The State of The Music Industry and the Delegitimization of Artists: Pt. 3 How a Skewed Perspective Delegitimizes Artists

– a Six Part Series 

by Jeff Price

Part III: How a Skewed Perspective Delegitimizes Artists

Read Past Chapters

Part I: Music Purchases and Net Revenue For Artists Are Up, Gross Revenue for Labels is Down

Part II: The Impact of DMCA Streams and Why They Should Be Considered 

Upcoming chapters:

Part IV: The Growth Phase is Over? Improved Label Margins

Part V: When Good Laws Turn Bad

Part VI: The Hills are Alive…..

Normally it’s not a big deal that someone has an opinion that you disagree with – you can agree to disagree and move on. However, the danger of this skewed and inaccurate portrayal is the de-legitimization of artists that are achieving success.  This restricts their opportunities and choices.  Sadly, the mainstream media reinforces this perspective.

Why should a Fortune 100 brand want to work with an “unsigned” artist that sells over 250,000 songs across five self released titles when it is told time and again by the “experts” and media that artists only “count” when they sell albums, not songs; that “real” artists are the ones signed to record labels; that artists not signed are in a lower “class” of “unsigned” or “indie” artists.  Why should a venue promoter, music supervisor, ad agency, TV network, radio station, retail store, publisher etc give an artist an opportunity or equal deal terms to a “signed” artist when they are told over and over and over by the “experts” and the media that what these artists accomplish does not count?  That these artists are somehow “sub-par” as compared to “signed” artists.

There should be parity between those that choose to get signed and those that self distribute.  Right now, this parity does not exist for a number of reasons:

  • The default “go to” resource for any business that wants to engage with music/artists is a traditional label. 
  • The place businesses go to learn who is most popular are the out of date, inaccurate and incorrectly presented Nielsen charts.
  • The laws created to protect copyright/trademark were built around a paradigm that has drastically shifted.

But what else can we expect when a sitting board member of the RIAA, A2IM and SoundExchange states in interviews that:

 “…80 percent of all records released are just noise. These “people” clutter the music environment with crap, so that the artists who really are pretty good have more trouble breaking through than they ever did before."

These same spokespeople that are the voice of the industry make a point of using only Soundscan tracked full album sales as an indicator of artist legitimization and success.  

In this perspective, for a release to be legitimate, it has to be a traditional “album”. EPs and singles are not “real” releases.  And if the “album” was self-released, forget it; it is by default just “noise”, sub-par and does not count.

Note also how these artists are declassified further and referred to as “people” as opposed to musicians.  Apparently, they have not earned the right to be called an “artist”.

Additionally, these same voices write articles for mainstream news blogs that give themselves "official" sounding titles like Chairman of Global Media and Entertainment Group  (and then name the company after themselves) stating music is in a “free fall”.  Unsigned artists are called ”undeveloped” and it is implied that that these “unsigned artists” are not selling, not generating revenue and have little talent. They paint a false picture of music sales and revenue by claiming digital sales are "flat".  They discredit paid streams and ignoring that less people are re-buying their music in a a new format (i.e. downloads) as "proof" that artists are not succeeding. They  further undermine musicians and state false and/or incomplete statistics claiming artists make no money and cannot gain fame or exposure via their craft.

Radio stations and TV, both on-line and terrestrial based, program radio shows carving out the “unsigned” or “up and coming” artists suggesting these “other” artists are in the minor leagues waiting to be discovered or legitimized by the industry “experts” as opposed to fans.

The word "indie", used by many bands as a badge of honor and indicator of self-empowerment is being turned into meaning something negative.  

What’s interesting is that 98% of what the major labels released failed.  Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on getting the music recorded, distributed and exposed and yet it did not sell.  How or why is a failed “major” artist any better or any worse than any other artist?  How or why is a successful “unsigned” artist any better or worse than a “major label” artist?

In today’s world, there is parity, they are all part of a group now called “artists”.

Part IV of this series will discuss: The Growth Phase is Over? Improved Label Margins

  • It is a bit sad to see those big industry people being blinded by their success in the 80’s not being able to go with the change but rather believe in their (aged) competences (which cause them to fail to discover talent for instance) that should be able to filter the talented independent artists and support them in case they wish to.
    Anyway! Thanks for this very interesting input into the development of today’s industry.

  • This article was just “noise” … looking forward to something more substantial like your last two.

  • gal

    “…80 percent of all records released are just noise. These “people” clutter the music environment with crap, so that the artists who really are pretty good have more trouble breaking through than they ever did before.”
    it isn’t clear to me where this person has specified that s/he is talking about unsigned artists in particular being the 80%, as you imply.
    i’m a DIY artist, and i do agree that there’s a lot of noise out there and that it is difficult for artists who are pretty good to break through to listeners (and i’m not saying that i’m a pretty good artist. i am talking about friends who are pretty damn good, who work with the best of the best, but are unable to get their voice heard because of all the noise out there.)

  • LOVED THIS! about time it was said . . . a real musician to me is someone who can cut it live, no gimmicks needed and also sell the records. Half the acts majors releases are molded to what an artist is believe to be,sugar coated crap! that is not how it started on the blues doorsteps of cotton pickers – it was because it mattered – because it meant something. McDonalds is fast food and tasty but Jamie Oliver’s restaurant is real food that matter – the majors need their McDonalds

  • too many “quotation” marks. It was annoying.
    Other than that, good article.

  • How absurd. I’m at the bottom of the heap when it comes to independent artists, earning less than $2,000 a year from CD sales and downloads. However, my sales are steady and growing faster than inflation. The market is not in free fall. It is merely becoming less centralized, and artists are taking more control for themselves. This always scares the powerful.
    Big labels put too much faith in their big blockbuster acts having mass, popular appeal. What they refuse to realize is that the market has become compartmentalized. In the future, we’ll see more and more niche artists with small but strong followings.

