iGroove Blog — Know-how for musicians
Know-how for musicians  

Advances: Opportunities and risks

Advances always cause heated discussion. While for some musicians it’s the declared goal to get the highest possible advance, for others it’s nothing but a rip-off. We have collected some of the frequent statements and show you the chances and risks. One thing is for sure: an advance is not a gift. You simply receive […]

December 16, 2020

Advances always cause heated discussion. While for some musicians it’s the declared goal to get the highest possible advance, for others it’s nothing but a rip-off. We have collected some of the frequent statements and show you the chances and risks. One thing is for sure: an advance is not a gift. You simply receive the money you would earn in the future already now.

Advances drive artists to financial ruin

It’s standard that advances are non-refundable. This means that the artists are not liable with their private assets and the label / distributor bears the economic risk. Advances that must be repaid under all circumstances are not recommended.

With iGroove, the advance only has to be recouped with the contractually defined releases. If the amount is not recouped after the agreed term, it’s extended. The artists are never liable with the private assets.

Advances are just the same as a loan / credit

Despite some parallels, there are also substantial differences. This is primarily that a credit / loan must be repaid in any case. The risk therefore lies with the borrower. In addition, you pay a fixed interest rate each month, while this varies with the advance depending on how the releases perform in the respective month.

Advance contracts are non-transparent and artists are being ripped off

This happens without a doubt. We therefore recommend that you seek advice from a specialist, such as a music lawyer.

iGroove focuses on full transparency and easy-to-understand contracts. You can determine the term and conditions yourself and see the costs listed in detail. In addition, you can always see how much has already been recouped.

I’m dictated what I use my advance for

Generally there are two types of advances:

Production cost advances: As the name suggests, this is used to pay for the production of the release and is therefore earmarked.

Advances on license payments: In the vast majority of cases, these are not earmarked.

Advances from iGroove are not earmarked and can be used for any purpose.

With an advance I also give away income from concerts, merch etc.

In fact, so-called cross-collateralizing is increasingly becoming the standard. This means that you have to recoup the advance not only with a release, but also with income from publishing rights, concert fees or merchandise. It’s advisable to consult a specialist when negotiating the contract.

There is no cross-collateralizing with iGroove. The advance must only be recouped with the contractually agreed releases.

The fees are insane – I have to pay back more than I receive

An advance is only ever recouped with the artist’s share of the revenue. For example, if you have a 50:50 deal with a label and receive a 10,000 advance, your release must generate 20,000 until the advance is recouped. This covers the label’s risk in the event that the advance is not recouped.

iGroove’s share is between 14-18%. If you choose a 15% deal and receive 10,000, your advance is recouped once the release has raised 11,500.

Advances tie me to a label / distributor for the long term

This is a matter of negotiation. Often contracts go over several releases and the labels can redeem a so-called option. This can have a direct influence on the amount of the advance for your next release through the minimum or maximum fund: for example, if an advance was recouped, the maximum fund comes into play for the next release, if not the minimum.

At iGroove, each advance is calculated from scratch by our artificial intelligence.

If I don’t recoupe, I have to deliver more releases

If an advance is not recouped, it often has to be recouped with the next release. For example, if you received 20,000 but only recouped 10,000 and you receive 10,000 advance for the next release, you must recoup 20,000 again.

The problem with such long-term contracts can be that the terms remain the same, even if you’ve grown tremendously as an artist.

At iGroove, an advance always refers to the contracted releases only and never to additional future projects.

Advances are a big risk because I never know if I will recoupe

This is only a problem if the artist has to recoup in any case, which we do not recommend. Especially because labels miscalculate more often than you might think. Also, you have to make sure that the advance is not at the expense of the budget for promotion / marketing, which the label invests in the release.

iGroove calculates advances very precisely using artificial intelligence. Thus, we reduce our risk, as well as that of the artist not to recoup. In addition, as an artist, you get a realistic preview of your future earnings.

