As with any new development, there is a ton of speculation about the emergence of the Indie niche for new music. Of course, nobody knows with 100% certainty, however, if history is a good indicator, then high of the speculation will turn out to be wrong 5 years in the future when we look back.
Because i am among those who speculate, I have no special powers of seeing the future so there are no guarantees which i will be correct. Luckily, few will remember those who were wrong within their prognostications. In fact, few will remember those that were correct as we will have all managed to move on to something more compelling with that time. It will not matter unless we are already historians. I have no real interest in looking back to say whether I became right or wrong. But, I really do have an interest in the music business.
First, I believe it is very important understand the forces that you can get. Most understand the power money and influence with this business of music, therefore it really makes sense for us to give consideration to it. Which is, money and influence will continue a factor. However, there is a new force around that will change the overall composition with the previous infrastructure.
As everyone knows, the big difference is the emergence of mass communication, new digital media and resulting file sharing capabilities. Today, you have the potential to reach as many people as the big guys. Please note that I say “potential”. Having a great product, or even in the case of a songwriter, an excellent song, does not mean which everybody will hear it. The modern model is continuously shifting around under our feet once we explore ways to have our music heard.
The important names in music keep having an advantage despite the shifting landscape. Songwriters and bands who have a huge following have name recognition so they really are able to step outside the traditional box and use a lot of existing power and influence with them. We have all heard about Radiohead’s grand experiment and now we all know that it worked for them. In case you do not know, Radiohead decided to split using their label and produce an independent CD. They offered it online and only asked website visitors to donate what they believed it absolutely was worth. Folks responded by donating money. Why made it happen work? It worked because we already knew them. What’s more, it worked because most of the traditional system infrastructure have been removed and the profits were greatly improved as a result. However, it is only fair to express that the recognition of the trademark Radiohead was originally made possible by the traditional infrastructure of the old music business.
I can agree, let’s not move too rapidly in our assumption that it’s going to work for us. Most of us do not have the name recognition of Radiohead. Therefore, we have less probability for achievement without some form of assistance. The top publishers and labels also continue to have an advantage. Their advantage remains deep pockets that they may obtain helpful promotions, etc. Next to your skin huge networks of “partners” who may have faith in their power to make lucrative deals. Corporate sponsors, advertisers, and distributors continually see less risk with all the existing larger organizations with good track record records. It will take years for brand new players in this market to emerge. That is, a new online label or publisher will likely need to demonstrate some success before keeping the credibility to succeed in the original system. This system can also be changing, but it will not change overnight. I have faith that it is somewhat naive to visualize that the new players won’t change in the process. That is certainly, they will begin to resemble that old players as the old players set out to resemble the new players.
Meanwhile, we see an occasional breakout of Indie artists that give us “little guys” hope for not able to our own music. Ingrid Michaelson is the better example of Indie success which i know, if you take into account that she was previously unknown. The label of Indie artist has numerous definitions, so we should be careful to understand the differences between a performer who is considered an Indie artist as they are not considered mainstream, and an Indie artist that is truly independent in terms of their availability of resources. Actually, I not really know of any artist that is certainly both successful and truly independent. Having some success generally requires a performer to receive assistance somewhere on the way. It is difficult to know the source of the assistance since it is less likely to be publicized, on the other hand contend that the assistance exists nonetheless. In the matter of Ingrid Michaelson, she was very fortunate to own her song played by using an “Old Navy” commercial. How did this happen? I am not sure with 100% certainty, however i doubt that it was only Ingrid. I suspect that she had some assistance throughout the entire process. Being an engineer, I also are aware that a complex, dynamic system including the music market comprising the general public and the music business is very difficult to predict. There are lots of variables, and again, there are forces that must be considered.
Therefore, what will the future appear to be? I believe there will be a celebration somewhere in the middle between your remaining traditional music models and also the ideal model of Indie music produced “by the folks for the people”. We are already visiting a shift in the strategies of the big guys to make use of the Internet to their own advantage. This should be expected. While some men and women will continue to rage against the power of capital, money may ultimately find a place despite any idealistic notions on the contrary. It just makes sense that capital can be a force that must be given due consideration. Otherwise, we may have seen individuals making their own brand of automobiles. Certain industries tend to be more capital intensive, like the automobile industry, nevertheless the analogy is valid. There are several industries that will alternation in these uncertain times, nevertheless the collective aspect of getting high quality products to market will stay in place.
