The music industry is a construct. Musicians are the reality

by Jason on January 2, 2012 · 21 comments

in Business,Thoughts

I inadvertently stumbled across some comments I wrote back in May of 2011 on a post over at Digital Music News called The Music Industry: It’s Becoming a Third World Country… written by Paul Resnikoff. After reading the original article and the subsequent comments again I realized that the points I made back then (seems like an eternity ago!) crystalize my thinking on the state of music as we launch into 2012. I’ve decided to put my comments together into a blog post as a reminder to myself and others that there has never been a better time to be an independent musician, contrary to what most of the “experts” will tell you.

I hope you enjoy reading this and welcome any comments you may have.

Here’s to a fruitful new year filled with real personal connections, beauty and music!

The music industry is a construct. Musicians are the reality

The music industry has been around only for a blink of an eye. Musicians have been around since the dawn of time. For the majority of civilization, musicians didn’t need an “industry” to prop them up. They relied on either their fans or their patrons to keep them going. The music industry saw that there was money to be made (most of it NOT by the musicians, btw) and jumped in to capitalize on the situation. I do not think that was for the better of music or musicians, only those who controlled the music, i.e. the labels and publishers, and the very few they chose to prop up.

Times of change and upheaval produce the greatest art

The music industry is a construct, and constructs change over time. We are in a period of such change. And it’s times of change and upheaval that produce the greatest art. Musicians will continue to make music, writers will continue to write, painters will continue to paint. And the fans of these artists will continue to search out what they love and support it. No one needs to sell 14 million records or do stadium tours to make a living.

There are fans for everything out there

From bubble-gum pop to the most esoteric music you can envision, somewhere there are fans. And the internet has made it easier than ever before to find those fans. Yes, it takes hard work. But it’s work that we can do ourselves, and there are models of success out there for us to learn from and follow. Check out Steve Lawson, Zoe Keating and Hope and Social, just to name a few.

Fans will buy music

Fans will support artists they develop a relationship with. Fans understand the value of the music TO THEM. The “industry” stopped cultivating fans long ago, instead trying for the biggest buck in the fastest way possible, and telling people who they should like and buy, and how much it should cost. That’s why very few pop stars these days make it past 1 or 2 records. No one gives a shit. But people do give a shit about artists who develop relationships with their fans. If your music resonates, you tell a story that touches people, you don’t need an “industry” to help you be successful. You just need to find your fans and reach out to them.

For artists who develop true fans, and true relationships with those fans, paying is not a problem. My fans are happy to pay me for my music even though I offer all of it on a pay-want-y­ou-feel-its-worth basis. I stopped putting a price on my music last year, and since then have made MORE money on downloads and CD sales at shows.

I’m not concerned with the music industry

So, call me selfish if you want, but I’m not at all concerned with the music industry. I’m concerned with making a living doing what I want to do the way I want to do it. And as I’ve said before, there’s never been a time when that’s been easier. Artists all around the world are doing what artists have done throughout history. Creating great work and finding people who will support it. If you can do that, “piracy” (which is a term that excites emotions but has no real bearing on the situation it is currently being applied to) cannot harm you.

We just don’t need the music “industry” any more

I will continue to be vocal about this, because I believe the best thing that can happen for the music and the musicians is for us to take back the control of our own destinies. We just don’t need the music “industry” any more.

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