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Greed: The Diarrhea of the Music Industry
Commentary by Kenny Love

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For the most part, the business and art sectors of our society often resemble fraternal twins, with the common denominators being their operational and marketing mechanics. And, until recently, that's about where the similarities ended. However, it is ironic how suddenly these fraternal twins have become identical twins, almost overnight, through another common denominator...greed.

A great many people, particularly those who invest in the stock market, are shocked, appalled and even terrified with the recent revelations of rampant white collar crime that has surfaced in some of America's most heralded corporations. And, there appears to be no end in sight, with almost daily newscasts exposing more. Actually, it has always been there, only to a lesser degree and no proactively viable means for exposing it. And, the same can be said of the Music industry.

The overall aforementioned common denominator of greed is the obvious denigrating factor of which several corporate American executives have been caught with their grubby paws in their companiesí financial cookie jar, all the way up to their elbows, no less, and taking million$ that rightly belong to their hardworking and trusted employees and stockholders. By the same token, the greed factor in the music industry is ever present through the witnessing of sobbing major record labels that, for the first time in their historically industry controlling lives, are surprised at the overnight overturn of the industry whereby technology has brought the true meaning of independence into a new limelight. And, as the majors feel powerless to stop it, in response, they are like rabid wolves that realize they are trapped and in danger of becoming chained. As a result, they bite and chomp at any sign of fresh flesh within their grasp.

The sad part about this particular situation, is that not nearly enough unsigned and independent musicians are business savvy enough to capitalize on the ongoing and impending downfall of the majors in order to realize their true financial potential. This is because most musicians have been brainwashed for so long into believing the old status quo process of recording, pressing, then seeking a record deal, that they do not realize they are cutting their own financial throats by not proactively and aggressively promoting their own music independently.

The music industry of today, to both major record labels and unsigned artists alike, is like an octopus. So many arms moving simultaneously that neither party seems able to fully concentrate and focus on executing a viable plan. Alternatively, both are scramblers...hitting here, missing there, or vice versa. And, while I could not care less about whether or not greedy major record labels survive, it troubles me greatly that independent recording artists cannot seem to see the light, or more succinctly, harness this opportunity that is before them enough to guide their musical horses down the path to success.

If independent recording artists could understand, for even the briefest of moments, the magnanimous financial potential they would realize in self-marketing their own recordings, as opposed to signing with a major label, we would see a new Music industry such as has never been known. The signs that this is a welcomed option are already there, as a recent Internet poll found that Internet radio had 4.8 million listeners during the month of July, up from 4.3 million listeners in June. Yet, Internet radio stations are being lassoed and hogtied at a rate that would make John Wayne jealous by the music industry's 'powers that be', all under the auspice of royalty agreements and protection of musicians.

Ironically, Internet radio is the last radio frontier for unsigned and independent recording artists, and it makes you wonder just whom is in whom's corner (or not). I have no problem whatsoever with artists earning Internet radio royalties and, as an artist myself, believe we rightfully should. But, the Music industry is placing so much pressure on the streaming aspect of stations that many, if not most, are electing to cease their streaming capabilities altogether. Just visit a random sample of radio sites to see how many you can find that still stream today, compared to even six months ago, in response to the recent rulings . It's a crap shoot, to say the least.

And, what about music file sharing? This is another area where the greedy majors are having heart attacks and seizures over. And, while I, initially, had a problem with it, due to my ignorance of its potential, let me be another in a long line to now state the enormous potential of it, as long as some restrictions are applied. Those restrictions can and should include the amount of music made available to the online public. And, that amount should be limited to single releases. Think of music file sharing as another promotional resource, much like sending music singles to radio. It's interesting to note how we have no problem with sending multiple copies to radio, but cringe at having one single file of our music shared online.

As independent artists-(many forcibly)-turned-business people, we simply must learn to think in a different realm regarding online technology, because so many potential fans can be reached through music file sharing whom would never learn of our music otherwise. At the very least, it is effortless viral marketing and promotion at work for our music.

But, back to the earning potential of musicians...

The Label Approach:
Musicians who hold out for label deals today, are so unrealistic. The incredible amount of competition in any particular genre, along with the amount of time wasted in attempting to "get signed" (if ever), which, hopefully, the label will then promote and release the recording, subsequently, waiting months on questionable miniscule royalties, comes down to one thing...being out of touch with reality.

