In our previous article The DIY Music Revolution we explored some of the reasons why despite the “DIY music Revolution,” Indie Record Labels are here to stay.
Recently, the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) released a report about how much it costs a major record company “to break successful pop acts in major markets.”:
The number? 1 Million dollars.
Sure, the report was paid indirectly by the big record labels, and the after reading it, it is obviously biased in their favor. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in the facts presented in the report. Any music artist that wants to have a nationwide / international career needs either an indie / major record company to help him / her break-through, or enough promotion to basically replace the work of a record company.
Someone in twitter was arguing with me about *knowing* plenty of artists that were *making it* without any label support. Unfortunately he didn’t name any of them.
Sure, you have your NINs, Radioheads, Aimee Manns, and other artists that are not signed to any label. The thing is that ALL those artists were signed to a major / indie label at some point.. and they became famous thanks to the publicity generated by their labels.
The whole idea that any artist is going to become “famous” or “discovered” by just uploading his / her songs to MySpace, itunes, CDBaby and Soundcloud is complete bullshit.
According to the report, there are literally millions of registered artists in MySpace, so your chances of being heard among millions of other artists are next to none.
Did you know that ” 20,000 CDs (13%) in the CDBaby catalog that have never sold a single copy and that the top 12% artists in CDBaby account for 90% of the sales”?
Even artists who have managed to become somewhat well-known on their own without label support, end up signing up with a label, because they realize how hard it is to be an artist and to promote oneself at the same time. Example: DeadMau5, Jonathan Coulton.
I know some very, very talented artists who have their songs in myspace, soundcloud, Itunes; some have even released CDs on netlabels, and they are still literally unknown.. why?
Because they don’t have the marketing savvy, the money, or a label to promote their music on a bigger scale.
Even having the support of an indie label is no guarantee that you are going to “make it”
Case in point: Tech N9ne..
Who is Tech N9ne? Tech N9ne is a virtuoso rapper from Kansas who runs his own record indie label. Quincy Jones once called him the Charlie Parker of rap. Even if you are not into rap, i am sure you’ve heard of Jay-Z, but chances are you’ve never heard of Tech N9ne.. and it’s not because he is not talented.. but because he doesn’t have millions of dollars to promote his videos on MTV, etc, the way Jay-Z does.
If you are unsure of Tech N9ne’s talents, i invite you to search his name on youtube and watch for yourself what he is capable of.
So, the dream we all have been sold about the internet liberating artists from the yoke of the evil record labels is nothing but a dream.
Jonathan Segel of Camper Van Beethoven eloquently states it here:
the legacy of the digital revolution will prove to be economically the same as the legacy of the last 30 years’ Republican administrations: a very small percentage of people with a lot of money, and a very large amount of people with very little money; there will be little or no artistic middle class.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t give up trying to promote your music, but if you really take your music seriously you should either spend some money trying to promote it properly using a PR professional or try to get an indie record label to properly release your music to the public.