Advances are only for big artists

Until now, this has indeed been the case for the majority. Smaller labels have no budget for advances and the big players hardly sign artists with a small reach.

iGroove wants to change that and also allow artists who are just making their way up to the top to receive advances.

Advances do not bring benefits to the artist

In fact, an advance is not equally valuable at every career stage. An advance can be helpful in the following situations:

  • Planning reliability: you know how much money you have available for the next few months
  • Budget: You use the advance to cover the costs of a release
  • Bypass: Especially an advance for already published releases helps when money is tight
  • Career step: If you want to put all your eggs in the music basket, an advance can help you achieve this goal and free you from the pressure of having to work a regular job.

Thanks to iGroove’s transparency, you can see at a glance what amount you will receive and also what costs will be incurred. We also calculate the expected streaming revenue for the next 48 months, which helps you to better assess whether you need an advance or not and what amount of advance you can realistically recoup.

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What’s the best time of the year to release my album?

December 30, 2020

The right timing can be crucial. So think carefully about when you want to release your album so that it gets the attention it deserves.

The new year is just around the corner and maybe you’re already planning your releases for 2021. Especially as an independent artist, you’re competing with countless other artists for the attention of listeners and media. The right timing can therefore give you an advantage. We’ll show you which months are best and which you should avoid.

January / February

Two good months for independent artists. The holiday rush is over and there are fewer releases from major artists. Advantageous from mid-January, when definitely everyone has overcome the New Year’s hangover. The first two weeks are recommended only if you want to bet on the fact that there is not much else going on.

March – June

In normal times, the festival season is coming up and the first open airs are taking place. Accordingly, many releases appear at this time. Despite emerging competition, this is a good time in which to get the attention you deserve.

July / August

These months and partly already June were once considered the summer slump. Many people are on vacation, so they used to be absent from record stores. In the streaming age, this is not as important anymore. Nevertheless, with vacations and festivals, the focus is often not necessarily on new releases. An advantage, on the other hand, is that the competition is smaller, since many artists still avoid these months.

September / October

Generally a good time. Most of the decision makers in the music industry and media world are back from summer vacation and ready for new music. But the competition is getting bigger and there are more major releases than during the summer months.

November / December

Many major releases come out in the 4th quarter not to mention all the Christmas songs. The competition is huge and it’s therefore rather not advisable to release at the end of the year. This is also reflected in the airplay, because the playlists of the radios are packed and also the focus is more on annual reviews than new releases. If this is still the right season for your release, by all means release before December 15th, unless of course you’ve recorded a Christmas album.

  • This applies to albums and EPs. Singles should be released regularly throughout the year.
  • Be aware of holidays and other events throughout the year that can distract listeners and media in your main market.
  • Try to avoid releasing on the same day as artists who make similar music
  • If your focus is on concerts (hopefully again in 2021), then align the album release with your tour schedule
  • The mood has to fit the season. An album full of sad songs doesn’t fit July and the party album doesn’t fit the foggy November.
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How do I get the Official Artist Channel on YouTube?

December 29, 2020

There are very high requirements to get verified on YouTube. Only channels with at least 100,000 subscribers are considered. Fortunately, there is an easier way for musicians to be verified, namely the Official Artist Channel (OAC), which can be recognized by the music note next to the artist name.

What is an Official Artist Channel?

The OAC bundles all your videos, albums and singles in one place. Instead of a YouTube and a topic channel, you only have the OAC. The topic channel contains all the songs you uploaded to YouTube Music as art tracks (audio plus cover).

This makes it easier for your fans to find the right channel and follow it plus they stay longer because there is more content. Thanks to the music note, it’s immediately clear which is your channel and which are just fan accounts.

What are the benefits?

  • The channel is easier to find and thus generates more traffic
  • The videos and art tracks are sorted and presented clearly
  • You can edit the profile (picture and bio) – also for YouTube Music.
  • Access to analytics data that shows which videos or songs perform best or where your music is consumed the most
  • Promotion: define what you want to highlight on the profile home page.