Unsigned Artist's Fantasy: => ("If I can only get signed, my troubles are over, and my fortune is assured.")

Realistic Points of Note:
1. Even if an artist is unfortunate enough to get signed, the label is not required to produce him.
2. If an artist is produced, the label is not required to release the recording.
3. If the recording is released, the label is not required to promote it.
4. Just because a major promotes a release label, does not guarantee its success.
5. If you are even "unlucky" enough to reach the 4th step, with its above result, where do you believe you will be shortly after your release's failure? If this does occur, you should consider yourself "lucky."

The Indie Route:
Comparatively, let's say that, with all things being equal to the point of producing and manufacturing my music, instead of giving it to a label, I decide to self-release after looking at my options and how I can realize income much faster than going the route of a major label.

1. As opposed to my ego driven desire to send a promo copy to commercial radio stations (which likely aren't going to play it anyway, due to the possibility that they are members of Clear Channel or other greedy corporate radio networks), I opt to send it out to college radio stations that not only will play it, but are begging to receive independent product.

2. Once a college radio station notifies me that it is going to spin my music, I contact the college's book store, music store, and any surrounding independent music stores that might be interested in carrying a few copies of my product for sale on a consignment basis.

3. Once I have a "first spin" date from a station, I then forward a promotional copy to the corresponding college newspaper, citing my music is airing on their station. As a result, it is almost a given that the paper will review it and probably interview me as well. And, if I have been fortunate in getting the college book or music stores to carry my music, I will also include their names and locations in my press release or interview with the college paper as well so people know where to buy my music.

4. When I receive a review or interview in the college paper, I request a copy of the review. I then send a copy to the college station so that it can serve to extend the airplay. At the same time, I send copies to the campus book store, music store and any other music stores carrying my music that will inform them that my music is being supported by the area media and creating sales for them.

5. Once each week, or every two weeks, I check back with the book or music stores to see how my music is selling. If copies have sold, I request payment for copies sold, then forward more product to the stores. Most likely, if copies are selling, the store will call me ahead of time for more copies. At this point, I have created demand for my music in this area and request payment for copies sold, prior to sending more product.

6. Live Performance: While you can continue to work gigs in your local area, you should also use this time to keep track of airplay in order to set up a tour in the radio areas in a few months in order to capitalize on the media support.

7. Video: I also hook up with a film student at an area college and discuss the possibility of getting a simple video produced of my first single. No need to do a video costing hundreds of thousand of dollars due to the fact that my video is only for local and regional music video shows, and not the national networks.

I would then make copies of my video and send to local and regional independently produced cable music video shows, as these shows desperately seek music videos.

Colleges also have the latest high-tech video equipment, yet, most independent recording artists are completely unaware of this, or never consider this promotional avenue. Additionally, you will pay only a few dollars (if that) to have your video produced, yet, experience incredible results by having one. Additionally, today's nightclubs often run videos and this is another great outlet for you.

There are a quite a few more details to each of these steps, however, I have attempted to show the overall process in action, the results you can expect and how you can make almost instant (and far more) money by going the independent route, as opposed to the major label route. Now, doesn't its financial potential look a bit more realistic to grasp?

And, hopefully, you have also filed your music with either BMI, ASCAP or SESAC so that you can receive royalties from college radio airplay. Now, with these aspects combined, can you even see how you can *NOT* make money on your own? I think not.

In today's music industry, every single artist should be marketing his music in this manner. Yet, again, with the mass amount of mis-information continuously presented in music books with unworkable theories (even more greed), and written by people who have very little (if any) true experience in the music industry, recording artists are far more perplexed than ever.

As recording artists, we should do our part to eliminate the unfortunate greed that purveys at the corporate level within our industry. And, you can begin to do so, while significantly enhancing your success, almost overnight, by beginning with the above six steps. It's, practically, a given that these realistic approaches will work for you.


Kenny Love has an extensive background in both the Music and Writing industries. Learn about the new services that he is providing to unsigned and independent recording artists in response to today's shaken and fractionalized Music industry by sending an email request to klmubiz@getresponse.com.

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