Scott Shephard gives Breakaway Daily his professional insight into the current state of the music industry.
Scott C Shephard,
is a music industry executive from Exeter, Devon, in the UK. Today he serves as
President of Global Music Group Europe, but fifteen years ago, he founded his
own PR and consulting company. Whilst Scott these days takes a backseat, the
company now has a team of 5 publicists, who promote releases by numerous record
labels and musicians. In 2013, it was made available on the marketplace Fiverr.com.
The service known as vipdjz soon became popular amongst up and coming singers,
and achieved a Top Seller Award, earning over $25,000 in 18 months.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: How did you get your foot
in the door of the music industry?
SCOTT: I pretty much
came up under the ranks of DJ Slip (of Compton’s Most Wanted). I was finishing College, and
wanted to pursue a career in music. He gave me the opportunity to work with the
likes of Comedian Steve Harvey, and oversee digital content, audio encoding and
album sequencing at a label called IV Life Records.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: What are your
thoughts on the music industry in 2015?
SCOTT: Music has lost value. Digital sales
decreased for the first time last year and there wasn’t a million album-selling
artist in the UK for the first time in 30 years. You don’t necessarily need to
be signed to a label to be successful anymore. The more independent artists can
do on their own, the further they go.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Why are major record
labels not signing as many artists?
SCOTT: The traditional record business
used to see investment in artists, with marketing and promotion. An artist
might release two or three albums before seeing success, but this is no longer the
case, labels can no longer afford to invest in ten acts and have only one
succeed. The profit isn’t there to compete with overheads.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: What advice do you
have for someone wanting to get a record deal? With record sales down, how
should artists gain sales?
SCOTT: It’s become a
DIY business. If you have a hot record, labels will want to partner up or come
on-board. Internet bloggers are the new A&Rs of the music industry. They
discover, and determine what’s hot. Record companies want to see momentum on
your music, they want to see a potential return in investment. The traditional
demo, has almost become a free EP. If your independent, the
more material you can give away for free, in the form of an EP, mixtape or even
album, the more likely you are of gaining new fans and the attention of record
companies. It’s simple, back in the day music consumers had a select choice of
albums each month. These days, because of the internet, there are hundreds of
albums released each month. People can’t afford to buy everything. Consumers
will listen to a free download, it can end up going viral, and sell thousands
of units once released. Artists are giving away free mixtapes, and touring off them.
Unfortunately music itself is not the primary revenue stream. Back in the day
it was touring, and record sales. But unless you explode, sales are not what
they used to be. Artists have to work out the best avenue to get their music
heard, the music needs to be good and something that’s going to retain
interest. It’s not about throwing money away marketing music, like major labels
used to do, send it to all the radio stations, put it on iTunes and everyone
will buy it. It’s not like that anymore, DJs and consumers have too many
choices. It’s about supply and demand, the more free downloads you can obtain,
the more demand you create for a record deal, album and single release.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Where will music be in 10
SCOTT: There will be more opportunities
for bands to produce, promote and release their own music. Labels can’t support
the type of promotion and marketing that artists need to start out. Streaming
is the future, everything is on your phone, and people will continue to not buy
music. Artists need to stay one step ahead, and monetize through merchandise and shows. Musicians will need to be entrepreneurs, if they want to make a living
at creating music.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Can you tell us about your music marketing company PlayByVIP/VIPDJz?
SCOTT: It’s basically a division of a bigger picture. 2SPR is a marketing and promotions agency founded in 2006 by myself and good friend Peter Stannard. VIP is a branch of that, a marketing system that excels in the urban music culture, set-up to give opportunities to musicians that don’t have the funding of a major label. I no longer get involved with the marketing of music, but we have interns that promote on average 10-20 records each week. They are managed by Authentic Since 1979, a division of an umbrella company called SC923, which I formed to build brands.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Tell us more about your company Authentic Since 1979?
SCOTT: Authentic Since 1979 is a consulting/management company and media collective. We bridge the gap between artists and labels.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Who are some artists that 2SPR has worked with?
SCOTT: Stevie Wonder, La Toya Jackson and Chuck D, are a few that spring to mind.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Your company’s Fiverr.com account has received over 1500 positive reviews from artists, what made you allow them to promote their music?
SCOTT: I had an intern who was successfully promoting major label releases. I felt like we should capitalize. I wanted to give unsigned musicians the opportunity, because I know the constraints that you have when you’re good, but just don’t have the platform to showcase it. If we can help kick-start someone’s dream, especially those less fortunate with little-to-no budget, then that’s an accomplishment.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Can you tell us how it works?
SCOTT: Musicians submit their material via the website, it enters an automated system that gets serviced to media, press, DJs, and key tastemakers. If the music is good, this can take you to the next level.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: When and how did you first start this?
SCOTT: Back in 2004, I was marketing artists signed to Death Row Records. Their headline act Crooked I left to form his own label Dynasty Entertainment, where I acted as New Media Manager, to develop a web presence for the label. Crooked, who is now a member of the group Slaughterhouse, signed to Eminem’s Shady Records, launched a series called “Hip-Hop Weekly” that became monumental; he was the first artist to release a new song every week, for 52 weeks. I developed a system that digitally distributed each song to a growing database of fans, media and DJs. We built a community, thanks to the quality of music he was putting out. VIBE magazine even put Crooked on one of their covers, talking about his approach to online marketing.
BREAKAWAY DAILY: Do you have any last
words for young people wanting a career in the music industry?
SCOTT: Honesty, integrity, and respect are
core values in life, and this business.