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Many music business professionals, and the artists they support, are adapting to new ways of working during the Coronavirus outbreak. The music industry is demonstrating once again how versatile, innovative and determined it can be – resolutely continuing the business of music, both rising to unforeseen challenges, whilst coming together to help those in difficulty.

Some major music companies are working to provide support during the pandemic. Bandcamp waived their commission on downloads and merchandise on Friday 20 March. Live Nation set up a Crew Nation Fund and PRS for Music launched an Emergency Relief Fund. Spotify contributed to various organisations including the W.H.O, and announced a fundraising campaign, committing to match donations. Billboard have compiled a list of similar initiatives coming from the music industry and are keeping it updated.

Artists are finding incredible ways to connect with their fans in genuinely meaningful ways. James Bay is teaching guitar lessons on Instagram. Chris Martin, Pink, John Legend and countless others have live streamed performances from their homes. Secret Sessions are running an ‘In The House’ series on Instagram every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 19:00, with artists introducing us to their homes, families, pets, and music! Participants of Triple J’s new artist program, Unearthed, have been covering each other’s songs. And playlists, including ‘Quarantunes’, aim to provide strength, humour and escapism.

Producers, songwriters and performers are utilising a vast number of tools to collaborate online. Alongside standard screen-sharing and video calling platforms, an array of music specific applications are finding favour such as Soundstorming, ProCollabs, BandLab, Splice and so many more. Artists are also using this time to hone their craft further. For example, SMB alumni, Jai Ramage, a renowned vocal coach (ITV The Voice/The Voice Kids) now hosts online lessons and is even running a regular open mic night on Instagram.

As an industry we are seeing a number of trends. The picture is evolving and is often territory specific, but streaming appears to be down approximately 10%, whereas video streaming is up nearly 15%. The BBC saw radio streaming increases of 18%, and Global similarly reported a 15% growth. Perhaps the sense of community that radio provides could be an interesting consideration for DSP development in the future. Understanding these shifts and recognising new listening habits is hugely important for artists and the wider industry, so we can adapt, respond and grow in line with market changes. That’s work that is directly addressed on SMB’s up-to-date, expert led courses.

Here at SMB: The School of Music Business we’ve worked tirelessly to create an incredible online learning platform so enjoyment, studies and successful course completion can continue during the pandemic and beyond. Our online courses take place live so you can interact with your tutor and other students in real-time! With high quality video and audio, live notes, quizzes, breakout group sessions and much more - our virtual classrooms provide a genuinely immersive experience, wherever you are in the world. Details of all of our courses can be found HERE. We are also hosting free weekly ‘Music Business Question Time’ sessions, details of which can be found on the SMB Facebook page. Lastly, we would like to take this opportunity to send a message of support and solidarity to all those affected by COVID-19; those in the music industry we love, and in all communities facing this global challenge.

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

We are more aware than ever of the environmental consequences of our actions - and the music industry has begun to take steps towards becoming as environmentally sustainable as possible. Artists such as The 1975 and Billie Eilish have recently committed to make efforts to address their own impact. The following infographic shows some of the environmental costs of music (US data) through the years, and provides a fascinating insight.

I spoke to one expert, whose pioneering work has seen her become a thought leader on the topic, Gwendolenn Sharp of The Green Room. She works to make the music industry as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible. I met Gwendolenn in my work with JUMP European Music Market Accelerator, in which she is a fellow.

Matt Errington of SMB: The School of Music Business meets Gwendolenn Sharp.

Could you tell us more about the work you do with The Green Room and the positive impact it’s having?

After working for many years for various festivals, music venues, cultural organisations and environmental NGOs in France, Poland and Tunisia, I have founded a non-profit organisation called The Green Room, which develops tools and creative solutions to address a core problem, making the music industry as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible, while inspiring greater ambition and without compromising the essence of artistic field work and co-creative relations.

Besides supporting bands, managers, labels and touring agents, I am currently in the final phase of my fellowship with JUMP, a Creative Europe project supporting innovative ideas for the music industry. I am developing a Toolkit called Green Your Touring!, highlighting low-carbon tips, case studies, good practices and solutions for musicians and technicians on the road.

We have just launched a crowdfunding campaign at the MaMA Festival and Convention in Paris in order to help finance the toolkit and related activities.

Please feel free to check, support & share the Green Your Touring! campaign.

Environmental sustainability has become really important to many artists and is being discussed more than ever in the music industry. What changes can we all make, whether as business professionals or artists, to become more sustainable?

Start with something, even if it’s small. If you are in an organisation, start with a conversation with your team, and brainstorm about what could be the first steps you could take. Most events and organisation tend to try to solve the problems when they occur, but the best way to go is probably to implement long-term environmental strategies to prevent them. For artists, integrating these practices can make them more resilient to the fluctuations of the industry.

