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Be An Artist . . . .with Kevin Breuner
Episode 620th December 2022 • Innovating Music • Maremel Institute
00:00:00 00:43:49

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Many of our guests move on a nonlinear line between jobs and ideas.  Kevin in one of our few guests who has been with a single company -- CD Baby -- for a long period of time.  He shares his journey with both CD Baby and as an artist with Small Town Poets.  We talk about challenges exploring new technologies that don't yet have revenue models, educating creators on how to better engage and focus, and producing the long-time CD Baby Podcast with more than 300 episodes.  Guest: Kevin Breuner, CD Baby’s SVP of Engagement & Education

CD Baby’s SVP of Engagement & Education, Kevin Breuner, has spent over 25 years working in the music business, both as a recording artist and an industry professional. A San Diego native, Kevin went east to attend Belmont University in Nashville, TN where he studied Music and Music Business. After college he joined the Atlanta-based band Smalltown Poets who later signed a recording contract with a major label under the EMI umbrella. Their self-titled debut album received critical acclaim, selling over 200,000 copies and landing the guys with a Grammy nomination, plus multiple Dove Award nominations. Over their career, Smalltown Poets has amassed ten Top 10 songs on radio, with two reaching the coveted #1 spot.Now residing in Portland, Oregon, Kevin heads up CD Baby’s content marketing efforts and hosts their popular DIY Musician Podcast, with the goal of helping artist understand the vast opportunities they have in this new music economy.“I’m very passionate about helping artists understand that they can have a career on their own terms,” says Kevin. “I’ve been on a label and I've released music independently; I know what it feels like for an artist to pour their heart into a project and then send it out to the world.”Smalltown Poets (smalltownpoets.tv) recently celebrated the release of their 10th album titled NWxSE. Kevin has also had songs used by the NFL, Peacock, ABC, Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, and countless indie film productions.What are you most passionate about with your current work? : Helping artist understand how they can build a career on their own terms.Mentioned Links:

Transcripts

Gigi Johnson:

Enjoy our conversation today with Kevin Bruner from CD Baby. All sorts of stories of change and the way we can work with artists. Kevin, I'm excited to have you on the show. I'm excited because CD Baby has been my little tiny label distribution home since 2006. So I think that we have some of that in common. And I was teaching for many years at UCLA, and I always knew a student was brown nosing too much if they went and got my album off of CD Baby.

Gigi Johnson:

So so you've got a great history, but can you share with our viewers and listeners, what the heck you're doing now at CD Baby?

Kevin Breuner:

Well, now my role is the SVP of engagement and education. Basically, I'm doing all our content marketing, a lot of our conference work that we do, both with our own conference, and other events that we participate in. So yeah, we're doing podcasts, blogs, anything that can help artists understand how they can engage with the marketplace and grow their music career. We make content across multiple platforms to help them do that. So some of it is geared at people that actually use our service. And most of it is geared towards just the artists community as a whole, just trying to help them understand and be a good resource for them. When you're on Episode 300, something on your podcast there? Yeah, yeah. We just recorded 322. And yeah, we've been podcasting since 2007. So long time. Wow, I felt old with this show with doing this in year five. So that's, yeah, in podcasts a lot. People think that's a new thing. And it's something not

Kevin Breuner:

know, I think I've survived three different waves of podcasting is dead commentary from like mainstream media, like and it's like, now it's bigger than ever. So

Kevin Breuner:

yeah, I've been doing it a long time, I've always just loved

Kevin Breuner:

where people create content that just feels like the real inside story. That's what always attracted me to podcasting was just stripped down, but really like great conversations and getting into the real nitty gritty of how things work. More long form content, and not like the five tips and four minutes, you know . . .

Gigi Johnson:

But still those tend to be great lead generators, right to have the seven, whatever. Right. And then you also are a musician, and I see, of course, the keyboard behind you and the records on the wall. So, um, you have a longtime band identity. What do you do with that? And what are you up to now with that?

