Archive for the ‘Marketing Tips’ Category

by Christopher Knab
Fourfront Media & Music

The following tips are essential, life-long suggestions, for any and all musicians to remember as they establish and/or maintain their music careers.

1. Stop sending unsolicited demo recordings to record labels, and instead concentrate on building your own music name and reputation by creating longterm relationships with your growing fanbase. They are your ticket to success.

2. Take the time to learn what the professionals in the music business do for a living. What are their job titles, who do they report to, and what do they do everyday when they go to work? The contacts you make in the music industry can make or break your career because your potential success is directly linked to any possible growing success of the industry people who are climbing their own ladders to success. The music business is built on the “buddy system.” Everyone is attached to everyone else in this industry. As you go, so go your business contacts.

3. Before contacting any music business professional have 1(one) prepared question for them that will not make you look or sound like an ignorant person. i.e. Do not ask them how to become a atar, or how to get a recording contract. No one has the time to answer such sweeping and naive questions.

4. Create two contact lists: One for professional people you actually have as a business contact. Another contact list made up of all your fans. Keep both lists updated and using common sense, reach out to both contract groups only when you have something very important to ask of them and/or to share with them.

5. Prepare a short 30 second description of your music. Memorize it and use it every time you are asked “What kind of music do you make?” Don’t go on and on describing your music… your statement should clearly describe your genre or style of music quickly and in compelling language that will perk up the person’s ears and find yourself with an interested and potentially valuable new contact ready to support you.

6. If you have trouble defining your music style, try this exercise… define the word “originality” and note that within that word is another word… “origin.” Perhaps this will help you focus on what makes your music unique. Never say your music is “unique,” explain HOW it is unique. This exercise will help you write your 30 second statement.

7. Remember this always: People in the music industry who’s job it is to find and support new acts don’t know what they are looking for…BUT…they will recognize it when they hear it.

8. Find a concise “Image” and follow it everywhere. This is important because the first impression to someone unfamiliar with your sound is a VISUAL experience most of the time. i.e. Your Logo design used to spell your name, the title of your CD, or the design of your website, merchandise etc. is crucial to attracting industry and music fans. Image IS everything in show business, and in case you didn’t realize it, music is part of good ‘ol show business. Research your favorite acts and study their image.

9. People only respond to music they can personally relate to. What is it in your songs and compostions that has inspired your current fanbase and will grow to attract more fans and industry support? Think hard on this point. It is a true key to any possible success. Music contains emotions, so what emotions do your songs deliver to a listener?

10. Does your music sound too much like another artist or band’s music? This is the biggest complaint from music business professionals… too much music today sounds like retreads of already successful artists. And, your fans are sensitive to this issue too. There is way too much :redundant-sounding” music out there today.

11. When you perform live does your stage pressence reflect the image conveyed in your songs? Are you well prepared, well rehearsed, and do the songs in your live set flow into each other in an exciting and well balanced way?

12. It can never be said enough. Great songs, Great compositions are the basis of all potential success, but “grunt work,” everyday down-in-the-trecnches boring work, like updating your blog and website, keeping your websie and social networking pages updated and staying in touch with your fans regularly are tough jobs. Only you can tackle these jobs and other jobs like putting up flyers for shows (on and offline), updating your press materials, looking for gigs, rehearsing… all these tasks require your commitment to carry them out without complaining. Remember, only YOU can care the most…it’s YOUR music, YOUR career that we are dealing with here.

13. There is no such thing as an “overnight sensation.” Behind every act referred to in this way are countless hours of hard work and dedication that got that person or act to be able to take advantage of the breaks they got, and remember too that the breaks you are looking for should be more than “a record deal” or a “production deal.” Look out for the ever increasing demand for uses of your songs online, in films, TV shows and ads… the list goes on. But you have to work consistently for these breaks to happen.

14. Home recording is as common today as home cooking use to be, but don’t get trapped in the rut of staying at home and working on your computer or home recording setup. GET OUT regularly and show up at clubs and other concert venues on a regular basis. There is that old saying “They only come out at night”… well that’s very true when it comes to music business personnel as well as music fans. So, get out there and socialize IN -PERSON wherever you might live.

