Catchy Tune Not Enough To Make Money In Music

The band KISS has come a long way from selling t-shirts and albums. Now, when you go to one of their concerts, you can leave with a recording of the show on a thumb drive. This kind of marketing has become a necessity, not an option, for a lot of acts. With record sales on the decline, musicians are searching for more creative ways to peddle their tunes.

AUDIE CORNISH host:

(Soundbite of song, Rock N' Roll All Nite)

KISS (Band): (Singing) I wanna Rock N Roll all night and party every day.

CORNISH: The band KISS has come a long way from selling T-shirts and albums. Now when you go to one of their concerts, you can leave with a recording of the show on a thumb drive, a tiny pocket memory stick. This kind of marketing has become a necessity, not an option, for a lot of acts. With record sales on the decline, musicians are searching for more creative ways to peddle their tunes. Among industry insiders the strategy is called monetization, and its a hot topic these days.

Mr. MARK SUTHERLAND (Editor, Billboard): Well, monetization in the music business at least consists of looking at some of the ways that people are using music around the world and essentially trying to turn those into genuine revenue streams.

CORNISH: Thats Mark Sutherland. Hes the global editor for Billboard. He just attended MIDEM, a conference in Southern France that focuses solely on the business of music. The annual gathering has become something of an incubator for marketing ideas.

Mr. SUTHERLAND: Theres an awful lots of new things happening in the music business and it kind of changes from week to week, really, what the hot things are.

(Soundbite of song, Take Your Shirt Off)

Mr. T PAIN (Singer): (Singing) (Unintelligible)

CORNISH: These days its all about phone apps; look no further than rapper T. Pain. Hes made a load of money from selling a mobile program that automatically tunes your voice as you sing his songs.

Mr. SUTHERLAND: (Unintelligible) there are people to give them away for free, like, say, Lady Gaga did, use it to A) strengthen that relationship between fan and artist, and B) you know, drive them to other places where they can spend money on product, be that recorded musical or other things.

(Soundbite of song, Bad Romance)

Ms. LADY GAGA (Singer): (Singing) Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah, Roma, Roma-ma, GaGa, ooh la la, (unintelligible)

CORNISH: And Sutherland says online streaming has made a comeback.

Mr. SUTHERLAND: It was a buzz business a few years ago but never really took off. But now certainly in Europe were seeing services like Sportsfly and We Seven become increasingly popular with the public.

CORNISH: So the bottom line is gone are the days in which a band could play a big show and then head backstage.

Mr. SUTHERLAND: In the '70s you had to make a decent album every now and then and go out and tour and really you could spent rest of the time taking drugs and not have to worry. Whereas now, you know, you have to be on Twitter, you have to be on Facebook, you have to be doing your blog. Its a different world, really, and what impact that ultimately has on the music being produced I think we dont know yet, but its going to interesting to see how things develop in the next few years.

(Soundbite of song, Beast of Burden)

ROLLING STONES (Band): (Singing) I'll never be your beast of burden, my back is broad, but it's a-hurting, all I want is for you to make love to me, I'll never be your beast of burden.

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