There is a revolution going on not only in the American music business, but the global world of song as well.
Not so long ago, an aspiring Top 40 talent prospect had to ply cassettes around town to grab the ear of a persnickety publisher who was manning the front gate to Starville, U.S.A. Then if the publisher had the energy and connections, the song went to a manager, or at the worst, a lawyer, to be screened.
Then the song might go to the artist. And the town I am talking about is more Nashville than L.A., because here, well, rock bands and rapper/hip-hop groups for years and years have written their own songs, or had friends and family members help. Money was money so keeping it all in the finally has been a top priority.
There is no special route to stardom. Hey, it took The Beatles almost three years to make it to the "show." It took over fifteen years for the Mel Tillis song "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" to become a mega-hit performed by Kenny Rogers. People thought the song was about a solider returning from that 'crazy Asian War' who was talking about Vietnam. It was written during the Korean War!
On this site, we show examples of a performer with guitar in tow playing in the deep, dirty noisy caverns of the New York subway system, another climbing fast in national competitions under the glare of a frenzied media, most plying the Internet to get songs heard at least once an hour, somewhere around the world, as they build up Internet Radio exposure and fans.
So, with the rapid challenges in digital technology, any talented, smart, and determined, singer/songwriter, or one or the other, can produce a song, maybe even in a home studio, download tunes through what's called digital downloaders and wait for the money to roll in. (Long pause here to simulate waiting before we go to the next paragraph....)
There are many challenges to face, such as getting "traditional" radio airplay, again and again and again. And the vast majority of the artists you hear on AM/FM channels are still backed by what's left of the major label industry, all three of them. (If you are still listening to radio as we have known it, does it seem you are hearing the same artists, over and over again? I will interject that you are!)
But the World Wide Web has opened the barriers to artists who want to be heard. For computer literate music lovers, you have a few thousand Internet Radio stations and blog sites around the world and all of those listed in our spotlights are probably on some of them. Those of you with PC comprehension will be able to find performers, and if you like them, will download what songs you want to keep through the services that do this on the Internet. And if all goes well for the artists, you will pay for these nuggets, save for free samples offered by the performers.
I am not an expert on all this mp3 vs. WAV file, USB connection stuff, so I will defer to two books on the subject which are a must for "Indies" who are new to the musical fame game. Same for those who want to jump into the pool but don't want to hit their heads in the shallow end.
The first is called "The Indie Band Survival Guide" by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feeman. Good reading for those who want to get right to the point on how to make it in the studio, get heard, get sold and get the show on the road. Good starter guide.
It also contains an interesting section on music aggregators. Those are the companies that list song files into a compilation, with a cover, include all the appropriate publishing and copyright information, then get the information onto their sales pages, and send along coded files to other partners to sell product too. They recommend one in particular, cdBaby, and I have found many satisfied Indies who have used this service as the founder of the company was the one who invented the process of digital music downloading.
The second book goes far beyond the first and covers just about every change in the overall music business in the last 15 years so while it looks forward, it's got plenty of historical perspective comparing the decline of major labels and publishers, and the rise in popularity of independent singers and songwriters who while finding "freedom of expression" in abundance also discover that getting heard, then getting product sold, can be oh so daunting. The book I am referring to is "The Future of the Music Business" by Steve Gordon. Volume 3 is out and the author includes a weblink to use so readers can update anything and everything he is tracking as change seems to be happening by the minute.
My best advice to Indies and to others who are just interested in what the music industry offers to artists and audiophiles alike is to purchase both books. Well worth the money spent to save wasted money and time by singers/songwriters hunting and pecking their way to stardom!
Getting back to those artists who appear on this blog, I hope "Power Peformers of Music" will let you learn more about at least some of the thousands upon thousands of talented men and women who are slowly and carefully walking the yellow brick road to Oz, trying to duck those snearing flying monkeys. After all is said and done, they deserve recognition. They are just that good, I proclaim!
All you need to do is click on the artist's picture and a website link will appear. Then their music can be a far greater testimonial than anything I could write.
December 8, 2011