15. As your fanbase grows create more and more merchandise to sell online and at your live shows. Be sure your LOGO is on every piece of merchandise you sell. (back to that statement-“Image is everything.”)

16. This last tip may be the most important of all. Conduct your business from your heart. Yes, the music industry rarely operates from that place, but don’t worry about the industry, concern yourself with your SELF… be righteous. Be upstanding. Be a professional in everything you do. If you do that, believe me you will stand out from from the crowd.

A panel of music supervisors gave a peek into how they choose music for the projects they’re working on at the THR/Billboard Film and TV Music Conference in Los Angeles. In addition to offering advice on what not to do when submitting music, the panelists critiqued snippets of music submitted by conference attendees who are trying to break into film/TV music. Here are some dos and don’ts for submitting music to supervisors.

– When sifting through the music he receives daily, EA Worldwide executive of music Steve Schnur divides the submissions into piles based on importance. I’ll separate it based on things I’m never going to listen to, Schnur said, noting that submissions from people he has relationships gets placed into a pile he’ll likely listen to. Usually those come with a note or a letter, and my assistant pulls those out separately. Submissions with interesting artwork are likely to get noticed over those without, he noted. Music supervisor Frankie Pine said that and CD submissions with handwriting goes into the garbage. 

– It may seem like a no-brainer, but many songwriters don’t leave contact information on music submissions. Those who don’t usually get their music tossed, the panel agreed. While searching in the submission box for music to critique, Pine chose an album by a group whose CD didn’t have contact information on it. I wouldn’t listen to that one, she said. It doesn’t get a listen if it doesn’t have contact information. Because if I liked it, what would I do? I’d have to research it and I don’t have time for that. Picture Tunes Music’s Nora Felder suggested that artists invest in plastic jewel cases and include the name of the act on the spine. For those of us that do continue to use CDs, you want us to be able to see that on the shelf when we’re looking for something, she said. Paul Glass, supervising music director of “One Life To Live,” suggested, “When you put the metadata into your CDs, if you could have contact information in one of the fields, it’s really amazing. So if I’m going through an iTunes list and I’m looking for something specific, it makes things a lot easier.” 

– Most music supervisors prefer digital submissions of music. So if possible, send e-mail with links, streams or MP3s. “One of the supervisors that works for me loves CDs. But I hate them,” Schnur said. “I don’t want to deal with it. I deal with YouSendIt or MP3s. Love it.” Glasser noted that 80% of the music he receives via e-mail contains links to an artist’s music. Play-Tone Company’s Deva Anderson added, “In my office we do digital-only, so we don’t accept any CDs anymore. It’s a lot easier if you have a website to let us know what site it is.” Felder said she accepts CD submissions, but asks songwriters to “please write neatly so I can read it. If you don’t have money for stickets, take a wide piece of masking tape an write the information and stick it right on the CD. Make it as neat of a presentations as possible.” 

– Most music supervisors don’t have time to listen to a whole album, so always circle or note which tracks you’d like the music supervisor to listen to first. “When you’re making an album, obviously you’re not going to sequence it thinking of, “Oh God, I need that song that’s going to get on a TV show”, up front,” Schnur said. “Thus, you really need to call out on that packaging if you have something specific in mind. Because if not, we’re going to go to the first track, and you’re out.” Felder added, “There are many times when I’ll listen to a whole CD and frankly I won’t like most of the songs on the CD. Then one song will be the winner. So definitely try to indicate which song you think is right for the project.” 

– Songwriters should be aware of the projects music supervisors are working on and tailor their submissions to specific films of television shows. “When submitting, it’s really easy to Google anyone here on stage and find out what they’re working on,” Deva Anderson said. “Be familiar with what those shows are and what kind of music they use.” Pine added, “If you really feel like track seven was your strong track, circle it, say why you’re submitting it for this particular project, this one is the one I think would be really great for “Californication,” because I’ve watched the show and know what kind of music they have. Just don’t submit songs for the sake of submitting a song to somebody, because it wastes a lot of our time and unfortunately that tends to leave a bad taste in our mouths.”

