Working with Royalty Free Music

When creating Multi-Media Content, Flash or Video Clips for a client’s web site or CD Rom Project, the last thing you want is to get him in trouble with the law. If there’s a need for music in a project, using royalty free music is essential.

Here are some general music tips that you may find useful:

1) Finding the right kind of music

There are hundreds of choices when it comes to royalty free music and making the right decision can be hard. After all, most TV production companies have music supervisors on staff whose only job it is to select appropriate music for projects. Selecting music is an art in itself. In general, you will find that your clients would prefer to use something they heard on the radio, something from their favorite album etc. Unfortunately, that’s copyrighted stuff and licensing an N Sync song for your next ‘how to’ video or CD-Rom may cost you a fortune. What you want to do is find buyout music that sounds similar to today’s popular music. It’s a little harder to find than your typical ‘canned’ music. A lot royalty free music may sound like music from a 70′s sitcom or worse, a cheap porno flick.

A good place to check out is http://www.buyoutmusictracks.com All their tracks are created by established record producers with grammy and gold record credits so you get music that sounds as up-to-date as what you may hear on the radio.

Our tip: Always use music that sounds just a little more energetic than you think you may need. You may listen to the music over and over while you’re putting together your project while the end user may only hear it a few times.

2) Less is not more in production music

When you are looking for background music for a project, choose music with some impact. I know it is supposed to be background music but if you choose high energy tracks, your whole project will leave more of an impression. Listen to a sampling of today’s TV commercials and you’ll find that most of them use very powerful music. You want your work to create an impact and keep viewer’s attention and a strong, powerful soundtrack can do that.

3) When ‘legal’ music is not legal

The usage license on your buyout music CD may be very liberal but it is not a license to steal. You can use royalty free music on all of your projects and as you have the legal right to use the music, your customers can be assured not to get into legal troubles.

However, that license is only extended to you, the purchaser. You cannot transfer that license by copying your CD and giving it to somebody else or by selling the CD. This may be news to you but there’s no such thing as a ‘used buyout music CD’ If you don’t purchase the music from the producers of the music, it won’t be legal still. So, next time you browse eBay for royalty free music, make sure you are buying a new CD, not a used one or it will be useless to you.

4) You get what you pay for

While we’re on the topic of Ebay: You may find offers for entire 4 or 6 CD libraries for $75 or other ridiculously low prices on Ebay. The truth is, these CDs may not even be worth that low price.

One good quality royalty free music CD will cost you between $29 and $69 (some even more) If it’s less than that, here’s what you are likely to get:

  1. Discontinued titles that have been around for 10, 20 or more and not only sound dated but may also have already found its way unto hundreds or thousands of other projects during the years to make your own project sound dated.
  2. Homegrown CDs that are created in somebody’s bedroom studio. You can easily recognize these CDs as they usually don’t have any ‘real’ instruments on it, only synthesized stuff. You can clearly hear the difference between those CDs and something produced in a real studio with real musicians. Our tip: Check out http://www.buyoutmusictracks.com for music. Each of their CDs is only $29.95 and each title contains between 30 and 48 real studio recorded tracks.

5) CD or Download?

With the event of high speed internet, you don’t really have to wait anymore to receive your Royalty Free Music CD in the mail. If you need tracks fast, you can now download buyout music from the net. You can choose only the tracks you need and get to use them within minutes. Single downloadable tracks usually cost a little more money per track than buying a whole CD. On the other hand, you don’t have to buy a whole CD if you only need one or two tracks.

My advice, if you are buying music to ‘keep on the shelf’ for future projects and for your customers to choose from, buy physical CDs. If you need just one or two ‘perfect’ tracks or if you are on a deadline, downloadable purchases may be perfect for you. I don’t know if I have to mention it, but purchasing a Mariah Carey track from Itunes or Napster for a buck does not entitle you to use the music. You have to download your music from a buyout music company so the track is licensed to you.

6) Make your own

You may think, ‘are you crazy? I’m not a musician’ You don’t have to be a music genius anymore these days. Programs like Acid and Apple’s Garageband allow you to create original music by using ‘loops’ Loops are pre-made musical chunks of drums, bass, guitar, strings, whatever, that you can put together like a mosaic to create your own music soundtrack.

The advantage is clear. By creating your own music with a loops program you can make absolutely sure that nobody else is using the exact same music on their project. This will give you ‘original’ music at Buyout Music Prices. All you need is a good musical ear and a couple of loops CDs to get you started. You can find lots of loops CDs and more info at http://www.acidmusicloops.com Their Groove Construction Kits are a great way to get started with music loops. And here’s the best news, you can download the Acid program for free. Just visit http://www.musicleads.net/articles/freestuff.html for free (and legal) downloads of Acid, Protools and many other great music and sound tools.

