This is a guest post by Cyrene Jagger.
Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.” ~ Miguel Angel Ruiz
Things certainly have changed in the music industry in the past 10 years. With social media, home (pro) studios, record label mergers and acquisitions, declining music sales, and pirating, these shifts and changes were inevitable.
And with those changes, a tremendous amount of great opportunities came streaming in to many more musicians than those that were available in the past.
In life, you might have picked up on the fact that changes are certain. We can resist these changes or we can grow and adapt. The latter option, although arguably the better choice, is certainly not the easiest. Change can present a whole host of challenges as we are forced to adapt and learn about what those changes mean.
The music industry that has emerged from the countless changes over the past ten years certainly presents a number of challenges for every musician and their teams. Gone are the days when getting a major record label contract meant you had the support of a team of pros propelling your music to the masses. Not to mention the deep, deep pockets and financial support of major labels (as of today there are only 3 major labels even in existence: Song Music, BMG Music, and UMG).* 1
If you thought competition to get signed by a major label was tough before, it’s at least twice as hard today. But here’s the good news – with all the recent changes in the music industry, musicians can now do a lot on their own and become quite successful without the help of a major label.
Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be excited if you received an offer from the likes of Sony, BMG or UMG. If it ever comes to that point, you should be excited, whether you decide to sign with them or not. And remember, before you sign anything, read it, re-read it and then read it again! Make sure that it’s a good deal for YOU, and if it isn’t, negotiate it until you’re comfortable with what you’re agreeing too. Then, and only then, should you sign. In fact, as critical as signing to a major label is, you would do well to consult with a business manager or entertainment attorney.
If you’re not one of the few who get an offer from a label, fret not. You can learn to record and produce your music on your own. You just have to decide if it’s worth the time to learn how to, and if are you good enough at it. If not, you may still need the help of a producer and professional studio.
As an independent musician you can maintain the rights to your music and protect your body of work.You have 100% of the creative control. You’ll also get to choose how you market your music. You can build your own fan base using social media, and even book your own tours.
There is, however, one aspect of being an independent musician that can be a bit tricky.
One of the most difficult parts of being an independent musician is finding a balance between the business aspects of your career and the creative ones.
As an independent musician, there are a lot of hats you’re required to wear to accomplish the variety of tasks necessary to become successful. There’s radio promotion, PR, legal representation, accounting, booking, management, production, licensing, social media, online marketing, blogging, website design and maintenance, artwork design, photography, etc. Accomplishing all this independently can take a lot of time and a lot of money.
Yes, being an independent musician can be pricey when you try to do marketing, promotion and album production, but don’t go running off getting a day job to pay for it all just yet. Don’t forget that you’re a creative type, so thinking outside the box shouldn’t be difficult. But you also shouldn’t forget that your music is your business, and you have to treat it as such. It isn’t enough to develop your playing and songwriting skills – you should also learn the business side of the industry to be successful.
So here’s why it’s time to do-it-together rather than do-it-yourself.
Networking is one of the most important skills you can have as a musician whether you’re independent or not. Attend jam sessions, local events, and concerts in you’re area to meet other musicians, industry individuals, radio station reps and fans. Build a community with others in your area. Trade information, share contacts, team up with other creative types (photographers, filmmakers, artists, etc.) and build your A-Team with people you can trust. And most of all, support other musicians because they can be your greatest allies.
1. Ref – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_label
WRITTEN BY – CYRENE JAGGER, CEO/PRESIDENT OF JAGGEREDGE PLATINUM ARTISTS
Cyrene Jagger is CEO/President of JaggerEdge Platinum Artists and represents a number of very talented musicians as an Artist, Business and Tour Manager. She is also Manager for Mctrax International, a multi-media firm and record label own by Rock Icon Andy Fraser (FREE), as well as, Publicist for the nonprofit Discovery Arts, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, that brings music, art, and dance to children who are in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment, she is also an accomplished Voice Actor and Producer.