Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros

July 08, 2005

A New Day for Indie Music?

Are you a believer? Do you think that advances in technology mean a new day has dawned for indie artists?

Not everyone is convinced. For instance, regarding an item I posted earlier this week, Jonathan Carson (a former indie rocker and current word-of-mouth business expert), wrote this on his BuzzMetrics blog:

"I find it hard to imagine music blogs, or p2p or iTunes or any of these other potential disruptive technologies, truly breaking the current pop music paradigm. I have come to sincerely believe that most people want their music force fed to them, and have no interest in exploring the long tail of independent musicians who are doing things on their own."

While I respect Jonathan's work and like to think I'm open to a variety of opinions, I have a different view. And the thing is, I agree with him. "Most people" aren't overly concerned with how they get exposed to music. They're happy to encounter music as background noise and turn to commercial radio and other safely programmed sources to learn about artists.

So new technologies won't influence a good chunk of the population -- which means there will always be a place for corporate-created tunes.

However, independent artists shouldn't concern themselves with "most people." That's the mentality behind the old major label way of thinking -- blockbuster hits on a massive scale. In a recent Small Business Trends blog post, media expert Robin Good articulated the point I'm trying to make here quite well ...

"Artists are saying 'Who needs audiences of millions?' Without the marketing burdens and the huge overhead of trying to reach mass markets, artists find they can be successful and make a profit with fewer customers."

Bingo. Don't worry about "most people." Zero in on that small percentage of the population that is open-minded not only to music blogs, podcasts, digital downloads, etc. -- but also to your particular style of music. And considering there are about a billion people worldwide with online access these days, even a miniscule percentage can equal tens of thousands of people who could potentially embrace your sound and become lifelong fans.

And that's where new technologies are making the most impact. Allowing artists to find those previously hard-to-find fans.

At the same time, it isn't all about new tools making all the difference. I believe musicians have always had a lot more power to steer their own careers than they ever gave themselves credit for. But now it's a lot easier and less costly to reach savvy music fans using technology. Whatever era we happen to be in, it's all about looking for opportunities, creating your own lucky breaks, and making the most of what's right in front of you.

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posted by Bob Baker @ 9:28 AM   2 comments


At Jul 9, 2005, 6:33:00 PM, Blogger jonathan carson said...

I am with you Bob. Very good points. My comments are more on the economic impact of the long tail - i think the impact will not be as dramatic as some are claiming. But hey, if new disruptive technologies are able to make it easier for indie musicians and their audience to find one another even on a small scale, then that is a great outcome.

At Jan 17, 2006, 9:38:00 PM, Anonymous Glen Gutjahr said...

You got it right, Bob. As a local musician with 30 years in the game, I just wish the technology had come sooner. Why would a musician need a record company with the internet available? When I started, you HAD to deal with the record companies to get your music out and make a living. Today we can put together a home studio for under $1000, make our own recordings with complete freedom and sell them on the Web. ALL money coming in belongs to the musician(s) and you don't have to wait for corporate accountants to cut you a check.You may never sell a million cd's but you don't have to in order to make money. If the effort only pays for itself it's worth the try.It's good to know that there are others out there who see the potential for all musicians in the techno-age. Thanks for letting me vent.


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