The Music Industry: From An Artists Perspective
Not the fans, you’re cool.
I’m talking to the musicians. Seriously, stop whining. It takes two to tango, and no one is going to listen to your music if all you do is whine about how no one pays you to listen to it. Thirteen years ago, Sean Fanning put music into the hands of fans when he unleashed Napster. Pandora escaped her box. Whether illegally, like those days past, or legally, like the Spotify and Pandora of today, no one pays for music anymore. So we have three choices. They are as follows.
- Hold onto your music as tightly as possible. This means copyright it. Protect it by any and all means possible. Sue someone if they put your music up on Youtube or cover it in any way, shape or form. You made this music, you goddamn well should earn every last penny that someone is willing to pay for it. Hold out for the record deal and make sure that no one leaks the basement tapes. If they do, sue their ass.
- Alternatively, you could just release your Kraken. That’s right, just let it go for free. Freedom is love, and love is all there ever is, was or ever will be. Pass me one of those special brownies and I’ll sing you another song, dude! Don’t worry about getting me back for the beers, those are free too! Just set up a Bandcamp website, put up the music you’ve got, and let the world know you are here to jam for them.
- Thirdly, you could be smart about where, when and how you release your music. Most music that is “free” kinda sucks. People that release free music know that it isn’t really worth any cold hard cash. If you’ve invested the time, education and money into making music, there is no one saying you shouldn’t or can’t make money off releasing it. Just remember that since the music industry has mutated, most fans want it for free. Fans like getting new music, we just don’t want to pay for it. We’d rather stream it. So if you want to make money on it, don’t “release” it to be streamed on Spotify, Pandora, or any of the other screwed up sites that make your music worth nothing but a tenth of a penny. Don’t sign shitty deals that net you nothing in return. That would be stupid, and you are not stupid. You are smart. Instead, put up a Bandcamp and ask people for money. If fans really want it, they will pay you for it. Better yet, start a kickstarter campaign and make some vinyl records. If people want them, they will support you and buy them. Booya!
Here’s how you get people to actually pay money for your music. Become a good musician. It sounds obvious, but there are so many narcissistic musicians out there that think they are more skilled than they actually are. This step requires that you spend some time learning the theory behind your music, the roots of your music’s history, and a lot of practice. Just because you are recording music on a shoestring budget doesn’t give you the permission to sound like nails against a chalkboard. Take voice lessons. Prepare yourself for a lot of work.
Record your music correctly. Either go into a studio, or start watching coursera.org videos or head to YouTube and start searching “how to record music.” Home studio; bare minimum cost of $1000.
Start with a good guitar. Anything under $100 probably won’t cut it, so save up a little cash and make sure you hear it first! Don’t just order something online because it looks good. Your ears don’t lie. Another alternative path is to get one on craigslist. Here’s your basic guidelines: Squier, Dean: not so good. Martin, Gibson: extremely good. In the middle are Epiphone, Fender, and Takamine.
Secondly, get a good microphone and good software to accompany it. Heading to Guitar Center and talking to a professional will help you figure out the subtleties of microphones.
Getting a Mac and or iPad and loading it with Garageband or Logic is the next step. In order to record my own music, I use Garageband and cubasis on an Ipad attached to an Alesis IO dock. Its been working great for the past three years, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a cost-effective solution to recording.
Going The Extra Mile
Produce it correctly. This costs money/time or both. You need your music to be properly mastered in order for it to sound good. Get a second or third set of ears on the case before you hit the send button. Make physical items. This means cool t-shirts, mugs, CDs, records, etc. Most people downloaded your music illegally already if it was any good, so sweeten the deal a little. You gotta give them what they want, and what they want is a magnet for their fridge that says they saw you play at a place and time.
Don’t be afraid to fail. You should be doing all of the above steps as soon as you think you have achieved the first step, which is to have self confidence in your writing style, performance and voice. You might not sell out Carnegie hall, but if you sell an album, you are officially a working musician.
This article is in response to this guys rant about money and the music industry. I understand where Whitey is coming from, but you could also just politely tell her “no” and be done with it. Take the higher path, dude. You’ve gotten on Breaking Bad, and I’m sure you got paid well for it. Now you’re just making someone’s job at BETTY TV suck even worse for the day.