March 4, 2011

Week 24: The Hustle

The Hustle

Crowd surfing at the Red Eyed Fly

The music industry is dying. You can hold the #1 spot in Album sales and be considered a failure (just ask Amos Lee). Major artists are leaving their labels and self-publishing.

All of those things lead up to a bitter pill for Record Executives. The king is losing his crown. The few no longer hold the power. The power lies in the hands of the artist. It’s the modern day version of John Henry.

Independent music. That’s where it’s at.

The key to being a successful independent artist is the think outside the norm. Try new things in the name of promotion. The key is to get people to hear your music. If people hear your music and like it, they may seek you out, buy a single from iTunes, download your album, tell their friends about you, come to a show, and buy a shirt. And as an independent artist, the profit you make from sales goes right back into the band.

The same thing that revolutionized the music industry is going to be the death of it, unless it can react, retool, and reformat.

Now think for a minute. The music industry is dying… not music. People love music just as much as they used to. It’s just now we don’t have to leave our house to get it. We can search YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, our favorite blogs, and Websites for music now. And if you’re an indie artist, you should have something there for us to find.

Here’s the deal, though. 90% of the musicians out there don't make their money on their own music. Much like authors, money is made on the fringe. Authors make their money on speaking engagements and book tours. Musicians make their money on live shows, licensing and merchandise. The songs get you noticed, but it takes a whole package to make a living.

The independent music scene is like a hustle, and the music industry has always been in charge, but now, with the Internet, there is no need to go through the same channels musicians had to go through 20 years ago. You’re now in charge.

Consider yourself a drug dealer and the product you’re selling is your music. The first taste is free. Is your music like pot where someone can enjoy it but walk away or is it like crack where they get one taste and they’re hooked?

People can get their music fix on any street corner with an Internet connection. Are you there to supply them? Check your supply and get yourself out there. Demand to be heard.

You are independent. If you succeed, it’s directly because of your hard work and dedication. There is no spin-doctor working behind the curtain picking and choosing who gets to be the next star. The only place THAT still happens is on American Idol… and think about it. When is the last time a real star came from that show?

Make good music.
Get it heard.

That’s pretty much the life of a successful indie artist.
The playing field is pretty much level.
With the right planning, marketing, execution, and hustle you can make an honest living at this.
You in?

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