You may or may not be aware of the weird state that the music industry is in. Basically, the rise of the Internet and file sharing has meant that making money from music based on the sales models of the latter half of the 20th century is getting harder. Recording and publishing companies have therefore been finding things increasingly more difficult and this is pretty bad in some ways…. but quite exciting in others… Musicians that try to pin their hopes on sending demos out to these people have things harder than ever too as recording/publishing companies wont risk spending money with no definite return (like any good business!). Also, it means that the associated companies will try anything to make money just to survive. X Factor and the like are associated with this point as they are a way to guarantee sales through reaching a massive audience . (I put these shows in the ‘bad’ category as, in my opinion, they are quite damaging for the industry due to the influencing of public opinion on what music actually is – more about that another time but how will the industry grow without the continual influx of new ideas?).
So, the worrying parts are that a lot of labels and publishers are struggling and shutting the door on a lot of music (although some are starting to realise the money they can make from shows/gigs). In fact, a couple of publishers I spoke to after I sent my first round of demos out told me that they don’t actually know how they, or the industry, is going to make any money in the future. Worrying… and a disastrous lack of insight considering these people should live their jobs.
The good points…? Well, as a musician and a lover of music, it is obvious that there is so much wonderful music out there now. Cheaper, good quality recording gear, and the means to reach the public have helped this along, and a trawl through MySpace will bring this great music to your attention (as well as some that’s not so great!). There is no lack of great music! But also, the competition is immense! Thousands and thousands of bands are all pitching for the public’s attention to such an extent that it is all pretty much meaningless: You get one mail, MP3 etc, you have a listen. Another, and you do the same… but hundreds…? The human attention span just wont cope! The natural order of things is usually for a few individuals to actually poke their heads above the rest… (yeah great songs should do this… but, like I said, there are many great songs out there!). I believe the difference will be made by good old fashioned business sense. A knowledge of marketing, etc, etc will enable those with great songs to actually reach the people that are more likely to be a fan. Then, a good use of all this knowledge will ensure that these fans are kept interested, get more personally involved in the music and eventually buy into it. The musician is effectively an entrepreneur. So, I’m convinced the opportunity is out there for musicians to actually grow some sort of business from their love for music. They just need to follow the rules that any business enterprise has to follow to guarantee success (sales jobs are all the same, only the product changes). So, my final positive point? Well, anyone can learn these techniques and anyone can utilise their common sense to build a business! Whether or not anyone has the energy and daring for it is another matter….