When you are looking to build a career in the music industry, one of the options open to you is taking an artist development programme to prepare you in the fullest way for
• Building a fanbase
• Building a portfolio of material to promote to the industry and
• Building your skills to the absolute most professional level
so that you can indeed compete with the best.
But how do you know how much an artist development programme really costs when there are so many options out there and everyone seems to be throwing around the phrase ‘artist development’?
This article will help break down the most common reasons why prices of development programmes vary so greatly and can seem either cheap or expensive in comparison with one another. That way, you will be fully equipped to know what to look out for and what is right for you, not just in terms of cost but in terms of product – and more importantly rights in the music.
The biggest element that will push cost up or down is song production, which in basic terms is where songs are turned from ideas into actual recordings. The reason why adding or taking away songs increases the cost of an artist development programme so dramatically, is because:
• The process is very time consuming. It can take many hours to record the parts in that create the overall song and sometimes days to edit and ‘mix’ the record.
• It requires a high level of skill and the more experienced the person, the more it is likely to cost, but also the better the overall sound at the end should be.
• It requires a huge investment in sound equipment and businesses must charge accordingly. You could be recording on a microphone that costs thousands – and that is just the mic!
The final point above will also have a dramatic effect on your budget depending on the location and size of the studio you choose to work in. Businesses have overheads (costs to rent property, electricity, staff costs etc.) and so it is only natural to expect to pay a lot more if you choose to work in a large, central London studio, than in a smaller one based elsewhere in the UK.
If you then factor in the cost of a highly experienced producer/engineer working in that same studio, vs a smaller, non-central one you can start to understand that a higher price does not necessarily mean a better end product – you may be paying for the location.
Other Factors that Influence Song Production Cost
You will no doubt have seen ‘beats’ or ‘songs’ available online at cheap prices, only to then find that you can buy the same beat at either $35 or $350 depending on the license you want to pay for.
Licensing is all about the rights you have to use the music. Let’s just consider how that might affect you as an artist.
A $35 license will likely give you the non-exclusive right to have the beat/song without any producer tags (the sound on the recording that says something like GREAT PRODUCER BEATS all over it). But non-exclusive means that the seller can also sell that same beat/song to as many other people as he or she wants.
The pros of this for you are:
• You can get started in writing and recording songs in a very cost effective way
• If you had a budget of five hundred to spend, you could do many different songs with this model, compared to having a custom song or other type of license
• You’ll be able to release more music to your fanbase
The cons of this type of licence for you is:
• Many other artists will have purchased the beat, so you are showing yourself off on a backing track that lots of others have used before (and will use after) you. Imagine if that happened in the charts where artists were writing songs to the same backing all the time – it wouldn’t look very professional
• I’m sure you’ve heard of Shazam – the way that you can listen to a song and it identifies who it is? If you’re using the same backing track as other artists, you may find that it confuses your song with somebody else’s and your fans cannot find you, or worse – you get blocked on YouTube for copyright violation because it recognises it as belonging to somebody else!
A $350 license is likely to be exclusive, which means that you – and only you – can use the song. It will be taken off sale when you purchase it. Some things to consider if you go for this option would be:
• Is it a complete buy-out or not (in other words, do you have to credit the writer as a songwriter and are they entitled to songwriting royalties. Neither of these are a bad thing, you just have to know what you are legally required to do)
• How long has the music been online before you purchased it? (People steal music all the time, recording sounds from the internet and this may have already been used by other artists illegally, which can still cause the problems you see above)
• Has the music ever been sold under any other license? (There’s no point buying it exclusively if even one person has purchased a non-exclusive license before)
The benefit to buying music in this way is that you can listen to many different options until you find the song that really gets your creativity going. The downside is that with so much choice it can be hard to focus in on what’s best and of course, you will be required to write the song over it – so if you aren’t good at songwriting this might not be the option for you.