Just like regular verification, there are no additional bonus features with the OAC.

What are the requirements?

All you need is a YouTube channel running under your artist name and at least three releases that have been delivered to YouTube. In addition, there must be no policy violations on your channel.

In addition, at least one of these points must be met:

  • You work with a YouTube partner manager
  • You participate in the YouTube Partner Program yourself
  • Your channel is part of a label network that works with a partner manager

How do I get the Official Artist Channel?

The easiest way to do this is through your distributor. At iGroove you can simply contact our support and send the following information:

  • Link to your YouTube channel
  • Link to your topic channel
  • Links to three art tracks

It is an advantage if the name of the YouTube channel and the topic channel match. Now all you need is a little patience, as the verification process can take several weeks.

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How to identify fake playlists

December 28, 2020

How do I know if a playlist is serious and thus a placement creates additional reach? We’ll show you how to find out in advance whether a playlist works primarily with bots.

Many artists want to boost their streams, but are unsure if the offers are serious. We have already mentioned it several times, but we like to say it again: NEVER buy a fixed number of streams! Bot streams don’t generate followers or real fans who attend your concerts or buy your merch. But what about playlist placements? Again, it’s important to look closely.

Check the playlist before you book

First, take a close look at the playlist and its curator:

  • Does the playlist only feature unknown artists but has a lot of followers?
  • Are some artists represented with multiple songs in the playlist?
  • Are the same artists in multiple playlists of the curator?
  • Does the curator have multiple playlists that all have roughly the same number of followers?
  • Does the curator have large playlists but hardly any followers himself?
  • Do the curator’s followers have weird, often similar names and often no profile picture?

These are factors where at least some skepticism is reasonable.

In a second step, you should analyze the profiles of the artists that are currently on top of the playlist:

A comparison between monthly listeners and the top 5 cities is particularly useful. Evaluations show that the top 5 cities represent no more than 10% of total listeners. If the number is higher, there is a high probability that bots are involved. You should also check whether smaller cities generate a disproportionate number of streams.

If you are still not sure, you can do the following tests:

The curator doesn’t want to hear your song before adding it to the playlist? Then it’s all about the money and therefore the playlist is probably fake. If he wants to hear the song first, you can do a another test, but it involves a certain risk: send him your worst track in lousy sound quality. If he accepts it anyway, you have to be skeptical.

Check the curator’s social media presence. If he has many followers but hardly any likes, it smells like fraud. If he is cheating on social media, then probably also with his playlist.

If you have access to tools such as Chartmetric, you should check the development of the playlist’s followers. If the number of followers has increased dramatically, you should assume that fake followers have been bought.

If you have already booked the playlist, you can check the following, as already described here, using Spotify for Artists and your distributor’s insights:

  • Streams / Saves ratio (Saves should not be less than 3%)
  • Ratio streams / number of listeners of the song (ratio should be between 40-60%, i.e. about twice as many streams as listeners)
  • Ratio desktop / mobile (more desktop is suspicious)
  • Ratio Free / Premium (more free streams is suspicious)
  • Analyze the origin of the streams as well

As an iGroove customer, you’ll automatically receive a warning if the streaming numbers are suspicious so that you can end the booked service early and the song won’t be removed by the streaming providers.

Conclusion: Many offers seem legitimate, but most of them aren’t. If you buy into fake playlists, the damage is much greater than the benefit.

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Why you should not underestimate the Release Radar

December 23, 2020

The Release Radar offers listeners the new tracks of their favorite artists on a weekly basis. The evaluation of iGroove shows that this leads to significantly more streams for the artists in the release week.

Launched in 2016, Release Radar is one of the most handy features on Spotify for music fans. Every week, they find out what their favorite artists have released. This is also the advantage for artists, because listeners who don’t follow every move you make don’t miss your new release and give it a listen. Our evaluation shows how important the radar is.

What is the Spotify Release Radar?

The Release Radar is an algorithmically generated playlist that is created individually for each Spotify user on a weekly basis. The radar gives listeners an overview of the week’s new releases. According to Spotify, the Release Radar is said to generate more streams than any curated Spotify playlist. This is quite plausible, since curated playlists only include a fraction of artists, but everyone has a chance to get on their fans’ radar.

The criteria

  • In order for a release to be considered for the radar, it must be delivered to Spotify at least one week before the release date
  • It’s not necessary to pitch a release that it appears in the radar. However, if you want to have a certain song in the radar, you have to pitch it. If the pitched song is changed in the 7 days before release, it won’t be taken into account.
  • The release radar includes artists that the user follows, whose music he has listened to, or artists that the algorithm thinks the listener might like.
  • If the listener has already heard a song (e.g. because it was released as a single), it won’t appear in the radar. But possibly another track of the release
  • Songs for which you are the main or feature artist are taken into account. If you are marked as a remixer, it won’t appear in the radar as well as songs with various artists.
  • Re-releases of songs that are already available on Spotify are not considered
  • Each listener gets only one song per artist per week in their radar
  • A song can stay in the radar for up to 4 weeks if the listener has not listened to it yet

What else you can do

  • Try to encourage your fans to not only listen to your music, but also to follow you. The more followers, the more radar streams
  • Release as many singles as possible. With an album you are only in the radar once, but with regular single releases you are constantly in the radar of your listeners.

The Release Radar analysis

We evaluated over 2,800 songs from artists in various genres with different reach. The analysis shows that the Release Radar is responsible for an average of around 14% of streams in the first week. However, the range is wide, for some it only makes up a low single digit share, especially if they are already in large playlists, for others half of the streams or even more come off the radar.

The release radar can give you a good boost especially in the important first week and lead to numerous streams and saves.

You can see how many streams were generated by the radar in your Spotify for Artists. Select the corresponding song and go to the playlist tab.

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When can I get back on tour?

December 22, 2020

More or less worldwide, the concert business is at a complete halt. Countless concerts and tours were canceled in the Corona year, and it’s the lack of fees that is causing existential fears among countless artists. That’s why one of the most pressing questions of our time for musicians is: when can I finally get back on stage? Pollstar asked this question to 1,350 employees from the live music sector.

Cautiously optimistic

The survey shows that industry experts are cautiously optimistic. Slightly more than half of the respondents (54.7%) believe that full capacity will be reached again in 2021. However, only 2.07% believe that this will already be the case in the first quarter. After all, 16.26% believe in the second quarter and a fourth of the respondents consider the third quarter to be realistic.

But not everyone shares the optimism. Almost a third believes that we won’t be able to go to concerts like in the pre-Corona era until 2022.

It’s therefore not surprising that 75% are prepared to continue working with lower capacity, even if this cannot be a long-term solution. The majority of respondents state that they will be able to continue their business for another year at most if the situation does not improve.

Most respondents agree that there will be additional costs due to increasing precautions. However, only 2.37% believe that the majority of these costs will be passed on to the artists and their management. Most believe that the additional costs will be shared between event organizers, fans, promoters and artists.

Drastic losses in the live industry

A further and even more recent study by Pollstar shows that the live industry has suffered losses of 30 billion worldwide this year. 9.7 billion alone relates to losses by the concert promoters themselves. The rest is made up of lost revenue from hotels, restaurants, merchandise, ticketing, sponsorship, transportation, etc. related to shows or festivals that didn’t take place.

It should and could have been a great year for the live industry. This is shown only by the figures of the first quarter, when there was still a growth of 10.92% compared to the previous year. The rest of the story, however, is well known.

After a decade of steady growth, the drastic slump came in 2020.

What will happen in 2021?