Via Billboard

If you’ve affiliated yourself as a songwriter with a performing rights organization (such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC) and registered all your songs, you’ve taken an important first step in collecting the publishing royalties you’re owed.

That being said, PROs such as ASCAP and BMI only collect one form of music publishing revenues: theperformance royalty.

In order to collect ALL of the royalties you’re owed, you either need to have a publishing rights administratorworking on your behalf, or spend hundreds to thousands of hours each year tracking down this money yourself (in every corner of the globe); oh, and you’ll also need to speak dozens of languages and be absolutely psyched about paperwork.

In case my sarcasm went undetected, I’ll repeat it plainly: it’s nearly impossible for independent artists to collect all the music publishing revenue they’re owed — while also having time to make music — without the help of a traditional publisher or a service like CD Baby Pro.

If you’re only signed up with a performing rights organization such as ASCAP or BMI, here’s what you’re missing:

1. Mechanical royalties for physical product (CDs, vinyl, etc.)

Performing rights organizations do NOT collect mechanical royalties. Yet every time a song you’ve written appears on an album that is manufactured for sale, you’re owed a mechanical royalty. If you’re releasing your own material, you’re essentially paying this royalty to yourself. But if other artists cover your songs, are you set up to get paid?

2. Streaming 

Every time your music is played on an interactive streaming service such as Spotify or Beats Music, you’re owed publishing royalties, in addition to the standard streaming license fee you receive per play. These publishing royalties from streaming services are comprised mostly of mechanical royalties, but there is also a small percentage of performance royalties that will be paid to your PRO. Again, if you’re only registered with ASCAP or BMI, you’re only getting paid a fraction of what you’re owed.

3. International download sales

As our friends at SongTrust explain: “Outside of the US, music retailers (iTunes, Amazon, etc)  are required to pay mechanical licensing societies (think Harry Fox Agency but in other areas of the world) around 9% of revenue earned from each download. This amounts to about 9 cents per digital download, owed to the songwriter. This money sits at the mechanical society until it is collected by a publishing administrator.” Without a service like CD Baby Pro, you’re leaving those uncollected international mechanical royalties on the table.

4. International Performance Royalties

US-based PROs such as ASCAP and BMI are great at collecting performance royalties within the United States. But with CD Baby Pro, your songs will be registered directly with international performing rights organizations around the world. We’ll collect your international performance royalties straight from the source. With our direct agreements, you’ll get paid faster and more efficiently than you would via BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC (who have reciprocal agreements for international performance royalties).


If you want to make sure you’re set up to collect all the publishing royalties you’re owed, check out CD Baby Pro.

While conducting music business industry panels across the country, I’m often asked one question more than anything else: “How do I get an endorsement?” Other variations include “How do I get a sponsor?” or “How do I get free stuff?”

My philosophy is that if this is your point of view, you’re probably already doomed. Sponsors (whether music instrument companies, beer, or clothes, etc.) don’t care about what they can do for you. They care about what you can do for them – or rather, what you can do together. So to begin with, you have to switch the mentality from “What can I gain from this?” to “What can we gain from this relationship?” Below are a few things that I recommend in your approach:

Ask, straight up: There’s a saying that “the answer is always no until you ask.” In the music industry, there are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who wait for things to happen, and those who wonder “what the heck just happened?” Don’t wait for an opportunity. Create it by initiating contact, networking, or asking the right questions that will get you a lead, information on how to get a sponsor, etc. Don’t be afraid in emailing, calling, or scheduling an appointment to do an in-person presentation on why they should sponsor you. That being said…

The Approach: Find a way to be unique, succinct, and intriguing with your initial contact. My rep at the largest music instrument company in the world says that he gets 300-500 emails a week asking for endorsed artist information. So why did he pick my band, The Slants, out of all of those? Because we focused on the company, not ourselves.  We offered a new target audience that they weren’t reaching, we had a unique angle to our music and branding, and they would benefit from working with us. Find a way to explain why you are the “first, the only, the original” of what you do. If you need help, try to help your approach.

