The music business is not dead, but it is changing profoundly. The music business is established on the ‘buddy system’. Everyone is connected to everyone else in this industry. The music business is one of the few businesses that offers a shot at the brass ring to everyone and anyone who enters. A 9 year old vocalist with no previous experience is offered the exact same shot at success that is offered to a Julliard honors grad with 30 years of experience.
The music business is now a mass media business. The content you write and the community you build creates new business opportunities and associations. Offering value to your community and fans without expecting anything in return is the way to grow your brand. The music business is really open to anyone who meets the requirements of ability and originality. The music business is full of self starters – people who create their own opportunities and find their way into the music business through a number of different routes.
Musicians are finding ways to do it right. By offering fans incentives (anything from work-in-progress demos to personal performances), fan support becomes less about asking for a handout from your fans, and more about making them a part of the creative process and offering a return on their investment. Musicians could also build recording studios and make money recording others’ music. They can produce soundtracks for films, for plays, for events, etc. Musicians career paths are as unique as their individual finger prints.
Artists began to re-package themselves to reach their audiences directly, led by an astonishingly talented genre and creative force, hip-hop. Hip Hop artists showed that record labels were obsolete as artist breaking machines and went on to completely redefine artists as media franchises, launching tours, ringtones, clothing, TV and film productions and other innovative areas of revenue generation. Artists also need to look beyond record sales and royalties, traditional sources of revenue. Many artists have jumped on board this bandwagon by using their brand to negotiate clothing, video games, and endorsement deals.
Finally, social interaction with your fans is a necessity, but it would be advised to give yourself a few rules to go by; rules to help protect you not only from yourself (you can be your own worst enemy), but also those who follow you that may or may not have your best interests in mind. Social media should be frequently updated, but should lead people to the ultimate source of anything having to do with the artist, the artists website. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace continue to prove that it works. Do record labels still need expensive A&R staff when they can simply listen to works of any band with over 50,000 MySpace friends? The music business is not dead, just evolving.