Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Building the Band Brand
Don’t quit the day job
Ashley Tisdale does not realize $100,000 on Guilty Pleasure

Time and again I meet the Mitchel Musso-type (but not on one of the most successful TV shows in history - wait, I take it back, yes two are on that show) who have aspirations of becoming first, famous, then rich. Used to be rich and famous, but today’s artists reverse it.

Today we have a case study of why you’re not going to be rich if you pursue your music. Her name is Ashley Tisdale. She was on the most successful basic cable broadcast of all time, High School Musical. She was a star on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.

Most people think stars like this, when they record an “album” (the term we will use for CD or collection of MP3s since it is what Billboard uses), they’re on gravy street.

Let’s look at the reality. Most stars make $1 to $2 (used to be a quarter in the ‘50s) for each album they release. Ashley Tisdale’s Guilty Pleasure released July 28 only sold 25,000 units its first week. Let’s be generous and say she got $4 of the $12 the label is charging (I’d ask what you're smoking to get that amount, but let’s be generous).

That would mean the first week she made $100,000 on Guilty Pleasure. Nice money for a week’s work. Reality is, she probably didn’t make $50,000, but more than either one of us made since the end of July.

See that Guilty Pleasure video? That probably took a third of that $100,000. What about hiring musicians? At least $25,000. The promotional tour she’s been on? About $30,000. Studio time to record – at least $10,000.

Looks to me like she spent $95,000 of that $100,000 before the album was released. Gee, I could live off $5,000 per week. Only problem is, the second week that 25,000 will fall below 8,000 and in a month or two less than 500 units a week.

Say you have a band and five members must split that $1,000 per week. Not a very good return on your investment (ROI), correct?

Then you look at artists like Tina Parol whom I just heard on Internet radio. Not even listed on Billboard. How about an up and coming band, The Maine? The Tempe, Ariz. based band hit #45 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums. That means they probably didn’t see Tisdale’s $100,000, but since they are independent, they could have. Again, studio and production eats that up.

The Maine is recouping its investment by touring with bands like Good Charlotte and Just Surrender. They are on the Warped tour.

Yet Billboard says they’re not making money touring (I bet). “The Maine has, however, garnered a devoted following via MySpace, which was helped along by the pop-punk band's connection to fans.”

Once again, like Taylor Swift and Jonas Brothers, 21st Century marketing like MySpace is creating stars.

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