April 30, 2010

Change in the Music Industry

The digital revolution and the internet age have flipped many industries on their head, but, arguably, the music business is feeling the effects the most.

How to summarise the change in the music industry? I has become immensely complicated, fragmented, and involves huge amounts of hard work. It may have involved a lot of time an energy in the past, but it used to be relatively simple; you formed a band, you get signed, your label gets AM/FM airplay, you go on tour, and people went out and bought your records. That was pretty much it for about 50 years; it was spelled out for you. Fail any of those and you fall back (at least) one step in the process and (hopefully) try again.

None of that stands today. There is no 'way' to make it. There isn't really a 'make it' anymore. 'Making it' will likely consist of selling a few thousands items that are a sideline to recording music, and simply earning a living doing something that you enjoy.

A band can / should / needs to consist of a web designer, graphic artist, marketing graduate, VC investor, manager, creative director, technology advocate and more. Without being signed you need to organise your own recording session, production and distribution, online and offline marketing strategies, photography & video sessions, press interviews and reviews, design, manufacture and sell merchandise, establish venue and promoter contacts, publish gig information, and hire any outside help with any of the above areas. You should still try to get AM/FM airplay, but also internet radio play, podcast inclusions, music blog recommendations, LastFM/Spotify/Myspace Music plays, DJ chart positions and more. Oh, and by the way.....


...you still have to write and perform your own songs, lest we forget.

As I said, the industry is now immensely fragmented. You have to research and apply your own resources. You should see this as a positive, and discover new possibilities that were never available in the old machine.

Any combination of the above could lead to fame and fortune. If you fail or ignore any part, the end result will suffer to some degree, but trying to tackle them all simultaneously (and at the same time) can be near impossible. Learning to work smart, efficient, delegating where possible and staying motivated is the key to pulling as many fragments together for the most effective results.

Still, it was always fun trying to 'make it', and at least that remains the same.

Lee Jarvis.

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Mr. Tunes said...

i agree here, but also think that these changes are so humbling that it's making people evaluate what they really like about writing music, and doing those things.

we don't get discovered by doing the same music as the next guy because it's been done before, and we don't get paid for it either. so why not make something we really want to make?

Lee Jarvis said...

That is a very good point - the fact that you are more likely to earn a fortune in other industries now has taken some of the money-driven motives away and left artists with a true passion to create art, which in turn propels the 'scene' forward with new ind exciting projects... Something that the major labels failed to invest time and money into over the last 25 years and something that has aided their downfall.

I see a vicious cycle brewing!

Hugh Hession said...

All great points. I'm a huge advocate for working smarter. As a music business consultant, I see artists get caught up on the trivial many and ignore the important few activities that will yield the greatest results. It's essential in today's music business. Ironically, I actually just wrote a post on that very subject in my music blog!

I say this all the time...although the Internet provides an assortment of services for the artist to get noticed...the problem is -well...getting noticed! Any band or artist can jump on board - get an account on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, ReverbNation or whatever. However, the sheer volume of acts (due to ease of entry) has made it in essence, more difficult to stick out. The playing field has definitely changed compared to 10-15 years ago.

I support DYI to a degree, but ultimately - the artist of today can't get to the next level without a team behind them. That's just reality.

Hugh Hession