Kevin Breuner:

Yeah, I'm in a band called Small Town Poets. Originally, I went to college in Nashville to study music and music business. And right after school, I started playing with them. And we got signed to a major label. So we had our major, major label era, where I was doing that full time. And we had success we had were nominated for Grammy, and we had some albums sell very well. But we, . . . That life is very hard and grueling. And eventually, we all sort of drifted off in our separate ways for a bit. And the band took a hiatus, but we've been writing and recording and releasing music independently for a while still out playing shows when we can the band spread out. It's based in Atlanta, and I'm in the Northwest. And not everyone lives in Atlanta anymore. So we do a lot over the internet and I fly in quite often to Atlanta or someplace in the South for us to write a record or play shows. So yeah, we a lot of the stuff that I'm doing with my band really flows well with my work at CD Baby and helping artists understand how they can pursue a music career because there's a lot of people that are out there trying to help artists that have never done it themselves. And so if they just oversimplify it, make it sound like you know, they, I think they sort of removed the emotional component of what it's like to write and record and create something and put it out into the world, which is very different than coming up with a product and trying to sell a product off the shelf or off the, you know, your website or something very different experience and emotional attachment to some degree. But anyway, so that's what I've been doing musically. Still writing recording. I've been in a couple other various bands over the years and I also co writing with some artists and working on some other projects. So always try to keep something going musically. So on this show, we've had a lot of people who've created and recreated music and all sorts of realms, and oftentimes they've bounced from thing to thing to thing adding an interest in music

Gigi Johnson:

in technology and something else, and you're one of the few people on this show who's been at the same place for a gigantic chunk of time on a music scale. So I think that, to me is really exciting. So you

Gigi Johnson:

around the time, or I should say shortly, when you graduated from Belmont, you did music full time for a while. Yep. So meanwhile, Derek had started CD Baby in what 98. And I remember from that origin story, that he was building a site to sell music for himself, and then some of his friends.

Gigi Johnson:

A very humble origin story that ended up with hundreds of 1000s of people using that tool in pretty short order. What was it like when is that a good origin story or the right origin story of her CD Baby was there more to it than that?

Kevin Breuner:

That's, that's the origin story that I've heard from the beginning. And basically, at that time, it was really hard to be able to take credit cards. Even even in person, you had to go through the hassle and my band, you know, when we were touring full time we did it ourselves, we had this credit card unit that had to be plugged into a phone line, and half the time it didn't work. And it cost a lot of money to have that. And there was a lot of stipulations with the bank in order to maintain that as a merchant, but so it was really hard for artists to sell and take credit cards and sell online at that time. And so, yeah, he just started doing it for some people. And it was such a strong need that it just sort of exploded. It wasn't his intent, original plan. But it's something that he became very passionate about very quickly, understanding that the big problem that artists faced and just trying to do direct commerce with their fans, which at the same time, in the music industry, there was this growing world of independent artists like before that point independent music was always typically considered lower quality, just because you didn't have the money to record it was so expensive to make a good record that unless you had a label, you weren't going to have a professional sounding record. So CD Baby came about when that was starting to shift and, and being able to record at home was becoming more possible making good records on a budget and as CD Baby grew and has continued to explode with you know, content and distributing content. It's part of it's because it's become so easy to make a great sounding recording at home.

Gigi Johnson:

Also is that was download era too, so that you 200 Plus download sites, you're trying to track down to say, well, where's my stuff? What do I get? And you get back reports and go, Oh, this makes sense. I can see what's going on. I as a you know, artists doing whatever the heck I was doing could you know do stuff so and then in that world shifted. So you ended up starting with Artist Relations, why shift into CD Baby?

