Sign And Fail: How The Traditional Music Industry Killed Culture

By George Howard
(follow George on Twitter)

We talk a lot about how this era of the music business is a particularly good one for the independent artist (by that, I mean an artist not signed to a label; someone who releases his/her own music either by him or herself or with a small team).  The reasons for this are many, and largely due to technological advances: companies like TuneCore made it possible for you to have your music distributed world-wide very efficiently; Pro Tools (etc.) allows for the efficient creation of music; social media enables you (in theory) to promote your music directly to fans, etc…

However, one thing we don’t discuss often enough is that there is another reason why now is a fantastic time to release your own work.  While it’s related to the above, it does stand apart enough to merit observation.

The bottom line is that a significant reason that now is a great time to release your own music is that the cost of failure is so low.

Let me explain.  Historically, when you decided you wanted to be a musician and release records, you chose a very specific path.  This path required you to, among other things, dedicate nearly all of your time and energy to essentially getting a record deal.  What this meant was that you were forced to do everything in your power to attempt to get the attention of a series of gatekeepers (press, radio, managers, booking agents, club owners, label A&R people, etc…) in the hopes that they would give you a series of chances that would lead to a record deal.  During that time, while you were attempting to get this series of chances, you needed to be monomaniacal with respect to your purpose.  An inordinate amount of time, therefore, was spent not making music, but rather attempting to position yourself favorably in the eyes of these gatekeepers.   Doing this, obviously, had a “cost.”  This cost was not necessarily one measured in dollars (though, pre Pro Tools, it sure wasn’t cheap to record demos), but instead one measured in time/distraction.  Economists call this “opportunity cost.”

In the off chance that you made all the right moves, and the stars lined up, and you were offered a record deal, your cost of failure just went through the roof.  While the label I ran (for better, and, sometimes, for worse) frequently worked with artists who had had major label deals, a lot of the time, an artist who had a record deal, and, for whatever reason, didn’t sell enough records to be deemed a commercial success, was forever labeled as a pariah; never to be offered another deal.

Essentially, the cost of failure with respect to getting signed to a label, and then not selling records was being barred from ever competing again.

In both cases — the road leading to getting a record deal, and actually getting the deal — mis-steps along the way (real or perceived) had a huge cost associated with them.  In essence, there was really only One Way, and if you veered from this path (or were thrown off the path), it was very hard to get back on.

In hindsight, this is sort of insane.  In what other business is it expected that you come right out of the gate, fully-formed, and achieve success on your very first effort?  While there are certainly vocations — from doctor to stock broker — where screw ups can bar you from the field, these (and most others) tend to not even let you into the field until you’ve been trained (medical school, MBA, etc…).  Part of that training is learning from others and learning from mistakes.

The old music business didn’t allow for this.  One could argue that this high cost of failure, one that deterred people from straying from a fairly narrow path (artistically and in a business sense). led to the homogenized nature of the music business during this era.

This is because, of course, it wasn’t just the artists who have a high cost of failure.  Rather, it’s the executives at the labels as well.  If you’re making a few hundred large a year, you will do almost anything to keep that money flow coming.  This also means that you won’t do anything that puts your salary at risk.  This leads to a culture where few, if any, are willing to push for anything innovative or new, and most feel it’s safer to repeat the status quo.

Arguably, the major labels are still caught in this cycle.

The good news is that most artists are largely indifferent to the old-school label system at this point, and an increasing number are working hard to find new ways to create music on their own terms and build sustainable careers.  This is partly because the major labels (or any label) just aren’t viable (or appealing) options at this point, but it’s also, I would argue, because the cost of failure has come down dramatically.

As it’s now easier than ever to create and release music, artists are freed from the one-album-every-eighteen-months cycle that raised the stakes (and cost of failure) to such a scary degree.

What results is that artists are much more inclined to create a work and put it into the marketplace quickly.  In so doing, they honor a time-tested management theory known as the Deming Cycle.  W. Edward Deming developed a philosophy that revolutionized industries, and, like most revolutionary philosophies, it can be stated simply, but takes some time to understand and implement.  At its core, the Deming cycle recommends a circular process beginning with “Plan,” moving to “Do,” then to “Check,” then to “Act,” and then back to “Plan.”

This can be understood as “Ready, Fire, Aim” as opposed to “Ready, Aim, Fire,” so long as you also understand that after you fire, you must check where your shot went, and adjust before you re-fire.

This approach demands iteration over cogitation.  It demands that you move quickly to get something into the marketplace, because only in so doing can you truly understand if what you’re doing will have an impact.  Importantly, it demands that you study closely the results that occur upon entering the market, and assumes that you will refine your efforts prior to re-introducing them into the market.

This method works best when the costs of failures are low enough so as not to be fatal.  In the old music business, you essentially got one shot.  There was no opportunity to refine anything.  Now, given the tools at the disposal of just about every artist, and a culture that not only expects, but demands agility (see the preponderance of “betas”), it is incumbent upon you to get into the game, learn, and then refine.

I strongly believe that this not only results in a higher chance of success for artists, but also in a more diverse musical landscape.  This is because no one, no one knows what the market wants, and for too long people thought they did.  This resulted in a lot of music being put into the market just because it resembled something else that had been successful.  With the Deming approach, and a low cost of failure, we are able to do what we should have been doing all along: create what is in our hearts, and then — if we so choose — continue to refine as people respond to our work.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

George Howard is the former president of Rykodisc. He currently advises numerous entertainment and non-entertainment firms and individuals. Additionally, he is the Executive Editor of Artists House Music and is an Associate Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee.  He is most easily found on Twitter at: twitter.com/gah650

Related to this article: Why Everyone But The Artist And The Music Fan Is Doomed

  • Steads

    The cost of failure is low and the chances of success are slim to none.

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      depends on how you define success. 

      Best,George

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      depends on how you define success. 

      Best,George

      • Steads

        Making a living.

        • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

          ok, fair enough, i suppose. but how many people do you know working “straight” jobs who are just doing one thing? for better or worse, we’re living in a world where people work many jobs. 

          if you’re lucky enough that something creative is one of your jobs, and you’re able to make enough money with that job (including contribution from other jobs) to be able to keep doing it on your terms – to me, that’s success.

          Best,George

          • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

            My “day job” is the music. We live pretty minimally and are very satisfied with our lives. Sure, I’d like to have a newer SUV under warranty so I don’t have to worry every time that “Check Engine” light comes on…haha…but we spun 3k miles over the last week – five shows, one news interview, two radio interviews, and just got a follow up email from the Hard Rock Cafe asking when we can schedule another event. I feel pretty successful. ;D

          • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

            right on!

            iterate, celebrate, iterate, celebrate, iterate, celebrate!

            Best,George

          • Steads

            Then if you define success as a side job or hobby that provides some income so be it.  But if great music needs time and compensation or the reward to create it.  Then great music is everyone’s loss because the investment it requires cannot be recouped.  The only money makers are snake oil salesman showing the way to a future which is a sham.

          • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

            not sure i agree with your premise. an awful lot of great music (delta blues springs to mind) was created under less-than-ideal circumstances.

            really appreciate the dialog.

            Best,George

          • Steads

            What else springs to mind?

          • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

            jazz, punk…

          • http://www.dccardwell.com/ DC Cardwell

            On the question of “how you define success”, we tend to have unrealistic ideas of that even in our normal (non-music-career) lives. We think we need more money, so that we can get a bigger house, and a flashier car, and then we end up over-extending ourselves anyway so that we’re still in bigger and bigger debt to pay off things that didn’t really make us happier anyway.

            We shouldn’t expect to become millionaires out of music, and we should keep reminding ourselves that those who do don’t necessarily end up happy, and often don’t keep creating great music either.

            If we keep our monetary expectations low and our musical expectations high, it’s probably a better way to live.

            Having started very late in life I haven’t figured out how to make money from my music yet, but there’s not a day goes by when I’m not immensely gratified and fulfilled by people’s reactions and responses to my songs. For me, that’s success.

      • Steads

        Making a living.

      • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

        George, you’re absolutely right in that response. I was recently approached about being a part of a documentary produced by a fairly well established and respected producer about independent musicians. The interviewer went on about my music and then asked if I was pitching it to major labels. He was shocked when I confidently replied, “No.” He asked, “Don’t you want to make millions?” and laughed in a sort of joking but half-serious way. I told him that due to the licensing deals I now have in place (Discovery Network, MTV, VH1, E!, and Oxygen as current, more coming), low cost distribution (thanks to companies like TuneCore, etc), and since my album was completely “listener supported” and I didn’t have to lean on a label or investors to get into the studio…I very realistically have the potential to make $100k+ next year. That’s based on the minimum numbers that are within reach. So, make a steady income by placing my music into long-term (licensing, etc) and short-term (live shows, merch and album sales at shows) “investments” or take a risk of losing control of my catalog for an extended period of time, have to be under pressure to write “hit” songs, play the game…?

        I’ve said this many times and I stand behind it – I’m not against record labels. For some people, the machine is required for their particular style, look, what have you. I see that among the people I know in country music especially – Nashville still has a stronghold on that side of the industry. There are a few people slipping through, but if you’re a songwriter and/or want to be the next Taylor Swift or Garth Brooks (side note: you should want to be yourself rather than someone else, another huge misconception in this industry), you’re going to need that initial investor for your first 100k albums.

        I’d gladly hand over my 12+ hr days to a deal that worked for both the label and me. Giving up a little control in order to have more artistic freedom is the kind of deal I’d sign. I’ve been with two labels previously and walked away from both deals, luckily with my integrity, respect, and music intact. I can’t say that for some of my other friends.

        http://www.daveowensmusic.com

        • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

          really appreciate this.

          great points!

          Best,George

        • http://www.facebook.com/sarahtollerson Sarah

          Rock on, Dave. Thanks for putting some positive feedback out there for the haters. :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/sarahtollerson Sarah Tollerson

        Am I going to be the next national sensation going on arena tours? Probably not. Will I make a living with musical pursuits? Absolutely.

