Why DIY indie music doesn’t work (for most musicians) – Part 1

Over the last decade, the music industry (formerly known as the record industry), has gone through a huge and undeniable change. The major labels that used to dominate the music sales have started to lose sales due to a dramatic breakthrough in digital technology.

On the listener’s side, it became much easier to acquire new music and share it for free (let’s put legal issues aside for a moment) – bypassing the need to buy CD’s or even transferring to cassette or duplicating a CD from a friend.

On the musician’s side, it became much easier to create new music and distribute it to the world. What once involved hiring expensive studios and professional audio engineers, could be then achieved at home, with minimal investment and good learning skills.

“The new music industry model”, it was called. Soon enough, stories from around the world about an artist that sold 5,000 CD’s at shows, or about a band that landed a major recording deal by having a huge hit with thousands of plays in Myspace (remember when was the last time you logged in to this site?). Wonderful musical collaborations were thriving throughout the world, and it seemed that the music industry is finally dominated by artists themselves, not by the labels!

Furthermore, it was much easier for listeners to find new artists, and for artists to find their audience. A dream comes true for all “up and coming” artists out there. The major music scenes in the world started exploding with huge amounts of new and exciting music, with huge audiences waiting in line to hear the new artists of the day.

Musicians and bands that until then thought all they need in life is getting signed by a label, started realizing they do not need to be a major label artist to make a living with their music. They became business savvy, starting their own labels, their own publishing companies, becoming their own producers and their own engineers. They no longer had to deal with industry professionals criticizing, or worse, messing with their precious art and altering it in order to fit the needs of the market.

It seemed that the music industry was going in the right direction.

Is that so?

Please share your insights and comment below:

Are you a DIY indie artist?

According to today’s music industry, how do you define your musical goals? Getting signed by a label? Selling CD’s at shows? Getting radio play? Performing 4 times a week?

Are you having success with your music? How and to what degree?

Are you happy with your achievements so far?

What is the biggest obstacle standing between you and the success you want?

Are you amazing at what you do? I would love to hear from you! Please send me music to theshtikfactory@gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Why DIY indie music doesn’t work (for most musicians) – Part 1

  1. The ability to self-promote globally and for free because of our technological capabilities can only be a positive to me. So much more is in your control starting out. I’ve seen this benefit many of my friends

  2. The fact that now we can do it ourselfs,
    Made big egos, dreamers, wonnabes that
    Will never learn from others.
    There’s always something to learn!
    Love the journey of music!
    Stop loving yourself more then music!
    Maybe then we will hear something original today!!!

  3. When the digital world entered the music industry it Shure changed it quite a bit , for the good and bad , in one way it helped good music struggling bands/artists to upload songs to the web and reach more people , but it also helped to promote bad music as well … One of the biggest problem is that labels that see music only as money and not art could find much more variety of music and artist to choose from and find the perfect “dummies ” to create money from … In the old days the labels spended lots of money and time to go out and find talents ,and when they did they stuck to it even if they found out they aren’t the perfect “dummies” , with today’s sites and music on the web and even digital daw technologies they could find a dummie that’s not perfect edit them to perfection and make lots of money , and all of that is in front there same computer …. Good or bad ? I think only time will tell , maybe it’s to early to pick sides 😉

  4. -Are you a DIY indie artist?
    Yes. I write my own music, record my own music, publish my own music on my own label.

    -According to today’s music industry, how do you define your musical goals?
    I have no answer right at this exact point in time mainly because of not being sure what ecaxtly today’s music industry IS.. :-/

    -Getting signed by a label?
    I play guitar instrumental music..Judging from what I know and the conversations I have had over the years, I don’t think a label signing is gonna happen anymore for an instrumental guy and most niche labels are GONE (and YES it used to happen, not all were BIG stars, but they had a career in their own right and were able to do what they did..now? NOT).

    -Selling CD’s at shows?
    What? CD’s? Are you serious? 😦 Selling ANY music? To who….family? Cause even friends believe it’s free.

    -Getting radio play?
    Where on some self proclaimed “radio station” online with no listeners? I had airplay and back before streaming hit it actually translated into CD & download sales. CD and download sales completely dried up since the arrival of streaming.

    -Performing 4 times a week?
    I cannot believe that it became a struggle to even be ON stage these days. Yes it is a definite goal.
    2 clubs that I had booked a show at stopped doing Live Music…they’re hiring DJ’s now. One of those clubs was in business for 35 years. The other one was the Cat Club in Hollywood. What’s there now? Irish Pub. Live Music DVD on MUTE on the TV’s and a DJ playing..

    -Are you having success with your music? How and to what degree?
    No I could not call it success by any means other than I accomplished recordings and gave my best. I tried everything they told me to do. Most of it -was a complete waste of time; especially because of the internet. What didn’t fail was personal interaction which is hard to do by yourself. (no the internet is not personal). And no I am not old lol

    -Are you happy with your achievements so far?
    Music biz wise…NO, not really even though I reeled in a little endorsement deal along the way which is cool but generally no. But personally yes, because I wrote, recorded, finished and released several albums and musically yes because I have come a long way with my playing and my tone and songwriting and production and design skills.

    -What is the biggest obstacle standing between you and the success you want?

    1. Hey Patrick,

      Thank you so much for your honest and informative reply..

      First of all, i will go with the last thing you said – The definition of success will, of course, vary widely from person to person. but I do agree with you that success, first of all, should be defined by personal measures – you do what you do because you love it and it makes you feel good about yourself, and not because you want 1,000,000 views on You Tube.

      People are lead into thinking that if they let some website stream their music for free, their audience will discover them and come to see their shows. In fact, people will only go to these sites in order to listen to artists they already know, rarely ever to become familiar with new artists.

      In my opinion, streaming your music anywhere on the web without anyone knowing about you is the biggest mistake an artist can do. This is what leads to the infinite pile of mediocre music, eventually diminishing the value of the music itself in the long run.

      I believe that this model can not survive for too long, because up and coming artist will realize there is no benefit giving their music for free, it is not generating any interest, not generating any audience and not any income from shows.

      Then, they will not allow streaming their music for free – that means that they will have to make people WANT to pay for their music. And that’s a much much harder thing to do. People will say it is about marketing and PR, but I still honestly believe that it’s about the value of the music itself, and how the artist communicates that value.

      DIY indie artists must realize that randomly uploading their music for free on the web is like saying “my music has no real value, please listen and come to my shows”, no matter what their real value is.

      I wish you lots of luck and fun in making music.


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