Why DIY indie music doesn’t work (for most musicians) – Part 4

Last week I have talked about the DIY music dream that has become the main driver for this industry where artists “control” their art, but are still making less money than the salesman in Guitar Center that sold them their shiny guitar. Did anyone stop for a moment to ask WHY? I know that many DIY indie artists are still holding on to their dream – just a few more shows, just a few more songs on You Tube, just one more independent album release, and someone will finally notice me… But I see a lot of problems lying underneath that prevent most of them to get noticed by anyone except their friends and family.

What is the problem definition?

I say that there are too many tools, but not as much knowledge of the tools.

I say that there are too many options, but not enough focus.

I say that there are too many musicians, but not enough self awareness.

I say that there are too many independent artists, but not enough communities.

I say that there are too many ideas, but not enough good taste to choose the good ones.

I say that there are too many songs, but not enough diversity.

I say that there is unique music, but it is not sincere enough for listeners to connect to.

I say that there is just enough passion, but not enough devotion.

I say that Alternative indie music is a niche, but with more artists than there are listeners.

Everybody speaks about marketing, but no one speaks about the music!!!

There are numerous people on the net writing articles and offer consulting about how to make it in the business as an indie DIY artist. Most of them are just indie artists that have tried to make it for years and finally realized that they can at least make some money consulting other indie artists, until they start making money with their own music. They stress the importance of marketing and PR, as well as building and developing a brand.

They’re all talking about “honing your craft”, “improving your music”, “making better music”, “becoming better at songwriting” as an important step on the way to success. None of them explain how.

Steve Albini, one of the most influential producers of the 1990’s once said about the “new music industry (in the digital era)”: “I think it’ll be one of those signifying trends that when we listen to music from this period, people will be able to pick those records out and laugh at them because they followed all the conventions of the day. The way digital recording has changed the way records are made has created this whole new vocabulary of clichés that is scaring music really badly. But I think it’s a fad. People will go back to making records in studios when people get tired of making records in their practice rooms. There is a big inflation in the number of people making records and a big dilution in the quality of the recording. That will play itself out, and it will stabilize again. It’s exactly the same way as in the 80’s, when everyone was using drum machines and drummers were looking for work. It looked like it was the beginning of the end, but that played itself out, and things got back to normal. It’s the same thing with this”

How would it play itself out without anyone even doing something about it?

In my opinion, since Steve said these inspiring words, things have gotten even worse. It’s not just drummers being replaced by drum machines, but a whole different playground, where, according to what he said in another interview: “You end up with a pretty good description of what’s annoying about New York is that it’s full of people whose self-image just ever-so-slightly outstrips their ability”. Unfortunately, it’s not just New York. When the artist is also the band, producer, engineer, manager, publisher, PR person, booking agent, and record label, there is no one there to really criticize the music. Except for the music listeners. And they are the best music critics. They just don’t show up at the club. They don’t care about the shows anymore. Most artists today do not have any values according to which they can honestly criticize their work, and judge when their music is ready to hit the market. So they release their 3rd album on Bandcamp, innocently believing that now someone will listen. But no one wants to listen anymore. Everybody wants Lady Gaga.

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