        Most people probably don’t realize that most artists making a living with music have 10 different ventures going on at once – recording, licensing, touring, session work, etc. It takes time and networking to make these things happen. I’m on my way right now, part time day job, part time music. Patience is important, as well as embracing baby steps.

  • http://www.anotherfinelabel.co.uk Another Fine Day

    Absolutely true. As long as the artist goes in, eyes wide open, understanding that the chances of getting any more income out of it than, if they’re lucky, something around minimum wage, in fits and starts, are pretty low. Something like 2%, I believe the figure is, for most Tunecore artists (please correct if I’m wrong)

    I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s a good thing – more artists are making more money than ever before, it’s just that it’s spread around a lot more, and there’s a lot more competition. So go ahead and fail, but keep going. The trick is to fail, then fail again, then fail better. At some point, if you’re lucky, you might get a reasonable income out of it, given extra cash from gigs and merch, but as long as you keep your expectations ‘reasonable’ (keep fame and fortune out of it) then that’s ‘success’.

  • http://www.anotherfinelabel.co.uk Another Fine Day

    Absolutely true. As long as the artist goes in, eyes wide open, understanding that the chances of getting any more income out of it than, if they’re lucky, something around minimum wage, in fits and starts, are pretty low. Something like 2%, I believe the figure is, for most Tunecore artists (please correct if I’m wrong)

    I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s a good thing – more artists are making more money than ever before, it’s just that it’s spread around a lot more, and there’s a lot more competition. So go ahead and fail, but keep going. The trick is to fail, then fail again, then fail better. At some point, if you’re lucky, you might get a reasonable income out of it, given extra cash from gigs and merch, but as long as you keep your expectations ‘reasonable’ (keep fame and fortune out of it) then that’s ‘success’.

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      really like the “fail better” phrase.

      Thanks,George

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      really like the “fail better” phrase.

      Thanks,George

  • WALKAT

    SO VERY TRUE THE REVOLUTION HAS BEGUN!

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      viva la revolucion!

      Best,George

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=209501000 Stephen M. Thornton

    Fantastic! I couldn’t agree more! Thanks George!!! :)

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      thanks for the kind words.

      Best,George

  • Nate

    Could we go further back? Did patrons of the arts do the same thing? I can’t imagine that the Music Industry was entirely unique enabler and denier of artist development. 

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      good point. 

      works made for hire, generally, rather for a label or for some patron tend to have a negative impact on creativity.

      Best,George

  • Art

    If you truly are an artist, then the “deal” is not the reward. It is only one of them and NOT the most important. Standing behind one’s work with unwavering conviction in the face of rejection speaks volumes about artistry. $$$$ is a poor means of measurement.  What sells is usually what people buy like candy…not what is thought provoking and meaningful.

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      couldn’t agree more.

      Thanks,George

    • Mhorsphol

      Yes Art that’s it, I have been composing music (Contemporary classical film genre music) for 25 years and have built up a portfolio of around 400 pieces covering a lot of genres except rock and jazz. i have 16 albums on iTunes and am paid .03 cents a download from the record company that signed me! They say people are just not interested in listening to my sort of music Why did they ever bother to sign me. Well all these record companies are like deep sea fishing trawlers that throw out nets and scoop up all these unsuspecting and aspiring musicians with promises of a bright and dollar filled career. In the mean time they just rake in the 40-50% that you signed over to them. Then forget about you and if you complain about getting the ,03 cents, they say they have to cover the costs of ingestion to iTunes and streaming costs…….blah blah blah!!! We are all better off doing it ourselves and mastering the art of self promotion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/z.electric z.electric

      yup, agreed.
      Making the music and performing is such a great experience, if I ha loads of cash I’d just spend it on trying to play more anyways. Playing great gigs IS the end goal for me, not the means to achieving something else (i.e. money). Even the digital distribution is about trying to get the word out so more people come to the live shows… we sunk £1000 into an EP, we won’t recover that, but we dont care! 

  • Jake Rye

    How do you make a million dollars in the music business?…Spend 2 million.  But seriously, the key to really making your release a success always goes back to writing great songs that connect with people as well as having the best possible representation of that product that you can afford (Recording).  From there having an amazing live show that draws fans in and holds their attention.  Financial management and knowing where and how to spend your money is also key.  If these things aren’t in place than you will not have a career in music period.  I’ve worked and produced for about 60 or so different artists over the last 5 years.  One artist was actually able to sell over a half million albums because they were backed by a label.  In order for that band to break even and make headway they had to sell that many albums (Itunes and instore/online CDs).  About 10% of the artists I’ve worked with understand what it takes to run a business and they experience varying degrees of financial success.  How can a band be successful? Make killer music, perform it in an awesome way, have the best possible marketing materials (recordings, website and videos) and  marketing plan you can afford, be super creative, talk and invest in every fan/friend you make, and provide your fans with good content on a regular basis, manage your finances responsibly, stay together as a band and stick around for longer than everyone else and you will be successful in ways you never thought possible.  It takes fortitude to do this…You will get knocked down a lot…Keep getting up and be honest with your self…If you really don’t have the chops or what it takes to run a business then you should consider releasing music as a hobby.  At least you can make a little cash now where you couldn’t 10 years ago.  

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      bravo!

      Best,George

  • http://www.dccardwell.com/ DC Cardwell

    Very good point, sir! We need more and more people to elucidate this sea-change in the music industry and give us pointers in the right direction. Your main angle here, that in the bad old days artists only had one chance, is an important aspect of what was so wrong with the old model.

    The even sadder thing is that it wasn’t just new artists who weren’t allowed to fail. Particularly in the last, say, 30 years, there was the situation that even the most legendary and big-selling artists were considered washed up if they suddenly found themselves unable to get airplay.

    I’d say the situation has become even more extreme in that regard among the major labels today, but isn’t it great that they have made themselves irrelevant to people who are really interested in music as opposed to mass marketing?

    In soccer terms (sorry!) it reminds me of the contrast between, say, Chelsea Football Club, who were doing very well over recent years but their (short-sighted) money-driven directors kept firing their managers (coaches) simply because they’d had a brief losing streak. Whereas a team like Manchester United has stuck by one manager, Alex Ferguson, for many, many years and allowed themselves to fail occasionally, but their overall standing, taken as a whole, has been almost without parallel. Ferguson is almost invariably considered the greatest manager of all time, but if he had been at a short-sighted club he would never have been allowed to build up young teams the way he has over the last quarter century.

    It’s almost painful to me to think of all the great artists who stopped having hits, lost their record contracts and were forced to perform their old hits at lounge-bars for a pittance when they could have been making great art. Rick Nelson always springs to mind – unfortunately he died tragically before the tide turned and the old rock’n’rollers started to have artistic renaissances in the manner of Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash etc. His song Garden Party sums up the situation where he “wasn’t allowed” by either his audience or his management to move forward artistically.

    Anyway – bit of a rant there! Cheers for the great article!

    ~ DC

    • Anonymous

      @DC

      I love what you wrote

      explained very well and very eloquently

      it also saddens me to think of what we have missed out on as it was never allowed to grow…
      jeff

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      loved the “rant.”

      Thanks,George

  • Therealtruth

    It”s a lie that it’s better for the independent, or any
    music artist now. Where do young people get their music
    these days, we got it from the radio, but my kids, and
    most of their friends don’t listen to the radio. They arn’t
    getting it from facebook. Who are
    the new successful music artists, they come from the
    contest style TV shows. If I had 10,000 streams a month,
    It still wouln’t pay my mortgage, college costs for my
    kids, my property taxes. How do you people define
    success?? I would define it as earning some sort of
    Living from making music. Tunecore makes $50 per year
    Per cd Times the thousands of so called non signed
    Music artists. Tunecore makes millions, and 99%
    will not be able to quit their day job. If an artist can’t
    Play live on a regular basis, than they can put out
    100 CD’s and never sell anything. Sadly you do
    Need the machine to make the big money.
    Every music store has 10 people working there
    That say to they will be famous some day.
    But where will people hear their music??
    Tunecore does a goo service, but it’s selling
    The dream, like what you say above, tunecore
    Would love if everyone wanted to put a cd out
    but the music business is all about sharing, illegal
    Downloads, and people streaming songs.

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      what is stopping you from playing live?

      George

      • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

        I just brought this up on another post from TuneCore. In summary, artists have historically made pennies off album sales (and it took a long time before they started seeing any substantial monetary return directly from them). The money’s on the road.

        I just read an old interview with Ray Lamontagne. He was saying that his first album (Trouble) had sold 400,000 copies and had he not been touring like a madman, he’d be broke. Interestingly enough, even with him being signed to a major label and continuing to put out fantastic albums that you hear nearly everywhere these days, in a recent interview he said that touring is still his main source of income. He went on to say that he’s now focusing on licensing, etc.