I hope that these tips were useful to you. You are free to use or re-print this article in your newsletter, ezine, or on your web site.

The Top 5 Myths About Making It In The Music Business

Are you searching for ways to make it in the music industry? In order to break into the music business and develop a long-lasting, successful career, it is important to (first) eliminate all of the misinformation you have heard about becoming a pro musician. Truth is, believing in music industry ‘myths’ will cause you to waste time, energy and money while never getting any closer to your music career goals.

People in the music industry are sent tons of mail each day containing recordings and other materials from talented musicians. Most of these musicians have spent their whole life working on their musical skills in order to get signed to a recording contract. Unfortunately, 99% of these musicians will not get signed, nor will they even hear back from the companies they send their music to. In many cases, music companies throw away a lot of the materials they receive from random musicians. This results in a lot of frustration for most musicians and leaves them wondering why they work hard on their musical skills but can’t seem to break into the music industry.

On the other hand, there are plenty of musicians who DO become successful in the music industry. Building a fulfilling and profitable music career is actually not as difficult as it may seem. However, the majority of musicians do not succeed because they believe in false ‘conventional wisdom’ about the music industry that ruins their chances of achieving their musical dreams. To break into the music industry and become successful, you must avoid the following music career building approaches that most people consider ‘common sense’:

1. Pursuing A Music Degree In Order To Become Successful In The Music Business

One of the most common music career myths is thinking that a music degree is the key to becoming a successful professional musician. It’s true that you can learn a lot about ‘music’ by going to university to get a music degree. However, if you go to college to get a music degree for the sole purpose of making it in the music industry, you are almost guaranteed to fail because:

  1. Most music courses do not cover the specific topic of ‘how to build a music career’. Even if you take classes about music business, they will only present you with a general model of how the music business works. They will NOT show you exactly how to build a successful career for yourself (by keeping your personal goals in mind). In fact, there are tons of musicians who graduate from big music universities only to realize that they are still clueless when it comes to actually earning a living through music. If you go to university with the intention of getting into the music business with a degree, you will ‘at best’ learn a lot about music – but end up back at square one in terms of building a music career. At worst, you will also have enormous amounts of fees and debts to pay back.
  2. People who work in the music industry are not concerned with whether you have a music degree or not. To them, it is MUCH more important that you know how to help them build their music careers, earn more money and become more successful (this requires a lot more than just musical talent).

In reality, very few professional musicians have music degrees because they simply never needed them. They made it in the music business by working together with a mentor who trained them in all the skills they needed to build value for others and earn a great living in music.

2. Taking Music Career Advice From Others Who Have Never Succeeded In The Music Industry

Chances are, you have already received a lot of advice from the people in your life about what you should do to become successful in your music career. Most people will be happy to give out ‘expert’ tips or conventional wisdom even when they really have no authority to do so. Generally speaking, these people are sincere in wanting to help you, but since they have never achieved anything significant in the music industry, their advice is more likely to send you down the wrong path than to lead you toward success.

Consider this: Asking people for music career advice (when they have never actually succeeded in the music business) is like training for a marathon with a trainer who hasn’t run a mile in his life or asking your dentist for legal advice. Additionally, asking advice from musicians who attempted to succeed in music (and failed) is equally as dangerous for your music career. Although these people are perfectly willing to tell you how you should build your music career, they do not really have the authority to do so – they will only lead you down the same path they took (which ended in failure).

Truly successful musicians do not build their careers from the ‘conventional wisdom’ of people they know or amateur musicians who never made it. They work together with a mentor who has already achieved great success and can use his experience to help them effectively reach their music career goals.

3. ‘Playing It Safe’ By Working A Full Time Job And Doing Music On The Side

Most musicians think that the only way to break into the music industry is to work at a safe and secure job while pursuing music on the side. In many cases, they are lead to believe that they can only attempt to get into the music industry once they have saved up enough money (many years down the road). Unfortunately, when people use this approach they end up getting stuck working 40 hours per week and never find the time to work on music. After training many musicians around the world to succeed in the music industry, I have seen this happen countless times. The reality is, you only have a finite amount of energy to spend during your day. When you spend it primarily working at a job that is unrelated to music, you will not have any left to go toward making progress to become a successful professional musician. The worst part is, musicians who take this approach fail to become successful in music and feel a lot of regret and resentment later on in life. There is nothing worse than this.

