Imagine no Major Labels. I wonder if you can. The fans and The Industry have known for years that The Majors are dying on the vine. The word is out that one of the three remaining is looking for a buyer to unload on. So why is it that Independent musicians still don’t get it? You aren’t getting signed to a Major Label, so get over it! Do you really think that the old music business still works? Have you been living under a rock?
Imagine what your life would be like if you took that end goal of “being signed” out of the picture. What if you stopped wasting your time and money chasing an elusive goal, and instead focused on becoming an exceptional musician and building a huge loyal fan base. How much happier would you be if you were creating amazing content, astonishing your fans with your live performances and actually coming up with a business plan that was realistic?
I have had several artists I work with get meetings with Major labels. After hearing music that the materialistic gatekeepers thought was marketable, instead of talking about signing the artist, they got out their laptops to look at the fan base, plays, YouTube subscribers, and tour schedule. If you build it they will come; and then take 40%. Then if you do get signed and your music doesn’t sell, you get shelved. But my music is better than anyone else’s you say, I am the exception. Really? Why haven’t I heard of you? Where are the millions of loyal followers who would get in their cars and drive hundreds of miles to see your show? How much money are you making off downloads, merch and you tube? Yea, I thought not. Online fan building isn’t going anywhere so embrace the new model. You can reach millions of people through the web and get people fired up so they WILL come to your shows and support you instead of stealing your music. That’s right your music is being stolen every day. There are hundreds of piracy sites and 95% of American musicians don’t own the copyrights to their music anyway so fans are having a field day. And I say let ’em. Give away everything, tell your fans to come to all your sites and download everything for free. Create a feeding frenzy for evangelists craving your new content and NOW you’re in the game. Stop holding back content and making it difficult for fans to get to the music. Hell they can rip your you tube video to an mp3 in five minutes anyway so give them the free downloads. While you are being coy and telling the world, “it’s coming, my amazing music that is better than everyone else’s – just wait a month or two and sign my mailing list”, your peers are building up crazed followers by giving away incredible music for free. And their fans love them for it. They WILL buy their music and support them because it’s exceptional to begin with (which it has to be) and because they made it easy to get to. Stop listening to your family and friends who lie and say your music is amazing and get some real feedback online from fans who have never heard your stuff and aren’t related to you. And while I’m on the subject, quit whining about how hard it is to get fans. If your music doesn’t suck, you don’t have a problem. Get busy reaching out online and build the following you need to monetize your music business. Your online following will lead to more and better gigs. Make a splash, talk to everyone, blog, and then gig. Perform constantly anywhere and everywhere. Spend time getting to know the fans that you are asking to listen to your music and come to your gigs. If you don’t, the guy down the street will and he will win. Stop talking about your glory days 10 years ago; it’s over. What have you done in the last month? That’s all anyone cares about. Telling that same old tired story about how you were so close to being signed or were signed and it lead nowhere is wearing thin. Yawn. Americans have the attention span of a gnat. If they have to click through an exclusive website to try to find your music, you are done. It’s annoying and most of the time the music isn’t good enough to hold their attention after you make them jump through a hundred hoops to get to it. I am so turned off when I go to a music site and I am only allowed to hear 30 seconds of a song. Gimme a break. Moving On. You are arrogant and entitled and I’m not sharing your music with anyone. You just lost a fan.
Now some of you have already missed the point. You are freaking right now thinking that I am advocating that you stop copyrighting your material. Not the point. And have you even done it correctly? Copyright your music through the Library Of Congress and then get on with your life. Did it ever dawn on you that if you give away massive amounts of music someone may want to record your songs and then you can get licensing fees? You can also monetize YouTube once you have enough subscribers. Find them ONLINE, obviously. Make a dynamic video that is undeniable and you are golden. Mediocrity won’t cut it. You will get lost in a sea of generic dribble.
If one more musician hits me up online and asks me to “like” his facebook page I’m going to lose it. I join facebook music fan sites all the time; when the music is incredible and accessible. I want to share it, I’m excited. Can’t wait for my friends and colleagues to hear the gem I’ve found. But send me an automated message to “like” you, and click, buh bye. Be real, don’t hire a third party company to spam people to send robots to your page that aren’t listening to a damn thing. Has your twitter been shut down because you were spamming the hell out of people? Here’s the word on twitter spam from Brandignity:
Can I get in trouble for using a third party software program to follow people?
Yes! Twitter frowns upon any outside technology being used to increase your followers. With that said many of the companies are still in business so it doesn’t look like they have been shut down. Even the search results do not show too many others being kicked off yet. If you are going to use software to help you be safe and smart about how you use it. Don’t follow 1,000 people every day because obviously that will raise a red flag. Follow a small amount and vary the amounts each day and leave sometime between follows so it looks a bit more natural.
When you give out your username and password to another site or application, you are giving control of your account to someone else. They may then post duplicated, spam, or malicious updates and links, send unwanted direct messages, aggressively follow, or violate other Twitter rules with your account. When these applications do add followers to your account, they are often abandoned or bot accounts that are not reading your updates. If a third-party application causes your account to violate the Twitter Rules, your account may be suspended.
Take the time to learn the rules so you don’t fall prey to a suspended account over time. Twitter is an amazing place to leverage and use to your advantage but you have to be smart about how you conduct yourself. The last thing you want to happen is have your account suspended after building it up for some time because may times Twitter will not turn it back on…be safe and smart about how you use it.
Common sense people. Same with ReverbNation. They are taking no prisoners. Here is the message you will receive from Reverb if you try to fake your fans/plays:
It appears that your account has been flagged by our system due to song plays or fan growth that it has deemed ‘suspicious’ (may have been created in an automated way or through a paid 3rd party site). Your account will not appear on any ReverbNation charts for 31 days following the most recent ‘suspicious’ activity. Stats found to be fraudulent may be removed during this time. Please note this suspension period from the charts does not hamper your daily use of ReverbNation or your ability to access and promote your music/content. Your account will return to the charts automatically without any action on your part should no violations regarding the terms and conditions of ReverbNation turn up. If you feel that this was done in error, please complete the appeals form via the link pasted below so that your appeal may be considered. If your appeal is accepted, your account will return to the charts sometime before the 31 days is up.
Not worth it people. I have noticed a lot of Reverb accounts that have been stripped of fans and rankings. They are keeping it real. Good for them. Just get busy and actually engage with your fans. If fans aren’t real, they can’t buy your music, merch, or come to your shows anyway so what’s the point?
Independent artists are building their own machine. You can either get on board or get lost in a sea of Wannabe’s. It’s all up to you! The old paradigm isn’t coming back so move along, nothing more to see here. And instead of looking to blame everyone else for your lack of success, look in the mirror.
J Michael Dolan said it best:
Questioning your crew, staff, partners, fans, customers, investors or management will undoubtedly provoke a variety of reactions. Asking your SELF the deeper questions, and getting to the truth in the matter, will always bolster confidence, increase velocity and move any project or idea forward—inching you closer and closer to your impossible dream.