They say sometimes the honesty of a stranger can put things into perspective more profoundly than that of any close friend could. I met a friend’s dad recently, and within three minutes of meeting for the first time, he asked me what I studied in college. Upon mentioning that I pursued Music Business, he replied with one of the most dreadful, truth-be-told statements I’ve ever heard from a man who, preceding five minutes before, did not even occupy the slightest existence in my world. “Music Business? Does a music business even exist anymore?” he replied with a laugh. I did not really know how to react to his response, maybe because he was one of the most straightforward strangers I’ve ever met, or maybe because I did not want to believe that my four years of college and unnamed amounts of tuition dollars had all just been ridiculed by his simple rhetorical question.
But it all made so much sense.
Of course the music business still exists. What is different from the glory days is that it can be anyone’s game now. Anyone with a sense of innovation, who is courageous enough to try something different, is capable of making it big. This is great news for independent artists. More than ever before, it is an independent world now. And for all those “does-a-music-business-even-exist-anymore” naysayers…you, independent artist, have at your fingertips what a majority of your predecessors did not: the Internet. And not just the Internet, but also Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and hundreds of other social networks and music sharing platforms. Realize the power of these applications, and how that little “Like” button on Facebook or “Share” button on YouTube is capable of directly connecting you to any listener in the world (and that listener’s brother, and that listener’s brother’s friend, and…you get the idea). They call it “viral marketing” for a reason (in reference to spreading like a virus), and it should be every musician’s very best friend.
So this month, accept this advice: play by your own rules. Acknowledge your worries and starving artist melodrama, but don’t let any of it get you down. Yes, a record deal will put more marketing dollars behind your name and distribute your product more effectively than almost anything else could. But as an independent artist, you can still do what any megastar is capable of doing. You can share your concert video on YouTube faster than you could make a sandwich for lunch today. You can invite all 1,538 of your friends on Facebook to “Like” your artist page with just a single click. And these are just mentions of your conscious efforts. You have no idea what kind of success could generate from what people are sharing without your knowledge.
You probably have not given this much thought, because let’s face it – you have songs to write, tracks to produce, and shows to play. But things like Facebook and Twitter are basically part of the daily routine now, and that’s why using these platforms can be so effective. It is ground zero for getting in touch with practically all of humanity. So think outside the box, and do not feel like you always have to conform to a formula. What can be getting you the most press may also be what you're overlooking the most.
As a closing remark: don’t be offended if a stranger asks you an honest, thought-provoking question. It may start a revolution in your creative mind!
Jill Kreinbrink has worked in the music industry for three years in Nashville, Indianapolis, London and currently Los Angeles...