        Just a thought…I have about $1 into my albums thanks to my “fans” pitching in and basically being my record label and fronting the money for some fun kickbacks and perks in return. Even if I only sell 20 a night, that’s an extra $200 in my pocket. 400,000 due to hearing my album on a few TV shows? Holy smokes…

    • Anonymous

      nope.

      what you state is just dead wrong

      in the old days artists could not get their music into the stores where people went to buy it
      now they can

      and they can do so without giving up their copyrights or revenue from the sale of the music
      jeff

      • Tunecorebiggestfan

        If thats the lie you want to run with
        It’s well and good, but the truth is
        Just having you music in an online
        Store is not equal to when I would
        Look through the rack at CD world
        Or tower records. Sometimes I would
        Spend an hour or more walking around
        The music store listening to the music
        Plaing over the PA, and looking at CD
        Covers. When you have millions of
        CDs online, it’s a totally different experience.
        Yes it’s much easier to make a cd available
        But no it’s not easier to make money, or become
        Successful in the music business. Tunecore
        Is best for artists that have a name for themselves
        And want a bigger cut of the Pie, and the
        100,000 others who don’t sell anything, but
        Now are allowed to have their music in a STORE
        Are just a pure income source to you who are
        Now the big boys who need them, because
        You make a small amount from a lot of people
        Who you sell the dream to. Prove me wrong,
        Share with us some REAL statistics of what
        Independent unknown artists are making
        As a percentage on Tunecore. What percentage
        Of artists (of all tunecore artists) make 10,000
        A year???? I bet it’s quite low. When 25,000
        People line up for American idol to try out
        In every different city, you would love to have
        Every one of them put out there own music.
        In the end, putting out music on a CD or mp3
        Does not equil success, it does for you, but
        Not for the averarage independent band.
        If I was signed to a major label, and I could
        Switch to tunecore, it would be a no brainier.
        Every business these days is using the same model
        You are, make a small amount of money from
        A large pool of people, try to get them to
        Pay monthly, and your business will have a
        Steady income flow. Will it benefit some music
        Artists, of course it will!!!!!! I don’t dispute that,
        But will the majority, who are your bread and butter,
        Make any money, the people who buy the dream
        Make it, no. I’m sorry I don’t buy lottery tickets
        Because the chances are ridiculous. I do have
        My music on tunecore, and have had my music
        Out there for 15 years. It’s not sour grapes.
        I respect your business model, but I also
        Understand the reality of how it works.

        • Anonymous

          I have no idea where you are coming from

          TuneCore is a service. You pay flat fee and get something.

          That’s it

          This apparently makes you angry. nothing I can do about that.

          Its up to you to decide if this service is something you want

          Just like buying a guitar or taking a music class – pay a fee, get a service
          For some reason, you seem to think this is a bad thing. I think its a good thing.
          As there are well over 20 other income streams, I have no idea what artist do or do not make outside of these digital music sales.
          I also suspect, you did not actually bother to read the article we wrote that answers your questions – you can read it here – http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2011/11/blogger-criticizes-artists-for-making-money-tunecore-ceo-jeff-price-responds.html
          jeff

          • Serg

            “Tunecore is a service”. Yes, and it is a reasonable service.

            I suspect that no one is contesting the quality of the service in these debates. What causes conflict is a statement like “I strongly believe that this not only results in a higher chance of success for artists….” A statement like that requires some evidence….that would settle the debates.
            – Serge

          • Anonymous

            @serge

            this is a hard profession, very very very hard.

            Most will not become super stars – but ANYTHING we can do to improve the odds, no matter how small, is a GOOD thing
            and I will fight tooth and nail to provide ever single possible advantage to artists to help tip the scales in their favor
            As far as evidence – 500 million units have sold earning TuneCore Artists over a quarter billion dollars
            Previously, these artists made nothing

            jeff

      • http://cdmusicmastering.com Big Label Sound

        Yes, but major labels spend $5 million in marketing (recording, radio play &video) for just ONE SONG for their major acts.  This is what makes people actually BUY THE PRODUCTS from the stores and tunecore.  The whole world has heard of Lady Gaga, someone might look for her product.  If you’re a nobody, who will search for you???  Yeah, you get all the copyrights and sales revenue from $500 in sales….

        Saying it’s a great advantage “just to have your music in a store or on tunecore” is like saying it’s great “just to be listed in Google.”  It’s great if you’re #1 or in the top 10 for some good keywords on Google.  If you’re listed  #900, it’s worthless!

        • Anonymous

          @Big Label Sound,

          Guess we need to let the TuneCore customers that sold over half a billion songs via paid download and stream and earned a quarter billion dollars that they sold nothing.

          jeff

          • http://cdmusicmastering.com Big Label Sound

            How many customers?  5 sold a combined total of $250,000.  And 6,000 customers split another $250,000, $41 each.  What’s your point? 

          • Anonymous

            now you are just making things up

            Sorry Big Label Sound, no matter how you want to spin it, things are better for the artist
            this is a TOUGH business, very tough, and anything I can do to level the playing field, to make it easier, to help I will do.
            And while you sit in a corner and blog how it cant be done, I will continue to work my butt off and extend my hand, knowledge and resources to help those that want it.
            If I can improve the odds by a millimeter, its worth doing.

            If you dont believe, its ok, you can do nothing as the rest of the artists pass you by
            jeff

    • Jhjmajesty

      Before there was tunecore all the other Big labels like Atlantic A&M  RCA and the list goes on rejected a lot of good music including mine what you heard on the radio is what they wanted the radio stations to play and a lot of it was CRAP their A&R people sucked they decided what people would or should listen to i guess they were PSYCHICS Thanks to tunecore people can listen to songs &music that they want to not what some bum A&R wants to put out there .Thanks  TUNECORE                                                                                          John Majesty

  • Therealtruth

    Nothing, it’s the only way to make money. Why do
    People buy lottery tickets, why do thousands show up
    At auditions to get on American Idol. Everyone thinks
    They are a star. And maybe they all are. Now we all
    Can put out a CD or single. Im just saying that it’s
    A little disingenuous what you say. And tunecore is not
    In business for the artist, they are in business because
    Of the want to be artists. Tell us what the % of Tunecore
    Artists that make over $5000.00 per year, and are not
    Previously singed artists, that now want to release their
    Music themselves.

    • Anonymous

      TuneCore exists as I believe all artists should have access to distribution while keeping all their rights and getting all the money from the sale of the music
      It is a moral stance. I then built TuneCore to set the idea free.

      Arm artists with information and knowledge so they can make educated choices
      be transparent, be honest

      allow them the opportunity to decide what they want to do and how they want to do it
      jeff

      • Archie

        For that I really thank you!  As soon as you sign to a major label you sign all your rights over  and any control over your music you once had is gone. Any independent artist wanting to break through needs (apart from great songs and plenty of gigging) a decent budget for promotion in order to capitalise on distributing your music through tunecore. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Quinn/1305653890 Matt Quinn

    It’s good more artists exist and can make music from home, yet there’s way too many artists. Financially everybody is hurt by the current environment. If people can stop having to rely so much on the internet for new music then there is a better chance for succes and people will get togother to enjoy music like the old days before popularized laziness. Personally, I get a lot of fans and plays  from the internet but I get no satisfaction from a computer screne. I prefer live audiences and the collective spirit of people in a real social environment. It’s more difficult getting people together nowadays for anything especially when money is needed and when most people have little or no money to start with. It’s a vicious cirlce, but thats art & that’s life. Deal

    • Anonymous

      @matt

      the same number of artist existed years ago

      the only difference is, when someone searches for an artist music on iTunes, it can be found, bought and shared
      It being on iTunes does not stop Radiohead (or anyone else) from selling
      jeff

      • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

        I was about to respond the same way to Matt’s comment. It’s not that there are more people, it’s that there are more ways for them to be exposed, even if on a small scale. With sites like Youtube, those living room singers and garage bands that would have otherwise never been heard, now have the chance of someone either thinking they’re great and quite literally making them an “over night success” or on the flip side, thinking they’re horrible, sharing it with everyone because of the shock factor…and they end up making millions faster than a New York minute. The difference is…very rarely do they ever sustain themselves and become the legends we all pull inspiration from now.

  • Jackson Cook

    Well,  Heres how i see it! Theres a lot to be said about the good old days that was in fact great!  Bottom line you need to get out there and play, play, play, if you ever want to cut through all the noise and boy is there a lot of it.

    Build a real fan base, write great songs, put on a kiss ass show what ever your style you play and the labels will come knocking your door down!

    With that in hand you have leverage with the labels to cut a decent deal which was never there in the good old days.  If the work is to hard then your in the wrong business, get a day job!  But just remember you make music becuase you love it and if you follow what you love you’re already winning! as Charlie would say!

    Jackson Cook

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      couldn’t love or agree with this post more! thank you.

      George

    • http://www.facebook.com/z.electric Z Electric

      “you make music becuase you love it and if you follow what you love you’re already winning” – WIN!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Nesser/1109019625 Mark Nesser

    It’s still a very hard road to be an independent artist and I’ll tell you why, no real access to large scale promotion! The music buying masses are totally dependent on the media to tell them what’s cool or good enough for them to buy. People won’t admit it, but they are so used to being force fed by advertising specialists from these corporations, they don’t even acknowledge the fact that they are, If a musical artist can copy their flavor of the week, they might be able to piggy back on the other big artist’s success. There’s always exceptions to the rule and sometimes an original independent artist can squeeze out a decent living, but this is a rarity. A big record company or promotional company can take a mediocre artist and develop and market them into a product that makes a lot of money. There are so many internet companies like Tunecore making millions while only about 1% of their artists will ever make a living through their services. That’s why most of these internet companies like these, can never list their long term success stories, because they have none.

    • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

      Mark, good post. I’ve been asked several times recently what would take my music to the “next level” and I always respond with MORE EXPOSURE. I have a very dedicated musical family (some call them “fans”) that are constantly sharing the music…the more that hear and join the family, the better chances I have of staying out here doing it full time.

      • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

        if your fans are sharing your music you’re doing something very right. give them the tools and encouragement to share more. you’re on to something!

        as above:

        massive myth in thinking that the labels (majors, or otherwise) were the engines of promotion for bands. those artists – signed to a label – who succeeded, tended to do so because they toured their asses off.increasingly (and historically) labels hired indies (the same indies you can hire, by the way) to “promote” your music. i don’t recommend this. i do recommend playing live as much as you can and using the tools available to you to grow your base.Best,George

    • SimonB Bumford

      True, thanks for the honesty!!!!!!!!
      The big companies like the 99% of us because we make them the most money with this new model. Before a Major wouldn’t sign us, no money to be made. Tunecore will sign us if we pay them and they don’t need to care if we make it or not, they still get paid. Their main job is not to promote, but to sell the dream.

      • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

        it’s a service – if you see the value in it, use it. if you don’t, don’t.

        this idea that there’s some “dream selling” greatly disrespects the intelligence of artists; making it seem as if artists are too dumb/naive to understand that TC is a service. i personally don’t think artists are dumb.