To build a successful long-term career in the music industry, you make your music career your #1 focus and plan for it accordingly. If you work a lot of hours at your job and have little time to pursue your musical goals, there is a problem. In fact, many musicians have been in this same situation and gone on to become professional musicians. You too, can overcome this. The best way to break into the music industry while working a full time job is to create a backup plan centered around your main music career goals. This plan should gradually help you transition away from your job in a safe and secure manner while giving you more time to work on music AND keeping you financially stable along the way.

4. Trying To Make It In Music On Your Own

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to make it in the music industry is attempting to build your music career by yourself. This is the approach that leads countless musicians to failure. Why? Because when you try to build your music career alone you are forced to either ‘guess’ about which actions you should take next or copy what someone else is doing (and ‘hope’ that it works). Without the expert guidance of a mentor who has already gained many years of experience as a highly successful musician, it is nearly impossible to ‘guess’ the correct course of action you must take to further your music career. In addition, it will not help you to copy what ‘seems to be working’ for others because their situation is different from yours – what works for them will not necessarily work for you. If you use these approaches, you will eventually:

  1. Stop trying to break into the music industry and continue working at a full time day job for the rest of your life. OR…
  2. Spend many years trying to succeed in the music business while becoming increasingly frustrated because you can’t seem to make any progress.

5. Hoping To ‘Get Discovered’ By Uploading Your Music Online

When it comes to breaking into the music industry, most musicians immediately wonder how they can put themselves out there to new fans, record labels and music companies. In an effort to do this, they upload their music to as many websites as possible thinking that this is what you are supposed to do to get noticed. The truth is, this approach will rarely get you even a handful of listeners, will not help you earn a good living as a musician and will ‘never’ get you heard by the right people in the music industry (who can help you move your career forward). Here are the reasons why most people who take this approach will fail:

  • They do not understand how to effectively promote themselves and their music.
  • They don’t have thousands of enthusiastic fans waiting for the release of their new album.
  • They have no strategy for attracting new fans while simultaneously transforming their current fans into true FANATICS.
  • They do not have a strategy to help them earn a living through multiple sources of income at once.

Musicians who achieve the greatest success in their music careers do NOT merely upload their music online and wait around to get discovered. They create a strategy for working toward their musical goals while raising their personal value in the eyes of other in the music industry (by expanding their fan base and building other important music business skills). After doing this, they simply approach the companies they want to do business with and negotiate a partnership that will bring the most benefit to both sides of the deal.

If you are serious about breaking into the music industry and becoming a successful professional musician, it is imperative that you work together with a mentor as soon as possible. By doing this, you will reach your musical goals in much less time and finally be able to make a good living as a musician.

Music Marketing – The Essentials of an Effective Music Press Kit

As a struggling independent musician in a highly competitive over-crowded market it should be left unsaid that you need to stand out from the crowd. There are many ways to do this. There is music publicity, radio promotion, extensive tour presence, and the almighty music marketing and music promotion. You need to get your message out there –period.

Getting your music marketing message out there is one thing but getting the right message out there is another. Your professional image as an independent artist is of the utmost importance in order to rise above the sea of competition. Most independent bands and independent artists have some sort of a music press kit or music promotion kit that they use for promotional purposes. Generally, musicians will use either a traditional print music media kit, a digital press kit (DPK), or an online EPK (Electronic Press Kit). But just how professional and convincing are they?

A frequently asked question that I get all the time from my independent artists and musicians is which type of press kit should we put together? Which kind of music press kit works best and is most impressive and effective? The answer to that question depends on a few things.

What I mean by this is that I recommend creating and maintaining two types of press kits — either a print or digital music press kit, and an electronic press kit. The reason for this is simple. Certain media outlets, labels, venues, music management companies, etc. prefer a print press kit or digital press kit with your full blown CD so it can be listened too on high efficiency stereo equipment to get the full effect of your music and its production qualities. Others prefer not to have their office congested with piles of press kits, and their preferred method is just reviewing your music online.

For the reasons just noted, we recommend you do a print or digital press kit and have one online as well. There’s really nothing to creating an online EPK so why not have it available. There are a few very good EPK services out there and they cost just a few dollars per month. But I am putting an emphasis on the fact that an EPK (Electronic press kit online) is not enough. You still must have the traditional print or digital press kit in your music promotion arsenal.

It is notable to mention that your Music press kit is probably your most valuable promotional tool and it needs to be taken very seriously. Other than your CD and live performance it is usually the first impression of you as an artist that labels, venues, and other music media outlets will receive. There are many graphic art firms that specialize in the preparation of media promotion kits that you may want to consider if your budget permits. If not, for a few dollars, a little creativity, and time and effort, you can do it yourself. Here are the basic elements of a print press kit and Electronic press kit, and the professional means by which to go about it.

