An Intimate Q&A with Tom Silverman, CEO of Tommy Boy Entertainment

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Tom Silverman, CEO of Tommy Boy Entertainment and the Force Behind the New Music Seminar Speaks with Kelli about where the Music Industry is Headed.

Here are a few excerpts of my interview with Tom Silverman on my All Access Radio Show. To hear the entire interview, please visit my website at https://allaccessgroup.com.

 

Kelli:  Tom, where do you see the future of music and artistic control of content heading?

Tom: Artistic control. Wow. I don’t like to use the word control when I’m talking about artistic. I think the problem with the business right now is it’s based on control. The old music business was based on control. And you know, we’re starting to build a new music business that’s based on different values altogether … The old business really was based on power and control and coercion… all that “nice” stuff, and the new business really is based on cooperation, community, connection and collaboration.  It’s a much different paradigm.

 

Kelli:  Tom, why do you think traditional labels are so afraid to hire new artists and how do you think a new artist can succeed despite these roadblocks?

Tom:  … Whenever you have a consolidated business or industry, they become risk averse.  The more companies roll up and consolidate, the less risk they take.  That’s true in any business. The labels would rather be conservative … it costs a million dollars to roll the dice every time you sign a new artist.  It’s at least a million dollars in America even to see what you have.  They’re saying,’ let’s sign less artists and let’s spend less money on those few artists that we do sign them, in marketing, and then let’s do 360 deals with them so we have a bigger return’

 

Kelli:  And some artists, the smart ones, aren’t signing those kinds of deals, right?

 

. … If you want to be signed in the early part of your career, when you don’t have any hits yet and no history, you’re going to have to do a 360 deal – or you’re not doing a deal – that’s just the way it is – unless you go with a small independent.

Kelli:  How should a new artist succeed, if in fact, they don’t get signed by a label?

Tom: Okay, a lot of what we’re talking about now is New Music Seminar curriculum.  An artist has to do it themselves anyway at the beginning – there’s almost no artist being signed off of just hearing a tape or CD.  That’s just not happening any more.  They have to have some action – some story – some heat.  They have to bring heat to the table before anyone cares about them.  Before a booking agent cares about them, before a manager cares about them, before a label cares about them.  Think about a label as an investor. If you’re a venture capitalist, you have to have some reason to sign the deal. It’s about managing risk and reward.  We can’t get caught up in the emotions of music. It’s just a business reality.

 

One of the things we’re trying to do is to create a new business reality, an alternative to this. One which would please the artist in the long run, make money for the investor in a five or ten to 1 return on a hit, so that more money can flow back into the business and more artists get signed and more artists have an opportunity to break through. Not that you can’t break through on your own, but I have to say, I’ve done some research … in 2008, there were only 1500 artists that sold over 10,000 albums that year.  There were only 200 new artists that had never done it before, and that includes Lady Gaga.  So let’s use that number.  I like to call it the obscurity level – when an artist breaks 10,000 albums, they’re in the game. So out of those 200, 192 were actually on independent labels; only 8 were doing it themselves.

 

Kelli:  Tom, you relaunched New Music Seminar a couple of years ago (and I’m thrilled to be part of it this year, by the way). Share with the audience more about New Music Seminar.  What’s behind it?

 

Tom: … Our message is a very specific one.  The record business is dying.  It’s sinking.  There’s nothing that’s going to happen that’s going to change that.  But there will still be a music business. We just don’t know what it will be, and the purpose of the New Music Seminar is to build the next music business, hopefully a profitable and sustainable music business.  So we’re convening the architects and designers of the next music business. I mean, everyone knows how bad the record business is right now, and for the last ten years they’ve known it.  We don’t waste a lot of time talking about that, because talking about a bad situation doesn’t change it. We want to be constructive. We’re not trying to fix a broken boat. We’re trying to build a new boat. It seems like other conferences talk about how do you bail water out of this boat to slow the sinking. Do we bail to the left or to the right?

 

Kelli:  Yes, this is all about solutions and hope and a design for what comes next.

 

 

 

You can catch my show every Monday at 5pm PST.  https://BlogTalkRadio.com/AllAccessRadio.

 

Kelli Richards, CEO, The All Access Group, LLC

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0 thoughts on “An Intimate Q&A with Tom Silverman, CEO of Tommy Boy Entertainment”

  1. Pingback: Current status of the Music Industry: Insights by Tom Silverman, CEO of Tommy Boy Entertainment | Life is Freaky

  2. Kelli Richards

    Mike, I don’t generally have ads running on my site. Could you be more specific for me??? THANK You. Kelli Richards

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