Kevin Breuner:

Well, I had taken a hiatus from small town poets being on tour all the time and ended up in the Northwest. And yes, I thought I was done with music. But I've learned that that never happens. So I just needed a mental break, we were going nonstop. 24/7 When we were on a label, and and I just had this creative outpouring and was writing music like crazy. And I wasn't the main songwriter for Small Town Poets for our label days, I did contribute to some of the songs but so this was like kind of a new experience for me and I started a band in Portland. And that's when I found CD Baby. Because at that time, the web still wasn't very well organized, especially around topics that would be considered more niche, like independent music distribution. You know, this is like 2004. It still was a very organized or that but CD Baby had a you know, there was a site that there was the store there was the the which is CDBaby.com their CDBaby.net where artists went to sign up and then a CDBaby.org which was a form and also a bunch of information. Just helpful information like here's we some options to go get CDs made. Here's options for information about finding tracking down club, booker's and all that kind of stuff. So it was just a great resource for artists. That's how I found it. And I started using it to distribute that one band that I had started and then realizing you know, it's in Portland, it's just right here. Why don't I get a job?

Gigi Johnson:

In Portland has its own it has always had its own music scene that's niche and unique to Portland. So you kept doing your band stuff and artists relations and growing into what became a growing company.

Kevin Breuner:

Yeah, I mean, when I started working there, it was a wild scene, I have to say it's nothing like it was, it is now it felt like more more like going to work at a youth group or something like that, then then a robot, it's just this crazy group of creative people that were very passionate about helping independent artists about at that time, about probably 90% of us were active artists in the scene in Portland, so. And, you know, it was one of those things where people felt very strongly about no matter what kind of music was, whether it was good or not, didn't matter, we are there. Because letting people have any kind of doing any kind of music, get their music out to the world is an amazing thing. Totally the antithesis of the major label industry, which was all about gatekeepers, and one person in an office or a couple of people in an office deciding whether or not it's good enough for the world to hear it. And we've just seen, you know, over the years, so many crazy success stories from genres and artists way outside the mainstream, who were able to support themselves and make a very nice full time living from their art because they were able to reach that audience. So that that was the climate at the time. And it just felt like exciting. And amazing, the industry was changing super fast, we were growing like crazy. Yeah. And so I started my first job was just answering the phone and talking to artists all day.

Kevin Breuner:

We may have talked back then, if possibly, possibly. And most of it, you know, the industry and artists having access to the industry was a brand new thing. So even just getting on iTunes, at that time was like mind blowing. And, and so the artists, community typically doesn't know a lot about the music business. But then also the digital business was changing so rapidly, which was bringing a lot of new opportunities and issues and things to know. And so that's what we, you know, people call in with questions and just helping them understand their options and how they can get their music out to the world and build an audience themselves.

Gigi Johnson:

See, you then went down the marketing rabbit hole working on that side of the equation did that kind of tie in what you'd learned as an artist and what you'd learned then in the artists relations, telephone, and helping people means or was that like, a whole new dimension for you.

Kevin Breuner:

I've always been the person like in our band, I've always been the one that's always interested in all what's happening with the marketing, what's what's causing people to come to shows what's working, what's not. And, and so I, on the music side, I got a very nice front row seat, as our manager that we had at the time was, like a grassroots marketing genius at that time, like a lot of our success was because of what he did not because the major label was spending a lot of money. And so I really learned a lot there. But then at CD Baby, one thing that, you know, I'm an artist, and, you know, I understand how I think as an artist, but when you when you talk to your client, especially some talk to your client over and over again, especially something like a creative person, you really get a good sense for what the community knows and understands and needs to know. And the one thing that I really took note of very quickly, is that mainstream culture or people in general think musicians are far more cutting edge on the cutting edge of technology and, and all that way more than they are especially around, you know, as the, the tech world was starting to explode, and they were using music, in apps and in their marketing and you know, musics a cool thing as that goes along with that a lot of times. So people start to think, oh, musicians are on the cutting edge of technology. They they're, you know, and they're just not, there are some genres that tend to be more so than others. But by and large, they're not. And so I really saw how people were assuming a lot from musicians, especially as these tech companies started to play bigger roles in the music industry. And they just didn't know how to communicate with artists. And I think that's one of our big strengths over the years is that we were on the phone with hundreds of artists every day, you get to know your client, so well. And so when we, we were bought by a company called disc makers, and that's when we built out a marketing department. I became part of that. And it's when we started that it was there, there were some tendencies of how the industry like to try to talk to artists. I'm like, No, that's not going to work. That's not what they think. We're going to do these things. And we really started connecting with artists really well around our content, and it started growing very fast. And we had already started doing the podcast in 2006. And then that took off very quickly as well, it surprised me how quickly that took off with very with zero promotion, zero marketing, we'd even email it to our users, I have it available anywhere on the site, it just took off because there wasn't anything like that out there.

