Andrea Kelly on Royalties in the Music Industry

“Music is the only career where you can be world-class and go unrecognized. I remember after college, seeing a musician on the subway and thinking, ‘If he was a surgeon and he was this good, he’d be world famous.’”
Andrea Kelly
Director of Product, Tone
Andrea Kelly, Director of Product

Andrea Kelly, Tone’s Director of Product and a singer with a BA in music, understands the creative and financial sides of the business, having begun her career working as an assistant in advertising, sitting in on product development sessions, and eventually joining the product team.

From music to advertising and then, through product development, back to music, she’s seen first-hand how music finances are uniquely difficult.

Tone: When you moved from an advertising to a music product, what were the challenges?

The standard ad contract for actors is 200+ pages. One of the major products I worked on accounted for ALL of those contract rules.

Users plugged in an actor’s rate and details, then the app layered that across all of the calculation rules to determine what a performer was owed. For example, did the user have a meal break? Was there a fitting? Did they perform a stunt?

In advertising, the contract is standard across all projects. In the music industry, there’s no standard, there’s no norm. It just does not exist in this world. That’s why finances are so much more difficult and opaque for musicians than they are for any other kind of artist.

Why is the Tone team unique?

I’ve been fortunate to work with engineers for my entire career. In those partnerships, I’ve learned that sometimes, when I make suggestions, someone more technically focused will interpret my requirements very literally. While it’s often a huge asset for their job, I like my thinking being challenged.

One thing I noticed at Tone is that our engineers aren’t afraid to challenge our product team! I think it’s because so many of them are musicians and artists.

Music is all about creativity. Our engineers are able to bring that to our products. So many people here have creative side projects and even full-fledged careers. We understand the craziness, the chaos, the disorganization of the artistic life. We know the experience of the people who benefit from our products.

How does that perspective impact Tone’s users?

Our users are so dedicated to music. Too often, they don’t get back what they put in. I’ve heard first-hand stories about musicians who can’t buy a car because they don’t have consecutive pay statements. They create art that the entire world needs. The products we provide help them get the regular income they need to make purchases others take for granted.

Every time an artist reaches out to say they like what we’re building, I’m giddy about it. The other day, someone sent an email saying, “I just got a statement from you guys. Thanks for making this so easy.” My heart swells when I know I’m helping deconstruct the blockers that prevent artists from being able to realize the full value of their music.

Want to take a first-hand look at what Andrea and her team have built? Book a demo with Tone today.

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