The question: Is this the best or the worst time for independent musicians to be successful?
So here we are, in a world where the power to make, publish and become extremely successful from our own music has been stolen from the almighty gatekeepers. We no longer need third party executives to direct us, we don’t need giant media conglomerates to get our music out to a captive market. We no longer need to pay exorbitant amounts of money to people who don’t really deserve it.
Why? Because the tools, the technology and the means have been delivered right to our doorsteps. We can thank people like Sean Fanning (of Napster) for changing the way we discover music, and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) for delivering communication to the entire world right into our hands, and for developing an even wider network of social sharing.
Now for a fraction of the cost of going to a professional recording studio, musicians can set up their own home studio and make equally stunning recordings. They can upload to a digital distributor such as CD Baby, and within 48 hours their music can be sitting alongside the major players in iTunes, etc.
The internet has shared for free every piece of vital information a musician will ever need to achieve success (let’s put aside the fact that success is not a singularly quantifiable entity for now), and thanks to services such as YouTube, anyone can be famous if they have content of value to promote.
It is truly a magical time for musicians, and one that we should definitely make the most of.
With that in mind, is this the best time for independent musicians?
I can’t help but wonder if this is a double-edged sword? As more and more people make the most of the opportunities right now, do we all ultimately begin to suffer due to the increased competition?
Consider the blowout sales that major department stores have every now and then. You know the sales I’m talking about- when everything in the store is reduced to a fraction of its original cost and all the exclusive items are now within everyone’s means to buy. We’ve all see the footage - thousands of people queuing for hours to be first in, stampeding through the front door, fighting over items and screaming like wild animals.
What’s the result? Well the lucky and most determined of them will snap up the best stuff. Others aren’t so lucky because there’s a limited amount of stock on sale.
Why? Because the store has levelled the playing field and given everyone an opportunity to get what was previously for the priveleged minority.
My feeling is that the music industry is like this now. With all of the millions of musicians scrambling to be heard (and only a limited amount of ears to hear them - like the limited sales stock in the store), are we at a disadvantage? Are we running out of ways to creatively market to our fans? Will people ever get bored of the oceans of music out there to hear?
Yes, quality will always triumph over quantity, but will it only get harder for quality to be noted in the vast sea of quantity?
With that in mind, is this the worst time for independent musicians?
Please, I’d be very grateful for your input.