Its been awhile now, but recently Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records
fame has been back in the news with his revised New Music Seminar. He
first had it going in the early 80's, and it was a great place to go
then to get caught up with how to market and sell independent music. He
is back now, for the second year in a row, with a revised New Music
Seminar. And we are all the better for it. I would suggest that you check out the New Music Seminar. Because there is a
lot of good stuff coming out this year's program. I have been keeping
up with some of the highlights of the conference,and I must say that
one of the most useful quotes I have heard coming out of it is this
"The value chain is not....
That was stated by TopSpin's Ian Rogers...and he has it down pat!!
I could not have stated it better myself. I love that quote from him so much I have made it part of my on-going DUH 101 series. (You can find the first 150 DUH 101 statements in my Blog archive, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook to get the latest gems.)
So, if Ian is right, and he is very right....once again, as I have said over the years...STOP LOOKING FOR A RECORD DEAL!!! That is SO 70's. Really!
Check out the data folks: major record labels until the late 70's were the only way to go for most new bands and indie artists. Yes there was a groundbreaking new trend that developed over the 80's and now are still a good option for some artists, but indie labels usually don't have the bucks to put up for an old traditional marketing plan. But that has all changed over the last 3 decades. More and more strong Indie labels MAY have the ability to take you from nothing to something. Having owned my own label back in the 80's, I can tell you first hand that finding a Major record deal is usually not the answer. Don't get me wrong, tons of great music from indie labels and bands have come out over these last many years. But today, NOW, things are different, and what Ian Rogers is talking about is right on.
YOU, the artist...YOU, the band have to be what a label used to be. The Internet and MP3 file sharing changed the paradigm over 10 years ago. So, what is Ian saying?
Lets take his 'flow chart' apart:
1) ARTIST: YOU are in charge or need to be. It is YOUR music after all, and so you have the responsibility to write and record the best damn songs you can, songs that make people wanna die to have them...to listen to them over and over again
2) LABEL: Once you have written those songs, when you record them YOU are acting as a label...NO...YOU are a record label. You put up the money for it, and YOU have to have the money, like a good label does, to have the money to do what labels do after songs have been recorded...YOU have to get the word out about your music, and get it noticed out of the 134,000 other new releases that are out there every year now. YOU have to do that.
3) Distributor: God, I still get so many requests/calls about "All I need is a good distributor to get my records into the stores" What are you talking about? What record stores? Haven't you lamented the closing of a great record store in your city?
That is what traditional distributors USE to do, and a few still do...but YOU should no longer do that. What do you think Tunecore, and Top Spin, and iTunes etc etc are all about...YOU have to change and wake up from your slumber...really the 70's is a TV show rerun!
4) Retailers: Yes, there are and hopefully always will be a good indie record store in your area. But probably not. So, you sell your music online, and at your live shows...and move over to the Internet retailers!
5) Fans/Customers: Now we're taking...your fans are your customers. From the recording session on THEY are what matters. And today YOU can have direct access and communication with them. What do you think Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn are all about? Join them and any other social networking tools you can find and use.
So, maybe now you understand what Ian Rogers is saying with his flow chart.What is it again?
Its that simple. Take the challenge up. Just do it! Who is your marketing partner? (Oh come on now, can't you read between the lines?)
I already helped you transition your thinking into this new paradigm of thinking about marketing YOUR music. Never at any time in history have we had SO many technology tools to work with as musicians. Stop already with this "I want a record deal stuff...look in your mirror...YOU are what you have been waiting for!!
One more word about your fans, your customers. Think like them, BE like them, honor them, do stuff for them, be the best for them. Do that and they will follow you like you were some special music messiah!