Posts Tagged ‘indie’

anatomy of songs

July 28, 2014

I found this entertaining song genre graphic at Wrong Hands

Please check out their website for more like this.


Corey Smith, the $4 million self-made musician, on what matters most

August 6, 2009


You may have caught the Washington Post article on Corey Smith, the country, folk-rock musician who grossed $4 million last year, and $1.7 million the year before that, through ol’ fashion D.I.Y. The love of Smith’s soulful Americana music, on the reluctance to grow up, drinking misadventures, family, spread through fans and not the machinations of any record label.

Read the rest of the blog post.

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Corey Smith interview

August 6, 2009

Going independent

November 3, 2008

Most of us don’t have to choose between going with a major record label and going independent. Most of us are indie by default. That, it turns out, is not a bad thing.

The majors, as we keep hearing in the press, are doing terrible these days. But every time you hear a statistic about music sales being down, it’s always about the major record labels, who make up the old guard, the mainstream music industry. By contrast, independent labels are doing better than ever and the press is starting to cover us.

Here are a few interesting numbers I ran across. First, how much do you think it costs to get a song played on the radio in the U.S.? What, you didn’t realize you have to buy your way in? Better go back to the Songwriter’s Tip Jar issue #53 and read about payola.

One figure I read was $300,000 US to get one song played on the radio. Another source said it’s more like $400,000 – 500,000 per song.

Or how about paying $20,000 a month to get your CD in a listening station at a record store? No wonder major record labels are losing money so fast. And no wonder they try to recoup all that money from their artists.

From an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Lynne Margolis:

When rock critic and author Dave Marsh spoke on a panel at South By Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, he pronounced bigger-label contracts a bad deal for artists from Day 1, ‘because of unequal leverage.’

Independent labels tend to stay away from radio, music videos and the like, for obvious reasons. Instead they use live performances and the internet to spread the word and sell product. Many indie artists are able to make a living selling CDs and T-shirts at gigs. The overhead is so much lower.

I heard a story on public radio about the annual International Folk Alliance convention. They interviewed several people, including Arlo Guthrie. And the message was the same: while major labels and the mainstream music industry may be outdated and going down, independent artists and labels may be pointing the way of the future.

One thing Arlo Guthrie mentioned was that, when he was with a major label, they would sell him his own records back, so he could sell them at gigs. Needless to say, the price was quite high. Now as an indie, he can sell his CDs at gigs and make a reasonable profit.

Controlling your own destiny and making a profit – the promise of indie.

What’s wrong with American idol?

September 21, 2008

Bleary eyed and fuzzy headed, I just got back from Sound Connections NT Music Conference in Kansas City. My head is full of songwriting, performing and marketing tips, names, faces, new songs, song ideas, recommended artists, books, recording gear, etc. Once I get some sleep, I will sort it all out for future posts.

Meanwhile, I want to mention one resource that will be instrumental to your marketing efforts – Bob Baker’s The Buzz Factor. I’ve been following Bob for years. His books and articles, his web site, ezine, podcast and blog all focus on innovative, up to the minute information for the self-marketing indie musician, often based on the experiences of real indie bands and singer/songwriters.

Here’s an article he wrote.

What’s Wrong with American Idol?

Bob Baker’s updated manifesto on how the popular show is creating widespread misconceptions about what it takes to succeed as a musical artist today.

It’s one of the most popular TV shows of recent years, drawing tens of millions of viewers every week. Even I admit, American Idol is fun to watch. The show provides all the elements of good pop culture entertainment: passion, emotion, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, dreams attained and lost …

So, what’s wrong with American Idol?

Considering it’s lumped into the “reality” TV category, the show is doing a great disservice to aspiring musicians (and the public at large) by distorting perceptions of how the music business really works. It sends an outdated message of “dependence” on the industry vs. the more realistic “independence” that artists have today to control their own careers.

The Talent Discovery Myth

For instance, the program leads you to believe that there are hundreds of people like Simon, Paula and Randy out there searching for raw talent they can mold into the next big pop star. Not true. Sure, record companies employ A&R people whose job it is to sign and nurture new artists — but as major labels consolidate, cut staffs, and get nervous about the bottom line, they no longer have the time or money to develop new acts.

Instead, labels look for artists who are already developing themselves, attracting fans, and selling CDs on their own. There’s less risk with an act that has a track record.

Also, the American Idol auditions, in particular, create the illusion that most aspiring musicians lack talent and are delusional, struggling and starving. In reality, there are thousands of talented performers across the country who make good money, have hundreds of devoted fans, and are steadily building careers.

Here’s just one example of this modern reality: Over the past seven years, the web site CD Baby has sold more than $12 million worth of CDs (1.3 million units) by independent, unsigned acts. A tremendous amount of quality music is being produced and sold outside the mainstream.

The Danger of Waiting for Your ‘Big Break’

One of the biggest myths American Idol propels is that you need the approval of industry gatekeepers to “make it” in music. Sorry, you don’t need Simon’s or anyone else’s permission to be worthy of a career in music. If you wait for someone to give you the green light to create and perform music, you’ll be waiting a long time.