one gains a place in the elite fraternity that occupies the top ten percent of the music industry, surviving there is a daunting process. There are no guarantees in showbiz and in a game where duration is the primary goal, very few careers last a lifetime. The ones that endure are built one performance at a time by establishing a personal rapport with their fans through the concert arena. Artists starting their careers on the stairway to heaven must build the same management team, to stay on top, that would have been required to get there in the first place.