Is There Room For Old Fashioned Values In Today‚Äôs Music Industry?
October 28, 2016
Purple Cow in Marketing, Marketing, Vinyl, career advice, old school, promotion, streaming

Getting a record deal has never been easy. Even back in the days when the A&R man was your friend and an artist could make a substantial living from physical sales alone - you still had to be discovered, and nurtured, by someone with clout, connections, resources and know-how. But perhaps a musician was judged more on talent back then, rather than a hook or gimmick.

At the end of every summer, you can hear the TV talent show conveyer belt vamping up, ready to claim another wide-eyed shower singer who believes that they’ve been ‘wanting to do this their whole life,’ only to be cast onto the scrap heap once everyone invested has made their pocket money. But the opportunity to be a 15-minute star is there, so why wouldn’t people take it?

Anyhow, this isn’t so much about manufacturing talent as it is the way music is being pushed, and indeed consumed, in this day and age.

Do you remember queuing up outside your local HMV for what seemed like a lifetime, just to get your hands on the latest CD album or 12 vinyl? It seldom happens in 2016, and it hasn’t happened for a long time. The experience of reading a record sleeve while getting lost in the narrative of an LP is rarely sought after by today’s music consumer - and although bands do release music via CD and 12-inch, people now march to the beat of a different drum.

“Vinyl is the real deal. I’ve always felt like, until you buy the vinyl record, you don’t really own the album. And it’s not just me or a little pet thing or some kind of retro romantic thing from the past. It is still alive.” - Jack White

Did you know that nearly 40 million people are now paying subscribers of Spotify worldwide? That’s an incredible amount. Whether you’re an artist or a music fan, we all know the relevance of MP3 and music streaming  in today’s world - and it’s certainly advanced the way in which we as humans can enjoy the music we love. The music industry has adapted to the demands of the modern day consumer, but as a result, it has stunted the growth, development and opportunities for so many young and talented artists the world over.

Many of today’s record deals simply aren’t lucrative enough, so musicians decide to go it alone, but the internet is so saturated that it’s almost impossible to stand out from the crowd.

So, is it worth employing old-fashioned values to your promotional efforts in a bid to stand out? And is there room for these values in today’s fast-paced digital-hungry music industry?

Word of mouth is a powerful tool. In fact, that’s why, if utilised correctly, social media is such a colossal promotional vessel. But, what about good old fashioned word of mouth? You know, when someone actually goes around telling people about ‘this amazing three piece I’ve just seen in the local.’ It’s still as important today as it ever was.

Take singer-songwriter Tom Dibb for example. Tom was working as a musician, writing developing his sound and playing gigs while working at a phone shop. One day he decided he wanted to plough all of his efforts into his craft, so he quit the phone emporium and set out on a music voyage of epic proportions.

Rather than solely relying on MP3, social networking, YouTube, iTune, etc. to make a name for himself, Tom employed old fashioned values to his promotional efforts and increased his fan base within a matter of months.

How did he do it? Through busking and selling CD’s where he had a chance to meet potential fans face-to-face and offer them a taste of his personality. Tom also dropped out flyers and leaflets in well-thought out targeted areas, as well as offering independent retailers a sales cut if they played, sold and featured his CDs in their stores on busy shopping days.

By going out and connecting with people and using the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and YouTube to complement his efforts, Tom’s popularity and prospects 10-fold.

To put this notion to the ultimate test, Tom is now near the end of a triumphant journey from London to Melbourne in his camper van Pickle, where he has been playing in venues and bars, jamming with local musos and making connections with people on a personal level. Every place he visits, Tom is picking up press and growing his fan base and on the whole, he has done in a personable, physical sense.

Time and tide wait for no man and especially in music, it is vital to keep up with the times - but in a world where the web is so clogged up, it might be worth looking backwards to a time where artists went out there and made themselves known, rather than living through a laptop and coming out of hiding for showtime.

Of course, you can’t always get what you want (and swiftly sign to Decca Records like the Rolling Stones did) by just taking to the streets, starting up club nights, or pushing out flyers, but by using the tried and tested promotional methods of yesteryear, coupled with the online essentials and incorporating them into a savvy marketing campaign, you stand to make a real mark in music.

Is there room for old fashioned values in today’s music industry? The answer is yes - and you shouldn’t neglect them. Thinking outside the box helps too.


By Daniel Hughes, featured writer for Purple Cow Productions. Purple Cow is a London-based collaboration between professional musicians, audiovisual artists & award-winning entrepreneurs, creating best in breed work.


Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (
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