Bob Baker's The Buzz Factor
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August 22, 2005
The Success of Self-Reliance
The piece focuses on a New York-based pop band called The Churchills, which landed a major-label deal in 2000. After spending $270,000 of the label's money on a debut album and having high hopes of surefire stardom ... nothing happened.
Glanville writes ...
Countless other bands have found themselves in a similar quandary: Signed to a major label, with promises of widespread distribution and big promotional budgets, yet going nowhere. They are casualties of an industry increasingly geared toward acts who can reliably sell millions of albums at a time.
As a result, a growing number of artists who do not fit that paradigm are going independent -- financing their own records and tours, securing distribution deals and serving as their own publicists.
For these so-called Do It Yourself artists, securing a major-label deal is no longer the object of their aspirations. They have either become disillusioned with the majors based on past mishaps or never saw a place for themselves within the establishment to begin with.
Sound familiar? Glanville implies that the DIY route "only recently" extended beyond the underground punk-rock approach of the 1970s. I'm not sure how he defines "recently," but I've been preaching this philosophy since the early to mid '90s. You might say I was DIY before DIY was cool :-)
But this isn't about me. It's really all about you and how much you're willing to give yourself the power to steer your own music career.
The Churchills self-released their first album, "Here Comes the Sharp Things," in 2002. The CD won favorable reviews and got the band noticed by New Jersey-based indie label Bar/None, which released the band's follow-up, "Foxes and Hounds," in May.
Glanville continues the story ...
Still, the band -- like all DIY bands -- does not rely on its label to sell it to the public, as have bands of the past. Nor does it hire "outsiders" to do its legwork.
"What's the point of seeking out certain people who would have half the passion, take twice as long to get the job done and are not as invested?" lead vocalist Perry Serpa said. "We tend to outsource only when it's completely necessary."
But if the bottom line becomes irrelevant -- or at least de-emphasized -- what defines success among artists who choose to do it all themselves?
"The beauty of it is that the ideal of 'success' can be defined by each individual artist," Serpa said. "If you manufacture 1,500 records with the intention of selling them all on the road over two years' time and you achieve that, then that is success. The deal is that you really no longer need the bottom-liners to define that for you anymore."
I know I may be preaching to the choir here, but those words sound great to these ears. Can I have an amen?!
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Bob Baker is an author, speaker, teacher, indie musician and former music magazine editor dedicated to showing musicians of all kinds how to get exposure, connect with fans, sell more music, and increase their incomes.
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