- Tunnel Vision: Today's "Internet Entrepreneurs"
October 5, 2011
Andrew Lewis in Advice, Artist Development, Band Website Tips, Branding, Distribution, Music Management, Promotion, Promotion, Social Media, Songwriting, artist advice, marketing, music business, record labels, web 2.0



Clearly the Internet has transformed the manner in which music is promoted and presented to the public. Never has the relationship between art and money been so complex- I mean, who would have ever thought of the day we would see artists who use to sell 3-5 million records first week now struggling to hit Gold? (500k) I can assure you some of the biggest business guru’s were hit with a taste of reality when the Internets power would become somewhat of a overnight success.

Let us rewind- pretend it is 1999 (Good days right?) Billy Joel is awarded for his songwriting and exciting performances, Britney Spears releases her debut album “Baby One More Time” (we all remember that video!) the Chili Peppers release Californication with John Frusciante and sell 13 mill worldwide and of course the debut of Hip Hop icon Eminem releases “The Slim Shady LP” - Great time in music right? Now, keep in mind Napster debut July 1998. What if Britney, the Chili Peppers and Eminem had the foresight to see the impact the internet would have and all decided to release their album digitally? What change would have been brought on if they embraced the idea of “internet entrepreneurship”? Do you think they would have been the megastars they are today? Or would would the Label say “You’re crazy! This internet thing is a phase and it will pass! It’s like the Record…or like the 8 Track Player..or like the Cassette Tape…or like the CD”

Is there a pattern? It is definitely worth a laugh if you know your music history. The Music Industry has always been against innovation in business, change is never good - but why? Because it shakes things up. Like I mentioned above, record labels have tried to stop every form of duplication from the record to the CD, so when they said the same thing about the Internet - oh how wrong were they. So let us fast forward into today’s market of the “Internet Entrepreneurs”, even with the successful digital release of “Watch the Throne”, the confusion for new artists still remains the same- “How do I compete with the majors? “. New artists you must understand that it is more of a Do It Yourself kind of market today, with the right tools you can have a success story similar to “Owl City”.

First you will need to start thinking bigger! Believing that it comes down to the “music” is a form of yesterday, get rid of that mindset. To compete with the big boys you will need to “present yourself”, “perform like” and “operate as if” you were a major. That means the quality of your music needs to be professional, that means everything from the beat selection to the writing, recording, tracking to the post production, mixing and mastering session. You will need to operate as your own personal manager, business manager, booking agent, stylist, graphic designer, marketing and promotional director, social media director, distribution agent, publicist, street team, intern and everything under the sun. - Sounds easy enough? You’re probably thinking “wow I sound like a label” well in essence you are a label and sure the internet is a wonderful outlet to discover new music and artists but it is a whole lot easier to be on the “give me” end rather than on the selling and distributing end, nothing has changed.

So now that you have a few more items on your plate, you need to ask yourself something, “What am I trying to accomplish” are you simply trying to “make a living” or do you sincerely want to compete with the major labels?- With that being said, I ask you this. What is wrong with just making a living? As I quote my friend @RecordExec310 ” If you’re not going to sell at least a million albums & 5 million singles every time out then indie is your friend..” and he is right while you might not sell enough to make the slightest dent into the Billboard Hot 100, but you can still make a lot of money and in reality a whole lot more money than most artists will ever see under a major label contract. So what is the how-to process of becoming an “Internet Entrepreneur”? Here is a short list of Do’s & Don’ts.

1. Do not make any exclusive arrangements with any companies in today’s market. Why you ask? Well because the internet is too fluid a system to give up the flexibility of trying new avenues.

2. Make sure that the sites with which you establish links and afflictions with are trustworthy and reliable, meaning that they will protect your music and that they will not disappear on you. Stay away from the Zshares, UserShares, MediaFire, Rapidfire, HulkShare hosting sites.

3. Find a distribution method that can aggregate your music in a way to focus it sufficiently in a specific genre. Target marketing! Find your demographic and bring them to you!

4. Find a distribution method which will help you facilitate and develop your database of fans. Exchange email addresses for free downloads, this will help you keep in touch with your fans and people who are interested in you.

5. Know who you are as an artist first! Know what you are trying to communicate, know what you stand for! Do not market yourself to “P.E.T.A” if your talk about your obsession with skinning cats in your music.

6. Carefully design your website, consider your “Click Ratio” and update it consistently. If it takes me more than 3 clicks to get where I want to be I am out of there!

7. Do not expect a lot of sales if you are a new new artist. Use the internet to attract attention and use as a ground zero or hub resource for information. Your focus should be in developing a database for a mailing list of those interested.

8. VIDEOS VIDEOS VIDEOS! Face time! - Every social media site will fade away, but video hosting sites like “Youtube, Vimeo” will stay strong. 

So if you haven’t noticed becoming an “Internet Entrepreneur” requires you to have some sort of website! or place you can call your “Ground Zero”- an exclusive site built to market you. Not a Twitter account, Not a Facebook page or Myspace page - why? because when I get tired of listening to you I can search “Kanye West or Kevin Hart” and be entertained by them and forget about you instantly. - Catch my drift? This way it gives you more of a professional appearance as well as gives the fan a feeling of “exclusivity” and people love exclusive sh**!

So use the Internet effectively - as a way to reach new listeners via your Website and by marketing your music. It doesn’t cost much to build your own home studio and produce your own studio quality album nowadays, it will cost you more to re-carpet  your apartment or condo than to build a working home studio. If you can find a way to brand yourself correctly and reach your audience- even if it is a substantially diminished audience compared to a what a record company can reach - your profit can be enormous.

As always remember that  the music industry is 50% game, 30% business and 20% talent, and any artist who is serious about their craft must seek consultation. Feel free to schedule yours with today! Become a smarter artist!

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (
See website for complete article licensing information.