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A Sustainable Future in Music? Bet your sweet a*** there is!

I thought that headline may get your attention, look don’t get me wrong and please don’t think I’m moaning! that’s exactly what I want to have a say about.  I am either losing it big time (possible!) or just need to get a bit more of the positive in the Music Think Tank space!

Sometimes I really do wonder having spent most of my life involved in the music game if maybe I should just push off to the edge of some wilderness and forget about it all.  Having endured the ‘twats’ of the so called Majors for far to long what puzzles me is the underlying negative I seem to pick up in the more indie space.

Of course I am the eternal optimist, thankfully, otherwise I would never have survived this long however as a musician, artist or performer I’m sure many must be wondering, is there a sustainable future in music? There is certainly plenty of talk about this subject.

I like the positivity of those ‘in the know’ characters like Terry McBride the CEO of Nettwerk Music Group known throughout the music industry as a progressive thinker. Not that long ago when asked what approach CAN work or what approach holds promise for new bands/artists to sum up he said
“Align all interests within an artists business….fans, label, publishing, song writing, live, sponsorship, mechandise, marketing, promotion”  Ok that takes work and there is no ‘quick fix’ but it’s not impossibe either.

This is good to think about especially for those younger bands and artists looking to make a future in music or thinking of developing a serious music career and it’s with these in mind that I make my comments.  I’m sure many probably drop in here at MTT to pick up pearls of wisdom.

They obviously need to consider all their skill sets in the changing music world and think seriously about planning the way forward in the nex gen music biz. Those of us that have ‘been around a while’ can help make a difference for these up and coming artists. I’m sure many who read or contribute here at MTT get to hear lots of new, talented young artists.  I do and often they have been working very hard, often over some years, doing what they can to implement new approaches where possible and gradually recognition (+money) starts to happen.  They need our positivity and help.

Is it going to be possible to make money in the Music2.0/3.0 world? I think so, sure there are all kinds of changes/transitions going on just as our old mate Gerd Leonhard said “we need to understand that the Internet has not just disrupted the cherished traditional value model of selling copies (Cd’s), but at the same time the Web has also brought us powerful new ways of selling content as access and service, at a much lower cost and with global reach”

I personally think this is a great time to be a ‘rights’ holder or music creator and be actively involved in trying new approaches on all fronts. Bigger and better opportunities will come our way in time.  The reality is there are almost endless ways to make real money from your music.  Some traditional models still work like live performance and selling merchandise.  Your level of success or profitability as a band or performing artist will have a lot to do with how much preparation and effort you put into it all, along with the approach you take. 

What is clear is that online tools and resources along with all the other marketing approaches that can be used are making financial success more and more possible and giving musicians, songwriters, artist and performers the opportunity to make real money from their music, that’s the future!

So is there a sustainable future in music? I think the future of music is bright and there will always be income for music creators if you know what you’re doing and where YOUR music career or should I say ‘music business’ is going.

NOTE: For those so inclined, you don’t need to tell me, OK I know - I’ll head for the wilderness! don’t tell me I know “Lifes a bitch and then you die……”  Sorry not ready for that yet!

Let’s keep it on the positive……tell us about the great opportunities just around the corner…….I bet the young blood will love it…..

The above are extracts from the ebook PREPARE TO PROFIT Your Guide to Getting Started in the Next Generation Music Biz  For more information go here.

Kevin J Ryan is a music biz veteran and entrepreneur.  For more info and background on Kevin go here

Reader Comments (4)

If we think about what you quoted here:

“Align all interests within an artists business….fans, label, publishing, song writing, live, sponsorship, mechandise, marketing, promotion” Ok that takes work and there is no ‘quick fix’ but it’s not impossibe either.

I'm currently developing an interactive guide for bands/musicians covering the tools which sit within these headings; fans, label, publishing, sponsorship, merch, marketing, promotion. See it as a step by step guide, with it's content[written content and tools/services] growing via the input of those who have used the site and those who have something to pass on.

So there is this and obviously i'm looking forward to it, as it is my final year project at university.

The internet is here, let's start using it.

January 20 | Registered CommenterMartinT


I get it that you want to make your future money by selling books, videos and seminars to artists who need to find and audience and sell their music somehow.

So you have posted a piece that basically says "There are a lot of people saying you can't make money as a music artist any longer. Well, I think they are wrong! Why? Because I am an eternal optimist."

I think you need to offer something more than that if you want people to buy your materials and seminars, videos, whatever.

Look, artists who analyze the current situation are concerned because they see:

1) More than 8 million bands on MySpace alone. All putting their songs out there competing for fans.

2) Every year the technology needed to generate generally pleasing musical sounds gets cheaper and cheaper, more powerful, and thus allows even more people to put songs on the Internet.

3) Audiences being satisfied with music that takes very little study and practice to produce (think drag and drop loops, easy electronic effects and processing from powerful software, not people, etc.)...thus allowing almost anyone to be in the market selling songs, regardless of their skill.

This all means HUGE supply of "good enough" music for lots of Internet listeners. And it is free. Because once all the "good enough" stuff is free, who one can charge anything?

I can see that you agree it will be free.

But if musicians are going to get good amounts of cash from people who have heard them on the Internet, I just think you could have provided more insight in your essay into WHAT they will be selling.

More specifics, please. Exactly how and why those sales will be made.

That's what I'd like to see.

Maybe write a followup and lay it all out.

January 21 | Registered CommenterGlenn Galen

Appreciate your comments - just to clarify / avoid misunderstanding - a quick reply:
RE your 1&2&3: I am not saying the internet is THE answer, I see it as another string to the bow as it were.

Yes the competition is fierce, technology exciting (some) but I don't think the audience/fans being satisfied with generally pleasing music is doing real music fans justice.... the musicians/artists that have really got the 'X' factor raise above this, build a strong fan base (offline/online) and satisfied fans are happy to part with cash.....I still do and i'm sure you do when it's what you want. I don't part with money for 'good enough'

I agree there are a huge amount of people in the market and those making generally pleasing music have probably not got much of a fan base and I would say are unlikely to be making any serious money, you know why.

Im not saying all music should be free and I believe artists should do basically what they have always done - be creative, sell their music and everything that goes with it, brand, merchandise, live performance, offline and online and seek to generate income from all possible avenues publishing/synch/sponsorship anything and everything you can think of! (A list would be OTT)

Successful musicians sell the 'whole package'. Obviously this must incorporate the online world but in reality there are numerous revenue streams available and strategies employing online & offline should be used.

On a personal note: In a similar way if I was to rely on "future money by selling books, videos and seminars to artists who need to find an audience" I think I would be narrowing my field of opportunity! I still make music and mostly generate income specifically from master licensing - thats just one approach and it suits my circumstances however there are plenty of other ways to generate "good amounts of cash" as you mentioned for those talented 'X' factor musicians/artists who make it their business to succeed.

Here is a simple artist example: Ingrid Michaelson ( A young artist who has kept chipping away at the block and gone from strength to strength. Enjoy

January 21 | Unregistered Commenterkevin j ryan

@ Martin Toole

Appreciate your comments - If I can be of any help let me know
You can email me direct on:


January 21 | Unregistered Commenterkevin j ryan

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