Gigi Johnson:

And this isn't an error. I mean, just makers, as of the, if I remember correctly at CD manufacturing side of life is some of their strings. So this is still download era, this is sort of massification and try to get stuff out there. And CD Baby was, by the way, would ship stuff out, too, right. So yep, it was kind of one stop shop for a lot of people who were not all that tech savvy at times. So filling a lot of bills. But you've seen a lot of change since then. So whatever, yes. You know, we've had this of course, massive shift from, you know, downloads to what are downloads and and now you're gonna deeply streaming and even sort of skipping over the CD ROM. Now back to vinyl of all things. How has this world been on the CD Baby side of the equation? How have you been able? And now of course, you're part of Downtown. You know, how has that been helpful, those shifts landed with you guys having such a big footprint.

Kevin Breuner:

Yeah, I mean, from the beginning, the basis of CD Baby was just helping artists monetize their music, and, and better connect with their fans directly being able to see themselves as entrepreneurs building a business and their businesses, their music career. So that was really the idea wasn't necessarily about creating a music store. So when we started, it was a music store, we warehouse CDs, and we would ship them to your fans for you. And just take four bucks, that was the original business model, then digital distribution was added in 2004, with the iTunes Store and started sending out digital files to different platforms as those emerged. And then as more monetization options came on, and streaming services and social networks, it just became our goal to help artists monetize their musical assets, as many places as possible. And in the digital world, there's been a lot of new types of usage that have popped up that should and do incur revenue, some of that is still it's ongoing with a lot of these platforms that decide they're going to use music and not pay for it or not work out how it's going to work, you know, some of the social platforms and notorious for that. But that's where we come in, and we're helping artists monetize their music on all these places. So music went from being something that was a something that you bought, you went to the store, and you bought it or an online store and bought it to something that can be consumed, used or create, you know, used as a creation tool in so many different ways now, that it implies a lot of different rights and revenue opportunities that didn't exist even just 10 years ago.

Gigi Johnson:

So you guys are still in many ways, an aggregator of fabulous artists of all sorts of genres, backgrounds, reputations, locations. And so how do you then take a look at new technology? How do you. . . you know, what is then the? How do you BS Detect . . . that this is someone you guys should play with? What you need to protect? Is it opening doors and basically making creating nice playing fields first? I mean, how do you know where to play? Where to chase and where to avoid for your large group of artists?

Kevin Breuner:

Yeah, the BS detector is pretty big and works pretty well, these days aren't just this a lot of seen a lot of companies come and go. And usually, if we're going to work with a company, I mean, if there's if it's a streaming service, it's usually, you know, streaming services are popping up all over the world all the time. I mean, if depending on where you live, you may hear about, you know, the big ones like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, but in other territories, those . . . Some don't exist, or they're not the main ones, depending on where you live in the world. So usually, there'll be a service that has a decent amount of users that pops up. And they want catalog, we make sure that they're reputable and their pain and all that and we have pretty extensive contract process that happens around that kind of stuff. But if there's a partner company or something that we think, Hey, this is a cool tool that artists should, should use, but we're not going to build it. We might partner with a company, but usually we just that, you know, it's a matter of like, is this something that artists really want and need and will use, and not just artists in general but the type of artists that use independent music distribution? Because, you know, I think one thing that's been interesting over the years is that independent music means a lot of things to different people. Now, there's, there's independent artists that make hundreds of 1000s of dollars a year, there's independent artists that that, you know, make $10 a year. So it's a wide spectrum. And so it's like, what will the average independent artists that's making music on a low budget? What do they want? What do they need? Because usually, that's where our sweet spot is that artists that's cranking out tracks and albums doesn't have a huge promotion budget. That's typically who we're thinking about.

