World Wide Groove Corp is an electronic duo from Nashville with an impressive and lengthy catalog of music. They are committed to their craft, hardworking, and thankfully, shared a ton of great information!
I started by asking about their latest maxi-single, “Make Me Free”. If you aren’t familiar with a maxi-single, it is somewhere between an EP and a single track release. In their case, it is 5 versions of one song. Hit play on the soundcloud player below and have a listen to all 5 versions as you read through.
Take notes, there’s a lot to learn in this one!
Tony Coke: The maxi-single – I think this is a wonderful thing. I’ve done this in the past with songs and offered them as added value content for free to our fans. Are you distributing all of the mixes individually through CD Baby, Tunecore, or whoever you use? That would be a pretty big investment. What is the monetization strategy with the maxi single?
Ellen – WGC: We distribute through CD Baby to all of the major digital music outlets like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. I prefer CD Baby since there are no annual fees and you only pay when you’re selling music. I crunched the numbers and with TuneCore you need to be selling something like 1,500 downloads a month to come out ahead. I don’t want to feel like in 10 years I have to take my albums down because I’m paying to keep them up there. But to answer your question… YES… it IS a big investment, and all of this Year of the Groove has been an enormous EXPENSE for us. We had to take on extra music production work for our clients in order to be able to afford this, so we’ve worked our butts off this year.
The general monetization strategy for not only the “Make Me Free” maxi-single but all of our artist releases is to try to license them to film, TV, or advertising. Because realistically, artists do NOT make any significant money from direct to consumer sales, now that people no longer purchase CDs and downloading is giving way to streaming. I’ve done blog posts about how much my royalty statements are from the streaming plays of our music. It wasn’t long ago that a statement from BMI showed one line item where over 47,000 plays of a song paid only $2.44. I mean… that’s pretty sad.
So… the only real money to be made any more is from licensing, but that’s a total shot in the dark. We’re trying to build relationships with music supervisors. This type of pursuit definitely dictates the types of songs we will be investing ourselves in in the future. If anyone wonders why there are so many pop songs out there with choruses that have all these non-lyrical vocal hooks and simple repetitive universal lyrics, it’s because these are the types of songs that get licensed.
One other possibility is to get some vinyl pressed at some point. We might do a Kickstarter [which we’ve never done], just as an “advanced sale of vinyl” opportunity. If not enough people care enough to get our music on vinyl, then we don’t get it pressed and I’m not stuck with a garage full of product I’ve got to figure out how to sell. I’m not sure when/if we’ll do this, my head is still spinning from the past year.
These are really hard times for songwriters and artists to make a living from their music. Going on the road costs money, recording and producing and distribution music costs money, promoting music costs money… we absolutely would not be doing this if we didn’t love music and need to do music because of the kind of people we are. Also, it helps that we have paying music clients so we can make a living using this skill set.
I am very intentionally nurturing my child to follow his instincts in mechanical engineering so he can support us when we’re old. HA!
Tony Coke: Exactly how many albums and singles are available for purchase? What is your business end check list for each track you release? Copyright, register with your PRO, soundexchange, ect…
Ellen – WGC: Our Year of the Groove series, where we put out one new music release a month for a year, just ended and that filled out our discography list quite a bit. Here is the complete list of our releases starting in 2007…
My back end check list includes the following:
Since we were doing one release a month, I couldn’t do all of the follow up stuff on every release on top of everything else. I had to stop reaching out to DJs and submitting music for airplay within the first few months because that can be an endless time suck, and some of the social profiles only got updated every few months. Also I registered several things with BMI and SoundExchange all at once. Setting up each release with BandCamp, CD Baby, SoundCloud, ReverbNation and on our website, and writing the press release and blog entry, and promoting like crazy through social media… those were what I managed to do with each release every month. There’s only so much of me to go around.
Tony Coke: One song a month for a year is quite a feat considering everything that goes into completing 1 quality song. How do you start to organize a project like that?
Ellen – WGC: Good question. It was a definite learning experience, that is for sure. The whole motivation to begin the Year of the Groove was because we had this back log of songs we’d been working on over the years, and we just couldn’t seem to FINISH a full album. Due to the nature of what we do, so many of the songs were “one offs” that didn’t feel cohesive enough to go on an album with the others. At one point we thought we were working on two different albums at once, and finally we decided to just put out singles. I knew that with Kurt’s busy schedule, there needed to be some hard deadlines or these songs were NEVER GOING TO BE FINISHED. So, for better or worse, we just went for it and sent out the press release, publicly declaring what we were going to do, and kept ourselves accountable. I had a release schedule at the beginning, but that kept changing when we would realize that a song wouldn’t be done in time and so we needed to take the shortest path to completion on whichever song could be ready the soonest. Things had to stay flexible. If I wasn’t such a raging overachiever coming off of a forced season of creative hiatus, fueled by my intense frustration over not getting any new music out there, it likely never would have happened. I couldn’t do this for another year on top of the rest of my life. Kurt and I both have actual jobs [he’s the creative director for iv Music Group and I am an adjunct instructor at Belmont University School of Music], plus we have our own music clients we do work for, plus I home school my child so… yeah, I’m ready for a break.
