Ditching the Record Label Approach: Alternative Ways to Be Successful in the Music Industry 
January 18, 2013
Ken Oboh in Advice, Artist Development, Band Marketing, Breaking into the industry, DIY Promotions, Music Publishing, alternative recording, music promotion, record label, record label deal, record labels

Aspiring music artists have a plethora of opportunities to be “discovered” in today’s YouTube-driven industry. Previously, an artist had to be discovered and signed to a record label to gain access to the music market. Even after signing a record deal, artists were left at the mercy of the traditional media to become noticed, which was prohibitively expensive.

Record companies typically had to invest millions of dollars into each artist’s project they took on, forcing them to play it very safe in their selections. They had to narrow their search to artists who made music that sounded similar to other hits on the charts. This expense made for a music industry that was fairly homogenous and extremely risk-averse.

Fortunately, with the opportunities provided by the Internet, social media, and other digital marketing tools available today, an aspiring artist doesn’t need a record deal to promote and sell his music. There are countless outlets for marketing new music — the obvious being mainstream social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. There are also specialist music social media sites, like SoundCloud and ReverbNation, where artists can:

Another way to build a fan base is to create a database that allows an artist to keep in touch with his fans. With a fan database, artists can:

There is an amazing set of tools available, which allow artists to connect with their fans and showcase their music without having to spend a dime on marketing. New artists can experiment with new music with no risk or cost involved. Specialist music promotion sites, like Umix and Remix, allow independent artists to find thousands of other aspiring artists to collaborate with, remix, and promote their songs among in order to gain exposure and connect with new fans.

Fans are also using sites and mobile phone apps to discover new artists who sound similar to their favorite mainstream artists. These music fans create playlists and, similar to Pandora, they start to see new artists pop up with “suggested” or “recommended” songs. This is similar to the way Amazon recommends books to its customers based on the books they’ve purchased before.

Other great music sites, like TAXI and Music Xray, are available to artists who can submit their songs and get connected to industry professionals, such as:

- Record label executives.

- Filmmakers looking for music to use in their films.

- Computer game developers looking for new game songs.

- Singers looking for new music for upcoming albums.

These services act as “matchmakers/middlemen” to link aspiring artists to industry professionals. It’s almost like online dating for the music industry — providing alternative ways to become successful, no matter which side you’re on.

It’s a win-win situation for record labels and artists alike. Recording companies no longer have to take such huge risks in investing millions of dollars on an unproven artist. Incidentally, the music industry is better off because there is more experimentation, which creates variety for fans looking for unique styles and sounds. The possibilities for artists, new and old, are limitless with this technology. Experiment with technology, and you’ll find your way to a harmonious music career.


Ken Oboh is the co-founder of REMIX.com and UMIX.com, two revolutionary music sites that give users the power to be their own DJs. Ken is a serial entrepreneur in the entertainment industry.

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/).
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