Where Do We Go Now (Part 2)

Back in the day I used to work out of studios across the country with mixing boards that had 64-128 channels (or more), 2″ reel-to-reel tape decks and cost upwards of $200 an hour. Today, technology has allowed me to create a comparable sound using a PC or Mac in any facility; small studio, house, on location with laptop – anywhere. And some of the programs are so simple to use that even the novice musician can knock out beats that compete with the big boys – though most of the big boys will disagree with me on this point. My bad. And once the song is complete it can be uploaded on blogs, social sites, tweets, etc. This means that a song can go from idea, to reality, to the world within minutes! Powerful. Damn Powerful.

Middle Class Entertainers

I am no economics wiz, but I do understand that supply and demand is at the the root of most any business with a product or service. Programmed media outlets like radio and television are excellent at exposing only a few artists at a time. This is by design and creates a big demand on a very short list (supply) of artists. This formula generates big dollars for the major labels and the labels deserve it for the amount of investment they put into these artists. Now Newton’s third law of motion states that every action creates an equal but opposite reaction. This can actually be applied to the powerful technology mentioned above, with the reaction here being that the once carefully guarded gates of supply have been kicked wide open. The Internet has allowed everybody, their cousin, uncle, sister and best friend to upload music (and everything else) simultaneously. This creates an over abundance of supply – damn the lack of a demand for it.

If you want to succeed today, then “Aim for the edges.”

However if you have a hot song and if you can generate enough of a buzz so that Internet fans can find it amidst the background noise (i.e. all of the BS that really shouldn’t even be there in the first place), then my experience has shown that you can create an opportunity for yourself to actually book enough shows and sell enough product and merchandise to earn a decent living. And though it will most likely be on a smaller scale than the dollars that the major label artists still manage to pull down (for now at least), I am not talking about the starving artist stereotype – I am talking about what Michael Laskow (President/CEO of Taxi) describes as a new middle class of entertainer. Derek Sivers (the founder of CD Baby and now Independent Music Evangelist) had a very clever analogy to describe this as well. To summarize, Derek states that the old music business was like trying to hit a 1-inch bulls-eye on the other side of a field with an arrow. Hit it and you had a huge hit; miss it and you had absolutely nothing. Today the target is 10 feet away. You can aim for the edges, and hit something pretty easily, but the bulls-eye in the middle where you get those huge hits is gone. If you’re still aiming for the bulls-eye, there’s nothing there. All the users now have the power to explore niches out on the edges of the target. This means that it is now easier to make a decent buzz in any niche market, but damn near impossible to have the all encompassing kind of mega hits that cross all genres and niches that used to occur back in the day. His final comment on it is worth noting. If you want to succeed today, then “Aim for the edges.”

I will talk about a prediction of mine for major labels next time.

– Big Strad


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