Interview: Artist Growth for iOS helps manage your musical career
Artist Growth is making waves in the tech and music industry. For musicians, Artist Growth is a means to manage all your gigs (including live performance royalty registration), recording projects, merchandise, social media promotion as well as advice and mentoring from industry pros, all from your iPhone. Artist Growth gives you step-by-step directions on how to take the next step in your musical career, too. Whether you're just starting out or you're selling out venues, Artist Growth brings the administrative side of being a performing artist all into one easy to use place.
And in the tech world, Artist Growth was just awarded Best Music App in the MTV O Music Awards, surpassing music tech giants like Spotify and Live Nation for the accolade.
So what's all the fuss about? We were fortunate to spend some time with Jonathan Sexton, Co-Founder and Chief Administrative Officer of Artist Growth, to find out.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog: Firstly, tell us about Artist Growth.
Jonathan Sexton: Artist Growth is a tool that helps musicians and artists reach their full potential. It is a software platform available for iOS and all other mobile and web devices where artists can track and organize necessary business tasks, keep up with merchandise and receipts, and access financial reporting. In addition to these business management tools, Artist Growth boasts a database of 50k venue, press, and radio contacts (straight from the Indie Bible) and offers tutorial based features, such as AGtv. AGtv is a library of videos created by experts from all sides of the entertainment industry, ranging from GRAMMY-winning producers to leading journalists to label executives. Action Packs are another key feature where to-do lists are compiled by industry experts, and put on an industry standard timeline. When the "Action Pack" or goal is activated (i.e Promote a Show, Routing a Tour) all the action steps needed to accomplish it hit the users calendar exactly when the task needs to be done. When needed, the task links back to AGtv to give more insight and strategy on best practices geared for the artist.
TUAW: How did it all come about? What was the moment when things clicked into place and you knew you needed to start Artist Growth?
JS: My co-founder Matt Urmy and I have both been independent touring artists for many years. On the road, we would always share tips, trick, tools, and contacts. It didn't take too long to figure out that something was missing from the digital landscape and that we were the guys who could make it happen. We knew we needed a dashboard from which we could manage everything, look at data, organize tasks, and also a place we could learn anything we didn't already know how to do. It started on a napkin, moved on to a business plan, and now it is live on the web and the iOS App Store.
TUAW: So Artist Growth was birthed out of your own personal experience with the music industry. Typically, musicians are great at being, well... musicians, but not so much businessmen and women. You guys learned that the hard way?
JS: Absolutely. We have both learned so many things the hard way so there is certainly a desire to shorten the learning curve for people like us. When our careers really started moving and we started signing management contracts, booking agents, publishers, publicists etc. We learned quickly that there are all sorts of insider industry protocol we had previously known nothing about. For example, it changed my life the day I learned what a "press release" was. Now it seems common knowledge, but that moment of discovery was a game changer. I remember thinking, "So THAT's how I get the press to know what I'm up too."
TUAW: Given the advent of digital music, home recording studios and platforms like Artist Growth, for the up and coming artist, where do you see the future of the music industry going?
JS: Well, this may be a better topic for an entire book, but in short...it's in the artist's (and their teams) hands more than ever. Which is a really exciting opportunity for everyone involved, it just doesn't look like it used to. Formerly, an artist can get their music out, meet the right person, get signed and go for it. Now, the decline of album sales has led to a music economy that is much more DIY. Labels don't have the money to gamble acts like they used to, so they don't. My guess is that 4 or 5 artists per year get signed to any given major label. That doesn't mean labels do not play a huge role in the business, because they do. Labels remain very useful and relevant. The difference is that an artist needs to figure out how to make money on their own first, in order to present themselves as a "good investment." Figuring out how to do this is no small task, but a great start is to develop business acumen by setting measurable goals informed by data and laying out a plan to get there. This is what Artist Growth is designed to help artists do, in a way that removes the intimidation that artist's typically feel when attempting to turn their art into a business.
Obviously, this is a ton of hard work, so you better be sure that you love it. It's not an easy road. The silver lining is if you can make it work then you're in a fantastic position moving forward because you've created options for yourself. Figuring out how to become profitable on your own creates leverage in negotiations with labels and other bigger music companies, or you can decide you like the way its going on your own and forgo the whole "big business" thing. When you've figured out how to make money, then it isn't about survival anymore, it's about what you want your personal accomplishments to be. You have the power.
Artist Growth is free to download from the iOS App Store or register online. You get a 60 day free trial and form there it's US$5 a month. If you're a musician looking to take the next step in your musical career, I highly recommend you check it out.
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