Tony Coke: Do you feel being based in Nashville is advantage to WGC, even though it’s a predominantly country scene? Would you recommend other artists relocate to Nashville, or LA, or somewhere with a big music scene, or has the internet taken location out of the equation?
Ellen – WGC: I can argue this both ways. I definitely feel like geography plays a big part of building a career in music. It’s all about relationships and reputation. So many of my relationships started by going to college here in Nashville, and my college friends went out into the industry and now we know each other. You cannot put a price on that. Kurt moved here after we both graduated from University of Miami for graduate school, so he became connected with the people I knew here in town from my undergraduate years, and it branched out from there. You see people when you go to the post office, go get groceries, go to church, go to the park, go out to eat… there’s no substitute for physically being where the industry is.
THEN AGAIN… that was all in reference to the work we do that pays our bills, not necessarily our electronic music we put out as artists. We hardly have any action here in Nashville for our WGC releases, that’s mostly over in Europe and Asia, or for licensing pitches out in L.A. So… on that front, the internet is our “home base”.
The bottom line is, regardless of where you live, nothing is just going to come to those who wait. You have to go after things. The majority of the compilations we’ve been on and radio airplay we’ve gotten has been a direct result of us reaching out and getting our music in front of people’s faces. Whether it’s in town or in Thailand.
Tony Coke: The video for “Supermodel Astronaut” is great for a number of reasons. It empowers women, it includes fans, it has an interactive quality about it, and it’s also a great track. How did you go about creating the video and planning the release? Did you release the song, then reach out to fans asking for video clips? Or did you film the people, and have the video ready to go on release date?
Ellen – WGC: Thanks so much! I was actually very happy with how that whole campaign went, especially considering it was just one of our monthly Year of the Groove releases. The video was a definite after thought, but fortunately, I thought of it before we released the song, so we could put them both out at the same time. Obviously the song needed to be close to done so the ladies could lip sync to it for their own videos, but it was all a big effort. I just started contacting people through Facebook asking them to participate, and then they got their friends involved, and by the end I was emailing with women as far away as Greece and Pakistan to get their video clips. It was amazing.
I was especially thrilled when someone wrote an article about it and posted it on Huffington Post. Without the video, the song never would have gone that far. It just goes to show that if you have a strong concept and a lot of follow through, you can do big things. I heard from so many women who were thrilled to help spread that message.
I would have gone much further with the campaign, but since it was during the Year of the Groove, I was still promoting the previous release during the whole Supermodel Astronaut Challenge, and also having to prepare our next release in the mean time, and this was while I was in the middle of a semester at Belmont and doing home school with my child. I worked straight through 6 consecutive weekends that Fall, it was not healthy. All that to say, I had a lot more ideas of how to carry the Supermodel Astronaut brand further, but I was spread way too thin to make it happen.
Tony Coke: What’s the #1 most effective marketing tool, event, promotion, or idea you have utilized thus far to promote your music business?
Ellen – WGC: Well, I think what I was just saying about the Supermodel Astronaut Challenge would rank at the top, probably. For all of the reasons you mentioned. I took a song I wrote, I created a social media campaign to go with it, anchored around a call to action video, and I built in a “share and tag” function in the challenge. Worldwide Groove Corporation would never have landed on Huffington Post if all we did was release music and a regular music video. It always helps to attach your songs to something much larger than yourself. In the Supermodel Astronaut scenario, I attached it to the unrealistic beauty standards in the media and the negative effect that has on our culture. By connecting with a concept that is so profound in our society, people responded.
Another example was in our release the month before that one [I’d never have put these two songs out consecutively had I known what would develop], which was “The Legend of the Fall”, a metaphorical song about the corruption in the food industry in America. We were contacted by the Oregon Right to Know organization to partner with them in promoting their ballot initiative for labeling of genetically modified foods, which I’m extremely passionate about. So we made Worldwide Groove Corporation branded content to share through social media for Oregon Right to Know, and then we also contacted Right to Know Colorado since they also had a ballot initiative and parlayed the Oregon activity to their state as well. I would have worked that more, but I was trying to make the Supermodel Astronaut video happen. Now that I’m writing about this, I can’t believe we did as much as we did. Whew!
Tony Coke: Absolutely! Congratulations on all of those accomplishments and thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and strategies with us!
You can connect with Worldwide Groove Corp at the links listed below. You better get started now, by the time you consume all their current material, they may have 10 or 20 new albums.