Offer an Idea (or 3): Offer an idea right away that the said company could benefit from or that you two could do together to bring more business for everyone. If you are adding value to them from the start, they will be more inclined to listen to you. Make everything more about “we” than just “me.”

Try Untapped Industries: Getting sponsors/endorsements is like rolling a snowball:  once you get started, it becomes easier and more people will start to pay attention. Often times, if the sponsor you’re working with is happy, they’ll refer other companies to you. To get your start, try companies with less competition. For example, try local businesses that you already frequent and see if they’d be willing to do some cross-promotional marketing. Also, smaller indie music instrument companies are often untapped compared to the big brands you see at Guitar Center.

Use Existing Resources: Have everyone in your band or circle of friends create a contact list of everyone they know: where they work, what position, etc. Use those contacts as a start; their company might not be able to help but they might know someone who can. All things being equal in life, people would rather do business with their friends.

Make it a Sales Call: Treat every contact like you would a sales call, because essentially that is what you are doing. Same exact method because you’re selling your music, your tour, your band. If you want them to “buy” through giving your product or cash, then you have to give them a reason to. Create a list of the top 3-5 reasons why they would benefit from giving you what you’re asking for. Are you providing a good return on investment for them?

Don’t Expect Free Stuff: Most endorsed artists through Fender, Gibson, Pearl, etc. don’t get free stuff (unless you’re talking world class level audiences), they get discounted stuff. Even at that, it isn’t about just getting product. It’s about creating a lasting relationship where you can build an audience together with that company.

If you want some more tips or you have some to offer yourself, feel free to comment below or hit me up at


Simon Tam is owner of Last Stop Booking, a full service agency that offers tour booking and music consulting services. Simon has appeared on stage at over 1,200 live events and has traveled North America presenting ideas about the music industry. For more information and to see Simon’s blog on music industry advice, please visit

Did you know you only have to sell about 450 albums in one week to make the Billboard HeatSeeker Chart? Believe it or not, there have been many unsigned artists hitting the Billboard Charts in the last year. There are many ways for unsigned artists to sell their music online and even in retail stores. But is that all it takes to get you on the charts? No.

Here are the 5 Secrets To Hit The Billboard Charts:

1. Get a UPC code – Most CD duplication companies offer to put UPC codes on your CDs (some for free but most for a fee). It is worth the $30. You should not pay more than $30 for a UPC code. If a company charges you more than that, go to and get one for $29. You can give the CD duplication company your UPC code to print on your CDs.

2. Register for SoundScan – How does Billboard create the top album charts? Because of Nielson SoundScan. Every time you buy a CD at a store (most stores) or online, a computer system counts that CD purchase. At the end of every week, the top album sellers are released on Billboard. And if your CD does not have a UPC code, you don’t qualify for Nielson SoundScan. But even having a UPC code doesn’t automatically qualify you. You must register your CD and UPC code on the SoundScan site. Once you register, your online and retail CD sales will count towards the weekly charts. However, not all online or brick-and-mortar retailers report to SoundScan. Call or email the retailer to find out.

3. Set Up A Pre-order – What is a pre-order? It’s a period of time (up to 8 weeks) where fans can buy your CD before it comes out. They receive the CD the week of your CD release. But all the sales up to the release of your CD counts towards your 1st week sales. For example, if you sell 300 CDs in a 6-week pre-order period and sell 200 the week the CD comes out, your first week sales will be 500 which would be good enough to hit the Billboard HeatSeeker Chart (usually 450 albums will qualify for the Top 150 on this chart).

When you register your music for digital downloads through Tunecore or another site, set the release date for a minimum of 6-weeks in advance to ensure your EP/album will be out in time to correspond with your pre-order. Otherwise, your first week numbers will not include both your physical pre-orders and first week sales numbers.