While capital will help produce flashy, high quality products, there is a growing taste on a regular basis and exciting. Everybody is growing tired of formulaic music. We are now hearing new sounds and rhythms that provide us new sensations. Unfortunately for your big guys, they’ve put most of their eggs in the basket of supporting the standard styles that have been repackaged. Indeed, there seems to be little regard for taste as listeners. This will likely also change, however it will also be very slow. Most of the labels have completely eliminated their earlier practice of developing new artists. It’s now shifted to something of “cherry picking” among the becoming more popular artists who are beginning to show signs of independent success. So, the Indie artists are given a choice at some point in their career. Will they wish to continue as so-called independents or can they wish to have a larger sponsor which can help them on a much larger scale?
The divide that exists involving the Indie artist and also the signed artist is very large until you consider many of the newly emerging systems for providing assistance. That is, the divide will be filled by a variety of people who will provide some sort of assistance. You can now find a multitude of services online that can help you as an artist. Many of these services are provided for a small fee. Of course, as with any new market, you will have a period of excitement due to the valid perception of new opportunity. You’ll also have the inevitable “overshoot” that occurs. Systems tend to work with cycles and this new infrastructure will not be any different. That is, the production of services goes beyond the actual demand resulting in a pendulum swing in the opposite direction at some point in the long run.
The services that survive is going to be those services which may have something to show for that associated cost. That is certainly, services that have something to offer will continue to flourish while other services will ultimately disappear. This is already becoming somewhat apparent, but I believe it will take many years to really shake out. It really is interesting to me that the one element which is really missing at the center ground between 100% independent artists and 100% dependent artists is money. Eventually, someone must realize that money is the missing link on two separate levels. To start with, on a personal level, cash is needed for artists to thrive. Having services available is of little use to individuals who have little money to invest in their own careers. Secondly, with a business level, you will find there’s need for more than a web presence to actually provide services to artists. Which is, capital is needed to have something more than a website. Indie labels are good examples of capital intensive services that may be offered to assist a designer. This much should be clear. However, lots of the other services also require equipment more than just a computer. Finally, there exists a need for many of the services to get a ground game. As an example, there is a big difference between running a website and having the opportunity to actually show up face-to-face to adequately represent a performer.
I believe these voids may ultimately be filled by enterprising music entrepreneurs. However, I have faith that more emphasis has to be placed on money along with the ground game before it’ll begin to really be the better choice. Finally, I believe that seed money has to become available for promising artists. That is certainly, an artist who has sufficient music collateral must have more options available to them for growing their career as well as their earning potential. These days, investment money is becoming tough to find. However, traditional investments might not be as attractive as we move forward in this brave marketplace. Most of us remember when companies listed among the Dow Industrials had little or no chance of failure. This really is no longer true in the global economy that exists today. So, you will want to create a fund through which at least a portion of the money can be invested in the career of promising artists? This kind of fund could also give you the means by which artists may spend money on their own future.
Another model would involve private investors providing seed money to pick out individual artists for the return on their investment. Of course, the arrangement should be contractual for it to operate. Guess what? This already exists by means of publishers and labels. However, you will see a new demand for funding with this middle ground between unknown artists and stardom. This funding, I really believe, will be needed to help bridge the visible difference between the availability of services as well as the need for assistance.
Obviously, there is the model of pure public opinion when the better music bubbles to the top level as more people listen for the social networks. I believe there exists some validity to the model but it also is not perfect given the large number of uploads out there. The odds will continue to decline as more people attempt to use by way of the internet. The pioneers with this medium had a much better chance as there was significantly less competition. It should now be clear that the numbers have grown to the point of making the work of gaining recognition just like difficult as before the internet. Just like the services, the musicians must also have a ground game. That is, artists must be open to perform with regularity as an alternative to depend solely while on an internet presence.
To summarize, I would love to point out that a great song can create enough energy to destroy out by virtue of it’s own merits, but I believe that would be the idealist that still lingers from my youth, wanting helpful to win out irrespective of the way our system operates. Unfortunately, I believe our society is too dependent upon the flow of greenbacks to allow more than a fraction of the percent in the way of lucky breaks to ignore the odds. In the meantime, I would not recommend throwing money away so as to build a music career. Rather, I believe it makes sense for artists to build relationships while still build a catalog at work. We all understand the worth of a network of fellow artists, it makes sense for artists to build relationships over time with those involved with the business of music.