In your traditional print music press kit version the elements to include are a professionally designed cover with your logo or photo, a cover letter of introduction, Band or Artist biography, a professional 8- x 10- black and white glossy promotional photo, media feature articles and press releases, album reviews and quote sheet, your full length – extended play, or professionally recorded demo CD, an industry CD-one sheet, a business card and professionally labeled envelope. The supplies needed are heavy stock paper, portfolio cover, large envelope, address labels, business cards, and your 8- x 10- glossy photo. Now here’s how to go about putting the print press kit together.

COVER AND LETTER OF INTRODUCTION:
Your professional music press kit should have an impressive cover. This should include a photo of the artist, artist’s name, and artist’s contact information. Sort of like the cover of a book. You should also include a cover letter of introduction. This should introduce you as the artist stating briefly a little about yourself. Don’t get too specific in this letter you can leave that for the bio and other media which you will include.

Make sure you address the letter to one specific person – - being personal is important. It gives the appearance of a non-cookie cutter look and that you feel this media outlet, label, venue, or music agent has significance. Make sure that either at the top or the bottom of this letter you have included your full contact information or your artist’s representative’s contact information. The cover letter should be inserted just inside the kit’s cover prior to any other information. The contact information should also be included at the bottom right on every page in the music promo kit.

Artist or Band Biography:
The next page or what would actually be the first informational page of the music media kit would be your artist biography page. Here you should include a brief history of the artist or band, a little about each member if it’s a full band. This should be no longer than one page and should not be a long drawn out history of the band but just a brief synopsis of what you have accomplished and where you plan to go. More importantly, you should include things like significant shows or tours, contests won, radio play, or any achievements that you feel are noteworthy and may raise you above others in terms of popularity and development. Keep it simple, concise, and meaningful. If there are no writers among you or your friends than we highly recommend having your band bio written for you by a professional music copywriter. It’s so important and it must be professional.

Media and Press Section:
The following pages in your music promotion kit should be media and press. These are basically significant clips of any feature articles you may have received in music industry magazines, or newspapers. Don’t go overboard. Include only media clips that really highlight you as an artist. Pick the best five clips you have and make sure they are professionally reproduced. Noting irritates a person receiving these kits more that sloppy crooked copies of media. Take pride in the quality of the kit. Plastic see-through partitions should be used for each individual item.

Album Reviews and Quote sheets:
You may want to consider including good reviews of your CD and quotes you have received regarding the CD or your performance. This page should be professionally laid out with categorized headings. One should be -Album Reviews and the other should be Quotes. Don’t forget to put quotation marks before and after each review and quote.

CD: Either a Full Length Album, EP, or Professionally Recorded Demo:
There are a few different ways to attach your CD to your music press kit. If your portfolio has a sleeve in the rear you can just slip it in there. Another method is to use Velcro strips placed on the rear of the CD and attached somewhere on the inside of the back cover. This however is not the recommended method. Especially if the rear cover of your CD has important information printed on it. If you are enclosing a full length record or EP (Extended Play) the hope would be that you have taken the time to release a professional recording so its professionalism is up to snuff. However if you are only using a demo CD it is extremely important to note the following:

- Make sure it is of professional recording quality (No basement stuff)
- Make sure the production quality is as professional as possible
- Include no more than 3 songs, maybe four of your very best
- Place them in a sequence of best
- Do some semblance of professional cover art and labeling
- Make sure your contact information is displayed on the demo
- If you really want to make sure, have it evaluated by a professional

CD- Music Industry One-Sheet:
If you are enclosing a CD of a professionally recorded and commercially released full length album or EP than it’s a good idea to attach a music industry one sheet. One-Sheets are generally used during the music distribution process but by enclosing one it gives the recipient of your press kit more insight on your actual record. A one sheet usually includes a photo of the album cover, album title, artist’s name, brief description of the record, track listings, UPC code, price point and a few other things. Notes in the one sheet should include touring information, radio play, some quotes, and a few other things. The one sheet should be professionally written and produced as it is an item that generally can get into the hands of very important people.

Business Card and Professional Envelope and Labeling:
If you or your representative has a business card that should also be attached to the folder somewhere. Once the package is fully assembled it should be placed in a professional envelope with printed address and return address labeling. This may seem very time consuming and you may think, why can’t I just write out the recipient’s address. Well, that looks sloppy and unprofessional and remember what we said about sloppy. A lot of people won’t even open a package if it looks unprofessional on the outside. Some may call us anal-retentive, but we get results by utilizing these professional methods.