        Best,George

      • Anonymous

        @simon

        my goal is to offer distribution for a flat rate, let you keep your rights and get all the money when your music sells, not to sell you a dream
        We promise nothing more then placing your music on the shelf of iTunes etc
        Unlike just about every other company in the world, I refuse to sell people TuneCore on false promises and/or possibilities
        The dream or goals are yours, not mine. I want to provide you the information and education to allow you to pursue your goals.
        Its your music and your work that make it happen, not mine.

        Jeff

        • http://www.myspace.com/markryder Mark Ryder

          I have been making music as an independent and keeping my rights for 20+ years now i think its the only way to make money for yourself while controlling all your rights as if you keep control of all your rights then you always can make money from them .

          i think Jeff’s model is an excellent one as if you really believed in your music why would you sign it to a company just for the fat advance knowing you were giving your precious music right to someone else I personally think you would be doing it mainly for the money or fame which are not really true artistic trait’s if it involves selling your sole for them.

          with Tune core you can put your money where your mouth is as all your getting is a 1 fee for delivery thats it ! its just access to distribution

          You then go make that PR happen or get the PR or do the hard work in touring or creatively standing out from the crowd some how

          i have always been a success in the music business when the majors where here and now they are almost dead because i have always done it alone on my terms so people who think selling out to the big money is the only way to get into the big buck i can say with the knowledge and history that that is a lie and a cheap cope out (my personal view only)

          that point of view is selling yourself short for a quick way to the money or fame or you just don’t believe enough in the potential of your music and cant be asked to put the hard work in to make it happen for yourself.

          even the x-factor generation (yes i hate it also) are getting off their arse to go to the auditions and try to be successful and so those that knock it are really just hoping for any fat deal to land at their feet without getting off the sofa and i have to say to those that think thats whats going to happen that you might not be as talented as you think you are?

          There is so much talent out there so yes the noise is more crowed but if you want to make it happen you have to put the hard work in whether is just in your music and let it grow organically (l like i do and its not easy ) or you tour your arse off or maybe hang glide off the Big Ben tower to get into the new papers it all up to you to make it happen

          because although there seems to be more wanna be famous people now than ever before that doesn’t make the game unfair as everyone has a right to try how they want and see where it takes them the doors are open wider than ever so the old way is not as cosy anymore i know, i have been there seen it and still doing it but now i have to step up my game to be heard by trying new and better ways to engage my audience

          as far as I’m concerned you still have to prove your  better than others and that involves hard work rather than giving up your music for a big pay check from a major who will then do all that PR for you and if your a success or not you will still end up moaning how you never made any money after the advance.

          p.s I’m not using tune core right but have been in various chats with members for a while about the state off the music business and if i decide to distribute outside of my deal with Apple they will be the only people i use because they don’t take a cut of my work its a simple i fee and a good job in direct distribution the rest is up to me.

          Mark Ruff Ryder
          Strictly underground records UK

          http://www.markryder.com

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      as stated above:

      massive myth in thinking that the labels (majors, or otherwise) were the engines of promotion for bands. those artists – signed to a label – who succeeded, tended to do so because they toured their asses off.increasingly (and historically) labels hired indies (the same indies you can hire, by the way) to “promote” your music. i don’t recommend this. i do recommend playing live as much as you can and using the tools available to you to grow your base.Best,George

  • Santosdelosangeles

    Thank you for that.

  • Archie

    It’s a catch 22 situation. There is positive and negatives to both situations. While there is low risk in releasing something yourself, you don’t get the sort of promotion and publicity needed to build your fan base and to afford to make the actual music. Signing with a reord company if it goes bad you could end up owing a lot of money back to them but if it goes good then you may never have to work again. The only way you would be exicted by this article is if you like the idea of not having many fans and having to work full time in order to pay for proffessional recordings without any support. Still the ther road may be bad as well.

    • JefferyTomellson

      Thanks for telling the truth, and not the
      candy coated version.

      Rob

      • Archie

        Thanks for reading Rob. It’s hard for most of us not to get discouraged about these sort of topics from time to time. My advice is to soley concentrate on having a great product. Once you have that you have bargaining power, and the ability to say yes or no to deals and make the kind of desicions that will really move your career forward. Also as already mentioned by someone tunecore provides a service, just like myspace, facebook, etc… They are  only good as you make them to be. No gig’s, no airplay, and an album with no promotion probably won’t land you a support gig for Coldplay. Initially your live presence  should heavily outweigh your digital one as well. Not the other way round. Treating your fans like gold is not going to hurt either especially if they discovered your music for themselves. I wish everyone the best of luck! I have a lot of respect for many of the thoughts and opinions here! 

        Archie  

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      massive myth in thinking that the labels (majors, or otherwise) were the engines of promotion for bands. those artists – signed to a label – who succeeded, tended to do so because they toured their asses off.

      increasingly (and historically) labels hired indies (the same indies you can hire, by the way) to “promote” your music. i don’t recommend this. i do recommend playing live as much as you can and using the tools available to you to grow your base.

      Best,George

      • Philcilia4raft

        The old model had its faults – but if you landed a major deal – you usually landed a major promo budget and International support from the label, which is key. Unfortunately today, people list their music on these Mickey Mouse music platforms and think they can make a living out of music – WRONG!
        Its still comes down to marketing and promo budgets – not having ya music sit in cyber space for ever and a day – yes, you paid for the privilege of having the deal – but you stood a better chance of success.
        Internet and online music promotion – light weight smoke and mirrors bollocks, the game is over and the industry is dead – getting a deal was like sorting the wheat from the chaff – and today its 99.9% chaff!!    
        Phil C 

        • Anonymous

          @ Philcilia

          Why dont you only buy music released by the majors?

          based on your opinion, this would eliminate all this “chaff” that you say has no value (the “unsigned artist”)
          problem solved for you

          But be careful, you might end up buying music by mistake from the “chaff” – as you know, every band and artist starts out with no sales.
          In the meantime, I hope you dont mind if the rest of the “chaff” determine at their own discretion how they would like to pursue their careers
          And for us music fans, as you continue to ignore all bands not “signed” and claim they dont have value and only listen to music others say is good, the rest of us will listen to whatever music we want and make our own decisions
          it’s a tough burden for us, but i think we can manage.

          jeff

      • Archie

        I agree with that. Don’t get me wrong. I just think it’s better to have great music before you tour. The bands that start off with great music still have to work hard but I think it’s a lot harder touring with mediocre music, and your more likely to build your fanbase a lot quicker with great music. I guess that may seem obvious but I see many independent artists tour there asses off and get nowhere due to that fact. Franz Ferdinand were a great example of this. While they were signed to a fairly small label, there music was so strong that they break down barriers and opened doors much quicker than other bands that may have toured for ten years or more. In fact I think they had only played not more than ten gigs before there music was successful all around the world. I’m not saying once you have great music everything will fall into place but I think it will make your life easier and not to mention your life more pleasurable. You can absolutely do it indepently but you better save every cent to pay for promotion (after album costs). Also, I liked how you put quite bluntly “I don’t recommend this” I found that quite amusing.

        Archie

  • Quichang

    Art does not = $, I agree, and someone’s success
    does not always = quality. But, making and writing
    music doesn’t always = what other people want to hear,
    or pay for. Many painters, never show there art, and just
    hang it around their house, but with musicians, a performance art. Most people want to
    earn a living from what they do best, and like to do.
    Most musicians, that don’t work in broadway shows, bands,
    Studio musicians, music stores, schools, can’t earn a living
    from their music. Is that bad, no. Should they stop making
    music, no. Is Tunecore and these blogs are always saying
    how they a better than the majors, well an unknown artist, who had their
    CD for sale on their own web site in the past, are they better off
    now with it on 20 sites with a million plus other unknowns, and known
    bands. The answer is who knows. I all hear is that the arises can make more
    Of the CUT on tunecore, but if the artist is not selling with the majors,
    they are not going to make much more on their own. And if no one has
    Ever heard of them………

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      the grave mistake of MANY artists was thinking that once they got signed, that the labels would do the work for them with respect to promotion/marketing, etc. just not the case for 99.9% of artists. those artists – signed to a label – who succeeded, tended to do so because they toured their asses off.

      same is true for TC. while TC does more than any other service i know of to promote artists, it’s up to the artist to create the energy (through playing live) and use tools like TC and others to accelerate.

      Best,George

    • Anonymous

      well thats simply not true

      TuneCore artists have sold over 500 million units of music and earned over a quarter billion dollars in the past 3.5 years http://blog.tunecore.com/2011/11/tunecore-artists-music-sales-july-2011.html
      the comments are sometimes like a broken record (bad pun)

      first we get: “no music sells without a major label”

      so then we show the sales info

      then we get: “well, ok, but there are other artists that made less or nothing”
      my answer,

      yes

      so?

      jeff

  • Xxrobbie

    The traditional music industry benefitted the listener because record labels would only sign the cream of the crop. CD stores had hundreds of artists that all were pretty decent as opposed to the millions of artists now who suck. It’s become too easy to be a musician nowadays. So easy that any talentless idiot can distribute their shitty music and that’s why music has totally sucked since the mid 2000s. Right around the same time all this digital shit started

    • Anonymous

      @Xxrobbie

      the traditional labels had a 98% failure rate on what they released

      just getting signed does not mean a band was “good”

      nor did it mean the band was “bad”

      it just meant the music did not cause reaction

      in regards to today’s music, same rule applies, only the music that causes reaction will sell
      jeff

  • http://twitter.com/ChristKhodadadi Christ Khodadadi

    Having sold only 1 record in my life, I feel I can speak on being successful in the music industry—-

    TC and all this new technology helps artist start their art, create more of it, and spread it out to the public. But as with most things that start independent in this country, the artist/band will eventually sign onto a major label or distribution deal because if you are moving lots of units, being apart of the machine is more helpful and efficient than doing it all indie, unless you start your own label like A&M, which may eventually just become part of the system.

    So I guess in conclusion: There are a lot of new ways to start and spread your music but at the end of the day, the best of the best end at a major someway somehow. For the rest, this new technology allows them more avenues to remain a regional or local hit or just flood youtube with their crappy music.

  • Stanislav Savickii

     This is very very important information. These questions plagued me. Thank you very much for this article.
    It allows the artist to trust your heart more than ever

    It will give the world new discoveries! I dare swear

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      look forward to discovering what you offer.

      Best,George

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/donultra2009 M.U.

    I joined Tunecore because I truly believe that in order to start your own label you gotta take that first initial step..
    I already knew the terms and conditions of this deal…
    It’s not an easy journey either,I have some great music ,I promote my music on different websites ,that’s how I gain my plays,however,my music isn’t for everybody,I just promote & appreciate the few people that check me out…
    The industry is a machine that’s been around for years,half the artistes in the industry aren’t good enough on their own so they have to rely on major promotion otherwise over half of those rappers/singers wouldn’t be able to maintain in the music business..
    I’m still looking for new ways to improve my promotion strategy,I have two videos on youtube right now,the spins are consistent & that’s all I ask for at this point…
    I’ll be around for a minute,I got more music on the way,I wanna make history but in order to do that I gotta put in that work in,nothing comes for free in this world,if anything,everything has a price tag…

    “ALIVE & WELL”
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/alive-well/id477651877

    M.U. – Political(Official Video)

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      fantastic!

      Thanks,George

  • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

    There are several comments on TuneCore blogs about them trying to “sell the dream” and falling short. To those people, I highly suggest you step back and evaluate what a marketing a promotions campaign for your music (or any other product) consists of. TuneCore is a hub in the wheel, not the end all, be all to make you a success. It takes a TEAM of qualified and motivated professionals to make music a success on a commercial level.

    It’s not enough to make an album in your basement, distribute it through TuneCore, and hope for the best. Playing a few shows a month isn’t going to cut it either. I wrote an article a few years ago for a Minneapolis music website entitled “No Gig is a Bad Gig.” I emphasized that even if the gig wasn’t ideal, you still learned something that can make the next one that much better. I started getting some heat from a certain metal band who claimed they didn’t want to “over-saturate the market” and only performed out once a month. At the time, I was doing a minimum of 3-4 shows a week (most I was doing more) and all within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities. They were moaning about album sales and working “day jobs” while I was paying bills with my music.

    I’m not sure where it all came from, but being a musician doesn’t mean you can just learn some cowboy chords, write a few songs, kick back and wait for the elusive “them” to discover you…and then you wake up one day in a mansion with a Ferrari in the driveway and a supermodel girlfriend. I’m contacted daily by other artists who want to know what I’m doing to get these deals and such. I immediately go Google them. 9 times out of 10, they are doing very few shows (or none for that matter), have no pics or recordings available (good music is good music, regardless of fidelity), and they’re sites aren’t regularly updated (or don’t exist at all).

    Ok, I’m going way further than I anticipated with this post (haha) so let me leave you all with this. Some people look at artists they admire and ask what they can do to get to that level and pursue it. Some people look at the artists they admire and feel like quitting. This characteristic isn’t unique to artists, it’s the same across the board. There are very few people willing to take the risks, make the sacrifices, minimize their monetary lives in order to open doors for better opportunities, etc. Some people choose the music, some people the music chooses them.

    • http://twitter.com/gah650 George Howard

      wow, this is great. thanks for this.

      Best,George

  • Ghostess Music

    Great article. I really liked the ready, shoot, aim analogy. I think as long as you are versatile and make yourself viable in today’s music climate, you’ll be successful. I define success as not having to work an un musical job. I’m signed to an indie label that has helped me immensely with promotion and liscencing songs to tv and movies, I play live shows lots, sell merch, have a website, am on every social network imaginable, teach lessons, and I am just getting into film scoring and jingle writing! I’m a busy girl, and I have to work hard to make opportunities present themselves, but I would probably work just as hard as a waitress, and enjoy it about half as much! Haha
    Cheers,
    Jenna

  • http://www.GeriDFyniz.com Geri D’Fyniz

    I recently had a discussion via Twitter with a PR rep regarding past and current practices to garner success in the music industry and after reading this I’m glad I was thorough and valid with my points. Gone are the days when the top defined to fans what a hit record was. Nowadays the fans and decided what is hot and that’s hot is should have been a long time ago. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarahtollerson Sarah

    Bottom line: If you have what it takes to be signed by a label these days (i.e. a large fan base), then you are better off distributing your music by yourself (with the help of services like Tunecore.) You’ll make way more money in the long run, and probably the short run too.

  • Thewildchild

    Great Article, George!

  • Gaetano

    George, this is another great post.  It’s gotten me thinking about the price of failure, in regards to the poll that was also posted. So the figurative and literal cost has gone down in a monetary and old school industry cred sense, though in a hyper saturated digital market where product and content are more or less disposable and everyone is fighting for attention, do artists have a better or worse shot out of the gate in your opinion?

    I know these things can be a bit subjective, but even if you’re putting your best foot forward many artists are “growing up on camera” and the first impression can many times make or break someone giving you a second click, let alone following or supporting you. 

    Jeff and I disagree in regards to what I’m calling the new corporate filters/gatekeepers (higher profile blogs like pitchfork, and now potentially even more with how their apps integrate with things like Spotify…) but I believe these trusted sources many times are the prime mover within a critical mass of music discovery, and in turn also effect your visibility, and for better or for worse your merit to the consumer.

  • Lvmodig

    Sorry, Mr. Howard, but you’re leaving out two fatal things. 1. Because the game got easier, it got much harder. Anyone can publish music, so ANYONE does. It’s like attending a church with 100 weddings happening at once, it loses value & everything sounds like similar noise. 2. Despite a few standout talents, DOWNLOADS have destroyed record sales! And don’t give me the itunes nonsense, more people are realizing they can pirate for free, even if it’s to save a few cents. Plus, in this economic crisis, more artists are forced to over-tour like hell & pass out from exhaustion to make a buck. The game is almost dry, aside from revenue from a myriad of artists’ endorsement deals, acting careers & business ventures; it’s glamorous boasting and posturing. Create a response to pirate downloads. That’s the only answer to revive it.

    • Anonymous

      that makes no sense. Its as hard now as it was before. That is, just because a lot of people put music into iTunes allowing it to be discovered if searched for does not cause it to sell or cause it NOT to sell.

      All this music exists regardless of if it can be found if searched for on iTunes.

      If you yourself need other people to tell you what to listen to, only buy music released by the majors.

      yes, downloads have reduced full album sales. What’s the point? In the old days, an artist got signed to a label. The label put the CD on the shelf of the record store. The album sold and the artist made NOTHING as they had not recouped the advance they were given to record the music they then had to assign ownership of to the label.

      In this model, they sell two songs on iTunes and they artist makes $1.40, the same amount of the band royalty they did not get paid by the label if the full CD sold.

      In regards to touring, its simply not true, look at the posting we did with the list of sales and revenue. Oddly enough, this new system allows you to develop some sort of fan base before even touring. In addition, you get to know exactly where the sales are occurring as you get the zip codes of where your fans are. You can then book into those markets if you want to to tour knowing there is a pre-existing fan base.

      jeff

      • Lvmodig

        As I stated, the game got harder because it got easier (to be heard). My two points about itunes were: 1. It and other sites alike are over-saturated. You say the system allows aspiring artist to establish a fan base? Yeah, if they’re funded enough to mass promote (not likely), or the average fans are great at spotting the next sensation like finding a diamond in a sea of glass. 2. Economic crises. In this economy, many people are financially strapped, so they elect to pirate the music instead. Why by the cow? (Good luck getting that $1.40 on average.) And you asked what’s my point on piracy destroying record sales? I dare ask, do you understand it’s called “record industry”? Not “record charity”. Find me an artist who’ll tell you they’d take today’s digital “sales” over last generation’s record sales and I’ll show you a moron. Back then, the only problem was artists simply needed more business savvy and legal representation to get better percentages on record sales. Today, they can have majority percentages, but consumer  purchases are plummeting each year. Back then they toured because they loved to. Today they over-tour because the bills are due. In closing. As I keep saying, find an answer to digital piracy. It’s a problem that’s increasing not diminishing.

        • Anonymous

          how is iTunes “over-saturated”? What does that mean?

          For me, the fact that I can find things I search for is a good thing. Im not following how its a bad thing for you?
          Surely no one is making you search for music you dont want to search for?
          And if it is “over saturated”, how many artists are allowed to be found on ITunes if searched for before you decide there are too many (I still cannot fathom for the life of me why having a song available to find if searched for is a bad thing).
          In regards to developing fan bases, you’re just wrong in suggesting its not possible without enough “funding”
          and not because its my opinion, but because the empirical data shows you are wrong. just because it did not happen for you does not mean it is not happening. look at the sales data we posted.
          In addition, despite the hundreds of millions in “funding” spent by the majors, 98% of their releases failed. So much for that argument.
          In regards to the “economic crisis” causing people to only steal music – in 2011 alone, TuneCore artists will earn over $125 million dollars from the sale of their songs and recordings. Someone seems to be buying their music.
          You also realize you just called TuneCore’s best selling artists “morons”. The elite few that have sold millions of songs, not albums, via TuneCore, and literally earned over a million dollars, kept their copyrights and got all the money are “morons”?
          And you are wrong again about consumer purchases – they are up, not down,
          Don’t believe me? Look at the RIAA data and/or the year end Nielsen data. Sales by unit are UP not down.
          So we have more people buying more music from more artists.

          The cost of the music is cheaper, but without a middleman, the artist makes more money

          and, by the way, no one is recouping against what they earn and they get to keep their copyrights

          jeff

        • Indieoney

          @lvmodig 
          as an
          experienced artist [road&studio] i agree with your point on addressing
          piracy. i’m still making money, but p2p is definitely a peeve of mine. we’re definitely taking some hits. as for oversaturated, i think the more the merrier but i get your point about talent. it needs some sort of filter, always has. but, i think new age distribution has better benefits than the old, sans [knock on wood] piracy.

