Posted by: Debra Alexander / wordmavenmusic | March 6, 2012

Ousted From The Funnel

Week 8 of The Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge is focused on “creating a continuum program.” The ability to have multiple streams of income is a pillar of good business, and a goal for all of us making music.  In her book, Music Success in 9 Weeks, Ariel Hyatt presents a marketing “funnel,” opening with a free offer that fans can’t refuse, and commencing through increasingly more expensive rings: a 99 cent download, an $8 – $15 full album / concert ticket, a $2 song per month or week club,  some $20-$25 merchandise, a $47 special event, a $200-$500 private show, and finally, a custom written personalized song for $1000.

This model taps into 4 of the streams most often discussed by music marketing advisors: digital downloads, merchandise, live shows, and physical CDs. However, the one stream not mentioned (it would be way outside the scope of her book) is arguably the most profitable, as well as the key to long term success in the music business, and that is: music licensing.

Music publishers are in the business of licensing music. If you are a non-performing songwriter, you are pretty much ousted from Ariel’s funnel, and you must, especially in today’s music business climate, become your own music publisher. And, if you are a performing songwriter, you shouldn’t ignore this revenue stream.

I guess most all music marketing gurus these days avoid discussing music publishing because it’s complex, and because the music business itself doesn’t even have an answer on how to rebuild the infrastructure of monetization. Perhaps, too, because the “publishing business is not oriented toward the general consumer, but rather to industry professionals, it is not a business in which massive marketing campaigns are a primary means of establishing a brand identity.”—Eric Beall, Making Music Make Money.

How do you establish a brand identity? How do you get the “fans” (artists, A & R people, major publishers, managers, agents, lawyers, TV & film music supervisors) to keep engaging with you, and give you more and more licensing opportunities?

Well, let’s fill in a funnel for fun—though a songwriter’s path is not through a funnel; there is no one way to succeed—this one is simplified and generic, and could represent back in the day, as well as now:


So, how do you keep yourself in business?

Write great songs, and get them noticed in the right time, in the right place, by the right people.

So simple!

But if you’re a performing songwriter, working on those other 4 streams, doing social media 24/7, playing live shows, making podcasts and You Tube videos and newsletters and blogs…oh, my! And even if you’re a non-performing songwriter, the effort involved in exploitation of a catalogue requires a well thought-out, strategic…marketing plan! (And I haven’t touched on the other 4 functions of a music publishing company: administration, collection, protection, and acquisition).

Which is why I believe the art and craft of songwriting is going the way of the polar ice cap.

But that is a future blog. And, excuse me, but I have to go teach a music lesson (another revenue stream I need to maintain that requires a…whole other funnel).


  1. An interesting read as always Debra. One of my goals is to have a song or two licensed but the world of publishing always seems like a closed shop to all but a few. It’s hard to think that even someone with your songwriting credentials wouldn’t have at least a few more doors open up for you.

    • Steve, Thanks for reading & taking time to post. I take full responsibility for not getting those doors open wide enough and often enough yet. I haven’t been able to get a consistent focus on it with so many other things pulling at me. Learning!

  2. Your perspective is addictive! Really look forward to your take and blog on the polar ice cap!

  3. Good point about music licensing. It is a revenue source but very difficult without a ton of research, the right vibe, resourcefulness, and luck. I think this piece is a full time job kind of like being an artist! Thanks for your opinions. Iook forward to hearing more.

    • Heather, I couldn’t agree with you more, that licensing is a full time job. I tried to wrap my head around it last year and went scurrying back to my writing refuge. But we are going to have to find a way to do more than one full time job, somehow…through meditation or something!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: