In the streaming era of music, it’s tough for many artists to make a living. It has become increasingly important for musicians to go on tour, sell merch, monetize their influence, and negotiate better terms with record labels.
Bonsound is a company that’s making it possible for artists to get the services they need to diversify their income streams. The Montreal-based record label provides artist management, concert booking and producing, and even support to help sell merch like t-shirts and accessories through Shopify.
Co-founder Gourmet Délice was originally a musician who identified the need for a company like Bonsound. “We were trying to find a booking agent for bands like mine, which were mostly heavy rock and roll,” Gourmet says. “There was absolutely no structure in the province [of Québec] to help us with that. So we just said, ‘Well, we'll do it ourselves.’”
Gourmet shares his journey of building a music business that works with artists to help them make a living.
Giving artists time to create
Bonsound has been around for 20 years. Gourmet says that there are tons of resources out there to help artists run their business by themselves, but the opportunity cost is great. “There are only 24 hours in a day, and if your mind is only on the business side, then it's tough to create.”
Cutting the middlemen
Artists rarely make a lot of income through digital streaming or record sales. Shows are generally a bigger revenue generator, according to Gourmet, and even then, artists only get a small cut after ticketing fees and paying the venue.
Bonsound started helping artists cut the middlemen in the music industry by selling merch and vinyl records. Artists get a bigger cut of the profits from physical products. Plus fans can help grow the audience and spread the word by wearing the band’s shirts or sweaters.
Offering services a la carte
The record label arm of Bonsound’s business also has a unique structure that’s more equitable toward artists. For example, the company does a 50/50 split with the artist on profits from music publishing. It also does not own their intellectual property.
This gives the artist a lot more flexibility. They can choose to work with Bonsound in many different capacities or just one. If the artist already has a record label, they might work with Bonsound to help them book concerts in Montreal. It’s not one size fits all, and that has helped the company work with a variety of artists over the years.
Bonsound has also helped facilitate collaboration in a way that would have been difficult for an artist to do on their own.
For example, Canadian Inuk performer Elisapie had the idea to record covers of the popular 80s and 90s songs of her childhood in Inuktitut, her native language. Bonsound reached out to the original artists to get permission for the project. “Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, all really big names, they all received the whole story and they were moved by that and said, like, ‘Okay, go ahead and use our songs.’”
That permission gave Elisapie a pathway to bring music in her Indigenous language to her community and beyond.
To learn more about how Bonsound is changing the way music companies work with artists, listen to the full interview on Shopify Masters.