Some artist development companies will have ‘stock songs’, which in effect is the same as the above but with the benefit that it won’t have been on the internet for the whole world to listen to and potentially steal. You can then choose which one you like. This can be a great option for some people, but it is not bespoke to you and therefore shouldn’t be charged at the same rate as something written specifically for your voice and style.
The Bespoke Option
Some artist development companies will have songwriters who will write songs with you or for you. Other companies will expect you to have song ideas ready and they will then make those ideas into records. Either way, this form of working on songs from scratch is bespoke – in other words completely unique to you. The music will be written to perfectly suit your voice, your vocal range, your likes and help form a consistent album or EP of songs that go together and showcase you as an artist.
The factors that influence how much your artist development programme will cost in this bespoke writing area will be based not just on the location/size of studio/experience of staff element, but on rights to the music.
There are a number of rights that come with making recordings. We won’t be covering what rights actually mean and how they work in detail in this article, but will in a future blog post.
The main two to consider are:
• Master rights (who owns and controls the physical recording and therefore who can grant licenses for its use, such as on TV). Eventually a record company would own these rights, so it’s not something which you as an artist would naturally expect to own in a professional setting – but if you are paying for a ‘buy out’ when doing song production, these rights will be yours.
• Songwriting (publishing) rights (who is involved in the songwriting process and what splits are agreed upon between the writers. Sometimes on a buy out, the writers of the music will not claim any and you will be able to register it 100% to you).
As the featured performer (singer), you will receive performance royalties due to you, whether you wrote the song or not.
So if you consider a song as a whole, this is a fair split because:• A record company (and sometimes you on a percentage) earns from the song with the master rights
• You earn from performer rights (and sometimes a split of songwriting) and
• The songwriters earn from publishing rights
When is a buyout a good thing/bad thing?
A buyout is a great thing for you if you want to retain full control of your music and earn every bit of money that comes in from the record. This works for some – just look at Taylor Swift who had this issue with her ex-manager. She decided to re-record all her music, rather than let him continue earning on it. But most artists, famous or not do not own full rights in the music.
For you to decide if a buyout is a good thing to factor into the cost of your artist development programme, you should consider why it is being offered in the first place.
If a company really believes in you and your music and thinks that you could become a successful chart artist, why would they allow you to buy all the rights to the music, when they could retain what would be rightfully theirs and thereby earn future royalties when the songs are successful? (Particularly in terms of songwriting credit – and sometimes producers ask for a percentage of
master rights to be agreed on an individual contractual basis). Perhaps they say they believe in you… but maybe they don’t!
If you pay for a buyout, the cost will be significantly higher than a deal where royalties are involved. You have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the extra cost to retain all the rights.
If people are working on a buyout basis, how can you be sure that they will do their best work? It’s only human nature to consider this question, because what price do you put on a song that might earn millions in the future?
And would you be more likely to do your best work if you:
a) Really believed in the artist
b) Took a smaller up-front fee and requested your share of future royalties vs a buyout price
The next factor of artist development programmes that can have an effect on price is video production. It isn’t as complex as song production at all but it still has a lot of the same cost considerations:
• To do it right is time consuming
• To make it look great, it requires great (expensive) equipment
If you are putting cover videos out on the internet, it’s perfectly fine to do it yourself on a mobile phone – it shows you’re real. But sometimes you want something more professional in the studio.
This is where video production as part of an artist development programme can really assist you to build quality videos to build a fanbase. After all, people are more likely to find you in the early stages singing a cover on YouTube than they are listening to your new original singles on Spotify.
Some development companies will offer full-on music videos as part of the programmes and others will offer cover video productions. There is a big difference in cost with this, as some music videos can cost more by themselves than a whole year of an artist development programme.
The amount of training and the cost per hour of training will have a minimal impact on the overall cost of an artist development programme. It is vital to have training and for you to ensure that the programme you choose can teach you what you want to learn.
