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I'm just curious: how do commission-only folks feed themselves in the meantime? That would be a truly interesting post.

Andrew Wilkinson

Same way us managers feed ourselves when developing acts. By working other projects.
Emily's model is geared towards acts like Brendan Benson, but at the same time is scalable. A young act isn't gonna get the hottest radio plugger in town on commission but they might get other smaller services on a commission bases.


Great article. Lots to consider. When you read anything it's about using the information provided in the most suitable way that you can. Some things works, some don't but it's all about refinement at the end of the day. Learning..


agreed! commission-based is the only way to go, it'll get the ones who truly believe to sign up... though, this article could've been a lot shorter ;)


"Assembling a team who is willing to be paid based on the results of their work." this is the model for a record label, not indie contractors.

personally, i would not work this way doing promotions because i'm not be involved in sales or distribution, and my being paid would be contingent on what the sales and distribution people did. so, i could do a killer job and the album could still tank at retail and it would have nothing to do with how well i did. but i would be penalized by being paid poorly anyway. then there's the issue that you can do an excellent job all around with an album, great recording, tons of publicity, and it doesn't sell because either people simply won't buy it, or the artist won't tour, etc. also not my problems and i shouldn't be penalized for it. those are the concerns of the artist, manager, and record label. finding people who believe in the record and who will do an excellent job is an issue that you have to face whether you're paying a flat fee or a commission. but a commission isn't a fair pay structure for an indie contractor. there are way to many factors that are completely out of the indie's control.


there's also the issue of unscrupulous managers who have no problem hiring a promoter with loads of enthusiasm, and then turning around and stiffing them for part or all of their fee, essentially because they think that the media should have liked their artist's release more. it's the "i'm not paying you because my artist isn't a rock star yet" attitude. screw that. i want to get paid for working just like anyone else.

No Door

A major factor not discussed is whether that commission is based on gross or net. A manager on a gross deal is incentivized to create revenue, but if that revenue isn't profitable the artist doesn't get much benefit.


I'd like to read an update in a year with a breakdown of what each team member earned.


I think if you are actually on the team, then these are actually all your problems. I actually get paid both through commission, booking tours, and also through a hybrid-label model that I own in which I pay publicist and other flat-fee parties. Having seen how money changes hands in both scenarios, I understand why you'd want to get paid a flat fee and how other people dropping the ball can mess with your program. The issue that I see is that without someone funding your flat fee, you have no work. With the amount of people going belly up, the number of people who can bankroll you is shrinking, and you yourself have been paid over and over possibly without never having invested any money in any musician ever. Through aligning yourself with good artists and good teams, you'd be able to weed out working with people who drop the ball like that and you could make money on commission. And if you were decent and had a decent reputation, you'd have work (and money) coming out of your ears because people would know you are truly on their team. And if you were decent at cutting deals, you'd have a great percent and incentives at different sales thresholds, and so by getting paid on the backend, you'd be able to make much much more through the rev share. Really the end result of the decline of the music industry on the people working in it is a bunch of us who want to get paid, and none of us who have the money to pay. The commission model might fix that, I'm with Emily on it.

Steven Corn

Commissioned team members is exactly why we consider the "partner model" of digital distribution (BFM's model) to be better for artists than a flat fee model (e.g., Tunecore). When the parties both are on the same side of the table, it creates a win-win scenario.

Doc Vaj

Excellent vision folks. I'm a (25+) year seasoned Mystic, Wisdom Instructor, Enrichment Speaker, Radio Talk Host and new author of a Planetarian Culture Wisdom book series, looking for exactly what you've indicated as your agenda. People keep telling me I'll never find anyone with high skill sets to do this, however I was a high ticket Sales Trainer and know the value of expertise.

If you know anyone interested in doing what you do regarding music with a Figure Head quality of charismatic women whose not trying to "just sell books" to the masses ... but intending to get the big banks, mortgage companies, realtor chains to pay US BIG TIME ... for the right to custom package my volume one for their 100s of 1000s of customers, please feel free to share my email, and I'm serios. Congrats on your vision and trust that since you've cast the vision, it can unfold as your reality!! Warm regards for 2k13.


I've been championing this method of working for years, but all the people I've approached haven't been interested. Hoping your article might give folks a better perspective. Thank you, Quinn orisonmusic.com

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