The brass ring for musicians used to be the acquisition of a record deal, preferably from a major label, with a big budget for artist development and promotion. Then, a new-fangled technology called the “internet” came on the scene, causing the record business to all but implode.
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve got at least a passing familiarity with the ways in which the internet has changed the music industry. Suffice it to say that the internet has been both a blessing and a curse for musicians.
The curse, if you’ll indulge me in a gross oversimplification, is that music piracy has been virtually impossible to control; in the Information Age, everyone has access to everything. Therefore, record labels, which have traditionally made a pantsload of money from selling records, are having to find new ways to stay afloat. And since the internet has created infinitely more ways to find and hear new music, the idea of “mainstream” has become nearly obsolete.
The blessing, since most musicians are not signed to major record labels, is that the internet has leveled the playing field somewhat. A motivated and digitally savvy musician can function as his or her own marketing team, booking agent, and manager. After all, some of the biggest stars in music right now became stars via their internet savoir-faire; Lily Allen and Taylor Swift come to mind.
These days, the music business seems to be less an industry than a marketplace. It’s exciting to know that we, as artists, can now market ourselves–from the comfort of our own homes, no less! But it’s also daunting. I mean, becoming a good musician is a formidable enough endeavor unto itself. Now I have to be a marketing whiz, too?
To all my musician readers (and any other interested parties!), I am curious: when it comes to marketing yourself, how do you balance music and business?