Gigi Johnson:

So two things are crawling around the back of my head I wanted to talk about from this one is, so I feel like I'm always at this weird chase to say, Oh, how many songs are being uploaded to Spotify a day? And I think the most recent report was something like 100,000 tracks, which makes me go, that's so are you seeing a lot of that escalation, also of this during pandemic era and beyond hyper production? Or is that happening in a different realm than with your artists?

Kevin Breuner:

Yeah, when the pandemic hit, we saw a tidal wave of new music releases, like, like we've never seen before, it was instant. And very, a wave was like a tidal wave. If you don't expect it, it just comes and hits you super hard. And that calm down over the, you know, the course of a year and a half. And kind of, we're settling into a new normal, that's the one thing that that I would love to know, which I wouldn't be able to, from that stat of 100,000 tracks. Everyone assumes when they talk about it, they're talking about music, but I know that a large chunk of that is not music, there's so much stuff that gets distributed, that gets into that track count. That's like nature sounds, people doing things that like white noise and all that kind of stuff that that gets lumped in there that most of us won't see on Spotify unless we go looking for it. But there's a lot of that stuff being distributed there.

Gigi Johnson:

You should talk to Beatdapp, who was on the show a little while ago that this is what they're using AI to track and to debug and to de-BS, because a lot of that is also interesting machinations which they didn't know till they started taking it apart. So interesting, interesting space on that. And then one of the things that I'm running into a lot right now is the conversation in AI and training data. And licensing, then music assets to be training data has that something that has wandered in your doors, with people wanting to do deals or explorations about using the vast amount of data that you do have in your in your bucket of artists, wonderfulness, that as training data for AI?

Kevin Breuner:

I don't know if we've had any of those conversations recently. That that would be something that our bizdev person would probably, or data Pro . . .

Gigi Johnson:

She'll probably shake their head on. Yeah, let's not have that. I know. I don't know. There.

Kevin Breuner:

Honestly, there was some technology that was similar that somebody had, this was like, it might have been like seven or eight years ago, when we still had our store. And it was this recommendation engine based on fingerprinting, but it wasn't it wasn't based on genre, but it was like songs that were similar. And it was the best recommendation engine I've ever seen. And they just wanted an insane amount to license it was far too much per track for it even be worth our time. And I think it died. I don't think they ever found a home for it. But it was the best recommendation engine I've ever seen. And it was so cool. But yeah, so it's we've we have come across some of those things and technologies. But it's again, you know, going back to when your previous questions about the BS meter are working with a company, it's like it has to make sense for our model. It's like that recommendation engine that they had their model, it would have cost us like I think it would they wanted us to pay like two or $3 per track to scan it and get the data and it's like are we have a catalogue of 10 million tracks. We can't pay $2 per track. Just known revenue opportunity. Yeah. And so yeah, so some of those technologies they come and that just doesn't work with our business model or, yeah, it's interesting.

Gigi Johnson:

And this is more of we're recording this in December of 2022, in an unknown recessionary time, and I tend to think that one of the other puzzle pieces is will this Tech have the money with its burn rate to pay out back for whatever it might come out of this. And I do think some of the challenges whether people are going to be running out of cash coming into this next year, in some of these new texts makes me I'm always the business model queen going, how are you going to pay? What, where's the revenue coming from . . .

Kevin Breuner:

. . . which happens a lot in the music space. The other thing that hits the BS meter pretty hard when it's like talking to a company that has no revenue, no users, and basically, they want to use us as user acquisition. I'm like, that's, that's not we're not here to help solve your problems. If you've got if you've got a product that's working already with the artist community that's useful and helpful. There might be an opportunity, but we can't go find your audience for you.

Gigi Johnson:

And that it . . .. That is a gigantic challenge right now in this very noisy world with look at me Look at me new tech, that I think people would look at you guys and say, oh, a bunch of artists, what can we what can we do with that? Yeah. So you instead are trying to provide opportunities and clarity, I would assume for your artists on what are possibilities? What are the type of things as someone who's dealing with engagement that you're looking at right now, with the large amount of artists you work with?

