I’m a big fan of music. It’s been something that acts as a comfortable form of communication for me when I’m feeling excited, sad, happy, frustrated, and about another 100 emotions that come to the forefront. The record industry remains scared of their current business model imploding before their eyes.
Compact discs sales appear to be declining year after year, as more people enjoy storing thousands of songs on their portable Ipods and MP3 players, or just carrying around their catalog on a laptop hard drive. That doesn’t mean that people are listening to less music than ever. It just means they’re choosing to spend their money on other items more important to them: the live show, the merchandise, the specialized festivals.
How would you survive in today’s society with this business model? I think it’s important for musicians to realize that for that hour or two a night on stage, you need to put in solid time getting the word out about your band, establish worthwhile relationships and understand that you are competing against hundreds of thousands of bands the world over now. Bands who have access to the same free tools you do. Bands who are willing to spend the time creating bonds, sharing stories, exchanging face time with their fans.
It’s not enough to announce your website or myspace page from the stage 3 or 4 times. On regular club gigs where there are 4-5 bands a night, how would you expect the average club goer to remember your band name on first exposure, let alone keep your name on his or her mind by the time they go home?
Take the time to ask questions of your fans. You know they are already there for the social atmosphere, friends and music. Zig Ziglar mentions in many of his talks how ‘you can get anything you want if you help enough other people get what they want.’
The music industry became fractured when everyone was unwilling to work together and tried to use strong arm tactics to bring people to their knees. That’s as bad as trying to strike for higher wages at work. You build resentment and further fracture any sort of trust issue you may have established through the years.
I’m so happy that my friend’s band Ravage finally got the chance to sign a major independent deal with Metal Blade Records for their second album. 12 years into their career, the band members still keep a Do It Yourself philosophy when it comes to establishing credibility with their music and their followers. They share a love of the music with their fans, communicate through message forums, Myspace and chat regularly with journalists, radio disc jockeys and distributors across the world to keep their name and their music in the news.
You have to become a champion of your own brand. But it can’t be all about you. No one makes it in today’s society alone. Take a step back, look at what you can do for others and I think you’ll be surprised how much support you’ll gain in the long run.