Decoding The Music Industry: The Shifting Landscape of Releasing Music

Revisit the second installment of Beatport’s new three-part panel series, “Decoding The Music Industry.”

4 min
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Aug 23, 2023
Vincent Morris

The second installment of Beatport’s live panel series ‘Decoding The Music Industry’ took place at their new London HQ on 17th August. Titled ‘The Shifting Landscape of Releasing Music’, the session was hosted by Beatport’s own Alex Branson joined by three guest panelists – Kitty Amor (DJ, producer, and promoter), Sarah Wilson (TuneCore), and Titus Moore (EMPIRE).

The panel illuminated a range of topics – from ways to navigate the release and publishing of your own music, to the importance of being business savvy and understanding what it takes to be a truly independent artist.

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“I think a few years ago, people thought of self releasing platforms as an option when you’ve tried everything else. Whereas now it’s been proven with so many artists that actually you can make it a long term success for yourself, by putting the right teams, the right knowledge, around you. So it’s not just a short term option.” – Sarah Wilson

With the advent of the internet and social media the music industry has transformed considerably, challenging legacy institutions and creating more opportunities for artists across the spectrum.

In that time, a number of innovative companies have come to market offering more transparent and flexible services for artists. Services such as TuneCore and EMPIRE offer a suite of options for artists at every stage of their career. Their success lies in an adaptive strategy that can cater to almost any kind of deal – whether it’s just digital distribution for small early-stage artists, or a more complex 360 service – including everything from marketing, publishing, and sync, to merchandising, business development and more – for global top tier artists.

Such a business model also enables artists to curate their own teams and manage each component as they see fit, whether it is a case of delegating everything or being more hands-on in the day-to-day running of things.

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There was a clear emphasis on understanding the artist as a business, if they are to be commercially successful. In order to make that happen, the artist requires a solid team behind them. According to Moore, “You really need a good team who can take you on that journey, and understand how to actually build a business from zero.” He went on to say that this is especially important if you’re trying to stay independent for as long as possible.

Similarly, Wilson explained that “if you’ve got the people that have got your back and you want to keep them, it’s a great way of using a [distribution] service, keeping that team around you that you trust.” The added benefit of working in this way means you have complete control and transparency over each element of your process – from the business side to the creative.

As a seasoned artist, Kitty Amor provided valuable insights for those earlier in the journey. Taking the time to know the landscape can set you up for long term success:

“I can say that I’ve done myself a service by pumping the brakes a little bit, understand and watch what’s happening before my time, so that I’m going in, in a way that’s more authentic to myself.” – Kitty Amor

She attributed a big part of her success to being fully engaged in the process and doing the diligent work that was necessary – whether it is networking, funding your own trips and research, or understanding who you are as an artist and what you want. She also expressed the importance of sitting down with the numbers, understanding the goals of the label or distribution company you’re working with, and being dialled in to the process and the teams involved – referring positively to her working relationship with Defected. Moore also emphasized this point for emerging artists:

“I think preaching good business for artists and for the teams early on is so key to having a long career where people want to actually be involved.” – Titus Moore

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The key theme that emerged from the panelists was understanding the relationship between business and art, and ensuring you have ownership of both. Rather than rejecting one or the other, the two must be harmonized in order for an artist to achieve financial and creative success. As Kitty Amor admits: “It does take a lot of time, but at the same time, it’s your investment into your own business – because that’s what it is at the end of the day.”

The closing points highlighted the challenges of surviving in a fast moving world dominated by social media, tech and algorithms. With so much expectancy artists can easily get caught up in the machine, taking on extra pressure and anxiety that can start to negatively impact creativity. Sound advice from the panelists affirmed the need to stay authentic, to continue to tell your story even during quieter periods, to pivot where necessary, and maybe even take a contrarian position to stand out from the masses.

Join us on Thursday 24th August for our final installment ‘Rising Above the Noise’, with Lynda Phoenix, Jay Ahmed, and Aly McHugh, hosted by Emilie Birks and a DJ set from Paris Cesvette.

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