Some important notes to help you make the most of your print music press kit.
One thing you need to remember is that things are constantly changing with you as an artist. New feature articles, new national tour, new more updated image/photos, etc. Therefore once you get the first version of your music press kit finished, you are never finished. Keep updating it with new materials and new photos for future mailings. Remember when it comes to your music press kit, you are never done. It’s a work in progress.

Once you have sent your press kit to someone it does not end there. FOLLOW UP a couple weeks or so later with a phone call, email, or correspondence. Labels, media, and venues receive hundreds of press kits weekly. Don’t let yours get lost in the shuffle. Make sure to bring it to their attention and to the forefront of the barrage of music press kits they receive.

The Digital Music Press Kit (DPK):
The Digital Press Kit generally contains the same information as the traditional print music press kit, although it has the ability to allow you to actually add more without being overcrowded. Basically all your information, your bio, media articles, music, quotes, etc. are housed on a CD Rom as files. The DPK, because of certain expertise involved in programming, graphic arts, etc., should however probably be professionally done. Unless of course you, another band member, or someone you know, is proficient in doing this. The benefits of a DPK are pretty obviously. They take no paper, no portfolios, no paper photos, or any print media. Everything is digital. The DPK is usually housed in a DVD Case which has professional artwork. So there is still the element of graphic artwork involved on the cover and CD stamp. Overall, the DPK is a good alternative to the print music press kit.

Electronic Press Kit (EPK):
The Electronic Press Kit, better known as the EPK is basically an online version of your promotional materials — sort of like a website but not quite. It’s similar to the DPK only in that all the files and graphics are digital. You basically create an EPK like you would create a website. However there are a few good services out there that provide template based WYSIWYG editors that basically give you the opportunity to simply upload your files. There is usually a section for your biography, your photos, your press, your music, your videos, and your backline requirements. The EPK is something that you should use in addition to your print or digital music press kit.
Whichever kind of press kit you decide to use, please remember it must be professionally reproduced and prepared. This is your first impression so you must make it a good one.

©2009 Ken Cavalier All Rights Reserved

Rock Music – The Popular Type of Music

Rock music is a well accepted form of music, which is a combination of drums, guitars and bass. This music uses keyboard instruments like piano, synthesisers, organ, etc. There is a band of musicians who focus only on rock music and they are called rock band. Rock music is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world. Hard rock is specially liked by the western youth.

Today, people are crazy about music. They want to listen their favourite music whenever they have leisure time. Music is created to give you pleasure. The fascinating world of music lets you enjoy music in one form or other. There are various types of music these days: pop music, folk music, jazz music and rock music. All these type of music are enjoyable to hear. The songs take you through different emotions. Rock music is loud and fast than anything you’ve heard before.

In 1960, British and American rock bands became popular. Bands like Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Queen, Black Sabbath, etc. are some of the famous bands. In 1980,the genre that was quite popular was glam metal. The various artists like Twisted Sister, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Queen, Kiss, Sweet and the New York Dolls were the artists of 1980′s.

This type of music became popular in the 1950s in America and Europe. This famous music is mainly based on older musical styles like the rhythm and blues music originated by African American performers such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard. The music has a heavy focus on guitar, drums and powerful vocals. The most popular artist of rock music in the early days was Elvis Presley. His dance and powerful music can surprise anyone. “The Beatles” became successful in the 1960′s. This group was inspired by Blues and rhythm.

Rock music is evolving itself and coming in a variety of styles. Other music forms like heavy metal are also a form of rock music. Some of the heavy metal bands include Metallic and Megadeth. Rock music comes in a wide range of forms like soft pop and heavy metal. This “Rock ‘N Roll” type of music became popular in 1950s and 1960s. This new sound came from many musical styles.

In the initial days, this music was admired only in small clubs and on radio. Afterwards, it became famous with the programs like American Bandstand. Then, people could view their favourite bands on the television. Many people criticised about this type of music as they did not like the loud and fast lyrics.

Rock music began with jazz music, blues tunes, etc. It also featured electrically amplified guitars, drummers and harmonicas. By the mid-1950, performers like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Joe Turner became famous with the white audiences. Radio disc jockeys named this music rock ‘n roll.

One of the best musical album, “Sticks and Stones” has everything from fun to catchy guitar riffs. It covers a range of emotions and depicts the depth of their talent. The album grabs attention with the song “Cathedral.”. The catchy rock beat combines with a variety of instrumentation. The title track “Sticks and Stones” is also worth listening. The hard to resist lyrics would make your day. The instrumental track “ZOZ” is a classic jam track with brilliant double guitar interface. Another noteworthy feature of this track is the striking beats. Another beautiful track is “All Roads Lead to Home”. This track shows the fast and catchy style of the band. Lastly, there is a song that most college students can appreciate. “Raise a Glass”, an old Irish folk song has people singing along in the background. The album is a mixture of a broad variety of the music in the history of rock. This rock album is definitely worth listening and deserves a space on your iPod.

