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This week FACTOR announced some changes to their online profile ratings system. Now there will be only two Profile Reviews per year – the upcoming Annual Review on February 27, 2015; and the Semi-Annual Review on August 28, 2015, down from four dates annually.

The review dates are essentially a re-evaluation of total profiles in the FACTOR system and allow artists and applicants to move up or down in the ratings based on 17 different criteria as well as how you score in relation to other profiles in the system.

In my work I hear a lot of concern about artist ratings and profile reviews. Artists spend a ton of valuable time worrying over their rating and strategizing means to bump up their profile score. But how important are those FACTOR profile ratings really?

The short answer: probably not as important as you may think.Factor_profile_picture_m

The stark truth of the matter is that according to FACTOR’s official guide to artist ratings the majority, namely 95% of FACTOR artists are rated Level 1. That means that for programs accessible to Level 1 artists, like Juried Sound Recording and Demo Recording, you are essentially competing against the bottom 95% of the music industry, which is pretty much everyone.

Also an interesting item of note is an artist applying on their own behalf is automatically given a Level 1 rating, meaning that FACTOR’s programs are still skewed to systematically favor artists represented by major and major indie labels over the majority who are independent.

FACTOR encourages artists to regularly update their profiles in the hopes of moving up, but realistically, that is not going to happen for the majority of mid-level artists.

The divisions are based on FACTOR’s annual budget, and how much FACTOR can afford to fund at each Rating level.

Also throwing a wrench into this supposedly democratized process is an artist can’t necessarily achieve a higher profile rating based on merit alone. According to FACTOR,“the divisions are based on FACTOR’s annual budget, and how much FACTOR can afford to fund at each Rating level”. So if FACTOR can’t afford to fund more than twenty Level 2 artists per deadline, they won’t be bumping more artists up into that class.

This is not a criticism of FACTOR or their system, as I think it’s great they’re making efforts to make their funding policies more fair and transparent. It is a critique of national priorities when it comes to supporting our artists and creators. Until national funding shortages for FACTOR are addressed, we will continue to see huge amounts of horizontal competition spread out among the first level of artists. This effectively relegates hundreds of mid-level acts to a bottom rung where they do not belong and bars access to entry-level and amateur acts hoping to break into the funding game.

So the next time you start worrying about your FACTOR profile, cut yourself a break and remember not to take it all too seriously. The 80/20 rule dictates that you should never put 80% of your effort into the thing that only contributes to 20% of your success. Instead, focus 20% of your time and energy on pursuits that bring the real 80% of your dividends. These could be things such as working with a songwriting coach, forming new business relationships, overhauling your website or integrating new digital marketing strategies.

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Other Blogs about FACTOR you may enjoy…

Slagging Off- The Trouble with FACTOR

It all Starts with a Song – The Lowdown on FACTOR

IndiePool – 10 Tips for Successful Grant Writing