***Again, make sure you set your pre-order up with a company who reports their CD sales to SoundScan. This is crucial. Simply email/call the company and ask.***

4. Bundles – Because of the downloading trend, a lot of people get their music for free online or only buy singles. Labels and bands are starting to “bundle” up their CDs with merchandise. Bundle up your pre-order CD with a Tshirt (CD/Tshirt for $15 etc.) and offer the CD seperately. Give your fans choices. But don’t only keep the bundle up during the pre-order. Keep the bundles up permanently! You can bundle up your CD with posters, autograph booklets, stickers, Tshirts and hundreds of other items. This will definitely increase your sales.

Websites that are good about helping unsigned bands set up pre-order bundles are And both companies report to SoundScan.

Give your fans a reason to buy your whole CD instead of just the singles.

5. Promote – I can’t say this enough. You have to promote your music and don’t stop. Reach out to as many webzines as you can to review your CD or just post about your pre-order. Post it all over your MySpace. Send out an email blast from your mailing list. Make banners and post it on all the websites that have your band profile.

Also, try to get front page coverage on sites like Purevolume during the week of your release. This extra exposure will definitely increase your sales. Offer these sites exclusive rights to stream a new song for a week in exchange for front-page coverage.

Other ways to help your 1st week numbers is to get your CD in your local Hot Topic stores during the week of the release. But you must coordinate this weeks in advance.

Use these tips and I’ll see your band on the Billboard charts!

Via Bandology

Spencer Manio in front of his office (his door is the one with the Ghostface poster) at PlayNetwork.

Spencer Manio in front of his office (his door is the one with the Ghostface poster) at PlayNetwork.

Kyle Johnson for NPR

In an episode from the fifth season of Mad Men the show’s main character, advertising executive Don Draper, is asked by his client, the cologne company Chevalier Blanc, to supply a Beatles song for a television commercial. The year is 1966, and the 40-year-old Draper doesn’t have his finger on the rapidly rising pulse of popular music. So he calls in a team of younger, hipper copy writers, including his wife Megan.

“When did music become so important?” he asks her.

She reminds him jingles have been important forever. But he knows that. Now, though, he says, clients are looking for specific songs, or moods. Chevalier Blanc asked for the Beatles, but said, “All we want is […] that adolescent joy.”

Draper’s team decides on a Beatles-y version of “September in the Rain” by The Wedgewoods. It is a good fit. But Draper remains unhip, and at the end of the episode, he tries and fails to enjoy “Tomorrow Never Knows.” He’s not kidding around and not embarrassed when he tells Megan he has no idea “what’s going on out there.”

Today we know about these key elements of selling a brand, these emotional intangibles. It’s an industry, one with a whole sophisticated infrastructure to the placement of music in ads. Layers of artists, labels, marketing departments and lawyers all work together. It’s big business, at least in the diminished music industry. But just like back in Draper’s day, there is a gap between executives in skyscrapers and pop music on the street.

What is the right music to use in an ad? Where do these tunes come from? These questions require a middle person for answers. Someone with their finger on the pulse.

Spencer Manio is a 39-year-old Seattleite who works in that go-between role. In 2010 he put Oakland blog darlings tUnE-yArDs in a BlackBerry commercial. Back then the band was relatively unknown. Fast forward two years later and tUnE-yArDs is a critically agreed-upon Great Band. How many people first heard them in that commercial?

Manio’s job is being that guy Don Draper needed, full time, at Redmond, Wash., company PlayNetwork, and as a freelancer for BlackBerry and Nordstrom. He finds music and uses it to create specific vibes or feels for companies. Sometimes he does it by placing songs in commercials. Mainly he goes through ceiling speakers in retail stores. He’s a professional playlist maker.

When you walk into a store Manio has provided a playlist for, you don’t notice the music right away. He’s not trying to make it jump out at you. It swirls together with the wares for sale, the color of the walls and the attitude of the sales associates. It’s part of a whole experience, the ideal confluence of purchaser/thing purchased. It’s not just music for running shoes. It’s music for winning races.

A good retail playlist can bring home the culture of a business and psychologically affect a customer in a way that doesn’t feel pushy. And it’s positive for the featured artists. In today’s flooded climate, where new songs are published at a crazy rate on the Internet, having your song play in a Victoria’s Secret, for instance, can help cut through the noise.