You can find a variety of rock music videos online and find the top tracks in the rock music charts. Don’t wait, just browse the internet to get your favourite rock

Colorado Creative Music Case Study Part 2

STEP Analysis

The STEP analysis of the Colorado Creative Music aims at analyzing macro-environmental factors of the music business the company is engaged into. These factors fall into political, economical, social and technological groups (Pearce, Robinson, 2000).

Political factors affecting music business in whole and CCM in particular: strong political stability in the United States; regulatory and legal issues concerning music business including copyright laws for copyright protection of both music writing and recording, copyright-related legislation touching upon the issue of virtual internet promotion and distribution, such as The Audio Home Recording Act (1992), No Electronic Theft (NET) Act (1997), “The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act (DPRSRA) 1995, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, “Pending legislation: Music Online Competition Act and the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Protection Act (CBDTPA)” and others. Environmental regulations and employment requirement do not affect business CCM is engaged into. As for the tax policy, in 2000, from total income of $216,614.05 the company had to pay $4,744,97 of taxes, which is not high rate and amounts to nearly 2 percent from the total income. In whole, it should be noticed that political factors are favorable for music recording industry and for CCM particularly.

Economic factors include indexes in the macro economy that can affect music recording industry. Here also, macroeconomic factors, such as economic growth, interest rates and inflation rate are favorable for CCM. Thus, the U.S economy kept growing steadily since 1995. CPI falls down in 1997, 1998. Unemployment rate decreased gradually from 1995 to 2000.

Social factors, covering demographic and cultural aspects of the environment external to music recording industry are rate of population growth, age distribution and carrier attitudes. The population growth in the United States is steady and age distribution also favors the music recording industry. It should be noted that for music industry in whole, teenagers and 20-years-olds are primary customer segment, but CCM aims at attracting people of 40-60 age range. Thus, the considerable share of American population fits this target market.

Technological advancements in music recording, promotion and distribution have several effects on the recording industry. One aspect of the issue is that musicians are no longer dependent on major recording labels to create or distribute their products. (Viljoen & Dann, 2000) The MP3 software alternative to the CD becomes more popular since 1998. In the space traditional audio can fit 12 to 15 audio tracks; MP3 software can store approximately 150 music tracks. “The move towards MP3 as the new format to replace CD just as the CD replaced vinyl albums have been accelerated by the rush of new portable MP3 players on the market – some for less than conventional Sony Discmans.” (Viljoen & Dann 2000, p. 173). On the other hand, new digital technologies which appeared in late 20 century not only facilitate the process of music recording, but make it considerably cheaper, providing the possibility for multiple firms with limited resources to enter the market. Thus, if in 1980s, professional recording studio with all recording equipment, working on vinyl or tape carriers, cost several million dollars and therefore was a domain of 5 or 6 major recording companies, in 2000, assembling professional recording studio could be carried out at cost of only $5,000. All the equipment and hardware, due to the global advancements in technology, are much more affordable for an average artist or businessman.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

* Cost advantages with new technology arising from the digital revolution. Not only assembly of studio with all necessary equipment and hardware is cheaper, but duplication of CDs, storage and shipping are less expensive as well. Low cost of production, duplication (duplication of 500 CDs ranges from $1.90 to $3.63, duplication of 2000 CDs costs about one dollar per CD), shipping and storage makes the final product less expensive and more affordable for the customers, thus widening the range and scope of the target market.

* Positioning of CCM in a distinctive market niche. CCM is microlabel recording company which specializes on classic and traditional instrumental music.

* Growing customer base and customer loyalty within target group. Customer base growth due to expansion of product lines (4 already, each year 2 new product lines emerge), and geographical coverage of listeners.

* Good customer service shown through the direct contact between Darren and his fans.

Weaknesses

* No clear strategic vision: CCM needs a long term vision which includes all areas of the business, from marketing and management to distribution and human resources. At the moment the company faces a dilemma of further strategic development, which will be focused on either enhancing or developing the recording company or more active promotion and distribution of the products through the possibilities of other companies (the company is currently regarded by its management as potential object of acquisition or investment)

* Competitive disadvantages: CCM are not able to enter the retail market due to its current level of sales. Competitors such as major labels have advantage because they have major market power and influence. Such firms can specify when their music should be played on radio and negotiate large contracts with distributors and retail outlets, hence giving themselves broader appeal.