Kevin Breuner:

Well, I mean, one thing we're always looking at is like, what, what's top of mind? What are the things that they're struggling with, or have concerns about what are areas of opportunity in the industry that they need to know about? That they don't understand. Because there's a lot of people in the music business that don't even understand the music business fully, and how it works. Most of what people have that they sort of see from an outside perspective of the music business is really much a lot about the artist in the master recording, where there's this whole other world around the songs and publishers and everything else, which actually drives a lot of the revenue of the industry. So that that whole thing is become so much more complex with like I mentioned all these digital platforms and things like that. So really, we try to take a lot of things in and simplify it to help artists one stay focused on the things that are important for them where they're at. Now, sometimes they get so hyper focused on things that just don't matter, or to making sure that they understand how to properly monetize themselves, because there's a lot of opportunity out there. But oftentimes, they get in a rush, and they don't check the right boxes. And they leave a lot of like the social video monetization turned off and things like that. So for us, we're trying to make sure that they understand all the opportunities for them. And for us, we want to make sure that our catalog is fully monetized. We want our artists to understand how to fully monetize their music, because at the end of the day, it's their, it's their options that they choose when they sign up, and we want to, you know, help them make the most work.

Gigi Johnson:

Or they've had something in your system for 10 years or 20 years and now need to go okay, well, I need to go back. Yes, and reset and relook and recheck. And I need to do.

Kevin Breuner:

Yes, yes, because we won't automatically. For some stuff, we won't automatically add it in. It's always we don't charge extra for new services. But if it takes a different rant rights granting, we're not going to just opt you in without your permission. So yes, there might be things that we've added that you need to go opt in for, and that you have a great dashboard on the back end for people to say here, you know, let me try to understand what the heck are why this check is so small, or people are still buying that what the heck.

Gigi Johnson:

It's been interesting, who's that who's someone who's had a couple albums on your system for a while to kind of watch the patterns over time to is to realize kind of what's changed and people are still buying stuff, which always baffles me.

Kevin Breuner:

Yeah, yeah.

Gigi Johnson:

So what do you see coming up? What are the things that you are hopeful about worried about looking to introduce introduce to your clients and potential clients? What's coming? Well, collaborating with other people is been something that has become a huge piece of how artists work and make music online these days. So providing more tools around that in ways to pay out easier for, you know, when multiple artists are involved, right now our system was was always set up at an account level. So it's like there was an account holder, and that all the money got paid to that account holder, which is basically how a label works. And then the label has to go figure out how to pay everybody but now so many artists are just wanting to, you know, to do a track with this person and the track over there with that person and wanting each individual asset to have its own routing method for payouts and rights management. And so that's definitely a big piece of where we're going. And just in general, with the industry, there's still a lot of work to do with just attribution and like liner notes still don't exist anywhere, which just blows my mind exists anywhere, though. Um,

Gigi Johnson:

I mean, I know in some platforms are just starting to put the songwriters on, which is a whole other level of crazy, but I'm really I thought people had made liner notes, almost a new business with having it with . . .

Kevin Breuner:

There's a couple sites that have tried to do that. For whatever reason, one of them is escaping my mind. But it just hasn't taken hold. And I don't, it's weird to me, because I would have thought that one would have been, like, several people have tried to make the IMDB for music. And it's a Jaksta is the name of one of the big companies. But it just hasn't taken off? And I'm not sure why. And it just seems like why isn't this information readily available? When or why can't I enter it in when things are released. Part of it to me is surprising, because, you know, with all the different ways that people consume music, I mean, the way people consume music is drastically shifted, it used to be, I go listen to this album by this artist, or I'm listening to the radio. Now most people are consuming music by maybe the activity they're doing it's workout. So I'm gonna go choose a workout playlist, or I'm studying and want to chill vibe. So there's chill playlists, and there's coffee shop playlist, it's all about vibe, and what you're doing and all that kind of thing. It just blows my mind that like if I wanted to go, you know, I'm a guitar player. And I like lots of guitar players like, like, if I was gonna go, if I wanted to hear all the tracks that Slash had played on, there's no data point that connects me too. All that music that credits those players for that, those tracks and it's like, I'm sure I could find a playlist where someone has found the obvious stuff. But when you think about it, there's a lot of interesting listening rabbit holes, you can go down, if you just wanted hear music by a certain producer, you can't even do that. And so that's to me is like a huge missed opportunity on how music is consumed, just like connecting the data to listening paths that you know, guitar players drummers and vocalist producers.