As in many other industries, concert organizers are hoping for an early impact of the vaccinations. For everyone it’s clear that a lot of flexibility will also be needed in 2021. Organizers and artists will have to regularly adapt their plans to the circumstances and one will probably see a gradual opening.

Many promoters assume that shows that appeal more to a younger audience will bounce back more quickly. If the target audience is older, it will take a bit more time. In general, it’s hoped that the comeback will begin slowly but surely in the summer. Meanwhile a complete normalization is not expected before 2022.

In addition, many insiders expect the market to become oversaturated once things normalize, as planned tours of two years are packed into just one year.

The situation remains uncertain for the time being, but there is also justified hope for a return to normal. Until then, artists will have to find new ways to get in touch with their fans and compensate for the loss of income. In addition to creative concert ideas or virtual shows, the main thing is to find new income opportunities.

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Why the crisis for musicians will continue after the pandemic

December 21, 2020

Even if the pandemic would be over soon, many artists will feel the after-effects even longer. Find out why this is related to collecting societies and why musicians won’t feel the effects until 2021 or 2022.

The situation of many musicians currently looks something like this: The income from streams and sales remains more or less stable, they get money from the collecting societies but what is missing is the income from gigs and with that maybe also a slump in merch sales.

Let’s take a look at a hopefully near future where the pandemic is under control. Revenues from the live sector are flowing again as usual, and so all is well and as it used to be. Unfortunately, not quite. The problem lies with the income from the collecting societies. They pay out with a delay of 6 months up to two years. For artists, a decline is only noticeable later.

And this decline is massive. According to the recently published Global Collections Report global revenues will decline between 1.8 and 3.1 billion. After growing for years, they are expected to decline by 20-35% in 2020. However, musicians will not really feel the effects of this decline until 2021 or even 2022. Since half of all revenues are generated in Europe, we are particularly affected here.

The falling numbers are due to the virtually complete shutdown of the live sector, but also to the closure of restaurants, bars, etc., which have to pay license fees for playing songs.

Unfortunately, musicians were among the first to be affected by the crisis and will be among the last to completely return to normal.

It is therefore essential that every musician includes these declining revenues in their financial planning. It would be equally important that a long-term state aid for artists is now quickly and unbureaucratically initiated.

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Instagram Shopping: Sell your merch on Instagram

December 17, 2020

Turn your Instagram profile into a showcase for your products. Instead of trying to drive fans to your web store via Instagram, it’s easier to integrate it directly into your Instagram profile. According to Instagram, 70% of frequent shoppers are said to use Instagram to discover new products. And as many as 87% said influencers inspired them to make a purchase. Therefore, turn your Instagram profile into a sales space.

Instagram Shopping is not yet available in all countries, here you can find the complete list of markets where Instagram Shopping is live. What you need is a Business or Creator account. In addition, the profile must be linked to Facebook.

Then you can enter your products via the Facebook Catalog Manager. The next step is to set up your own store on the Instagram app under Settings -> Business -> Instagram Shopping. The verification process takes a few days.

Once the store is set up, the following options are available:

  • On your profile, a “View Shop” button will appear under your bio, which will take users directly to your Instagram store.
  • The integration is done via your own webshop or providers like Merchbar, Manhead or Merchtable. Linking to external stores like Amazon is not allowed.
  • You can tag up to 5 of your products in posts and stories, and the tag will take users directly to your Instagram store.
  • From now on, products can also be inserted into Reels.
  • Of course, there is also the possibility to buy shopping ads. With these, your products will be highlighted in the “Shop” section of the Discover tab or in the feed. These can be set up in the Ads Manager.
  • It’s only possible to sell physical products. The sale of tickets or the link to streaming services is not possible.
  • All further information here

Instagram will continuously expand the shopping options. For example, there are various features that are only available in the U.S. so far, but should soon be available in other countries as well. Among them is the option to buy directly on Instagram, pay with Facebook Pay and thus not even have to leave the app. But already without these additional features, you increase the reach for your products significantly.