* Limited channels of distribution: at present moment the company heavily relies on such distribution sources as direct sales, which include sales at the gig, shopping mall distribution and sales in the back end (800 number order, website order processing and mail orders). These channels are major sources of profit for the company. Nevertheless, to expand its consumer base, the company needs to acquire formal distribution channels, such as sales through traditional music distribution networks and others.

* CCM is short in financial resources to pursue new opportunities. Profits are thin, meaning new opportunities may be unobtainable and long term improvements may not be afforded due to initial costs. To conclude a contract with major labels, which would provide the company with the access to traditional product distribution, the firm needs to sale at least 15,000 copies of its products per year. From the other hand, high sales numbers are impossible to obtain without good traditional distribution channels.

* CCM is losing ground to larger firms because of limited exposure. CCM at present does not reach global or national audience like independents and major labels. CCM needs to broaden its reach and widen its customer base.

Opportunities

* Serving additional customer groups by expanding co-operation with other artists and enlarging the Acoustictherapy and other product lines with new marketing strategies.

* Internet through expanding e-commerce and releasing MP3s.

* Expanding sales nation wide.

* Acquiring channels of traditional distribution to reach wider customer base exposure

* Developing new technologies to cope with the driving forces of the industry.

* Releasing compilations with other artists has proven popular. One strategy could be to assembly the songs (such as Accoustictherapy) at the studio, and sell the completed disks at a discounted rate back to the performing artists in their hometowns. This method would cover the costs up front and give the players a financial incentive to push the product.

* Pushing sales into non-traditional areas such as weddings, shopping center music etc.

Threats

* High number of new entrants and growth of other smaller labels due to the digital revolution. In addition, major labels or independent labels could decide to enter into CCM’s domestic markets and try to drive the smaller labels out of the market.

* Lose sales to substitute products like mp3s or internet downloads

* Vulnerability to industry’s driving forces because of CCM’s weak position in its industry, taking into consideration the fact that the company occupies microlabel segment of the market and is profitable primarily due to the low costs of digital recording.

Five Forces Model of Competition

Michael Porter’s model of competition (Porter, 1980), if applied to music recoding industry, comprises the following components: Rivalry among sellers of recorded music (competition for better market position and competitive advantage); artists and other suppliers of music to producers or sellers of recorded music; distributors, retailers and individual customers of the music; competitive pressure coming from substitutes of recorded music towards winning customers; and threat of new entrants to the industry of recorded music.

Perhaps, the strongest competitive force belongs to such factor as Rivalry among producers and sellers of music products. The music recording industry has 4 clearly identifiable segments: major recording studios, independent labels, microlabels and vanity labels.

Major, or first-tier, companies have large quantities of artists under contracts, reaching the number of 100, specialize on multiple types of music – rock, country, jazz, classical, traditional and other, and have formal and reliable national and international channels of distribution. The examples of such companies are Columbia, Sony Music, EMI, GMG, Warner Brothers, Atlantic Records and some others. As the mater of fact, such companies are not numerous and their recording equipment is rather expensive, amounting to no less that couple million dollars, since these studios record music with analogue and not digital equipment, thus receiving three-dimensional, saturated, rich sound, instead of correct but plain digital sound.

Independent labels have 10-100 artists under contract, focus on recording of one or two major music styles and have either national or most often regional distribution channels. Examples of independents are: Higher Octave, Metal Blade Records, Rhino Records, WAR, Windhan Hill, Soundings of the Planet. Such companies are more numerous than first-rank companies and can use analogue equipment as well as digital. Generally, independent labels strive to grow into major ones, but for that they need to invest large amount of money into amelioration of their equipment.

Microlabels have less then 10 artists under contract and are tightly focused on definite style of music. They are characterized by small staff and manager performing as the leading artist of the studio. Microlabels have rarely formal distribution system and heavily rely on direct sales to fans and wholesale to clubs and specialty retailers. On American market, microlabels are presented with Etherian, Evol Egg Nart, Cuneiform Records, CCM and a large number of others. Generally, such companies survive competition due to low cost of digital recording.

Vanity labels are the fourth, the last and the most specialized segment of the music recording industry. They are founded by independent artists for recording and selling their products. Examples of vanity labels are Bob Culbertson, Watson and Company, Lao Tizer, Esteban Ramirez and many others. (Darren & Winn , 2003). At present, CCM is the microlabel that strives to convert into independent label.