  • As the manager of a fairly popular, (in its genre), indie band, I am not a defender of major labels or many of their tactics. But I do think the time for turning on each other is passed. The financial pond that we all work in is shrinking because of reduced revenue streams and instead of trying to kill off the other guy, we should be thinking about how to open up those streams again or find new ones.
    I realize that tunecore caters to the unsigned but there is no need to be as negative as some of the mainstream guys are in order to grow your business. You provide a very valuable service and one whose importance is not dependent on bad mouthing anyone else on our side of the fence. I hope you press the advantages of your very excellent business model instead of the disadvantages of more traditional methods. There is a place for all of them.

  • The term unsigned does seem to denote a notion of Lesser quality to the general consumer. I have a feeling that somethings missing in todays music scene, it’s not as strong as back in the 80s and 90, in terms of quality of songs and performers.
    Great artist were once unsigned too, and being signed means that an artist will be able to reach out to a larger audience through access to main stream media/tv. With todays internet, there’s nothing really stopping an independent artist to sell their music in the form of downloads.
    Also there should be a shift in the mentality of Artist always looking for that “record” deal, always wanting someone else to invest in them. If really talent artist realised they could backed themselves up and invest their own money in making records and promotion, then labels and record companies would have trouble securing real talent.

  • well, lets be honest. it IS mostly crap out there now! and a lot of what is out there needs to be delegitimized, or properly categorized as jingles, rather than songs. it seems the gist of this analysis is STILL USING THE SAME SALES DRIVEN PERSPECTIVE AS THE “MAJORS”. crap is crap, no matter who squats and grunts.
    Whats needed is the reemergence of proper editorial. with all of these choices, there exists the need for talented aggregators who can sort these choices out for the fans. the problem is that so many of these “publications” are so concerned with corporate return accounts that they fear to be CRITICAL. they write commercials for artist these days, instead of reviews. this is the main ingredient in the success of music blogs. the bloggers have a TRUSTED point of view by their constituencies. the same way a Rolling Stone review or a Source 5 mic rating would almost guarantee sales. this is why i believe that industry is dying alongside the traditional music industry model. both have their feet firmly planted in the tar pit.
    and sinking fast…

  • It is kind’a of a funny read really, because as the music industry sinks their plan is to throw stink water out of their life raft on artist swimming in their own sea. I write music designed and written to destroy the music industry, who needs a pimp daddy, I aint your whore bitch.
    B billy Marse

  • Glenn Nolle

    I’m an independent musical artist and have past experience as an art director for big-time firms that have manipulated the minds of the masses with their brightly colored products that promise happiness and salvation. The “matrix” wants you to believe this signed/unsigned bullshit so that hypnotized consumers lean toward choosing what they listen to based on branding. I mean, hate to sound like a conspiracy nut but you know the story: I invent an engine that runs on water and suddenly I disappear and my research lab mysteriously burns to the ground! Major labels want to win at the game of Monopoly!





  • hg

    The problem with pop music today is this: it’s all been done before. From alternative to Electronic, its all rehash. Not to mention that most modern rock is boring 2 chord progression crap. Period, end of story. The last great decade of music was the 80’s maybe some 90’s.

  • James Love

    Call it noise or call it the greatest music ever, learning music as a child I was told never to like or dislike anything until you had listened to it at least 1,000 times.
    That means that the art of listening is to drop all your judgments, preconceptions and opinions and listen /hear the music. The art of listening requires a non-judgmental and silent mind. Otherwise one’s mind is chattering and comparing and one hears nothing at all but one’s own internal dialogue.
    This means to be an artist, one must learn the art of listening. But there are no dollars or euros or yen associated with that. What there may be is – sensitivity, creativity and beauty. Take it, or leave it.

  • I agree that these singles should be collected and released in a album form … I mean, come on, its cool. I’d rather say you can find it on “this” CD instead of singling out songs. It looks professional.
    As for crap – I’m guilty too. But so was everyone else at one time. If you heard, just for example, Weird Al for the very first time what would you call it? It becomes good when you “get it”. On the other hand, how is anyone going to “get it” if they don’t get the opportunity to hear it?
    There is truth in what they’re saying & truth in what you’re saying; but there will always be levels of perceived success in everything – unsaid proof that someone else also believed in you & some respectability.
    I can’t seem to get out what I want to say, but I hope you get the point I’m trying to make.
    BTW, good article 🙂

  • Wow! The major label power play is almost over. Record sales of major labels decline, while us, so called, lower indie or unsigned artists steals the hearts of the people around the world. Where else we never get heard by the real working folks around the world, due to these powerful corporate clowns. No, I have declined major labels, twice. They will not control my life, as now I work under my own label, where I control the outcome. Old management teams I met, are still living in the 70’s and never get to live in the year 2010. Now I get the people to judge my music, the ones that buys my songs, not the rip of major labels and its publishing companies! Check out my site as proof!
    Hurrah for us second class and/or non classified artists!

  • One point that I do not think was mentioned in the article/comments is that indie artists have no major label development. I think it’s an awesome feat that an artist can simply go out there and make their mark on their own terms.
    If the labels die I say good riddance. They’ve given us garbage for years and you cannot justify it by saying “it’s what the public wants” because we all know the media blitz they used to sell their “ketchup” to us in our “white gloves.”

  • I got the answer. The artist of a major label, produced a great hit on its debut-album, mostly referred by some buddy-buddy system. It works. Problem is, all songs on the album has the same arrangements, same instruments, as one song sounds like the other. Result? Second album gets released…no one wants to buy it, cause they sound alike. I see it with so many major artist, come.. then disappear. To make yourself interested to the public, they want each song to identify the lyrics with a different tune and arrangements. Thanks to Tunecore, I rather release singles instead, so different folks only downloads what their taste are. Most don’t have time to listen to a whole album of an unknown artist like me.

  • I have never read so much shit about the BIZ in my life. Silverman has no love of music, it’s his career and he certainly doesn’t give two fucks about musicians.

  • TonyG

    A lot of thought is needed in coming to a conclusion over this article. You know, there is a lot of noise out there. If you look at a Company like Soundclick for instance. They allow digital Sales from just about anybody, no matter whether talent exists or whether a half decent recording has been made. As a Contemporary Classical Instrumentalist I’ve sold through Tunecore, and just launched a new Album using them. It did surprise me however when I first used them that no threshold of quality had to be met (no audition to be put in the big online stores).
    It just worries me that the ever increasing amounts of crap on the web may be driving listeners to only bother even considering listening to what a specialist Radio Station like Smooth FM or Classic FM (UK) offers to them. Finding your own musical gems on i-Tunes or similar is an ever increasingly time consuming exercise.

  • As far as indies ,I called them artists no matter who they are.
    They all bring something to the table.
    I play some great bands on my variety rock station.These indies as everyone says are quite talented some are better than what the music industry puts out daily.Lets face it good music is and will always be moving whether they like it or not.
    I am proud of the music I play commercial or non commercial it is usually the best of
    any artists that is put forward.
    Thats why hamilton radio is rated highly by musicians.Everyone needs a chance to be heard.If you love music its all about song quality,meanings and feelings if they or anybody can’t grasp that ,they never will.
    Hamilton radio is proud to play it all.It all fits if you let them in your life.

  • The RIAA and Major Labels clearly feel threatened by Indie artists which is why they are on such a disinformation Campaign via the Mainstream media. They are obviously hoping to convince the public of their own Propaganda.
    -Perhaps if the Majors wouldnt keep churning out Cookie-Cutter type Pop music then maybe their overall sales would be higher. With the exception of some really Great Long Time and Classic Established artists with proven track records and fan bases,the majority of Major label music I see in videos these days bores the hell out of me. I have trouble watching a lot of that crap, let alone to have any inclination to go out and buy a copy.So their comment regarding artists releasing “Noise” Works both ways
    It appears the big decision making policies in the majors are coming from people who only “Think” they know what the public wants to opposed to actually going out and asking the public what they like in way of music.
    -Until they correct their arrogance in assuming they know whats best for the public,- the majors will continue to lose sales to us “Lower classed” Indie artists as the public is starving for some “actual variety” and freshness in music and music styles.

  • The RIAA and Major Labels clearly feel threatened by Indie artists which is why they are on such a disinformation Campaign via the Mainstream media. They are obviously hoping to convince the public of their own Propaganda.
    -Perhaps if the Majors wouldnt keep churning out Cookie-Cutter type Pop music then maybe their overall sales would be higher. With the exception of some really Great Long Time and Classic Established artists with proven track records and fan bases,the majority of Major label music I see in videos these days bores the hell out of me. I have trouble watching a lot of that crap, let alone to have any inclination to go out and buy a copy.So their comment regarding artists releasing “Noise” Works both ways
    It appears the big decision making policies in the majors are coming from people who only “Think” they know what the public wants to opposed to actually going out and asking the public what they like in way of music.
    -Until they correct their arrogance in assuming they know whats best for the public,- the majors will continue to lose sales to us “Lower classed” Indie artists as the public is starving for some “actual variety” and freshness in music and music styles.

  • I am not a fan of record companies, but they offered one thing. A Filter. The filter is likely skewed by $$$$, but nevertheless I miss this necessary act.

  • There is a memo that still exists from a Capitol Records executive (george martin has it)That states the label will not release “Please,Please me” in the US because “they did not think that The Beatles were any goddamn good.”

  • The industry seems to forget that it is ART.
    That is what ARTISTS do. We create ART.
    Corporations create PRODUCT, not art, and these “people”…the indie artists, the true artists, have more of a right to be considered artists, having paid our dues and earned our right to be artists, than their phony corporate spawn ever would have a right to possess.
    Everyone will have an opinion, positive or negative, regarding the work of any given artist.
    Opinions are like @$$holes…everyone has one.
    These “Experts” spout their opinions based purely on their myopic mindset of what they think “talent” is, and what they and their small-minded focus-groups perceive to be what listeners “want to hear” as they go stroking their precious egos, while they milk their cash-cows, as stores like Sprawl-Mart stock their shelves with, and cookie-cutter franchise CrappyChannel radio stations play, the same pre-packaged Disney popstars and American Idol karaoke-crooners, and they sit on their high-horses, with their wealth and power, as they are looking down upon us indie and unsigned artists, as if we are “no talent” nobodies, especially if you do something different, such as, if you are an instrumentalist, or if you don’t do what is considered ordinary vocal pop-songs.
    Underdeveloped? No talent? not deserving to be called an “artist”? Hmmm. Looks like the “experts” need to check themselves before they wreck themselves… Some of us “people” have been doing what we do for years, like myself, recording and performing music that is true ART, since the ’80s. I’ve performed shows for many thousands of fans, and have been on the radio around the world, to millions of listeners, all purely on my own talent and hard work, with the art that I have created, and if “experts” don’t wish to recognise that, it is their loss.
    They can have their boring prefabricated commercial garbage and choke on it and die.
    Under-promoted, perhaps, we may be, as maybe we don’t have the big, fancy, powerful management teams and “pull” and huge budgets, that your typical well-heeled popstar does, (that we are more deserving of having than they are to have) not having been on a reality tv show, or discovered by Disney, but most of us have no less, and sometimes, greater and better, talent than these “experts” could ever realise, because they have blinded themselves by their own egos and opinions.
    And, being blinded, they run with their followers, in their myopic-minded stampede, over the edge of implosion, as they drag the record industry they created, along with themselves, hurtling unimpeded, at frantic pace, into impending self-destruction.
    But, at least us indie artist have the balls to create ART based on our own talent and gifts, and what we know our fans like to hear, instead of just cranking out corporate-minded “product” that is not true art, as it is based upon what an out-of-touch, small-minded focus-group in the “machine” of commercialism, tells their fake “artists” to “create” because they listen to their own egos and opinions instead of listening to the beauty of the work created by the true artist’s enlightened mind.

  • Tony D

    I have to agree with most points on all sides of this article. I have been talking about problems with music on my show monologues for 6 months now. It’s too easy in today’s industry to start your own label, get it approved with the growing number of digital download sites out there and release your own music. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good music. As a DJ, label owner, radio show host, and composer/producer, I see many sides to this argument. I would have to say back in the 80’s, as a DJ, when I shopped for music in my favorite record store; I didn’t have to listen to the music, I shopped trusting the labels I was buying. Pretty much everything I bought was gold. Now in the digital age, I shop for new music daily on digital download sites and have to listen to 1000’s of track every month to find 200 that are worth anything. The problem is not whether an artist is an independent or a major label artist, it’s whether they have talent. Good music is simply good music, and that comes out of both sides of the story, independent or major. Sure it was great thing back in the vinyl days of the 80’s knowing that the industry professionals would weed out the junk for me and make sure when it got to the record store shelves, it was quality. However, I started to loose faith in that major label industry also back in the 80’s, long before the digital age, when I started to see them “push” their marketable product on us rather than actual talented musicians. I think of the whole Milli Vanilli incident and the Expose group. These weren’t even musicians but rather marketable people put in place to lip sync some other persons musical compositions, who probably weren’t so nice to look at. It’s when the hype turned to image over talent that it started to fall apart. If you could make 13 year old girls scream in the Mid West, whether you have talent or not, you are now our new superstar. That’s when the industry fell to crap way before the digital age and it still is. Look at Justin Bieber…WHAT EVER!
    In today’s digital age, especially in the electronic dance arena, there are way too many “Artist” (term used loosely)that know how to work a computer program but know absolutely nothing about music theory or composition structure. These producers are mass producing this on going 7 minutes of the same sounding crap that has no structure, no development, no originality, that I have to sit there and weed out every one of these poor excuses for music to find the good stuff. Truth be told, this garbage is coming from both side of the fence, from both major and independents. Time to kick the computer geeks (sorry for being so harsh) out of the music industry and bring the musicians and the composers back in. Time to sign talent rather than models. The big time industry professionals and their major labels started the decline back in the 80’s with their bad decisions, and now want to blame the independent artist of todays digital age for this decline. I think not. There is good and bad music coming from both sides. We are all artist in today’s industry, some good some bad. Take it as it comes.

  • Colin Ward

    Putting on my consumer hat, in the past a ‘signed’ artist had some validation attached i.e. someone (A&R) had picked this artist as being talented (or commercially viable) enough for the label to want them in the stable.
    Now I go to newspaper reviews and review web sites to help me filter through the mass of unheard music out there. And more importantly referrals from my friends and colleagues.
    Listen to the indie stuff that is out there, there is a lot of well meaning but not very good stuff available. I don’t think the 80% bad comment is out of line. That falls into the Pareto curve, which I think has always applied to the music industry. Whether we will move from the 10% at the top sharing 90% of the revenue and the 90% at the bottom sharing 10% of the revenue remains to be seen. But one thing for sure, getting into that top 10% is a much different process in 2010.
    As ‘label’ importance diminishes the playing field is becoming more and more even.

  • I think it’s rather deliberate. ‘Indie’ artists represent competition for the corporates. It’s a form of character assassination. What next, labelling them all as ‘terrorists’ lol.
    The ‘crap, indie’ portion of the music biz is the sea where all the talent comes from, it’s just now with the proliferation of sites like Tunecore, Bandcamp etc the market is shifting away from the corporate monopoly and back where it belongs. With art creators. Online channels collating and providing a platform for these artists begins to replace corporate trash like MTV.
    People love good music. Good music takes heart and soul. The corporates have neither, along with most of their artists, at least when the marketing dept has finished crushing the last inch of individuality out of them to match their demographic target base.
    It’s a self destroying business model. These companies want maximum revenue with minimum effort, so they inevitably start copying each other, recycling boring songs and productions etc and consumers sense it, people buy less of their music, the majors get upset and in true denial, blame ‘illegal downloaders/ internet terrorists’. In the words of Jimmy Carr:
    “My girlfriend said the last three men she slept with were unable to give her an orgasm.”
    Carr replies:
    “Well darling, maybe YOU’RE the one with the problem…”
    P.S. When an artist with no promotion, tiny budget, no special relationships with radio stations, tv etc doesn’t become an overnight success that could easily be put down to lack of exposure.
    What’s the excuse for the 98% of major releases that fizzle out? They had the budgets and the marketing…

  • All one has to do is turn on shitty radio to see/hear the sickening reality.
    Van Halen..Boston..Styx..The Police..etc.
    One would think a decent tune hasn’t been penned since 1981.
    When the suits and bean counters keel off who are controlling what is heard and marketed in a mass way (in the name of selling advertising) then and only then will our ears be free to hear fresh new music. In the meantime there is satellite radio and one other alternatives..boycott radio as I do, and do not buy major label artists, no matter who they are..even The Stones, love em as I do. Purchase only independently released cds and support your local band/artist by going out and seeing them live and buying them a beer. A littel grassroots support goes a long way.

  • The answer to this free fall is very simple in my eyes.
    Incompetent is the most fitting word I would say.
    Already many years they where kind of blind for real good artists with new ideas and new sound. Major labels only went 1 road and this one was the money road.
    Castings and finally clone artists where the outcome of major label activities.
    If this days a band called PINK FLOYD (let´s say we never heard of them…) would be out there – no major label ever would even recognize them. The head of E&A is sitting with his YES men on a table and asks what are we doing for the next sumer hit? – Ok, we need a blondy with a nice face and she must be able to dance. Any clone producer will write a standard song and “blondy” will be tuned into this track.
    After this they push it by investing a lot in a video, other adverts and tv shows. this was working for a while, but the stupid kids only bought this and now they download for free or copy the mp3s from any friend.
    The ones who are dieing to find a new sound to listen to are getting nothing. They would love to buy a CD with nice cover and proper audio quality.
    The day will come when the last pop star dies and than… – clone music for ever.
    No… – Quality is needed and there are millions of musicians and producers all over the world who creating new music and never heard sound. They are the future of the music culture. They do not wait for a top 10 hit – they just make it, because the love it and they do it for the music.
    Listen… – Clones are crab and thats why it goes straight down with the music industry.
    …and – everybody knows now how much a CD is and how easy it is to burn music on it. – the prices are a big factor as well, but first there needs to be good music on the medium. nobody is buying a album anymore where only 2 or 3 tracks are really good.
    hip hop is complain music, r&b is fat but soul less – also just shaking hips and gold wearing gangsters with nice chicks. rock is dead, punk is sick, classic will live for ever and what else can you come up with this days? – ELECTRONIC MUSIC… this genre is not at all explored yet.
    bum bum bam bam and brrr brr brr brr…
    so, it have to do with the brainwashed humanity as well! – the music is the mirror of our state of mind.
    its right there, but – nobody understands it now and it is invisible or better – inaudible right now.
    the major labels need to die and a new world of music will raise.
    CDs are not up to date and the download prices are still unattractive for the most people as i believe.
    the musicians have to define the prices and who ever supports the musicians will make some money to.
    now the world is up side down. first the labels and portals like iTunes and others… how much does the musician finally get from his sold track and does he really think this is the right price?
    no, but there is no chance. only on free portals, but still – nobody will find you there.
    thanks for reading

  • Music is a gift and a blessing, no matter who creates it. As an artist validation is not needed in order to create. And I won’t be defined by the arguments.
    The validation helps me eat. When someone else usurps that right then…there’s a problem. But let’s see it as a blessing in disguise.
    Take a listen!
    and follow…

  • wow, really good article…makes alot of sense.

    come join me.

  • Mark

    The music labels and major players who meant something before are just scared now and are looking to regain any amount of power back over the artists who create the music. It wouldn’t be the first time the mainstream media has be manipulated to show only one side of a story.

  • Thor

    Once again the “mainstream media” is de-legitimizing itself by putting out beliefs like this article talks about.
    If we’d just turn off our TVs most of the problem would be solved!
    And has anyone noticed the obvious connection between iTunes and the major labels? iTunes must be getting kickbacks or something from the major labels, otherwise they wouldn’t favor them so much and help in the de-legitimization effort against indie artists.

  • A four star rated album review, a book that was published in 38 languages, and never signed to any major or indie label ever. My fans classify me as classy not upper nor lower. The strongest connection with my fans are social networks and the is the strongest for majors as well and the major artist are finally realizing it so are the major companies.
    Even during a free fall the corporate record companies continue to attempt to be the gate keeper/bouncer who only let in whoever they want but as time go by and technology advances the key plus the gate will come back to the artist but most important the fans who both were duped by corporate record companies.
    I refuse to be classified by people who dont know who I (you will need a flash player for this site)
    itunes, rhapsody, amazon, & spotify
    or just google – wayne baker brooks

  • Claire

    It’s not amazing to me that, given the general level of intelligence and working knowledge of the music industry shown by most of the commentators on this site, decent music and the makers of it are being buried under a heap of loud mouthed, know nothing wannabes who stink up most social networking sites with their turgid nonsense. I say, for a kick off, stop letting these morons comment on every frigging article you write. Why has giving these fools a voice suddenly a good thing? Where are the gatekeepers and the editors? Well, the good ones aren’t working on here that’s for sure.

  • Ca-Ca Doodie Do

    ? come on- the government shut down nightclubs and ruined electronic music, MTV plays rarely video’s and those are censored, MTV on Friday and Saturday night its programming is reality shows about pregnant teens? Republican pro-life programming.
    One can go on Youtube alone and find hundreds of new music video’s.
    Myspace was bought out by Newscorp which is Fox News basically, and what does Fox News do? Bash liberals.
    Then there’s a long list of major players ripping off original artists so they can “seem” interesting…they don’t pay or give creative common credit and honestly if their ripping off another artist, you think these ASSHOLES want the artist to succeed after that?
    American Idol was hot? Please I do not remember them showcasing anything but bland types and theater majors.
    And at this point if the people who hold power in entertainment stick with it long enough then it will wash out the spirit and voice of the past generations to avoid that negative anti-Bush, war and government feel.
    They do however produce an almost cool product to keep people at least somewhat calm and “happy”. Generally though the common complaint is people know its all bullshit- they think the music sucks and have no clue whats out here…but expect to be spoon fed art.No money to artists = no art or opinions unwanted.
    Do you know all of Madonna’s “Material Girl” clothes sold at Macy’s were made in sweatshops in China?

  • Jezus

    The Riaa…… errrr
    Ohhh yeah! The company that is sueing it’s own customers!
    Great idea!

  • Gary

    Tony D. is right.

  • This is real music people like LoverBoy Lew.
    LoverBoy lew bring real music back! Support him he’s coming very strong only 0.99 cents on cdbaby.

  • The article is biased and there are fine indie artists that are blocked by YOUTUBE, MYSPACE, and other outlets because they are independent – unless an artist is promoted by major labels and a lot of the music the labels drop is junk period. DJs are being robbed by the labels and also not being given credit for remixing.
    I agree with the writer above because unless you are heavily financed by the labels you go unnoticed – notice the lower record sales and the decline of mixed cds.
    People are tired of listening to the same songs over and over 24 hours a day of the same few artists. It is sickening and something should be done about it.
    I am sick of mainstream DJs shouting all through the record sick of DJs playing records that belong in the garbage. Lastly if you buy an album speaking about the reference to albums 80% of the songs suck and only 3 or 4 songs are worth buying or listening to.
    Real singers MUSIQ SOULCHILD, INDIA ARIE, CHAKA KHAN, SUNSHINE ANDERSON, ANN NESBY to name a few can’t get heard cause of these labels pushing butts and t#@#tts I AM SICK of it. Real artists with skills can’t get a deal and most of the new singers sing flat or off key and now rappers that can’t sing are dropping records.
    Your article is biased, and is out of touch with real talent and the artists that should be heard.
    If I listen to 200 records 150 end of in my junk file

  • I’ve been working for years at trying to get heard, even before the days of digital music and the internet (I guess that dates me!!!). Anyway, you can have a really good song or album and still struggle with gaining opportunities for recognition from the ‘powers that be’. I remember the great Barry McGuire once told me that only the top 1/10 of one percent of the people out there actually ‘make it’. That’s not very many! I share the frustration, believe me. It’s really infuriating to know that you have some really good, relevant music with a message that people can relate to and seeing it get virtually ignored in favor of some of the crap out there that IS noise and is fawned over by the industry!

  • Interesting article. Apple has saved self released artists by giving us access to the iTunes store. Quality over quantity is the issue here. consumers can trust that usually labels release quality albums, or at least the sound quality will be good. Advents in home recording and cheaper recording studios have leveled that playing field as well. It comes down to two things: Quality and Marketing… If you have marketing, but your music sucks, it will die. If you have no marketing, but your quality is great, your music will also die. Indy artists need both. Playing live helps too.
    Blackened Heart
    Arlington, TX
    Debut Album Available on iTunes thanks to Tunecore!

  • Lee

    “ELECTRONIC MUSIC… this genre is not at all explored yet.
    bum bum bam bam and brrr brr brr brr…
    Kind of getting tired of these damn comments, you get yourself a DAW and write something interesting, It takes alot more work than you think.

  • A Long Distance forecast & vision is wot the major lables (or major banks as i prefer to call them) need, & now
    it’s clear that when the Majors (major banks)deem an indie a threat (it’s rare butt a reality) they will act like a pair of Doc Martens on a skinhead’s foot & squash them like a helpless ant. Experience is the best form of knowledge
    Agreed – sound quality is the only Ace in their hands, not full quality. Private investment, VC, & investment banks are Equal (if not the better) than A traditional record label 4 many
    Here is a recent relavent press release by Gay Murdoch
    Headline: data mining tools indicate low cost DIY records can Fly on iTunes
    October 17, 2010
    by Gay Murdoch
    Call for Papers
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE data mining tools indicate low cost DIY records can Fly on iTunes
    (Beverly Hills, CA) Mighty Fleiss Radio, an independent recording artist from Beverly Hills California, has self-released their full-length debut album titled “Everyone Makes A Meaningful Mistake” offering Global distribution on Apple iTunes. The DIY record consists of nine (9) demo’s and high quality Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) recordings captured & released on inexpensive disc based consumer products.
    Based on initial Airplay research data, the acoustic indie-pop recording project forecasts an outlook of 30,000 passive paid downloads per annum on iTunes, an anomaly for DIY ethics artists. Furthermore, unexpected research stats indicate a surprising approval rating & fan crossover of females age 17-34 & males age 35-54 who are also fans of The Clash, New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths, Pink Floyd, & The Beatles.
    The importance of this record lays within its production value hitherto independent recorder technique; thus it’s unique style. Although it’s produced on the smell of an oily rag, the sound quality is acceptable to most real indie pop and alternative music fans. Suzuki Lee Mitsubishi, the producer of the album’s first single called “Anarchy On A Small Business Blog (Jan Norman’s Blog)”, utilized Cakewalk Guitar Tracks software ($99.00), a Shure SM57 microphone ($99.00), an M-Audio Mobile Pre USB Sound card ($149.00), and Sony Walkman cans ($99.00) all from his bedroom studio-block sessions in Tokyo Japan. All of these relatively low-cost recording products are staple items from most musical instrument retailers such as Musicians Friend, Best Buy, Guitar Center & Sam Ash.
    The complete track number nine (9), a rough demo mix of “Stanley Freeman” was simply recorded on a Samson Zoom H4 Handy Recorder ($299). Similar models are also offered by Tascam, & Boss. The song is perfectly raw & it’s teenage spirit demonstrates potential material fit for Billboard chart toppers. Stand alone (as it is)…it’s ready treat for indie die hards.
    ”Cars are a great place to monitor your rough mix indie fashion” says Mighty Fleiss Radio singer Glen ugly Naughty (ak GuN) referring to his hot pink & black Zephyr Zodiac racecar. “I burn 4 mixes of each song to CD-R and then I start driving south on Interstate 5 towards Disney & Knott’s Berry Farm with my dog; Oakley Radar Range sunglasses shield the bright lights so I can focus my hearing aid on timbre & tone. I listen to each mix a few times so I can judge the songs’ merit as most ordinary folk would; on your new car stereo’s speakers. I pick the best cuts of each mix to master as the published work.”
    In addition to the gear on the list, the famed street performer recommends that absolute beginners buy & read a book called “Modern Recording Technique” by David Miles Huber & Robert E. Runstein. He describes the book as a Goldmine of tips & tricks for both new and experienced recording artists. A sound engineering class at your community college can also help develop valuable skills such as microphone placement, multi-track recording, mixing, bouncing, bussing, & mastering. One should also register with College Music Journal ( to stay current.
    With the approaching season’s greetings, Hanukah or Christmas presents might be the ticket to ride. Who knows, if you are nice (fake it if you’re snarky), you might be surprised to find out how snuggly a Cakewalk Sonar Producer software box fits wrapped up as a gift under your Douglas Fir. Thanks Santa! Enjoy the chocolate milk & cookies Jackass!
    ”Be realistic with initial great expectations”. Glen Naughty offers a stern warning to fans. “Everyone Makes A Meaningful Mistake, but only if you learn from experience. To repeat mad taxing royal blunders is a no go. It only dictates certain chaos & doom”.
    The track listing and iTunes link is

  • mp3 killed the radio star

  • re: Is The Music Industry In Free Fall?
    At this point in my life, I should be playing out, currently
    I have no gigs.
    My physical CD mail order business is dead…
    Most of the new music I hear on the radio is crap…
    However people are still releasing product and WOMEX is happening.
    Please tell me what is going on!
    David Gilden /Kora player/Logic Guru/AFM 72-147 local member/BMI affiliate/
    Check out this 3 minute video promo about my passion for
    the kora (a harp-lute from West Africa):
    CD Releases (available on iTunes):

  • I have seen things in this industry come and go. Most of what I have read here today is some of that. I do however agree that the time of “major control is done for the most part as far as the buis. goes. I have been a part of some very wonderful musical endeavors. Most signed,some not. If I had to choose today I would fit into the later category of unsigned. With the tools available today there is no reason for an Artist that knows what he wants to be a the mercy of the old model.

  • I have seen things in this industry come and go. Most of what I have read here today is some of “that”. I do however agree that the time of “major control is done for the most part as far as the buis. goes. I have been a part of some very wonderful musical endeavors. Most signed,some not. If I had to choose today I would fit into the later category of unsigned. With the tools available today there is no reason for an Artist that knows what he wants to be ay the mercy of the old model.I want to thank all of the Artist that countinue to create and tell your stories to the world. I don’t know who said it but,”Refuse to be what the industry wants us to be, be yourself”

  • A song needs to be able to stand with one vocal and acoustic guitar or piano… so much new music I hear would fail under such scrutiny.
    I do respect electronic dance / trance etc… music because it’s beats and textures. A lot of fun to make and fun to get a bit drunk and fumble around on the dance floor to…
    But Songs are what grab people’s hearts.
    Remember that song when it came out and where you first heard it etc…
    This seems to have become a much degraded aspect of music.
    But enough of my yakin’

  • This is probably a repeat for most of you but I will say it anyway because it is crucial.You must have the recording when it is final be mastered.Even if you are using some outtakes.You ought to master them at a smaller house.Anything you are putting out there to be sold to someone has got to be mastered.Sterling sound in NYC will cost you 250-300 bucks to master a track.It is where ALL of the big boys go.And you as a despised indie are just as welcome.They place a glow and a sheen on your work that one can tell this is a serious recording by a serious artist.when your song gets played on jango or whatever right up next to a major label stud your song rocks just like theirs did.There is no loss in fidelity,listeners do not have to turn it up or adjust the tone from their control panel.If you have poured your life into a recording it makes sense to knock up a few more bucks to really do it right.

  • People buy what they want-always have, always will. Underneath it all, the open market place is all there is. Money for exposure of course takes up the largest portion of our billboarded society, and it works to a degree, but as stated, most of the major releases fail. The modern viral phenomenon is the true indicator of the market, but large corporations support large corporations, and feed each others payrolls. all one can do is Continue On… TuneCore!

  • So..does this mean that those really-talented indie musicians but unfortunately/sadly with no ‘marketing/promotional backbone’, still forced to have a day job other than music that they hate?
    Is this really the fate of many talented unsigned indie musicians/artists these days? ironically in this “oh internet is great” era?
    Maybe it’s super-true that what’s really needed & utmost importance is to TEACH today’s youth generation to respect & appreciate the WORTH/VALUE of their favorite artists/musicians’ ART, and to PAY to show the respect of its Value.
    In other & simpler words, so the musicians/artists can keep creating and not starving.

  • I have to agree to some of this statement made to an extent but also disagree at certain point
    comment made by others about can’t hear good singer are true because main stream radio plays the same 20 songs every day because of big companies and dough they receive or favors and at the same time there are great artist out there who can’t get a foot in on the radio
    But what we have as an independent artist is great opportunity of the internet to be heard with place like tunecore and other media facebook ,forum ,blogs to help us indie artist which i my self have to start capitalizing i have to agree that some of us indie artist need a little better quality stuff but sometime the money is hard to come
    so some inexpensive mastering place where you can get good quality mastering nevertheless(fake it till you make it)but i have also heard major labels with lots of rubbish out there too
    So the guys from soundscan and other big names in the business have to take both indie and major label in to consideration
    ,as an indie artist i may not have the money to put a EP OR an album so a single can do just as good as an album in fact on most album only one song really hit but us indie need can’t stop trying, sharing ideas how to be successful helps also
    Also free download help also.

  • To imply that musicians who are not signed do not have talent and make only “noise” is ludicrous.
    People are not born as talented musician’s and to debunk such a claim it is sufficient to say that every musician in the world has been “unsigned” at some point in their own lifetime.
    Talent does not magically appear on “signing” day

  • an indie music fan

    These comments are as interesting to read as this blog. Here is what I have to say, as a fan, regarding (some) Indie talent.
    Some of the best records in my collection are from Indie artists.
    And, yes, Electronic artists, in my collection, indie or otherwise, CAN and DO make quality SONGS (even without “sung” vocals, or any vocals at all) with their material, just because of the quality of their musical sensibility.
    Some of them, accomplish this WITHOUT just using a computer or DAW like many of those who give Electronic music a “bad reputation” are doing.
    I listen to artists (who are true composers with REAL knowlege of music theory, etc) such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Rus Stewart, Alien Skin, and many others, and they put out some of the greatest compositions…and I have heard that Stewart, for example, does not even use a computer, and uses only older HARDWARE equipment and I know that particular artist, and also, George Pappas, who is behind Alien Skin, are both full-on INDIE artists.
    I’ve been to concerts performed by some of these mentioned artists, (Klaus Schulze, Rus Stewart, and Jean-Michel Jarre) and they have utterly blown away rock amphitheaters, even when playing multi-billed shows alongside bands of other non-related genres, and I have even overheard the venue owners saying that the electronic acts were the BEST of the show.
    Proof..right there… that some Electronic artists CAN be as legit, (just because of their quality) or even more so, than your usual “Justin Bieber” type pop-act that has all the hype and pull in this biz.
    Mastering: Well, that is objective…Some music is frankly over-mastered…and some of the work from some indie artists, who try to squash their sound “like on the radio” can really be detrimental to their quality. I like it mastered like it was in the ’70s and ’80s…and those electronica artists I mentioned, seem to do this with their releases.
    Just work on making your quality the best it can be, and fans and venues will (hopefully) begin to recognise that you, as a great Indie artist, are legitimised….and maybe, just maybe, one day, the whole industry will realise that indie and commercial artists can co-exist.

  • For major labels, their monopoly of the last 40 years has been built on controlling radio. Radio responded to the demands of the record companies instead of the listeners and it is now a dead media for music. With the growing poplularity of campus/community radio, internet stations, youtube etc., commercial radio is a non-factor.
    Now we have career artists who no longer rely on commercial radio self releasing. Everyone from AC DC to Radiohead. We have bands like OK Go, who broke big because of youtube with no thanks to their label, leaving to become independant. We have “indie” bands like the Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Feist, the Black Keys, making healthy livings without ever having been on a major label.
    This is a new business model, and a fairer one. If you can sell 10,000 to 20,000 copies as an independant, you can make a living. If you sold 100,000 on a major, you’d still be in debt to the label.
    Isn’t a world where thousands of artists are making a living better than one where a small handful are making millions?

  • Kenneth H. Williams

    The first thing you need is a good song. That in itself is subjective. Once people hear your song they will decide if it’s good, great or sucks. I personally don’t care where a good song comes from. If it moves me in a positive way then it good, to ME. If people like it they will listen to it, if not they won’t. I try to listen to the radio, it sucks I turn it off simple. Then I write what I want to hear. If others like it they buy it or listen as well. The money may come in time, but I don’t do it because of the money. I do it because I have to.

  • Wow Are you guys writing this article because of me I am the artist that every A&R Told go away i am the producer who tries to make hits for the future i don’t have any promotion team but via the INTERNET i have kept a song in the top 20 for 14 weeks i will not make any money form this because the release was unofficial but i have made over 100,000 mp3 buyers listen to my voice the problem is now Universal wants to sue me and claim copyright infringement + who know what else, I’m Claiming The First Sale Copyright Law
    Why i did i do it ?
    I been making music and releasing it for over ten years, i make music because i love it everyday i takes away from the pains in my life, i have release over 10 Albums none one the songs ever sold i never promoted them at all i don’t know how to promote i tried but it didn’t work, but what i did notice was that, up and coming artist sales always do better when remixing with a already established artist, so i remixed a bunch of current new songs that i purchased on-line or received via label promotions and i created a remix version including my artist vocals i considered this Exercising my Copyright First Sale Rights ( )
    TITLE : New Song Remix – SuperStar Featuring John Doe
    The Moment these type of songs hit the market they sky rocketed to top 20 on Itune Charts Unbelievable I said im sure to get some attention and prove that i cam make sales with the the big dogs now, but that was not the case. I have gotten emails from Legal Team I have investigator following me my email account got hacked this has become a huge issue in my life all i wanted to do i let people hear my voice I love music its my life i don’t want to go to jail for making music but this article is the truth how can a indie artist compete with large labels if we cant make the same type of impact without financial support.
    Let me tell these big labels they can really try to intimidate you buy making you feel like you will be exiled from the business i had a Song Record Content Manager call and tell me she will personally make sure that i cannot do this again the next day i got a letter FedEx from Universal the parent office Sony More Problems
    Support Indie Stay Indie

  • Not 1 of you have mentioned that things like The Internet, YouTube, FaceBook has SEVERELY shortened peoples’ already short attention span.
    To me good music has to suck you into another world. Do you see or know anyone with the patience to wait for that? No, it’s gotta be within 2 beats or it’s CLICK. Gone.
    The problem isn’t the industry, or the speed of information, it’s PEOPLE are getting more and more DIM in EVERY aspect of ALL art. It’s only good to them if it’s machined into their heads.
    You may read this and say “not me” and guess what, you make music! You KNOW what it is to transport your mind to another world. They don’t. They only know how to obey the pulse of the shit machine we call the media.
    I had hoped to write a solution in the closing of this post. But, I simply have none.
    – Download “Obama Be Trippin’ (Skinny Poop)” for free here..