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Increase the reach of your music video

December 15, 2020

What is more important, as many views as possible on your channel or maximum reach? We’ll show you why you shouldn’t just push your music video on YouTube, why it makes sense to upload it on another channel, and the advantages of working with influencers.

If you have invested time and, above all, money in a music video, you obviously want to generate as many views as possible with it. It’s therefore important to promote your YouTube video properly, maybe even set up a premiere or book a YouTube ad. However, getting as many views as possible on your channel is not all that counts. We’ll show you why.

You must always keep in mind that the main purpose of the video is to gain new fans and encourage them to stream or buy your song. It’s therefore irrelevant whether all views are generated on YouTube or on different channels. The only thing that matters is to make potential listeners aware of your release.

Facebook

You can certainly make a post with the YouTube link. However, it’s much more effective to upload the video directly to Facebook. Every platform wants to keep traffic on their site, so directly uploaded videos reach significantly more people than external links.

Instagram

Except for the bio, links are practically useless on Instagram. Therefore, you should post a trailer as a post and story and provide the whole video via IGTV.

Use the reach of others

Everyone wants their video on their own channel to gain not only views, but also additional subscribers. But if you don’t have that many followers on your channel yet, it’s worth placing your video on a channel with a large reach.

To increase awareness, it’s worth working with influencers. This does not necessarily result in many views on YouTube, but it increases the reach enormously and ensures additional streams and downloads.

Equally important are the micro-influencers, in other words, your fans. Send the video or trailer to your mailing list and ask your fans to share it on their channels and tag you.

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How do I pitch my song on Spotify?

December 10, 2020

Spotify makes it easy for artists and labels to present their songs to curators with their pitching tool on Spotify for Artists. According to Spotify, about 20% of the pitched songs will be included in a playlist. So there are a few things to keep in mind to stand out from the crowd and increase your chances. We will show you how to proceed and which mistakes should be avoided.

Deadline for pitching on Spotify

Spotify requires that a song must be pitched at least one week before release. Depending on how fast your distributor works, you have to upload the song at least two weeks or better even earlier.

Pitching the song on time also has the advantage that the release radar of your fans doesn’t show just any song of your release, but the one you pitched.

Maintain your Spotify profile

Maintaining and updating your Spotify profile is generally important, also for the pitching process. When you pitch, the curators see your bio and the social media links you’ve entered, which helps them avoid research. If this information isn’t filled in, it’ll not leave a good first impression. Take the time to fill out all the information and keep it up to date.

Choose the right song

Pitch your best song, which is also suitable for playlists. A seven-minute track with a two-minute intro is appropriate for the fewest playlists.

Songs that have already been released, e.g. as an advance single, cannot be pitched again. In general it’s worthwhile to release several singles, because you can suggest more songs . There must always be at least a week between them, because you can never submit two pitches at the same time.

Tags

The form asks you for information about genre, moods, song styles or instruments. This looks a bit like Spotify is mainly collecting data. But Spotify explains:

“The information about genre or mood are extremely helpful for us to introduce the song to the curators”.

So think carefully about which tags fit your song best and don’t try to turn a jazz song into a pop anthem with wrong information. The only thing you will achieve is that the track will end up with the wrong team.

Song description

At the end you have the possibility to describe your song. You are limited to 500 characters and should therefore think carefully about what information you share. Spotify wants to know more about the creation of the song, the inspiration, with whom it was created ( name-dropping!) or generally the story behind it. Put the song in the best light, but avoid too many superlatives.

Also save some space for planned promotions, information about media reports, concerts or the reference to the video of the track.

Spotify has announced several optimizations of the pitching tool. With us you will stay up to date about relevant changes.

Playlist pitching with iGroove

iGroove’s Playlist Pitching introduces your song not only to Spotify, but also to the curators of Apple Music, YouTube Music, Deezer, Amazon Music and Tidal, where it is not possible to pitch the song yourself. Learn more

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