Lacey Swain is in charge of licensing at Seattle’s Sub Pop Records, and works with Manio often. She can testify that although retail playlists often register to the customer on an unthinking level, sometimes real engagement happens.

Swain says that was the case with Sub Pop band Fleet Foxes, whose songs “Oliver James” and “White Winter Hymnal” appeared in the Philip Seymour Hoffman movie Jack Goes Boating.

“One day [Hoffman] was in town, he came by and we were walking him around [the Sub Pop office] and I asked, ‘How did you find out about the Fleet Foxes?’ And he heard them in a coffee shop and Shazam-ed it.”

Fleet Foxes didn’t get much money directly from being played in that coffee shop. You can’t buy music on Shazam — a smartphone app that identifies songs playing in the ambient space around the phone. But what it and other song-recognizing apps can do, is turn any place with internet access into a music store. You hear a song wherever you are, and from there it’s a quick link through to the popular digital distributor iTunes, and from there you can walk away with that song on repeat through your headphones.

And if wherever you are, say a coffee shop, is playing by the rules, musicians and songwriters have another (tiny) income stream from that same spin. This is where the IRS of music licensing — the performance rights organizations, BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) — come in. Sometimes they go door to door fining businesses. Probably not your lemonade stand. But maybe.

The amount of money changing hands is relatively small. But retail playlists are about making associations and building awareness. If your song is in every Gap in the world, it’s going to get stuck in some heads. That’s a connection. And that’s what the store is trying to get in on.

“All brands are media companies now,” Manio says. “That’s how they’re trying to get allegiance. Being down with what the kids are down with. Let ’em know that, ‘We’re on the level, too, kids.'”

It might sound a little brain-washy, but when this branding is done right, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like a natural extension of the physical stuff in the store: the arrangement of shirts in a pyramid, posters on the wall, racks of vinyl for sale in clothing stores like Urban Outfitters.

If you go on Nordstrom’s website for clothes, you don’t just get photos or a slideshow. You see a full-on video of models in a high school setting, with a scrappy pop soundtrack. Manio made that happen.

Nordstrom contacted Manio to coordinate music, told him the point of the video was to promote jeans, and that there would be a narrative about “cute” girls and boys in a school environment with lockers. Their music guidelines for pitches included: “New indie flair, but, as always, upbeat and clean — hipster, fun Nordstrom music. No Katy Perry wannabes. Good Coachella-y bands.”

Manio picked “Hearts” by Nashville band Tropical Punk. It’s not the best song in the world, or the most original, but it’s peppy, the mood is right, it sounds like other popular stuff. And the band is independent, meaning the music will be cheap to purchase (generally), easy to get and he gets the satisfaction of directing money to people who really need it — a more noble cause, perhaps, than giving The Rolling Stones their next million. The band said yes right away and made a few thousand dollars.

That money comes along with what’s a “sync license”: music synchronized with moving images. Sync licenses are one-time payments for songs you hear soundtracking TV shows, movies and commercials you see on the Internet. Famous examples include Van Halen and Crystal PepsiVolkswagen and Nick DrakeThe Rolling Stones and Microsoft. Those were huge. Fleet Foxes’ music in an obscure movie is on the smaller end of that scale. But regular work in that arena can financially sustain a band or solo musician, at least modestly. Manio has done syncs of existing songs for companies as a freelancer; now PlayNetwork is doing them, too.

Manio’s also made custom syncs — actually creating music for the occasion. For Under Armour, he helped find a voice to go with original music by Darrin Wiener, for their bleachers-stomping jingle, with its tough refrain of “I will!

“It’s the biggest check I ever got for music,” says Spac3man, the local rapper Manio called to voice the line, because of his gravelly tone.

Placing music into retail playlists is a different science. The music you hear in stores isn’t a direct sales pitch, it’s all about branding. Commercials make a cumulative impression, drawing consumers into a company’s “essence” through logos, catchphrases and moving images and music, which goes right to the heart. Retail playlists use music almost subliminally, getting the consumer to relate to a particular culture and emotion. Rather than cerebrally registering “That’s a good price,” the soundtracks of businesses are about winning hearts and minds. The adage goes: “It’s not about the buying. It’s about the buy-in.”