      • Serge

        “In the old days, an artist got signed to a label. The label put the CD on the shelf of the record store. The album sold and the artist made NOTHING as they had not recouped the advance they were given to record the music they then had to assign ownership of to the label.”
        How can you say the “artist made NOTHING”? The artist got the advance.  I’ve managed to make a living from record label advances. Meanwhile I’ve made almost nothing from my TuneCore releases (sometimes even of the same tracks).

        – Serge

        • Anonymous

          @serge

          The artist made nothing as they took the money the label gave them, used it to record the album (meaning they SPENT IT) then had to assign ownership of thing they created to the label
          Then, when a $17.98 list price CD sold, the label pocketed about $12. However, they label recouped the advance at the band royalty rate of $1.50
          That’s why I say they made nothing (and on top of it had to give up ownership of their copyrights)
          They NEVER recouped the advance and never received any band royalties

          Jeff

    • Pm_racing

      If you are the average artist and not some Grammy level superstar, chances are most of your revenue comes from your gigs where you set up a merch table to sell your CD’s, T-shirts, etc.  At least now, that average artist has a chance to get their music recorded and heard without having the expense of chasing a record deal.

      • Lvmodig

        As I stated, the game got easier for artists to be heard without chasing a record deal, true. You’re talking gigs. So, if average artists are lucky enough to become lucratively successful on the road and that’s all they want, congrats. I’m talking about how artists’ digital uploads (ala You Tube) have over-saturated the talent-pool by the millions. The difficulty of discovering true or “original” talent has increased significantly. Plus, piracy has dented the revenue of the record industry despite industry types downplaying it. It’s a problem that many big artists complain about and the reason behind their obligatory higher volumes of tours and collaboration tours. An answer besides touring needs to be created to digital piracy. It’s literally like leaving barrels of money on the table and taking baskets.

        • Anonymous

          @lvmodig

          no, we are not just talking about gigs. You can get heard on Pandora, Jango, Slacker, LastFM, Spotify etc without a gig
          One person hears a song and using social networking can share his/her likes globally with volumes of people never before thought possible
          I truly am getting sick and tired of the same old complaints

          1) there is too much music.

          Answer: you can choose to have others pick your music and restrict yourself to only what the majors release. The rest of us will have to deal with making our own decisions
          And by the way, who the hell are you to tell an artist they are not allowed into the system.
          2) All this music stops other music from selling.

          Bullshit. How does a song being able to be found on iTunes if searched for stop Radiohead etc from selling
          3) An artist can only sell music if they are signed to a major

          Simply false. Look at the data we posted

          4) TuneCore is suggesting all artists will sell a lot of music and make a lot of money
          No one suggested that but you. This is a hard tough business. Most will not succeed. Arm artists with information, level the playing field, let them keep their rights and do as much as you can to tip the balance in their favor, but their music and work is the thing that causes it to sell.

          5) No one buys music anymore.

          TuneCore artists will earn over $225,000,000 in 2011 ALONE. Someone seems to be buying something

          6) There is no money for artists

          Bullshit. There used to be no money for artists. They would get paid an advance, record an album, assign rights to the label to own their recordings and when the music sold they would make nothing as they were not recouped

          98% of major label releases failed. Those artists that got their one shot were left on the side of the road mangled and damaged (read this article)

          7) You need HUGE marketing budgets to sell music

          Bullshit. the majors spent billions and failed 98% of the time.

          You need music that causes reaction to sell music.

          I can assure you, 99% of the artists that sell large volumes of music via TuneCore did not spend “HUGE” amounts of money to do it.

          8) All artists should give up a % of the money they make from music sales for distribution

          Not with me, not with TuneCore. Never. Keep it simple, flat rate, open, honest and transparent. Now you can make an informed decision not based on a cost benefit analysis on failure but on a simple fee for service

          9) Sales are down

          Actually, they are up by volume, not done. More music is selling by more artists to more people now than at any point in history.

          Check the data…

          jeff

          • KainCarter

            @71de1479c594e519771df22930598211:disqus You said your peace and hit some major issues right on the head. I wouldn’t even respond to this skewed plug. You already pointed out that artists are still making money and getting more % rights, you just spoke about some real shit. The way free downloads are denting pockets. Fuck the check this check that nonsense. I meet real cats in the game all the time who be addressing these same problems. 

    • Tony

      Couldn’t have said it better. The industry ain’t what it used to be and you gotta tweak it to work out that glitch. It’s still a rich ass game but that glitch man. That glitch.

      • Tony

        I was addressing @Lvmodig comment btw.

  • Anonymous

    iTunes reply to Spotify on Facebook will come from application like The Dj-1

  • Tthimgan

    Regardless of what anybody says, the “music business” still belongs to the major labels. Just watch the AMA’s or the Grammy’s…the people who find real success find it on the major labels! Some deserve it, many don’t. The sad thing is, people still want what they always have wanted…good songs to listen to ! Artists such as Adelle are living proof!! Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be many A&R people who have a clue what a good song sounds like. 

    • Lvmodig

      Well said.

      • Anonymous

        some of it is emperors clothes…

        jeff

  • Lvmodig

    I appreciate the *supporting* comments on my previous post. As for opposing comments: Last thoughts on this. (In a way 3rd graders can understand) Digital piracy=bad. Making even more money for your effort = good. The game *is* better today (by artist LP %), but the problem is piracy dents the sale numbers. It does. Regardless of clever, contrary industry thoughts spoken with curse words & conviction. Also, by “over-saturated”, I meant: It’s overcrowded with talent & non-talent alike, so success is even more difficult than before. I understand competition comes with the territory, but P.R and advertising give you an edge; and the *effective* kind does come expensively. So stop denying. Also, what “over-saturated” did not mean was: I’m telling artists who can and can’t try to enter the game. Get an understanding. Lastly. I don’t knock touring. I already said it’s where the money is. My problem is the money piracy leaves on the table. Bottom line: Major labels spend a lot on flops, but they also produce more successful talent. Indie artists are on the rise, but more money from LP sales to go along with tour revenue would do wonders to level the playing field & stop the businesses bleeding. Cure the piracy issue. I’m done here.

    • Anonymous

      @Lvmodig

      let me get this straight, your point is stealing from artists is bad and you believe others dont agree?
      Lets start with the reality of we all agree stealing from artists is bad.
      now what.

      Again, your statement of “overcrowded”, what exactly does that mean?

      Again, how does someone’s music on iTunes being able to be found if searched for = “overcrowding”?
      And who gets to be the gatekeeper that says “you are not allowed into the iTunes store, you?”
      In the old days, LP sales made artists money? That’s just wrong. In the old days, LP sales made artists nothing. They made NO money. Nada. Zilch. Nothing was paid to them as they were un-recouped.
      But even if they were, how much money do you think they made from a LP sale? The average artist royalty rate on a major for a LP sale was $1.40 – $1.70
      If you sell two songs on iTunes via TuneCore you make the same $1.40

      Where is exactly is this money pile that came in for artists signed to labels for LP sales
      Your comment of stating that the labels produced “more successful talent” is a false statement. They produced more flops than anything else.
      And who are you to define success for the millions of artists. each one has his/her own definition.

      The jazz and punk artists of the world never had mass consumer sales but many still thought of themselves as successful.

      The world is now filled with successful talent.

      You’re just wrong

      But I understand you dont like whats going on. So again, limit yourself to just buying the releases coming from majors and dont worry about the rest of us

      And certainly dont tell an artist they are not allowed into the game because you dont like them

      jeff

      • Chris

        Tunecore is easy to use and works for me though i am confused sbout how you can offer selictive distribution in certain retailers in certain countries  ie how can I stop distribution in one country and not another?

        • Anonymous

          Just email artist support at support@tunecore.com and they can hook you up
          Thank You

          Jeff Price
          http://www.TuneCore.com

        • TuneCoreSupport

          Hi Chris,

          I am so sorry but you can no longer email support@tunecore.com. If  you have a inquiry or request you can contact us via http://help.tunecore.com/app/ask.

          Also in regards to your territory exclusion request, if there are specific territories that you want to exclude you can do so when you are selecting your iTunes stores.

          For all other stores please make sure to check where those stores distribute to (http://help.tunecore.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/48/kw/territories) and you can either exclude stores that distribute to your unwanted territory or if you want to be live in that store but not in those territories contact us  after you have paid for distribution. In your email make sure to include the name/UPC of the release(s) and we will contact the stores on your behalf with the request.

          Please keep in mind it will take 1-2 weeks for the stores to process that request. During this time your release may be live in their store, so if you cannot be live even for that short amount of time in any specific territory then please do not select any stores that distribute there.

          Best,

          Allessandra
          Artist Support Specialist
          TuneCore

          Talk to us on Twitter: @TuneCoreSupport
          Watch our videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/tunecore

          Questions? Get Help:

          U.S.: help.tunecore.com

          Canada: ca.help.tunecore.com

      • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

        My question for all of these people going on and on about pirating music is: How much money have YOU lost because of it? Some artists benefit greatly by their albums being out there and “available.” Dave Matthews Band always comes to mind. They released their first single off of their album Everyday on Napster…and the fans responded by buying up a ton of albums. Here’s an interesting read…

        http://news.cnet.com/2100-1023-250953.html

        Now I’m not condoning illegal behavior by any means…but fans who LOVE the music you release will always be willing to support you monetarily. Most people that I hear complaining about it aren’t affected by it at all (or very little) because they’re unknown on a national/international level. Hell, many of them aren’t even known in their own hometown and don’t tour or perform locally (yes, I know, there are “celebrities” against it as well). In the early stages of promoting artists (or anything for that matter), it’s not uncommon for people to do whatever it takes just to make the product (music in this case) known to MANY. I hand out albums all of the time…someone’s nice to me at the grocery store? I hand them an album and invite them to a show. With about <$1 into every physical album I've had pressed, that's a pretty great return in my eyes when I see them with a friend (or two, or three) at my next show in their town.

