Yet another break in the traditional record company’s hold on music sales has taken place, and a new one for the likes of Amazon, Apple and Wal-Mart, is the announcement of a new collaboration between the Wimpy Player company, makers of the Wimpy Rave Player, and the programming service of Soaring Music, which enables composers, songwriters, and musicians to cash in on the opportunity to sell their music in MP3 format directly off their web site and get paid through PayPal. This is a serious breakthrough for music creators since until now, MP3 download sales revenues had to be shared with companies like CD Baby and Songcast Music, unless you had the big bucks to do expensive custom programming which some artists (like David Bowie) have done.
But now, at the going rate of $0.99 per track, the composer keeps the sales revenues without having to share them with anyone. The screenshot above tells the story.
On the left side, you see four categories:
- High Adventure
in your version of the Wimpy Rave Player, your categories could be your most recent film project where you have the rights to sell your cues, a new album project, a collection of recorded works that fit a theme (Christmas Music, for example). Once the category is clicked, the cue list/song list appears on the right. A 30-second demo can be set up.
To make a purchase, the customer puts the mouse on the song/cue title and the word BUY appears. Click, and the purchase cycle begins.
One composer’s site you can see this in action is Craig Sharmat’s Score Dog Music. Craig has opted not to sell downloadable MP3s. So when you click BUY, you’re immediately taken to his home page with the CONTACT button clearly displayed.
With the new Wimpy Rave programming from Soaring Music, you can have the choice of selling your music directly or using the player’s BUY procedure to take prospective clients to a Contact page. Just don’t forget to post your contact information!
Before I talk about the specs and pricing, I want to make a few marketing points here.
What Business You’re In
If you go in the direction of the Wimpy Rave Player with Soaring Music’s programming service, how you look at your career changes. Yes, you can continue to think of yourself as a composer. But now that you have even more control over your music sales and distribution, you can also look at yourself as an artist, which is what people who record their own CDs are considered.
As a composer however, where you’re doing a bulk of the writing and producing in your own home studio, the business you’re in has now changed. Instead of being a composer, you’re now the head of music production/distribution company where what’s being distributed is your music in audio, video, print, or combination media format.
Now, more than ever, you avoid taking business, marketing and advertising courses at your own financial peril. Make no mistake. The “big leagues” are being redefined.
Follow the Dollars
Here’s how the numbers have worked in the past. Once the album is finished, distributors then buy it for 30% or better off the suggested MSRP. For most CDs, excluding budget classical, that’s a list of $16.98. On a $16.98 list price, the retailer pays $11.89 and typically sells the CD at $2 – $3 above wholesale, or $13.98 and up.
Out of that CD, the artist usually gets $1 or more (depending on their strength and negotiating power), plus publishing (mechanical license fees). If the artist is signed to a traditional publishing company, income from the mechanical license fees are split 50/50. The current rate is 9.1 cents or 1.75 cents per minute of playing time whichever is greater. So on a typical album with 12 cuts, that’s a total of $1.092 per unit sold. If a composition runs 6 minutes or more, the 1.75 cents per minute earns the composer a greater fee than the 9.1 cents flat rate.
Let’s be generous and allow for a flat cost of $2.00 to press the CD, the jewel case, the insert, etc.
So on a 12-cut album, the artist gets $1.00 + $1.092 mechanical license income for a total of $2.09.
Adding “pressing costs” of $2.00 and that comes up to $4.02. The difference between $11.89 and $4.02 is $7.87 for the record companies out of which comes promotion fees (which can be considerable) and other costs.
Let’s talk about a company not mentioned too often in film music circles: Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart can work a calculator. Because they’ve done the math, they’ve now creating new direct-to-artist distribution deals where WalMart has the exclusive distribution rights. According to the June 9, 2008 issue of the New York Times, the result of the Eagles selling their newest CD, Long Road Out of Eden, through WalMart only, yielded sales in one week of 711,000 units (according to Nielsen SoundScan), and to date, over 3 million units. Because the Eagles went direct, the group picked up several dollars extra per each CD sold. In a similar deal with Wal-Mart, Journey’s newest album moved over 45,000 units the first three days and is expected to move 80,000 units the first week. Both groups are handled by Front Line Management which is headed by Irving Azoff, who ran MCA Records in the ’80s.
By comparison, according to a private conversation the late Jerry Goldsmith had with a composer at an ASMAC luncheon in Los Angeles, his soundtracks moved an average of 80,000 units.
If the composer or film production company did a deal that sold the soundtrack, or even individual cuts, off the composer or film web site, the amount of direct cash to be earned through Soaring Music’s programming service could be rather healthy. Should the composer get the rights to sell the film’s cues off his own web site, even the sale of just 1000-2000 could yield some rather excellent “bonus” income that previously wasn’t available.
Let’s face it. Cash, is cash.
And there’s one other happy benefit. Up until now, the pressure was on to create an album of 10 or more pieces before you could be releasing your own work.
Once you’ve created a couple of pieces, you start emailing notices for people to listen to a slice. They can try and buy. If they like what they hear, you now have the potential for both audio and printed music sales, that you control, not a distributor.
Wimpy Wave, according to their web site, is built by webmasters for webmasters. To get the best results, your ISP’s server needs to be using PHP, ASP or Cold Fusion.
Right now, Soaring Music has three basic packages: Introductory, Standard and Professional.
With the Introductory, for $199US, you can have 40 selections set up in four to five playlists.
With the Standard Package, for $299US, you can have 72 selections spread across nine playlists.
The Professional Package, for $399US, you get 120 selections with up to 12 playlists.
Pricing includes licensing for the Wimpy Rave Player.
What Soaring Music has put together is a timely package that the industry needs. There are literally tens of thousands of artist web sites, not counting film/TV composers, and composers outside the film/TV community. This is not just a big idea, it’s a big business idea.