Grammy-winning producer John Snyder on the business of music
In this segment of our series on how to build a successful music career, producer and educator John Snyder talks about the business-savvy mindset musicians need if they want to go big.
Director, Music Industry Studies
Loyola University New Orleans
CreditCards.com: Why do musicians struggle financially?
Snyder: Because they don't realize that creation is what makes them a business. As soon as you write a song or make a sound recording in a "fixed form," you get five exclusive copyrights to it. Even if you record a Beatles song, you have the exclusive right to copy it, distribute it, make public performances of it, make derivatives such as a Spanish translation and control the digital distribution of the work. That makes you a music publisher, the same as Universal or Sony.
CreditCards.com: Do most musicians lack business skills?
Snyder: No, most musicians have the same traits as entrepreneurs: they're stubborn, independent, they communicate well. And they have this methodology for improving every day -- it's called practice. That methodology is terribly fungible. Anybody who can focus on something for four hours straight is an unusual person.
CreditCards.com: But if they're not business minded ...
Snyder: If they can't run that business, they should partner with somebody who can. This business has plenty of creative partnerships. If you just want to keep your head in the clouds, you're going to be working at Starbucks, dude.
CreditCards.com: How do you prepare students for a music career?
Snyder: Artists need to be educated and well read. On top of that, I add music industry courses and a straight-up business minor. They don't love it, but their parents do. They end up with a bachelor of science in music industry studies, which includes web technology, physics of sound, audio-visual recording. They use these skills initially to promote their own bands, but when they get out there they realize that these skills are fungible and can be used for other purposes. None of my students is doing just one thing.
CreditCards.com: What's their biggest obstacle?
Snyder: The top 5 percent of touring acts make 85 percent of the money and they're all over 55: Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Metallica, the Rolling Stones. So you're not going to get rich touring. You have to sell stuff, give lessons, do videos, get income from YouTube.
CreditCards.com: What's the secret to success?
Snyder: You need to care. If you can care and create, you can communicate and sell. All you need is 1,000 true fans and 5,000 buying fans. If you can arrange for that, then you can survive.
See related: Justin Bieber fan site fined $1 million for violation of kids' privacy , Phil Collins talks money and his fascination with the Alamo, Q&A with hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons
Published: September 18, 2013
Three most recent All credit card news stories:
- 6 signs of bad financial advice – While good sound nuggets of money advice can help you keep money in your pocket, bad advice can leave you digging out of financial hole ...
- Make financial planning as easy as 50/20/30 – In Alexa von Tobel's best-selling book, "Financially Fearless," she simplifies financial planning with a quick and easy method for spending, saving and having fun ...
- Debt rises by 5 percent in top 20 cities – A study by the credit bureau Experian shows borrowing is on the rise again in 19 of the 20 biggest U.S. cities, with Dallas, Houston leading the way ...