Gigi Johnson:

So other than some AI labeling it as chill is there then metadata that can be now added to CD Baby's tracks by then the, the account holder to be able to make it more attractive for you know me calling out to, let's gonna say . . . I'll say it quietly, Alexa, because she's sitting in my office. And she's actually waiting for me to say something now but um, that's funny. So that so that it can be called that I know that that personal assistants at home are still a very small percentage, despite all of the hype. But for people who are going to be then even further, not even clicking a playlist, but assuming that some thing their phone or whatever we'll call it out to them, is there a way to kind of better tune for the independent independent artists in your realm, their ability to be discoverable for algorithmically created tone and emotion and textured playlists.

Kevin Breuner:

From a distribution standpoint, I mean, we, we collect everything that the platforms ask for. But some of those platforms, like they all have their artists portal, or a lot of them do like Spotify for Artists, Apple Music for Artists, to Amazon Music for Artists. And in there, sometimes you can add more metadata that helps them understand more about the track. So Spotify for artists, when you log in, they, they ask about the release, like when you have an upcoming release, they ask you for some more metadata points, like the kinds of instruments that are in there, a description. So I don't know how they use that. If, if they're, if that gets that data becomes part of what the algorithm sees, or if it's just purely for the editors in the in the if something bubbles up for them. But some of those platforms do have that. I know speaking of Amazon Music, like they are working on something in order for you to add, mispronunciations or

Gigi Johnson:

Disambiguations . . .

Kevin Breuner:

Alternative thanks for your name, because, you know, Alexa can't sometimes, you know, doesn't know what you say,

Gigi Johnson:

Absolutely or doesn't recognize aren't female voices versus male? That's a whole thing. Yeah. So that female voices are asking for something. Sorry, we have that in my household all the time that the guys here can talk to her. And she understands them, I'll say something and she won't understand me at all. Or we're producing several podcasts, one of them, she'll recognize it, if I ask for it. The other one she won't recognize at all if I ask for it. So there's a little bit of understanding of voice voicing of your of your band name or your or your album or your or attract, it gets to be an interesting issue with some of that stuff. So magic wand wave a magic wand, what would you like to fix for your clients?

Kevin Breuner:

Oh?

Gigi Johnson:

Or how you work with your clients? Would you like them to magically understand the MLC and how they're getting money? And so that you don't have to answer it several times? Or? Or that that sudden me what would be a good metric one fix? Well, the man, they don't need to understand that as much just because we do that for them.

Kevin Breuner:

I think a magic one would be like, if I was thinking purely about the artist, and not necessarily related to, you know, our business, I would say that they would focus on the things that matter and always work on developing their craft, and moving themselves forward as an artist first. Because I think what's happened with the expansion of the independent market is oftentimes, an artist records an album or even a song. And then they put aside being a musician and spend the next year and a half trying to be a marketer. And, and get frustrated, because they're not growing as a musician. I think, you know, one of the things for the you're talking about, there's 100,000 tracks every day, one of the things that I've noticed with the artists, you know, we have such a big catalog. And of course, we have hits that pop up, you know, artists, that first album explodes, and they go on to sign a major label deal or whatever. But a lot of the artists that we see that have been like, just the slow burn career building of people that have just continued to develop their craft, build a catalogue of music, and understand that it's a long, lifetime journey, having a music career. And, and when artists start getting that, like, we've got 100 tracks in our catalog now and, or we're just there are 15,000. That's like, they start to see the things snowball and snowball, because there's just so much music out there for their fans to listen to. So that as far as artists in general, that's like one thing, I'm like, be be an artist be, go, go do what you, you didn't pick up a guitar to, to spend all day on a, you know, Doom scrolling, trying to you know, and so a lot of a lot of artists, it's, it's just focusing back on, there's so much distraction, there's a lot of opportunity as well. And there's a lot of ways these tools can be used to help advance a music career. But there's a lot of distraction. From a business perspective, I think for us, if I could wave a magic wand is that you know, we're a legacy company, we've been around for this, we're going next year will be our 25th anniversary. So there's a lot of things that that make the ship slower to turn over the years, the older your company gets new, it'd be nice to be able to instantly create the platform of the future with without having to break the platform, we're currently it's just a long process that a lot of the tools that we know we want to make, or that we're getting to and working on, it's when you know, the longer you've been around in the technology world, the harder it gets to make changes and keep maintaining everything. So that's always an issue.

