I am continually asked by musicians about the mysterious inner secrets of the music business.
How do I find a manager that can get me signed?
What entertainment lawyer should I bug?
Do you know of any labels that would sign me and hand me lots of money?
How do a GET a booking agent that will put me on bills with XXX signed band?
I can understand why musicians would ask about these things. They are probably hard up for money, and feel that they are often getting the short end of the stick. This mindset is perpetuated by the very institutions that they are inquiring about.
Labels are shaking in their boots about a loss of record sales, while musicians with an audience centric mindset are focusing on getting music to the people who care. If you are serious about being a musician, you should ignore the RECORD INDUSTRY. Instead, focus on the MUSIC INDUSTRY. They are inter related, but separate entities.
The RECORD INDUSTRY is still, after 10 years of digital downloading, set up to sell a physical product to a consumer that has little to no interest in a CD. It doesn’t look like labels are going to wake up and make drastic changes to that model. The major labels are more interested in crashing and burning that changing.
The MUSIC INDUSTRY is the connection between the artist and the end listener. The MUSIC INDUSTRY sells the fairy dust that keeps people coming back to shows, obsessing over Bob Dylan and allowing music to create an emotional change in their lives. This business is thriving and alive.
The RECORD INDUSTRY would love for musicians to believe that the MUSIC INDUSTRY is crashing and burning as well. If both industries stay “in trouble” then it gives a an excuse for labels to sign bands to exploitive deals and avoid artist development.
There is a growing group of artists that are in opposition entirely to the RECORD INDUSTRY. They work on the premiss that their music is for the end listener. This mindset creates an artist that is willing to tour creatively, find their own licensing opportunities, and sell directly to fans with a greater value and less overhead.
These artists, many of which I work with, are actually making a living with music. They view their music as a business in itself and ignore labels/ managers/ booking agents/ scammers.
Seth Godin wrote an interesting article on Book Publishing that relates to this. HERE.
Sufjan Stevens makes beautiful music and does not give a shit about his label being cool. Listen to his new record HERE.