In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

A creative space for business discussions.

Moderators: admin, mdc, TAXIstaff

Post Reply
User avatar
regardner
Getting Busy
Getting Busy
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:53 am
Gender: Male
Location: Akron, Ohio
Contact:

In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by regardner » Sat Jan 22, 2022 8:34 pm

Folks,

I encounter the idea here on Taxi and elsewhere that the music of an "artist" has a cache about it that renders it potentially more valuable in the world of sync than the music of a composer.

In this context, the term artist seems to mean anyone who performs and/or records music for the consumption of music independent of sync licensing, and a composer is someone who does not make such music, but rather intends their work specifically for licensing.

Am I defining these terms more or less correctly?

The following is a quote from Taxi's music business FAQ:

"Music Supervisors are constantly looking for music of independent artists who release their own CDs. Independent artists are willing to negotiate for a lesser amount (with the risk that a TV show may not even survive the season, music supervisors try to keep costs down) and can create new music without having to get permission from a label or have a label delay the time sensitive process.

If you are a fan of a particular show and your music seems to you that it would be perfect, send a letter to the musical supervisor and let them know you are a fan and you have a song that you believe will work for the show & tell them which situation/ mood it would be best for.
"

If I wanted to follow this advice, what qualities would I need to possess to qualify as an independent artist? An album release? A touring schedule? A bi-annual open mic appearance at a local coffee shop?

Thanks,
Bob

User avatar
cassmcentee
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 3490
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:40 am
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by cassmcentee » Sat Jan 22, 2022 9:19 pm

A Fan base of 100+ at minimum would be my guess
Robert "Cass" McEntee
"Making music on a spinning ball of Magma"
https://soundcloud.com/robert-cass-mcentee
https://www.taxi.com/members/DosPalmasRecordings

User avatar
regardner
Getting Busy
Getting Busy
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:53 am
Gender: Male
Location: Akron, Ohio
Contact:

Re: In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by regardner » Sun Jan 23, 2022 12:35 pm

Hello Cass,

Thanks for the reply.

I guess a follow-up question would be--if you have even a guess, it's as good as my guess, probably better--do libraries ever place songs from non-"artists"--meaning specifically vocal songs with lyrics--or are songs solely the province of "artists?"

User avatar
cassmcentee
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 3490
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:40 am
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by cassmcentee » Sun Jan 23, 2022 4:42 pm

They use them all of the time.
Plenty of listings asking for songs.
Many libraries looking for songs.
If a Library is looking for Indie Artists usually the listing will state so.
Robert "Cass" McEntee
"Making music on a spinning ball of Magma"
https://soundcloud.com/robert-cass-mcentee
https://www.taxi.com/members/DosPalmasRecordings

User avatar
RPaul
Impressive
Impressive
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:49 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Laguna Hills, California USA
Contact:

Re: In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by RPaul » Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:06 pm

regardner wrote:
Sat Jan 22, 2022 8:34 pm
I encounter the idea here on Taxi and elsewhere that the music of an "artist" has a cache about it that renders it potentially more valuable in the world of sync than the music of a composer.

In this context, the term artist seems to mean anyone who performs and/or records music for the consumption of music independent of sync licensing, and a composer is someone who does not make such music, but rather intends their work specifically for licensing.

Am I defining these terms more or less correctly?
In my mind, the term composer is specifically someone who is writing instrumental music, independent of who will perform it, be it live or on recordings. It may or may not be performed by the composer. For example, for an orchestral work, it could be recorded (and/or played live) by an actual orchestra.

An artist would be someone who performs their own work, be it live or on recordings. While I would normally think in the context of vocal music, that may just be showing my own biases and directions, and I would certainly admit that someone like Yanni or Kenny G, to use a few extremely well-known instrumental artists, would qualify on this front. A performing and/or recording artist may also be performing/recording songs by others as the presentation of those songs, be they live or on recordings is a big part of the artist's personal focus.