In the first place, the competition among rivals is carried out on the basis of popularity of the performer and songs recorded by their companies. Recording studios intensively compete to attract popular of promising artists to sign contracts with them. If the songs or artists are highly popular, price is secondary factor which may influence the competition. However, if the artist is lesser-known or songs recorded are not very popular, price does play role as the competition and strategy factor. In the distribution process of the rivals, the particular importance is attached to getting access to traditional channels of music distribution, such as retail musical stores, major chain record stores, independent record stores and Internet distributors such as Amazon.com. These means are very important for selling CDs of the artists apart from direct sales on their performances. Also, another factor that greatly influences CD sales is advertising of songs and radio promotion and transmission.

For CCM, rivalry is by far the most important competitive pressure source. The strong competition from rival producers and sellers of music can be explained by the fact that the performers of CCM are not known to the wide public in comparison with the artists of the first-tier and independent labels.

The competitive threat of new entry, is, to the opposite, by far the weakest competitive force, ranked between weak and moderate. Barriers for entry are not high for the new producers of recorded music, especially those targeting limited segment of the market and employing cheap digital technology of recording. CCM can serve the brightest example of such entry. Such cheap digital recording technology can be assembled nowadays for no more than $5,000. Still, expensive analogue technologies keep costing hundreds thousand or even millions. The technology employed by the firm automatically determines its resources and rank in the music recording industry. Besides cost of the equipment, the main subject of the competition for new entrants will be distinct market share and sales volume. Considerable sales volume, in its turn, depends on the ability of new entrants to attract famous, popular or widely known performers and singers whose songs are able to get to the top of the popularity charts. Given the fact that virtually all popular artists have already signed contracts with major recording studios, this is significant barrier for new entrants. Another important barrier is gaining considerable channel of distribution. Generally, large distribution centers and music CD retailers are interested in selling the music of famous performers and unwilling to accept the products of relatively unknown artists. For the CCM, the threat of new entry is not very strong, since the company targets rather narrow market segment. Though, if the new entrant uses the same recording technologies, distribution channels and targets the same niche in the market, the fact may become an issue of major importance.

Competition from substitute products can be considered moderate competitive force in the music industry. Such substitute products are be presented in the form of providing consumers with possibility to listen music with other that CD means such as radio, cable TV music channels, live concerts, local bars or night clubs with live performances or recorded music, and internet. Internet has become by far the most important and strong substitute to traditional buying CD, since music provided on the web is most often cheaper or completely free and is not much inferior in quality than .wma format of CDs. Therefore, for certain amount of people these means serve as effective substitutes, but for music fan, buying official CD is obligatory. In the case of Colorado Creative Music, people can enjoy the performance on live concerts of these artists and decide not to buy their CD. Therefore, from CCM’s viewpoint, this may be regarded as fairly significant competitive force.

The forces left are bargaining power of suppliers and bargaining power of buyers and collaborative buyer seller relations, which are both strong competitive force.

The first, bargaining power of suppliers depends on the popularity and reputation of artists. Those who are popular and whose recordings sell well, have strong bargaining power, they can chose among numerous recording studios. CCM specializes on recordings of infamous artists, and therefore it enjoys weak bargaining power, since artists involved with CCM do not have many alternatives for studio record and CD distribution.

Bargaining power of buyers and collaborative buyer-seller relations is very strong competitive force. The major distributors of recorded music supply CDs to the leading music stores and other retailers of music, these leading distributors stock about 40,000 copies of a CD and work on 60-90 working schedule retaining the privilege of full return of investments for the unsold copies. So called “one-stops” are distributors which provide products for the independent music stores in smaller quantities and very often with limited range of music types. Generally such distributors prefer to handle stock CDs of the very popular artists or at least well-known artists and often they are not interested in going into distribution of CDs of unknown performers. Therefore, CCM faces great difficulty in acquiring decent and formal distribution, especially in getting its products sold by such music stores as Sam Goody, Tower Records, Borders Books and Music, and Barnes and Noble.

Also, a great role in the distribution process is played by getting the music heard by people so that they would be more willing to buy the CDs. This includes playing the music on the radio stations, on TV music channels and including soundtracks into movies. Until the performers and artists of CCM become so famous that they are asked for in retail music stores, the company has little chances to receive considerable representation by major CD distributors. The manager of the company, Darren Skanson, has contacted some retailers on his own and found out that it is very time-consuming and onerous task to get his CDs distributed by retailers in his own local area. The people he hired to tackle the problem had little luck either. CCM has had some experience of selling the CDs through one-stop distributor, but it was not very successful due to high markup imposed by the distributor on the CDs of CCM. In the long run, Darren plans to make his product lines such as Darren Curtis Skanson, Music for Candles and other artists, popular enough to have their CD distributed through major music stores. But at the present moment, predominant part of CCM sales volume stems from direct sales such as sales at the gig, shopping mall distribution and internet, mail and telephone orders of the musicians’ CDs.