Essence is a strange product to manufacture. But it’s a product nonetheless. And it’s a natural product for Manio, who comes from the world of party DJing (as DJ Suspence), specializing in creating an atmosphere that gets everyone open. When he DJs out, any event becomes his event. If there is alcohol, drinking increases. Dancing becomes more vigorous. Music nerds poke each other with surprise at his selections. He blends New Order with New Jack Swing, British Invasion with EPMD. Recently at the Showbox in Seattle, he did a set of folk music, scratched and juggled it like it was hip-hop. Skilled, silly and serious, he makes stuff work that shouldn’t. Afterward people ask him to DJ their parties.

“That’s why I love the [music programming] job,” he says. “My whole background for DJing is getting into the minds of the people who are dancing. That runs the whole gamut of the wedding party, corporate party, bar mitzvah — and finding out what will give them the most joy. And that’s not necessarily what I enjoy, personally. But I love changing my perception to be them, to see if I can channel that. As much as I’m a music snob, one of the other joys of music is how it affects everyone so differently, and knowing that’s what it’s all about.”

At PlayNetwork his clients are Under Armour, Converse, Old Navy, Fed-Ex, Sea-Tac Airport and Finish Line. He makes playlists for those companies. I know Manio personally, but got to know him as a fan. Over the years I’ve spent time with him in both capacities, sometimes going to work with him. I’ve seen a lot of creativity go into his retail programming. He says there are many strategies for programming retail music. Some brands tell him they think familiarity is key, to keep a customer in the store for five more minutes, to sell an extra pair of socks. Manio is after something deeper.

“For example for Under Armour, the music in their stores wasn’t matching their brand anymore,” he says. Under Armour is known for their stretchy, high-tech workout shirts, non-cotton, skin-like stuff that looks good on people with muscles.

“I went to their headquarters in Baltimore. It was a fortress of fitness. I met my contacts, toured the campus, worked out in the gyms. There was a laboratory that we couldn’t gain access to. It had a big warning sign with lightning bolts on hands. Basically you could get lasered in there,” Manio says. Getting down and dirty with the brand also helps him decide which music to use. “It inspires and gives insight that you can’t articulate sometimes. You become invested in knowing that the music represents all these things that you don’t see on a retail level, but rather the whole company, their culture. At that point you stop programming for the customer and program for the brand.”

As he got more intimate with Under Armour in Baltimore, he started to see things in the business that even it wasn’t aware of yet. He saw their next move.

“The main word I heard was ‘innovation.’ Innovation in the fabric. So you truly have to find innovative music, in a way. You can’t have finger-pickin’ folk music. What’s behind the fabric? It’s a soundtrack to the company’s soul. In this case it’s what you’d expect a linebacker to have in his body. Just stone and concrete and steel.”

It used to be a company like Under Armour would associate itself with music played in sports arenas, like Queen or Gary Glitter.

“Familiar, clapalong, singalongs,” Manio says. “Now it’s more working out. Trying to get motivated. Stuff that athletes listen to before a big game.”

Under Armour got him thinking about how society’s attitudes about fitness are changing, and Manio’s eyes light up talking about the evolution of the jock jam, how it goes through earbuds now, not giant speakers, how fitness culture has shifted from running on fan energy to personal army-of-one energy. We are not concerned about the love of the game like we used to be. Today we are into serious gear and training. He cannot reveal his playlist for Under Armour, but it will be aggressive electronic music. There will likely be mainstream songs by Skrillex and Calvin Harris, who soundtrack many a CrossFit and “bootcamp” experience. Manio says he will probably also program underground tracks by Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Baauer, Lunice and TNGHT. He’s trying to elevate taste. But in the end it’s about balance.

“There’s certain songs that aren’t meant to be played in retail because they’re too jarring,” he says, making a zooming trash compactor noise to imitate Skrillex. “But with a decent amount of it, you get the idea. It’s the machine. The human machine.”