I'm going to add one more term here, and that is songwriter. This would be similar to composer, except for the qualification that the pieces the songwriter is writing are meant to be sung. But, just as with the composer, the songwriter may or may not also be an artist in the context of distinguishing between composers and artists or songwriters and artists. There are many songwriters, in Nashville for example, who just write songs with the idea of getting them cut by artists who either do not write or need a few songs better than what they write to become hits.

So the composer or songwriter can also be an artist, but is not necessarily an artist in this context. I guess the key, if you're talking about an album or a single, is whose name is on the release as the artist.
regardner wrote:
Sat Jan 22, 2022 8:34 pm
The following is a quote from Taxi's music business FAQ:

"Music Supervisors are constantly looking for music of independent artists who release their own CDs. Independent artists are willing to negotiate for a lesser amount (with the risk that a TV show may not even survive the season, music supervisors try to keep costs down) and can create new music without having to get permission from a label or have a label delay the time sensitive process.

If you are a fan of a particular show and your music seems to you that it would be perfect, send a letter to the musical supervisor and let them know you are a fan and you have a song that you believe will work for the show & tell them which situation/ mood it would be best for.
"

If I wanted to follow this advice, what qualities would I need to possess to qualify as an independent artist? An album release? A touring schedule? A bi-annual open mic appearance at a local coffee shop?
In the context of this quote it seems to me that the distinguishing bit is not artist versus composer, but independent versus not independent. So, for an artist, the question is if you own the rights to your own music (meaning the music supervisors have much greater leverage than you for negotiating licensing terms) or if those rights are owned by a record company (meaning the music supervisors have to negotiate with a record company, which may or may not have greater leverage -- a major label obviously would, while a small indie label might not). For a songwriter or composer, this would more be a question of whether your songs/compositions are signed to a publishing company, with similar considerations to those for negotiating with a record company.

Of course, there may be some cachet to using music from indie artists who are developing, or already have developed, a following. For example, a TV series may make part of their marketing relate to using music by cool new artists if that helps establish a foothold with their potential viewing audience. And, independent of whether the music supervisor for a particular series cares about this, if your music does get used in some reasonably visible fashion, it's likely to be in your best interests to have the recording out there where people can stream it (and conceivably buy it, though I think we're really in a streaming world these days, especially in the indie world beyond the potential of selling CDs on the live front). But, if it is you as the featured performer on your recordings, whether they are vocal or instrumental, and whether they are released to the world or not (and whether you perform live or not), then it's fair to say you are an artist, and, if you own all the rights to those recordings and songs/compositions, then you're also an indie artist. That said, though, most artists are trying to put themselves out into the world in some way beyond just their music because their persona as an artist, be it on the live front, the recorded front, the video front, or some combination of those, is part of what they are trying to market.

Just to give an example from my own background, there was a period back in the late 80s through the first half of the 00s where my professional focus was purely as a songwriter, though I mostly did my own demos and performed live, mostly at open mics, songwriter showcases, and full-length coffeehouse shows. My goal was to get my songs recorded by other artists, preferably ones who could make them hits, either because they were already major label artists or because they had the potential to become major label artists at some point. In that context, I had a number of single-song publishing deals, some in Nashville that were pitching to major artists, none of which came to anything (and the rights for all relevant songs long ago reverted to me), but the publishers did not get any cuts of my songs. I also got on the order of a dozen cuts of my songs with independent artists, the most prominent of which was a Mongolian pop singer who went by the name Nominjin and took one of my songs top 5 for both radio play and video play in her country, though she changed direction before actually putting out an album, so the recording was never released, other than to radio and TV. (The video is still out there on YouTube.)

