Changes in the Music Industry are Making Opportunities for Indy Artists
The internet has changed the music industry drastically. The change started in the 90s with the illegal downloading of music by Napster, which is now-defunct. The music sharing sites, like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and streaming services still have the industry in flux over issues such as the royalties to be paid to artists and labels.
Not all the changes are bad. Currently, more music is accessible to people around the world, but that has made it more difficult for musicians to make money from their music, the old fashioned way. At the same time, independent musicians have used the internet to reach a global audience without the backing or restrictions of the traditional music labels.
The Down Side
Traditionally, people who have had a hand in making a record are paid in royalties. With the internet era, it has become easier to obtain music without the monetary exchange, which means royalties can’t be paid. Therefore, the music industry, in general, is struggling.
It all began with Napster founded in 1999 as the first peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software. The emphasis was on sharing audio files, usually music, in MP3 format. The company ceased operation because of its legal difficulties over copyright infringement. In essence, the music was considered stolen (pirated) when it was downloaded for free.
Outlets, like iTunes and Amazon, have helped to curb the trend of free downloads by offering individual songs for sale, without having to purchase the full album.
Internet radio or streaming services like Spotify and Pandora offer a paid subscription for streaming music. Consequently, music sales, from CDs and Albums, are almost nonexistent. In the internet era, you can get all the music you want streaming onto your phone for $10 per month.
Spotify allows users to create a playlist, which can then be shared with friends by integrating their accounts using Facebook and Twitter. They are actually creating a new social media platform by sharing their playlist in their inbox on Spotify.
One benefit of streaming to the Indy Artist is that music is more personalized and much more accessible to people in any part of the world. Now, the music industry isn’t pushing the big names, like Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran. ALL artists, big and small, have more of an equal opportunity.
The streaming services are still disputed by artists and labels because the income generated is far short of the revenue from CD and Album sales.
This has brought a resurgence of vinyl record sales as collectibles. But, still, the revenue does not help the distressed music industry.
For the most part, new music is not selling because it is easier to stream music. Music sales are now virtually nonexistent, at least in the traditional sense.
Music can still be purchased in stores online, but the sales are far short of what they used to be.
The Up Side
On the flip side, the problems for the music industry have created an opportunity for the independent artist (Indy Artist) who is not part of the “industry machine.”
Individuals can now create a playlist of the music or artists they like to listen to. Another benefit is that the streaming service will offer suggestions for new songs, based on the type of music in your playlist.
This allows the unknown artist to be introduced to individuals worldwide, a benefit not available in the music industry. The music industry only advertises and pushes the artists they have signed. The smaller artists are excluded.
The unknown artists, who fill out their profile on the streaming service with their songs and artwork attached, are one step closer to being heard by countless listeners that use the service on a daily basis.
When an unknown artist gets attention on YouTube or a streaming site, the music industry often takes notice, also.
DIY Recording and Publishing
Is it easy? No, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. It might be easier to have a label record your songs if you can find one that will take you without you paying an arm and a leg.
There are many stories of record labels who have signed a singer or musician or band, cut the album, and then drop them without ever publishing the album.
Instead of trying to find a producer who can help you, get a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and start recording your music. You’ll make mistakes, but you will learn. It all comes with experience, training, and practice. You can do this.
It has never been easier to get your music in front of an audience than today with “Do It Yourself” publishing and online streaming. You don’t have to have a label or a manager or publisher help you become a success.
Another recording app is GarageBand which is a multi-track audio recording program. It is an Apple product but has recently developed GarageBand for Windows 10.
GarageBand’s user interface is intuitive and easy to use offering a wide variety of applications. An important issue is that it eliminates copyright issues associated with using pre-recorded songs, riffs, licks, or other software.
The software comes fully functional with a complete sound library, including voice, presets, and a vast selection of session instruments.
“It comes equipped with 100s of Hip Hop, EDM, and Jazz synth sounds, with built-in-lessons for piano and guitar. The insanely huge sound library on each instrument can create a huge number of permutations and combinations for you to choose from.
You are equipped with the ability to fix rhythm issues or autotune, track and mix your track with instruments, put effects like compression and visual EQ with just a click.”
The best part is that the software is FREE. GarageBand also gives you the option of sending the recording to them as your co-creator. They can then add, change, or manipulate whatever they think would help the recording then sent it back to you. A great solution if you need help in learning how to master your own recordings.
Social Media and Website
You’re on social media, right? Everyone is on at least one social media platform. Most of us are on several.
Social media is just as powerful as the internet itself. Again, it does take work. You have to take it seriously to be effective. You must know where and when to post. You also must post regularly and interact with people online. Do your homework? Figure it out.
One YouTube channel hosted by Miles Beckler gives you step-by-step information on how to get started and how to be successful. And it’s FREE. He even has a complete course for FREE. You can’t beat that, now can you?
You do need to have a website where you publish your music.
If you aren’t sure about creating a website try a company like Wix or MailChimp where you can create an awesome website with drag and drop. Wix and MailChimp and other companies host the website for you and are available to help you with your creation.
You may be asking the question, “As a newbie in the industry, how are people going to find me?”
As mentioned above, streaming platforms make it easy to find new artists. TuneCore is a digital distributor and artist service. “It was founded on the philosophy of never taking advantage of an artist, ever. Sell your music, not your soul,” is their motto. “You Keep 100% of Your Sales & Rights.”
When you create an account with TuneCore.com, you enter your artist profile, as mentioned above. Next, you claim and verify your Spotify for Artist profile. Once your profile, music, and artwork are uploaded to Spotify you can edit your bio, add photos, pitch singles to playlists, promote your songs, and much more.
Once your TuneCore account is integrated with your Spotify for Artists page, you have complete control over your profile and you can engage with your fans. At this point, you become a Spotify verified artist. “Artist Pick” also allows you to highlight songs, playlists and promote your upcoming tours, gigs, shows, and/or pitch singles for playlist consideration.
Another very important feature is your listener statistics, which is also available on your artist page. No matter what you are doing on the internet, it’s very important to review your statistics so you can make modifications to your plan when needed.
TuneCore Social is a social media management tool for musicians. It allows you to streamline your online presence in one easy to use hub. You can connect all of your social media accounts so you can track your stats across all platforms. It also allows you to schedule posts across multiple platforms, enabling you to get more fans while spending less time.
One of the best parts is that TuneCore Social is free when you have a TuneCore artist account.
Licensing For Covers
TuneCore’s CoverSong Licensing, powered by Royalty Solutions provides licensing to record and sell cover songs by other artists quickly, easily, and legally. The licensing service does the research and secures a licensing agreement for any new covers you record or any that you have previously released.
All the pertinent information for all services is available on TuneCore.com.
The DIY Path
Yes, the DIY Path seems harder than hiring a manager, publisher, and someone to record your music. But, you will pay a lot of money for things that you could learn how to do.
Yes, the 5000 things the music marketer has to do every day can be very overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. Focus on three things:
1. Making great music
2. Building a core audience
3. Growing your community.
Consistently focus on these three things
Batch tasks that need to be done in small batches
Learn the tactics to get the results and consistently grow your community
The essence of audience growth is like farming. Tend to and grow your audience like you would grow a garden. Just keep doing what needs to be done and it will happen.