I have seen it over and over again. Musicians who have been promoting themselves for years or just starting out who are suspicious of any new online tools or services that can either help their careers get launched or further the growth of their popularity.
Maybe it's that old saying "Once bitten, twice shy." because it is true that in whatever era you look back on, the musicians and bands that went the indie route instead of signing to some Major Label have been burned by distributors, stores, the media, and certainly live venues. So, perhaps the resistence to any new digital companies or tools that pop up comes from some negative experimce in their past. But that's like comparing apples to oranges, and its not fair to these newer digital companies or to yourself.
Today there are many new companies promising online exposure and easy-to-use web site templates, let alone digital revenue collectors that may or may not pay their artists, that I can understand the reluctance to accept anything new. Its true that If you align yourself with the wrong start-up company you might get burned.
Lets take Spotify as an example. This company took most of Europe by storm years ago and now are in full operating mode here in the U.S. But listen up...Spotify is going to be around for a long time! Also, the streaming music business, at any level, is really just a new way of thinking about getting your music heard, and yes the royalties paid out by Spotify (and other streaming companies) are extremely low at this time, as are the many copycat companies that are doing their best to attract and support independent music online.
But give these companies a break. Streaming music and video and anything related to the 'Cloud' is the future, and that future is now. So stop being afraid of the many changes that the digital world has introduced us to, and use them as extraordinary opportunities to expose your music.
With all the competition there is today, you should just concentrate on who your fans are, and how many ways you can find to attract them to your music. I've said it before and I'll say it again...today's music business is about people finding your music, falling in love with it, and becoming a dedicated fan.
That is what you are really after... dedicated and supportive fans. If you can tap into people what have an emotional attachment to you, you are more than halfway there. Catch these fans, interact with them. Make sure you are using the best social networking sites and companies and stop worrying about your revenue stream from either any of these new companies that offer streaming or other exposure services.
Instead, create your own streams of income from live shows, licensing your musiarea line and CD sales, as well as merchandise sales from your live shows.
As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, this new era of digital streaming of music and online help to reach your audience will grow and grow and grow. You can and should be cautious of course with any company you may deal with, but you should not be afraid of them just because they have discovered more technological methods that may help you grow your career.
The business of dealing with digital music will improve over the next few years, and the stronger you are positioned in the exposure areas Of promotion, publicity, and live performance the higher the likelihood that the deals you negotiate will turn more into more favorable financial rewards over the long haul.
There is one thing you can't afford to be afraid of these days, and that is the fear that any online company, by their very existence, will take advantage of you. Just like in the traditional music business there are good guys and bad guys. Be skeptical, be aware, but lean toward checking these newer companies out, just like you would checkout a distributor, a radio station, a media company or a live performance venue, but don't check them off your list before getting to know their reputation, their background and services. That would be downright stupid.
Here is a list of dependable online websites and digital music services that are well established as of this writing. Check them out and see if any or all of the have some value for you:
CDBaby.com and HostBaby.com
Reddit.com and Radio Reddit.com
Google Alerts (Google.com)
Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Knab's new book, 'Music Is Your Business' is available NOW from the Music Biz Academy bookstore.
Visit the FourFront Media and Music website for more information on the business of music from Christopher Knab.