The UK has always been a great source of inspiration for us working with sustainability in the arts & culture field.

The UK has always been a great source of inspiration for us working with sustainability in the arts & culture field, with organisations such as Julie’s Bicycle (who have just received the WOMEX Professional Excellence Award 2019 for their work and commitment to environmental sustainability in the creative arts sector), Creative Carbon Scotland, A Greener Festival, Powerful Thinking… If you are an organisation, a venue, a festival, a booking agency, and don’t know where to start, you can definitely turn to them for advice and support. Thematic guides Smart Energy for Festivals and Events or the Raw Foundation’s Plastic-free Festivals and Events guide are available for free online and great sources for tips and good practices to be implemented.

Artists and organisations can also join initiatives raising awareness, advocating and taking action, like the Music Declares Emergency movement, or DJs for Climate Action, etc.

Many in the industry are making genuinely positive changes. What developments have you seen that are encouraging?

When they are aware of their environmental impact, the majority of professionals from the music industry, touring artists and crew behind the stage have limited time, information and resources, and don’t know where to get advice on how to face these issues.

The next European Forum on Music which will take place in Bonn next year will focus on “Climate Action: Music as a Driver for Change

The field of live music is caught-up in this very contradiction: the more you get your message and values across, the more physical impact it has on the environment. Bands are facing pressure to tour more and more, and it is very unsettling to try to uphold a high standard of environmental ethics with this nomadic lifestyle. Sustainability is not a trend, it is a necessity if we still want to be playing gigs on this planet in the future. We need to find creative, relevant and realistic ways to reduce this impact, tailored to the reality of the music ecosystem and short-term challenges.

On a European level, networks and organisations are also taking a step up and are advocating for change. For instance, the next European Forum on Music which will take place in Bonn next year will focus on “Climate Action: Music as a Driver for Change”.

Is there a role for the music consumer in eco-responsibility? What can fans do themselves to create change?

Definitely yes. For change to happen within the music sector, everyone, from the larger structure to the individual, needs to be moving in the same direction. In the same way festivals or artists can influence behavioural change, consumers can influence the industry. This can range from using your bike or public transport to attend an event, bringing your own reusable cup and water bottle, or being more conscious about our streaming consumption to boycotting art organisations funded by oil companies or even carbon-offsetting by donating to meaningful environmental projects.

Please support & share the Green Your Touring! campaign

Metadata is one of the biggest issues in the music industry today. It’s believed that approximately 25% of all song writing revenue is lost due to incorrect, missing or unmatched metadata – billions left on the table, never reaching those that have earned it, and often, really need it! The problem has existed for decades and with the massive increase in the amount of music that is delivered to streaming services (40,000 tracks a day sent to Spotify!) and the rise of independent distribution, the situation is only getting worse. We discuss metadata best practices, songwriter agreements, music publishing, performance royalties and much more during our immersive and unique course Music Business Fundamentals.

What can be done?

As I see it, there are three ways to address the problem, we need to (1) create a universal standard for how metadata is collected, (2) have a single source for where the data is stored and (3) agree a system of data verification prior to any release.

There are many new start-ups focused on the ‘metadata data crisis’. 'Creator Credits' embeds metadata into the actual files at the production stage and is led by industry heavyweights Max Martin’s MXM Music, Avid Technology, Universal Music Group and DDEX. 'Splits' is a mobile app that makes it easier for artists to create ownership agreements. So there are efforts being made, but the problem is far from over.

Let’s look at the metadata basics:

In music, metadata (amongst other things) is all of the underlying information attached to a song, an EP or album. Let’s look at some of those:

Song name: Sounds obvious, but this should be the clear and full title (not ‘Song title mix 18’). If there is a featured artist on the track, that should be in the title too, for example ‘Song Title (feat. Artist Name)’. And if it’s a cover, that needs to be there too!

Artist: Artist/Band name

Album: Album title. If the song is a single, list the single title here or leave blank.

Composer: List the full names (check these) of all writers, information about their PRO (Performing Rights Organisation), split percentages and CAE number. Make sure the splits have been agreed in one place with everyone in agreement. If these splits conflict with each other later, the money will be withheld.

Grouping: Who owns the master rights and who owns the publishing rights? For example ‘Master (100%) Record Label Name / Publishing (100%) Publishing Company Name’. If you own the song in it’s entirely you can write ‘Artist Name (one-stop)’ or ‘Artist Name (200%)’.

Genre and BPM: Not compulsory but a good idea. Could help it be found in searches by music supervisors for example.

Comments: Include contact information here for licensing. You could also add the mood or a description of the song. If someone is searching for a particular type of song, this could be invaluable. Make it easy for them!

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