      • Stmar

        “In the old days, LP sales made artists money? That’s just wrong. In the old days, LP sales made artists nothing. They made NO money. Nada. Zilch. Nothing was paid to them as they were un-recouped. ”

        I don’t understand this statement. The artist got the advance. That can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a $100,000 or more. That sounds like money to me.

        – Serge

      • Serge

        “The jazz and punk artists of the world never had mass consumer sales but many still thought of themselves as successful. ”

        ??? Miles Davis – “Kind of Blue” = quadruple platinum sales.
        The Clash – “Combat Rock” – 2 million, double platinum

        etc etc.

    • Treecie

      @71de1479c594e519771df22930598211:disqus  ON PIRACY: I agree, piracy is bad, I wish it could simply receive a vaccination. But I’m afraid it’s also much-a-do-about nothing when it comes to simply finding a “cure”. Consumers buy what they like. True, stopping it potentially means more money in artists’ pockets, and I get that’s what you’re fighting for. Fight on. But also, if you’re an artist, look at the bright side so you don’t discourage yourself. ON TOURING: Your earlier post mentioned “over-touring”, I’m guessing your complaint was fatigue. Understandable, but I advise proper time management (if possible) and scheduling (for adequate rest). I read where someone mentioned “tour, tour, tour”. As you mentioned earlier, these are tough economic times, and that’s where the “dough” is. ON DIGITAL PROMOTION: Correct, it is a jam-packed talent pool which could make artists’ climb to success (depends on how you define success) more difficult, but as you said yourself, competition comes with the territory. It also gives consumers exposure to mass variety instead of being chained to the status-quo. I get it, you’re concerned, like many artists, about getting noticed, like a flower in a sea of flowers. But, that’s where this last part comes in. ON MARKETING: In any business form, no matter how great your product is, if they don’t know you’re out there, they won’t buy-in. Even sub-par big name talent often benefits from mass marketing and advertising (though they later flop if their product lacks). Indies can mass promote as well. You mentioned that promotion costs, sometimes expensively. True (also depends on your budget, financial management and what you consider expensive). The old saying is, it costs money to make money. The pro of digital distribution is that it helps lower certain promotion costs. I won’t say it’s roses and sunshine, no business is. But if you want something bad enough, and truly desire to succeed, you must be willing to make some sacrifices to get it. If it’s who you are, you have no choice but to find a way, right? Quitting would mean living dead anyway. You have strong views, many of us (artists) share them. Good. Stay passionate. Fight, but also look at the bright side. We have to. Best of luck. – Treecie

      • Lvmodig

        @d90761ebdc2bdb2d59f9c5fc8a9935ad:disqus 
        Thanks. I respect your points. Glad to see you took time to *understand* mine, too. I echo that, best of luck to all artists, touring & promoting. I’ll keep looking (and campaigning) for answers to piracy also. Last answer. I’m done.

  • Frank. N

    Reality check: Saying “I’m in the music biz for the craft and not the money is noble, but bullshit juice. It’s really denial’s nice way of saying “At some point, I accepted I may never achieve my dreams.” That is, unless you were a kid singing in your bathroom into a comb in the mirror dreaming, “Look out world! Someday… I’m gonna be a mediocre recording artist making some change online & maintaining a safe job as a responsible foundation. Here I come!” Stop.

  • Robert Burns

    How The Traditional Music Industry Killed Culture?  No, I say, How The Corporatized Music Industry Killed Traditional Music and Culture.  You know that’s true, too.  Consumer’s can’t buy that which they can’t find, and won’d buy what they can get for free.  But, most of my music is for myself or live.  Almost no consumer can compose or perform and thus is stuck with more rap(e) & trash and less real choice.  Those who facilitate or enable the killing pay a price if only in karma.

  • http://www.bradbyrdofficial.com Brad Byrd

    “An inordinate amount of time, therefore, was spent not making music, but rather attempting to position yourself favorably in the eyes of these gatekeepers.”  
    Totally genius George, you nailed it.  It’s astounding to me how many friends of mine keep telling me I need to be back in LA or NYC to “make it” in the music biz still.  Hell even Lefsetz says it, but then again he ALSO says it’s about “being in the wilderness” nowadays?  It can get confusing, I think where i’m going with this is that when I lived in cities that “had THE gatekeepers” in the music business I found myself focusing on recording and networking and (occasionally) performing/showcasing.  I would play 1x every couple months or so in order to fill rooms with my “friends” in the hopes that an A&R person or said gatekeeper would be stoked.  It was all about the appearance and finding that someone that could connect you to that someone that could get you a deal.  It all felt like a game of “meeting the right people” more so than the actual music itself.  After a while I realized i just wanted to PLAY more music and eventually moved back to Massachusetts (wilderness in music biz geographical terminology) and have been steadily performing (and recording mind you) and building a “fan” base in the Northeastern, MA.  Has it been hard, absolutely, but the emphasis on “going out to that party in the hills so that you might meet that guy” bs is not a factor anymore.  I’ve never been more inspired and in touch with my muse than I am today.  I’ve written so many more tunes, and recording is way cheaper out here in the “wilderness”.  I’m playing more music and letting that do the talking via social media,etc.  It’s refreshing to read things like what you’ve shared here George/Tunecore it makes me feel like I made the right move.  Of course I still go to those cities to do shows but i’ve got to play live now at least a couple times a week in order to make $ and I feel like you can do that easier in “non gatekeeper” cities.  Just my $0.01 (recession). – BB

    • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

      When I got “signed” the first time…I was immediately told to shy away from the “Big 3” as they called it – NY, LA, and Nashville. Austin has nearly become the 4th in that group now. I’m moving to Austin in a month but mainly to use it as a center point for touring and connecting with other artists. I’m also performing at SXSW this next year so it’ll be interesting to see what that whole craziness will be like!

  • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

    My question for all of these people going on and on about pirating music
    is: How much money have YOU lost because of it? Some artists benefit
    greatly by their albums being out there and “available.” Dave Matthews
    Band always comes to mind. They released their first single off of their
    album Everyday on Napster…and the fans responded by buying up a ton
    of albums. Here’s an interesting read…

    http://news.cnet.com/2100-1023

    Now
    I’m not condoning illegal behavior by any means…but fans who LOVE the
    music you release will always be willing to support you monetarily.
    Most people that I hear complaining about it aren’t affected by it at
    all (or very little) because they’re unknown on a national/international
    level. Hell, many of them aren’t even known in their own hometown and
    don’t tour or perform locally (yes, I know, there are “celebrities”
    against it as well). In the early stages of promoting artists (or
    anything for that matter), it’s not uncommon for people to do whatever
    it takes just to make the product (music in this case) known to MANY. I
    hand out albums all of the time…someone’s nice to me at the grocery
    store? I hand them an album and invite them to a show. With about <$1
    into every physical album I've had pressed, that's a pretty great
    return in my eyes when I see them with a friend (or two, or three) at my
    next show in their town.

  • Juicylaroux

    Total B.S. One: In the old days the record labels were write offs for the tech companies that owned them. It didn’t matter if they made money or not. The tech companies made records in order to sell record players.  Two: Great artists are insane and have no business sense at all. Jimi Hendrix would have never been made it in this DIY world of mediocrity. In old days you had the work your tail off practicing to get as good as or better than your competition. Now any fool strumming a guitar and enough cash can get in the game. And so the crazy geniuses are completely lost to us. Noone is looking for them anymore. It’s only the business men that get through.

    • http://twitter.com/daveowensmusic Dave Owens

      That’s B.S. Everyone knows the mafia controlled the majority of the music industry back then…come on Juicy, get your facts straight…haha…

      And on a side note, in the beginning it is true that Hendrix would sign with just about anyone who came along and made him promises BUT I’ve read several times that once he got some recognition, much of that changed. In fact, some believe that’s how he ended up “overdosing” in the end. He was asking questions they didn’t want to answer. Despite conspiracy theories, several references have said that he started looking over everything he signed in great detail.

  • Genc_pali
  • http://cdmusicmastering.com Big Label Sound

    Let’s be honest.  If it was better to be an independent than to be signed to a major label, why aren’t artists like Lady gaga, Justin Beiber, etc. dropping their labels and making their own cds, after they finish their obligated three year contract?  And they have TENS OF MILLIONS to do it!  And they’re household names!  A nobody with a $3,000 budget would need a miracle.  Why don’t they do it?  Because no one does it.  Oh wait, Prince started releasing his own CDs about 10 years ago….  Enough said….

    • Anonymous

      OK, lets be honest shall we

      How come the artist Civil Wars, who had a number one album on iTunes for over a week (outselling ever artist you list below), and have sold over 2,000,000 songs all on their own did not sign to a major?
      Want to explain the same thing to me about Liam Sullivan, Boyce Avenue, Chase Coy, Ron Pope, Ruka Ruka Ali and on and on and on
      Want more honesty?

      Net revenue into an artist’s pocket from recorded music is way way way up – higher now than it has ever been in the history of this industry.
      Previously, revenue from music sales never made it back to the artist, it was gross revenue that went to the label.
      Advances were unrecouped, and of those released via a label 98% failed with their “one shot” (post failed release they were damaged goods and done for).
      Revenue from music sales might be down, but sales by unit are up. In addition, more consumers are buying more music from a wider cohort of artists now than at any point in history.
      Music might be cheaper to “buy” (stream), but the end result is more artists making more money (or making any money at all) off the sale and use of their recordings than at any point in history.
      (compare this to the past when over 98% of signed artists made nothing (and almost 100% of unsigned made nothing) vs. today where they all make something).
      I know this as I have the data. TuneCore is the largest music distribution company by volume in the world – larger than EMI, Warner, Sony, Universal. It releases more music in one month than they do combined in 100 years.
      Its customers have sold over 500,000,000 units in the past 3.5 years earning over a quarter billion dollars. All this money made it back into their hands, not the label. This is new money for the artist which is therefore an increase, not a decrease in revenue.
      In regards to live gigs, in the traditional industry, even fewer artists made revenue from live gigs then they did from master sales, so there is no decrease in revenue for them from this income stream (but also possibly no upside for the 1/100th of a % that could have become The Who)

      Now add to this, these artists are not only the record labels (meaning the make the revenue from ALL exploitation of their masters (interactive and non-interactive) but also the songwriter/publishers (and the above numbers I included do NOT include revenue from non-interactive use which is up over 1,000% in the US in the past few years)

      Which means off of each an every exploitation of the recording or composition (reproduction, public performance, license etc) they earn money. The master money is making it back to them.

      Now add merch, sponsorship, advertising and the other 29 or so income streams.

      The issue for me is not gig income, it’s that there is a false and inaccurate representation of the current market in regards to artists.

      and second, (soap box coming out) that the songwriter/publisher money is not making it back to them.

      As you may be aware, with mechanicals there are no reciprocating rights. With Public Performances/New media Transmissions, the PROs dip and double dip before some portion of it reaches the administrator of the copyright ~18 months post it being generated with no transparency (just look at SGAE in Spain)

      As a hard example, TuneCore Artists have earned an additional $63 million in revenue as songwriters/publishers but did not get their money – black box.

      A large % of this money was illegally given to un-authorized global PROs and collection agencies as our songwriters/publishers are NOT members of any PRO.

      In addition, over 99% of our customers have no publishing deal and therefore could not get their mechanical royalties which should not have been paid to an unauthorized third party in the first place

      Further, if they are US based, they only assign the right to Public Performance to ASCAP/BMI/SESAC which means that despite a pass along of rights, PRS etc have no right to collect nor issue licenses for the right of Reproduction (mechanical royalties) for these songwriters/publishers

      In addition, the global pros arbitrarily decide how to split the income between Performance and Reproduction allowing them to take even more money from the songwriter/publisher – in regards to a songwriter/publisher affiliated with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, this means PRS etc have no legal right to split this money between Public Performance and Reproduction.

      Then we move into the second level of splitting of the Performance revenue between publisher/songwriter

      Our hundreds of thousands of customers are both – so when GEMA does a 2/3 – 1/3 split on the performance (of which there is no legal basis) they dig further into our customers pockets

      This is why I launched TuneCore’s global publishing administration infrastructure while simultaneously requiring the digital music services to get licenses and pay TuneCore directly for the composition rights.

      For the compositions we represent, if they are affiliated with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, these entities no longer have the right to represent the New Media Transmissions and by extension neither does any other PRO.

      In this same scenario, in regards to Reproduction, no PRO ex-US (or US) has this right therefore the digital music services have not paid our customers their mechanicals.

      But the bottom line is yes, the labels revenue is down, the revenue is shifting. The old model is becoming something else

      But the end result is artists revenue is up, way up, across the board.

      And this Billboard news item is woefully negligent in providing an accurate picture of what is actually happening in the market.

      Ok, off soap box

      • skeptical guest

        Jeff – Joy williams’ husband nate root ran a major label for several years, and was connected all over the place.  they pimped out her solo work (which flopped commercially) until they gave up that route….then, upon meeting john paul white at a songwriting seminar in nashville, they pimped her out to the max and it worked….they even eschewed the ‘contemporary christian’ market they had been going for, and instead tried to play up the sexual innuendo that there was something going on between joy and john paul in order to pimp themselves out (ever watch their live show? my point exactly).   nate root signed off on this, pimped the new act out harder than ever, and WALLA, commercial success. 

        that’s how the civil wars did it. so i’d like a better example, please.

        • Anonymous

          im sorry, im truly not here to prove to prove to you that Lecrea, Kelly, Medic Droid, Colt Ford, Boyce Avenue, Ron Pope, Chase Coy etc etc etc matter
          Dimiss what you want, sit by the sidelines, try to get signed to a major or do nothing.
          But as you remain skeptical, Im certain you would agree that anything we can do to improve things for artists is a good thing
          And as you doubt yourself and musicians, Im certain you also do not mind if they pursue their careers in this new music market.
          The fact that you want to discount their success really doesn’t matter.
          jeff

          • skeptical guest

             you should be careful how you talk to me.  i’m a potential customer.  i just take it personally that you chose, of all bands, the civil wars.  they are the textbook definition of turncoat machiavellian whores masquerading as ‘indie friendly’ southern hipsters, yuck…i’m actually very open to your points of view and find this blog valuable.  for you to say that i ‘doubt myself’ because i raised a legitimate point that you don’t want to address is the height of arrogance.  i’ve seen the civil wars’ 30 second youtube ad endorsing you, and i find it disgusting. i just hate them and what they purportedly ‘stand’ for.

          • Anonymous

            I cannot speak to your personal “hatred” of Civil Wars. But I can speak to the fact that this is a touch tough business.
            Most will not reach the level of success they strive for.

            It takes work, a lot of hard work.

            And for those that do make it, and make it on their own terms, I will be amazed, and proud and blown away. And I will support them and fight tooth and nail to assure they are not discredited by nay-sayers, cynics or the old school.
            You have choiche, pursue your career as an artist or not.

            if you choose to pursue it, be prepared to slug it out and work and work and work.
            Ultimately your music will determine if you make it, it has to cause reaction
            But unlike the old days, you now have a choiche, you can try to get signed, transfer your rights and make little to no money when your music sells in exchange for a possible team to work for you, do it yourself, or come up with some kind of mix of the above.
            The proof of whether or not you personally succeed cannot be found with another artist – it rest solely on you
            And when you succeed, and anyone tries to tear you down, you will have no louder voice than mine telling them they are wrong for delegitimizing you
            Jeff

  • http://www.mymusicbymebystevefitch.com/ Steve Fitch

    For me – and more people should be considered to speak for themselves, not as representing one absolute or another – the advent of the Internet and DAW (digital audio workstation) software are godsends, and yet a sort of perverse curse. My personal frame of reference is 20+ years ago, when my musical world was four-track cassette recordings and the like. A&R people for independent record labels at the time told me that they personally liked my music, but they couldn’t release my music because it didn’t sound enough like anyone else’s on their labels. Now I can make my own music, and make it available for people to listen to (and purchase if they like it that much) – but how do I promote it effectively online? I’m a bit clueless about social-media sites, I don’t like them, and frankly, I don’t trust them. Moreover, I just don’t have time to maintain a bazillion Web presences. I tend to devote my “free” time to, well, making music.

    As for making music, it had used to be so time- and labor-intensive, and expensive, that I eventually ran my life into the ground and quit making music altogether. Three years ago, after 15 music-free years, a 20-year-old showed me Garageband on the Mac, and it was a life-changing moment. I soon moved on up to Logic and other DAW software, and I periodically exclaim, “I wish they’d had this when I was a kid!” If I want a horn section for a song, or an orchestral part to precede a rock outburst, there’s no matter of renting a studio and hiring musicians. This newfangled stuff enables leaps and bounds of creativity. I’ve lost count of how many albums of original music I’ve produced since I discovered DAW software, and some of the people close to me are kind of worried that this heightened level of productivity might be due to alien abduction or demonic possession. I myself just see it as getting older and not having time for writer’s block – and enjoying the roller-coaster ride of sheer creative activity.

    As for getting my music heard or purchased, I have discerned that, in my own case, the technological advancements of the past couple of decades have not fundamentally changed much. People do buy my CDs and downloads, but not in direct proportion to my “output.” I know that significantly more people would buy them if significantly more people were to hear my music. People ripping my music from a stream or by a Firefox plug-in is the same as making a cassette copy of their friend’s tape of my music, except without the loss of quality. But at least they were able to hear it, and at least they liked it enough to do that. Why do I make music? Because it’s in my nature to do so; perhaps my “calling.” Why do I make it publicly available? For other people to be able to hear, perchance to enjoy. Compared to 20+ years ago, it’s proportionally still as unlikely – despite that it’s so much more possible – that anyone might hear my music, given the glut of music on the Internet, now that every monkey with a laptop is a “musician.”

    I’ve decided not to let anyone cause me to fret over what I am legally or morally due from having made and distributed my music, because although it is a significant matter – and what I feel “due” for having survived in this world and managed to experience such an artistic rebirth is beyond expectation – it degrades the value of music as an artform to inveigh it with financial anxiety; essentially, reducing it to “money-money-money.” Despite the Music Industry itself, what has always been the selling point of music as a commodity is that music is something that, at best, people make from the heart and make part of their lives because of its emotional significance to them.

    I know, I know: “Perform live, and make people buy postcards of the event as they exit through the gift shop.” Because I never was a good performer, I never really enjoyed it, I could not possibly find and fund musicians to play what I write, and other reasons, that’s not an option for me.

    Due to the venue, I expect this comment to be misinterpreted and unwarrantedly rebutted, and I am not interested in defending nor re-explaining myself, as I have not been describing anyone’s experience but my own. Please understand that I have never considered music a career, and although I would like to profit from it as much as possible, I have never had any expectation of a “return” on making music, as my impetus for writing a song has always been the feeling that it should exist, not because I needed to fill-out my repertoire. I’m no purist-Luddite – I love technology, and money is cool – but what the changes of past 20+ years have failed to change is that someone such as I can’t but make music for same reasons that I always have. What has changed is that it’s possible – and “safe” – for me to make music again. What’s beautiful about the change of technological circumstances is that I can do whatever my creativity leads me to do, which, for me, is the most rewarding and abiding sense of “success” as an artist.

  • lcart210

    Dead on the money.  Witness the acceptance speeches of The Civil Wars and Bon Iver on last year’s Grammys (both of whom seemed truly surprised to be there). Neither achieved their status via American Idol of any other TV show.  [The RIAA had to be pulling their hair out when TCW’s encouraged their fans to keep sharing their music. Blasphemy in the temple!] Okay – so we may not have as many millionaire artists in the next decade.  For my “money,” that’s not a bad thing.

  • lize limbo

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