Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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

October 15, 2007

Seth Godin on Radiohead & the Mediocre Middle

Radiohead, the Eagles and Madonna were all over the news last week with their various ploys to shun the major record labels they used to depend on. With it came a common response from many aspiring musicians:

"Sure, they can get attention and succeed doing those things because they are already household names. How's a lowly indie act like me supposed to compete with that?"
Good question.

The answer: You don't have to compete on that level. Borrow the idea and apply it to whatever situation you are currently in.

You may not persuade Wal-Mart to be the exclusive seller of your next CD, but you might make a special sales arrangement with a single indie record store in your town. It's not the grand scale that counts. It's how you position yourself to connect with more fans -- whether the number of fans is 1 million, 10 thousand, or 10.

In this post, Seth Godin points out that forward thinking indie acts have been giving away MP3s and asking fans to pay what they like for years. It's only now that well-known acts are jumping on the bandwagon.

He writes:

Most industries innovate from both ends:
  • The outsiders go first because they have nothing to lose.

  • The winners go next because they can afford to and they want to stay winners.

  • It's the mediocre middle that sits and waits and watches.
The mediocre record companies, mediocre A&R guys and the mediocre acts are struggling to stay in place. They're nervous that it all might fall apart. So they wait. They wait for 'proof' that this new idea is going to work, or at least won't prove fatal. (It's the impulse to wait that made them mediocre in the first place, of course).

So, in every industry, the middle waits. And watches. And then, once they realize they can survive the switch (or once they're persuaded that their current model is truly fading away), they jump in.

The irony, of course, is that by jumping in last, they're condemning themselves to more mediocrity.

So, do you want to be mediocre and complain that you don't have the clout to compete? Or ... would you rather innovate, experiment, and have fun promoting yourself in new and daring ways?

Go for it. You just might find yourself with a growing audience -- on a scale that is just right for you.


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posted by Bob Baker @ 4:20 PM   1 comments


At Oct 15, 2007, 10:15:00 PM, Anonymous indiessance said...

sounds like the middle is inhabited by those who are soft in the middle.

dynamics of the music world probably make it difficult to hammer out a step-by-step process for indie artists who struggle with figuring out innovative methods for marketing their dream.


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