Is the independent internet sufficient of musicians looking to break through? Or do we still look for music companies? Pros and cons?
Are the days of the all-powerful record labels over? Can an independent artist hope to have a lucrative career, possibly even worldwide fame, without major label support? As the Internet keeps evolving, more and more doors begin to open for the unsigned artists. All-but-gone are the days when labels “had to” pretend that their new signing was naturally voted to be an internet sensation. Today, a number of artists actually DO go viral. But is that enough for a sustainable career – and respectable incomes? Fame? And how does one go about creating a “viral effect” for unsigned music?
- Record labels still have a little bit of clout – mainly because the ones that still survive have the connections and the funds to pave the way for their favored artists. But passing through the A&R process is harder than ever before, and more than ever the IMAGE matters. Style over substance never had it so good. This said, for every 100 Katie Perrys, Miley Cyruses, Drakes or LilWaynes, there is one artist like Adele who serves to undermine this stereotype to a degree, although in her case too, her label (Universal) wasn’t sleeping on the job either. And let’s not forget the Simon Cowell empire, which continues to manufacture pop like there’s no tomorrow with all of its TV-based talent-show formats.
- 2. Mainstream media access continues to be the key to the “fame” part of an artist’s career. You CAN have a career, as in “make enough money to survive and enough fans to get your vanity slightly tickled”, but you won’t be “famous” without the mainstream media. Not even if you become an Internet sensation. So what about Psy, the Korean “Gangnam Style” sensation? Sure, it’s gone viral – with lots of able help from… Universal.
- But “making it” as an indie IS possible. Perhaps not to the level of what the major labels can do, but still to a point where you can seriously talk about a “career”. In other words, doing what you love and making enough to feed your family. And maybe even have a little extra left over. Thing is, it requires good organization and a plan. Having great music is a given. Having a plan is not. And implementing it correctly is, in fact, the Holy Grail.
Basically, if your band has an “admin” side to it – a manager or a well-organized webmaster with at least a basic knowledge of internet marketing plus at least a modest (regular) budget for that – you CAN turn this hobby into a business. At one point, who knows, you can even become so powerful that you’ll be able to negotiate a good deal with an established label. As for the question itself, “is it a good idea?” – YES and NO. YES, because you should leave no stone unturned. And NO because you can use your time so much better by simply building your own music business!