With music rapidly migrating to the online world, the industry is changing.
Artists can now produce and promote themselves online. But with this freedom comes tougher competition, meaning gaining maximum exposure is crucial for a successful career. In parallel, the online piracy of music is also on the rise.
It is these factors which are contributing to the decline of power traditionally held by the big music labels.
This has generated an international debate — just how should the industry adapt to this online age?
Australia is no exception. 2012 is a pivotal year for change with the introduction of popular streaming services such as Spotify and the increasing relevance of social networking websites like Facebook.
The connection between these online platforms is unavoidable, much like embarking on a musical career from this point onwards without utilizing these channels.
In an educational context, this means that a music student can no longer just rely on the traditional model of study, graduate and sign with a label to make it.
To succeed, a musician must embrace the online world and understand how to market themselves successfully while ensuring they are ahead of the competition.
In response, Griffith University is pioneering a unique program that allows its popular music students to become independent artists – equipped with the skills to effectively do so in this changing environment.
They are learning to understand what is involved in the commercialisation of their songs online, experience a real market and identify how to protect and manage their IP while still receiving financial benefits through royalties.
The program, SEED, is the brainchild of the Queensland Conservatorium and Griffith Enterprise. It has already resulted in the launch of an album – a compilation of the best songs produced by students in 2011, which is currently sold online through major digital stores including iTunes and Spotify.
Two of the bands from this album have since recorded their first music videos in collaboration with the Griffith Film School, and Volume 2 of the album is already in the works for a 2013 release.
Major industry players have lent their support for the initiative, with global music site WeAreHunted.com profiling student band Caligula’s Horse, resulting in the group receiving more than 64,000 live streams of their song in just a two-week period.
SEED is a flexible student-focused program that gives the emerging artists a head start while still allowing for full control of their IP. The arrangement includes a practical, non-exclusive license that allows the students to commercialise their music through the University while still reaping financial benefits. This too is adaptable and can be cancelled at any time by the student.
As a pre-requisite, each student must register with national collecting agencies such as the Australian Performing Right Association Limited (APRA) to ensure that they are rewarded whenever and wherever their music is played, performed or reproduced.
Griffith Enterprise has played a pivotal role in the program’s establishment, identifying the market and strategic opportunities, creating the business structure and ensuring students maintain ownership of their intellectual property and collect their royalties.
This project is a crossover between traditional technology transfer activities and an enterprise activity, but with this student experience focus that brings enhanced reputation, industry collaboration and cross-fertilisation.
Key artists featured in SEED Volume 1 include The Phoncurves, Josh Lovegrove, Kid Marvel, Caligula’s Horse and the william moon book society.
The Queensland Conservatorium has an esteemed history in popular music with a reputation for producing high calibre music professionals, such as Katie Noonan, Wolfmother, The John Steele Singers, The Delta Riggs and Megan Washington.
Anthony Pages, Griffith Enterprise, the commercialisation and technology transfer office of Griffith University