However, in the mid-00s, with the potential for DIY artists to get their music out there worldwide via iTunes, Rhapsody, and the other streaming and/or download services of the day, I started also actively becoming an artist. I'd had a website purely as a songwriter prior to that point (that was a big part of my getting the cuts by other artists), but then I started using social media (MySpace) and updated my website to include the artist side of things, including pointing to my recordings on the music platforms of the day. I've been doing that ever since, currently with 4 albums of originals, one of Christmas carol covers, a couple EPs (one of which is original Christmas songs -- one of those songs had previously been cut by two different indie artists/bands and also had been performed by others in churches over the years), and something like 48 singles as of the moment (quite a few, but not all, of which have subsequently made it to albums). In fact, last year I released 13 singles, 8 of which were originals. (All except one of the covers were originally recorded to target TAXI opportunities.) But I'd also love to have bigger artists record my songs and take them a lot further than I'm likely to do. My main goal, though, is to get my songs, and now also my performances, out into the world. And I do love performing live, at whatever level I can.

Rick

User avatar
cassmcentee
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 3490
Joined: Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:40 am
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by cassmcentee » Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:53 pm

Summary:
Your an artist if you want to call yourself that (i do :D )
The listing is most likely looking for an Active Indie Artist with releases/fanbase
Rick wrote a lot of music pre Y2K and after
Rick is an independent Artist because of his Catalogue of Works
Robert "Cass" McEntee
"Making music on a spinning ball of Magma"
https://soundcloud.com/robert-cass-mcentee
https://www.taxi.com/members/DosPalmasRecordings

User avatar
regardner
Getting Busy
Getting Busy
Posts: 76
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:53 am
Gender: Male
Location: Akron, Ohio
Contact:

Re: In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by regardner » Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:49 am

So. let me see if this analogy rings true:

An artist is akin to, say, Apple. Apple makes cell phones, and the brand brings a certain value in the warm thoughts people have about Apple, leading people, perhaps, to be willing to pay more for Apple cell phones.

Simultaneously, somewhere there is a factory, which has no cache, producing cell phones that are functional, perhaps even great phones in every respect, but less valuable than Apples' because of the lack of branding. In the sync world, the parallel would be with songwriters/performers/producers with no fanbase. Bedroom producers, by and large, I'm guessing.

There is a market in the sync world for both branded and unbranded cues and songs. The threshold for becoming branded is somewhere in the vicinity of a one-hundred person fanbase.


Does this sound right?

User avatar
RPaul
Impressive
Impressive
Posts: 224
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:49 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Laguna Hills, California USA
Contact:

Re: In Sync, What Does It Mean To Be An Indie Artist?

Post by RPaul » Fri Jan 28, 2022 10:52 am

regardner wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 9:49 am
So. let me see if this analogy rings true:

An artist is akin to, say, Apple. Apple makes cell phones, and the brand brings a certain value in the warm thoughts people have about Apple, leading people, perhaps, to be willing to pay more for Apple cell phones.

Simultaneously, somewhere there is a factory, which has no cache, producing cell phones that are functional, perhaps even great phones in every respect, but less valuable than Apples' because of the lack of branding. In the sync world, the parallel would be with songwriters/performers/producers with no fanbase. Bedroom producers, by and large, I'm guessing.

There is a market in the sync world for both branded and unbranded cues and songs. The threshold for becoming branded is somewhere in the vicinity of a one-hundred person fanbase.


Does this sound right?
I would say that, by and large, it does not ring true. The main thing in sync is fit for the context (e.g. visuals, emotion, tone, etc.).

However, there will be some specific shows, ads, etc., where there is also some interest in establishing some sort of "coolness" factor where, beyond the music itself, there may be some mutual "riding coattails" potential between "brand" (be that in the ad sense or the brand of the show -- think some of the WB network shows) and up-and-coming artists, where this could play a role. This could especially be true where the brand sees itself as a tastemaker (early Apple iTunes commercials come to mind in this respect).

The main thing in the whole indie artist thing raised in the TAXI quote, however, was more about bargaining leverage and the contrast of "Indie artist" to an artist represented by a record company and/or outside publisher.

Rick

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests