Today, I have absolutely zero interest in trying to sell my music as an end product. In my experience, concern over how many ‘units’ you have shifted (physical or digital) and taking that as some kind of measure of success can only ever impact negatively on the relationship you have with your own music, the relationships you have with those you make music with and, ultimately, on the music itself.
This week’s Industry Studies session was taken by guest speaker Stefan Gordon. Stefan had been a member of the 90s/2000s, Anglo/American, male/female, rock/hip-hop band Brassy. Although I’d never heard of them, Brassy had enjoyed some American chart success and a substantial number of syncs for film, TV and advertising.
Stefan’s story is very interesting but try as he might, he couldn’t paint a positive picture of his experiences in the ‘industry’. Tales of sharks, tossers and unpaid tax bills abound. As we all know, the music industry is in terminal flux and the traditional model record companies are, well, fucked basically. However, on hearing about desperate, major label style tac-tics such as 360 deals discussed in today’s session, it seems that the sharks and tossers are still lurking and sniffing out fresh blood. Fledgling artists signing one of these contracts are possibly far worse off than with the traditional record companies’ ‘instant huge debt’ deal.
If your aim is to make a living through the music you make (the word is monetize, I believe), there’s a whole spectrum of strategy, manifesto and opinion out there (see Andrew Dubber, Gerd Leonhard, Bobby Owsinski) but far too wide ranging to discuss here.
The DIY approach is now more doable than ever and, in my opinion, is the only way to go but, take it from me, you’ll still have to remember to pay your tax bill.