Music… a strange business.

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It’s not what it used to be!

In the last few months I’ve been learning about what it takes to make money from music in the culture and environment we live in today. Whether it be from online or CD sales; or getting gigs, you have to have a degree of business-mindedness. In fact, I’ve discovered that if you want people to actually listen to and buy your music, there is a great deal of time and effort required towards many things other than the music itself. It would appear that commerce and music are inextricably linked! If this is true, then it is not possible for a musician today to be ignorant of the business related tasks involved in getting their music “out there”. With money or connections these tasks could be given to somebody else to handle, but I can’t see that complete avoidance of the subject would ever be a wise thing.

The other week I read a book called Music In The Digital Age by Andrew Dubber (click this link to get the book for free). It was one of the most enjoyable and informative books I’ve read in a long time. These are the  most valuable points I took from the book –

  • The way in which we view and use music has changed a great deal in the last decade, but more importantly, is still changing right now!
  • Mostly, we view our media environment as in a rear view mirror. We are always just a bit behind the times!
  • We are living in the digital age and a lot of the advice to be found on how to make progress with your music comes from the electric age, when the guidelines were different.
  • There isn’t a model to follow in the way that there has been in the past. Things aren’t as clearly defined! This means there is a lot to learn as you go.

I have spent the majority of my time over the last few months researching online sources for the methods and practices that are most widely recommended and praised by people in general. In these early stages of trying to make money out of my music, I have spent 70%-90% of my time on everything but the music. There’s planning, publicity, promotion and a whole host of other things that are needed if anyone’s ever going to get to hear me aside from those at the gigs I do. Even getting the gigs requires a level of business acumen!

Social media is amazing for spreading the word – I have chosen to use my own website and Facebook as my primary methods of communicating with people. (Find me on Facebook). I’m just getting to grips with Twitter as well! (Find me on Twitter). In the past an album release or upcoming tour would have needed a big budget for publicity. For a band or artist that were already well-known this would possibly have included a press release; radio airtime; and TV breakfast shows. With social media like Facebook and Twitter it’s  now possible to let all your fans, and their friends, hear your breaking news in a short message, all within a matter of minutes.

I have spent a great deal of time considering what image I want to put forward. Image is not a new concept, and still plays a big part for anyone in music. Although some people think that it’s all just about vanity, I see it like this – Image is anything that you put forward to others, that represents you whether you are physically present or not. Of course it can be used to make you look better than you are, or even very different to who you really are, but personally, I have put a lot of time into the artwork, photography, and especially the website background, to make sure it represents who I am and what my music is about as accurately as possible.

Now my website is complete, my aim is to get all the rest of my publicity in place, including business cards and flyers, and then concentrate solely on keeping people up-to-date with what’s going on… and of course making music!

The music will soon take its rightful place, and then I can work on my repertoire, and increasing my skills and abilities. For now I just need to complete the  tasks in front of me knowing that it will be worth it later on.

 

I recommend Music In The Digital Age by Andrew Dubber – To get Andrew’s amazing book  for free, click here: http://leanpub.com/dubber

 

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