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« 9 Mistakes To Avoid When Recording Your Own Album | Main | Can't try it? Won't buy it. »

Was 90%. Now 10%.

It used to be that, as a musician, only 10% of your career was up to you. “Getting discovered” was about all you could do. A few gatekeepers controlled ALL outlets. You had to impress one of these magic few people to be allowed to present your music to the world. (Even then, they assigned you a manager, stylist, producer, band, etc.)

As of the last few years, now 90% of your career is up to you. You have all the tools to make it happen.

Record labels aren’t guessing anymore. They’re only signing artists that have made a success on their own. As Alan Elliott says, “A record label used to be able to look at a tree and say, ‘That would make a great table.’ Now all they can do is take a finished table and sell it at Wal-Mart.”

You have to make a great recording, a great show, a great image. You have to come up with a plan and make it happen, too. You have to make thousands of people want your music so much they pay good money for it. You have to make things happen on your own. Even if a record label puts it in the stores for you, it’s still up to your own hard work to go make people buy it.

The only thing stopping you from great success is yourself. This is both scary and exciting. At least you’re in control.

Reader Comments (4)

I remember using this article to help my brother almost 2 years ago and when people on Myspace started asking me questions it didn't matter how many times I sent them to for the source of this article I got stuck and now I operate a useful music resource via my blog and got involved in Sellaband where people ask me to help them out. Here I am telling everyone I don't know anything about the music industry but with my research skills and business knowledge I have been successful in helping artists makes me feel good.

March 13 | Unregistered CommenterNetvalar

Just remember though that you don't really have to do it all yourself. You need to make the decisions but you can pay other people to do the stuff your really bad at or dont have time to do because your writing songs or playing gigs. New Zealand has a growing indie industry made up of ex major label staff who now specialise in specific areas of the industry. Promotions, publicity, marketing, lawyers, a whole range or artist support who still have the same connections they had when they worked for the majors. For a mid level indie band it's a good way to go, especially if you still want to tap in to some of the more traditional support areas like good publicity and marketing.

March 14 | Unregistered CommenterJ Bluevibe

To expand on the last comment, about not having to do all of that work yourself, you also don't necessarily have to have money to pay a professional staff to do it. I some of that work myself, but I delegate most of the promoting to my street teams and have been playing for very large crowds and creating a real buzz for myself as a result. To make it really simple for you, go online to and buy it (it's about $36 after shipping). It's worth every penny. It's about Tim Sweeney's (former major label A&R guy) formula for artists to develop themselves. I went to one of his conferences and this is how I learned to do what I'm doing. Combine what he teaches you with street teams and corporate sponsoships/fundraisers and you won't believe the result. You'll never run out of gigs with audiences in the hundreds. If you want to know an easy way to get a bunch of street teams going for you by turning schools and businesses into street teams, email me at and I'll tell you how I do it.

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterLoribella

You'd be surprised at the types of skills you can gather from a "street team," and figuring out where to put them to work for you. It's important to also figure out how street teamers should be compensated, with an eye towards the future, "We're aiming to have more & more money come in every year."

I get mature people for one of my developing artists--people in their 40s and 50s. One is an actor with a robust voice and I pay him 100 dollars a month to do different phone campaigns. One month he researched specific radio stations in tour markets, this month he's calling shops in my artist's targeted demo so we can send fliers and a CD for in-store play.

Another person has serious experience as a rock writer at a local music publication in Buffalo in the '80s, and her husband is active in the local music industry. They got my artist a high profile date this past December in Buffalo and are constantly feeding me advice. She loves doing internet research, so I had her research venues in an overseas market, and then send EPKs out to the venues I approved of. She'll be getting five percent of every gig she scouted. Again, it might amount to five or ten dollars per gig, but it's a start. Also, if he gets a festival from her work, it could be 25 or 50 dollars, depending on what the fest pays.

Both of these folks did so much work that it gave me the opportunity to do other things--with oversight on their work--for my artists.

I love studying political TV and seeing what I can learn from the politicians' campaigns. I think we're all mini "Baracks," who are starting our campaigns with a lot of personal communication. And as people join our fold, we end up having our artists turn out as "Presidents of their own rock & roll careers."

March 31 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Leighton

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