Common areas that are taught during a programme can include:
• Songwriting / lyric writing
• Music Business & Contracts
• Media Interview Techniques
• Social Media Management
• Microphone Techniques
• Music Production
Another factor that can influence the cost of training is whether the provider has you learn as part of an online course (pre-recorded), in a group/classroom setting or individually. Different people will
take benefit from each of these approaches to learning. Some like the online way of taking it at their own pace, others will thrive in a classroom environment being able to work alongside others and some want to focus on 1-2-1 training so that only what they need to know is taught and this can fast-track learning significantly (but costs more overall).
Another area often included in development programmes is photography – after all, people see you before they hear you and so having great promotional images is vital for success.
There are many different considerations with photoshoots that will drive the cost up or down:
• How many images are included in the cost?
• How long is the shoot?
• How experienced is the photographer?
• Are they a specialist at music photography?
• If images have to be paid for separately to the shoot, what does each image cost?
• Who owns the copyright?
• Are the images purely studio based, or on-location, or both?
• Is a makeup artist included?
OTHER BENEFITS THAT MONEY CAN’T BUY
So the above should have answered the question of “how much does an artist development programme cost?” and how you can have control of this cost by being savvy in relation to what you really need and want from your programme. But there is something that in many ways is even more important that you can’t necessarily put a price on and that is the other benefits of being with a company, that money can’t buy!
How much would it help and be worth to you:
• To be able to send a text/WhatsApp message to your development company to ask questions and seek guidance whenever you needed an answer?
• To be featured on their page so that you can be found by the music industry?
• To be promoted by them so that your music is listened to? – As there’s a big difference between a company contacting a company and introducing an artist and an artist themselves saying ‘listen to my music’
• To have a team working to try and help you make it in the industry and finding opportunities for your career to progress?
• To have an entire team of professionals behind you that you don’t need to hire separately – from producers to trainers, promoters to graphic designers, photographers to songwriters?
You are now clued in to the ways in which artist development programme costs can change and I am sure having read this article you are now wondering where 360 fits into the above.
•We do not have stock songs. We work entirely on a bespoke basis to ensure that all songs are being written to compliment the artist in the most unique way possible.
•We do not have buyouts. We personally don’t believe in them because of the problem around whether people genuinely do their best work under those terms.
- We only take on artists we believe in and we want them to succeed and having a mentality where everyone will benefit from their success, meaning that you as an artist can be assured that everything possible is being done to help you achieve that success rather than being left on your own to promote yourself and your music.
- It is normal for rights to be shared – it’s common industry practise – and therefore our song production prices are lower because we do retain rights in the music.
- We retain ownership of master rights but pay you an equal 50% share of all master rights income.
- We retain the right to be credited equally in songwriting royalty. We take no commission on your performer royalty, which remains 100% yours.
•We work from a studio near Leeds, West Yorkshire. It is fully owned by us and therefore our overheads are low.
- We have highly experienced producers and top of the range equipment.
- We won an award for Music Production Company of the Year 2020 and Best Music Composition Specialists – UK in the Global Excellence Awards.
- We have songwriters who can write for you or with you on all songs.
•Our training is world-class. We can teach all of the previously mentioned topics and have options for you to take an online class in singing in addition to in-person lessons, but otherwise all of our training in 1-2-1. There is no classroom learning here. We won awards for being the Most Outstanding in Vocal and Performance Coaching – UK and Best Artist Development Specialists for our training.
•Our video production is studio based with high quality equipment. We offer full music video options with all the bells and whistles, but they are not part of the development programme costs, unless you take the Award Programme.
•Photoshoots are conducted with an experienced music photographer.
- All images taken on the shoot are provided digitally with no copyright retained by the photographer.
- Depending on the programme, a number of images are edited afterwards.
- Images are both studio based and outdoor and the shoot lasts approximately 2 hours, which is sufficient to usually have 4-5 outfit changes.
- Makeup artists are available on request.
•The money-can’t-buy factor is really why we keep receiving 5-Star reviews. All of the above is standard for us, it’s just a given. We want you to succeed and will do everything we can to help you in your artist development journey.