I’m not a lawyer, but I do love music. From my first single ‘Like a RhineStone Cowboy’ by Glenn Cambell, to my latest craze Maserati, I never felt like I owned these songs. It always felt like I was using them.
During my time at EMI Music, I had the pleasure of working with Radiohead. And they don’t seem to feel they own their music either. Nor does Nine Inch Nails for instance. These artists found a way to make their business model work without actually charging people to listen to their music.
The below TED Talk by Johanna Blakley talks about copyrights & the fashion industry. The fashion industry has been brought up with the idea that you cannot copyright a design. It’s a utility. You simply can’t copyright a sleeve or a collar. They do however copyright protect their trademark, their brand.
It got me thinking. What is it that you own as an artist? Is it your music? Or is it your name, your personality i.e. your brand?
And what is that ‘your brand’? How do you define your brand?
I worked with many artists in my time, and I never dared to refer to them as a brand. I’m pretty sure they would have spat me out, rolled me up and smoked me for breakfast. But now that I don’t often visit dressingrooms after gigs anymore, let me have a crack at it:
You – as an artist – ARE a brand. And the cornerstone of your brand value is the connection you have with your fans. THAT’S what you own… And it can’t be copied.
Ask Trent Reznor. Ask Prada. They’ll tell you.
Thanks Dorien for sending me the TED Talk!