Gigi Johnson:

In my last question is, is there any tech that you see coming that you're excited about?

Kevin Breuner:

Hmm.

Kevin Breuner:

Question, I don't know we go through waves where it feels like there's nothing new or interesting coming out, then they'll just be like there's a wave where there's a lot of interesting things happening in technology and things. I think, you know, it's interesting, I think the one shift that we've seen that's really impacting music and how music is used is just this increased consumption of short form content. Platforms like TikTok that, you know, TikTok. It was really based around music when it started. It was a different app when it started and converted into what it is now. And just some of those things have really been interesting in getting music in front of people in new and interesting ways. In a way that's almost replaced radio, you know, traditional radio still exists. But for a lot of younger generations, that's never even been a thing. In fact, my daughter who will be 16, in a couple of weeks, I, we got in the car, and for whatever reason, it wasn't set to have my iPod, or my phone plane, and the radio was on and she's like, Oh, I didn't realize you can listen to music on the radio, I'm like, What do you think was because she just, I've never had the radio on in the car, because we're always just listening to something off my phone. And, and, you know, she knew that there was music, like, on the radio, but like I don't, we had never been a part of her music listening habit, especially because she just started really listening to music in the last couple of years. So for them, platforms like TikTok, or reels, and all these things are just have changed. It's just a whole different paradigm for how people engage with music. So to me, it's less about the technology, but just shift in how people consume stuff. It's so drastically different. And from an artists perspective, so many artists that we deal with, and this goes into, like my role of education and such, is it they're still operating like the business is still like it was for many, many years, like in the 90s, you know, you, they still have that mindset and still kind of engage in that way, and have a hard time disconnecting from the label world because the label worlds still exist, that traditional business model still exists. But that's not where a lot of the excitement and energy is happening for independent artists. So yeah, it's it's interesting to see how people are creating and using music and consuming music completely different than they used to.

Gigi Johnson:

So we're nearly at the end of our conversation. It's been great talking, what have we not talked about that you want to make sure we touch?

Kevin Breuner:

Well, if you're interested in this kind of subject matter, like music and music, promotion, music, marketing and distribution, you can check out some of the content we make. We have a podcast, it's the DIY Musician Podcast -- we've been podcasting since 2007. So we've been through a lot. And we yeah, we've, there's 300. And some episodes out there. We have the DIY Musician, blog, and you know, CD Baby, if you want to distribute your music, that's where you go for that. And anyone can create an account, sign up and start distributing their music worldwide. So yeah, so that's, that's where you can find a lot of the work that we're doing.

Kevin Breuner:

If you want to connect with me, personally, I'm just @KBreuner on Instagram and TikTok. And I always love talking to artists and seeing what they're doing on those platforms.

Kevin Breuner:

And your band is available for listeners, Small Town Poets. Yeah, we're on all the places, all the platforms, you can hear the music that I've been a part of, for a long time. So yeah, that's, that's everywhere you find music.

Gigi Johnson:

And we'll put all those in the show notes. Kevin, thank you very much for joining us.

Kevin Breuner:

Oh, absolutely. Glad, glad to be here.

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