Two days of workshops hosted by The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) gave valuable insight to Barbadian music artistes, songwriters and auxiliary industry professionals (managers, booking agents etc.) to aid in increasing their operations within the global Orange Economy.
“You can’t just release music and let it sit. You have to release music and give it life,” said Lisa Howell, Business Development Officer at the NCF. She shared how the DDMC, which was launched in 2021, initially just paid for the distribution of artiste’s music on major platforms through Tunecore. However, after noticing deficiencies in other areas, the team decided to increase their involvement in procuring more tools to assist the artistes (cover art for releases, electronic press kits, photoshoots etc.). And further increase their knowledge on the industry with these sessions on the Cluster’s third year of operation. “We realized it is important to let some experts speak to the younger artistes on how publishing and the distribution works,” she said.
The panel of experts included music business veterans J. Spencer Mussellam, LAS Label Leader at Believe Canada and Vivian Barclay, Managing Director of Warner Chappell Music Canada, the publishing division of Warner Music Group; and local specialists Junior Sealy, Stylist and Creative Director, and Tracy Highland, PR/Social Media consultant and owner of JILL Media, to provide insight on crafting an image online.
“The first thing [I do], when I hear about you, I’m going to check your social media,” said Highland. “It is your calling card.” She enforced the recurring, underlying theme of the workshops: consistency. The discipline to ensure profile names are homonymous across platforms (be searchable!), frequently updated with high quality imagery, and constant authentic storytelling can help bolster the artiste’s personal brand and, in turn, generate revenue through bookings, merchandise, or brand deals. “It allows you to build a fan base independently which you can then use as capital,” she said.
Junior Sealy echoed the theme of consistency, too: “You gotta bring the style every single time, as an artiste. Even if you’re going to the supermarket.” The sartorial savant shared how fashion can lead to unseen opportunities, gave tips on acquiring trendy pieces on a budget, and encouraged the artistes to forge relationships with local designers, given the symbiotic relationship between design and music. “As artistes we want to stand out with our music. So why not stand out with our personal image?” he asked. He wrapped his talk by doing a live styling of a few members of the audience.
J. Spencer Mussellam tackled one of the main points on the DDMC’s agenda: increasing an artiste’s online visibility. The independent music professional, with over thirty (30) years of experience, gave a detailed presentation on online distribution, and how attendees can increase reach and awareness on the world’s top Digital Service Providers like Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and Youtube. He gave best practices on populating profiles, using relevant keywords, search engine optimisation tips, and how to repurpose creative efforts across each platform to drive their business.
“One of the first things you’re doing is making sure you have good habits when it comes to copyright ownership,” Vivian Barclay said to the audience of professionals. She shared how the song “is king” and you protect “the crown” by staying on top of publishing administration (the management of song rights, royalties, and licensing) to ensure that artistes can take full advantage of income generation from all areas of the world. She stressed on the importance of practitioners becoming members of a Performance Rights Organization, knowing their Interested Party Information number, and practicing strict metadata management.
Limited spaces are available for registration to the Digital Distribution Music Cluster. The slots are open to registered cultural practitioners at the NCF who:
- have recorded a single, EP or album – within the past six (6) months to a year – that is completed and ready for distribution,
- are digitally releasing new music for the first time,
- and are new to Tunecore.
Interested parties should contact Lisa Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration closes on Tuesday, October 26th, 2023.