If he pulls it off right, he’ll communicate the brand, intrigue the consumer and expose people to extraordinary music. Essentially he’s trying to help Under Armour convince you, whoever you are, even if your body is not a temple, that you could be in the Olympics. He could be shlockier, but wouldn’t be keeping it real to himself as a DJ. And that’s the reason Manio can sleep at night.

He experiences tension all the time. If money were no object, he would be happy being a monk, creating music all day in his basement home studio, emerging only to shop for records at Goodwill and make rice balls so his family didn’t starve. But making playlists for the airport doesn’t mean he’s faking it. He’s already crossed that bridge in his DJing.

“Don’t get it twisted. Being a DJ is a job. It’s a professional job. So there’s two ways to view it. You can play what you want and have people follow you, and love what you’re playing. Or there’s the facilitator of a good time, for whoever’s there. They’re both good. Sometimes I’m so high off rocking a party, playing songs I don’t necessarily like, because I’m feeding off what people are digging and the enjoyment they’re getting.”

Manio estimates PlayNetwork reaches 75 million people per day. And each one of those people is important.

His boss at PlayNetwork, Jon Wooler, explains: “In the old days, [record companies] used to fund a lot of money to have in-store play only in record stores. There’d be listening posts, you could listen to records, and they’d pay for that — because their perception was you can immediately purchase the CD and walk out with it. And that changed. There’s no record stores anymore. But the process is the same.”

There is no payola for retail playlist programming — in fact, sometimes PlayNetwork pays labels to use their music. But for companies that understand that relationship between environment and sales, their retail store is almost like a record store: Starbucks puts music CDs by the cash register, for instance. And for those stores who get Manio as their music programmer, they become much cooler record stores than the Orange Julius across the mall (no offense to Orange Julius).

He’s also one reason that, in that strange world of music where it’s often used for sneaky purposes, there can also be artistic purity. Manio’s professional attitude is down to the fact that he’s an artist. Since he has to make dollars, he’s an especially broad-minded one, with no time for snobbery.

“It’s not about knowing the coolest stuff, or being down with old stuff, or ‘when things were better,'” he says. “It’s about how [music] affects everyone in a really personal way. And you can’t f—- with that.”

by Rhian Jones

As of today, more than 750 independent labels worldwide have signed up to the Worldwide Independent Network’s (WIN) ‘Fair Deals Declaration’ – a statement of commitment to treat artists fairly in agreements relating to digital exploitation of their work.

The campaign asks labels to agree to five measures when signing agreements with third parties for the use of recordedmusic. It follows on from the recent furore over what were deemed to be YouTube’s ‘unfair’ terms for its upcomingstreaming service.

WIN highlights ‘growing concern’ from the artist community over ‘huge lump sum payments’ with new digital services that could offer disparity between the value of the deal to the rights-holder versus the per-stream rate shared with the artist.

By getting labels on board with the declaration it aims to “amplify commitment to fairness and transparency” between the independent recorded music industry and the artists.

The five key points are as follows:

  • We will ensure that artists’ share of download and streaming revenues is clearly explained in recording agreements and royalty statements in reasonable summary form.
  • We will account to artists a good-faith pro-rata share of any revenues and other compensation from digital services that stem from the monetisation of recordings but are not attributed to specific recordings or performances.
  • We will encourage better standards of information from digital services on the usage and monetisation of music.
  • We will support artists who choose to oppose, including publicly, unauthorized uses of their music.
  • We will support the collective position of the global independent record company sector as outlined in the Global Independent Manifesto.

Alison Wenham, chairman of WIN commented, “A healthy commercial relationship based on mutual trust andpartnership between artists and labels is critical to the long term financial health of our industry. We believe that this new initiative, which seeks to put in place simple, fair and transparent guidelines for labels dealing with third party digital partners is a template for best practice.

“We invite companies – majors and indies – to join the hundreds of companies who have already signed and put a stop to the practice of diverting revenues from the artists without whom we would not have a business.”

The campaign can be followed on Twitter from the @winformusic account and using the hashtag #fairdigitaldeal4artists.