THE MUSIC BUSINESS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
It’s currently a far cry from the old days of the music business. There used to be a system to getting your music out, flawed yes, but a system nonetheless. With the death of physical copies and the birth of streaming services the full sanctity of being independent is gone. Major labels still are shareholders in every major streaming service. Even going through a service like Distrokid and those like it to get your music up on streaming services still technically means a major label is benefitting from your music.
Services like Spotify pay artists fractions of pennies for their streams. We as artists used to actually be able to make money on our music through hard work and dedication with pressing up physical copies through Diskmakers and getting barcodes for Soundscan and putting in a foot grind. All it used to take was a trunk full of CDs and getting booked to preform at local venues and not only could you make money but you could tangibly work towards a goal of growing your audience in real time. If you were a smart artist and owned the copyrights to your music and registered all your music for tracked airplay through BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) and Media Base, performances and CD sales used to lead to FM radio play and more exposure.
These days it’s all impersonal. Every person who breathes thinks they’re a artist. Most so called artists never truly find out if making music is their true passion or not because they treat the music business as if “having your music available on all platforms” is paying dues. The majority of artists these days won’t admit they’re scared to go on stage, but still they upload all their music online in the same places where real passionate artists have to do business. Nowadays apps like Instagram have replaced a physical stage in most cases. Post Covid it’s even harder for real indie artists because most smaller venues have either went out of business or operate at a limited capacity. So everyone with the title “artist” in their bio are all exclusively on the same apps and websites. This waters down the lane for artists who have real passion because so many hobbyists who won’t admit they’re too lazy or scared to be a true artist are on the same apps and websites with those who have what it takes.
It’s hard for aspiring artists to truly connect with a audience and separate themselves from everyone else who claims to be a artist. Everyone is just tired of seeing music links spammed on their social media timelines 24/7 from lazy so called artists so most people rarely look for good independent music anymore. They settle for what services like Spotify promote. The major labels are still winning regardless of how many of you swear you “hate mainstream music.” Numbers don’t lie, and the verdict is in. While the artists signed to the majors have 360 deals and barely make any money, the same labels that were in control a decade ago still own the lion’s share of equity in the music business.
Even though you’ll hear rumblings from people who know better saying it’s the best time for indies to get out there and do their thing, it’s not is it? Major labels own and back the streaming services everyone’s music is on and pay fractions of pennies. Most venues large and small are really out of the picture for indie artists for a while due to Covid. Although you will rarely get them to admit it, most indie artists are also selfish these days and have a very loose and most times non-existent understanding of the music business. So all the war cries from mislead individuals who think there will be a indie revolution are honorable but incorrect. It would take massive amounts of independent artists to get a working understanding of the business then be selfless and work together on a super large scale to change the current trajectory of the industry. After twenty plus years working in and around the music industry in various capacities, I just don’t see it happening.
We’ll end on a positive note though. Since FM radio is basically dead now, there’s a void that has opened up for artists getting airplay of any kind and getting their music played to a select audience. I currently have a podcast on NGI Radio called “For All Matters.” NGI Radio is a digital entertainment network that curates talent and gives real passionate artists a chance to be heard and feel appreciated. On NGI radio alone there’s The Mixtape Show hosted by DJ Kawon. A two hour show dedicated to showcasing talented artists to a loyal listenership. There’s a mix of upcoming independent artists and artists who are real pioneers featured on the show from week to week. NGI Radio also has The NonStop Radio Show hosted by Emillio EgBar. (in above video) Emillio was the first digital platform that I came across a few years ago and I was intrigued. He also features up and coming indie artists with a mix of pioneers being played and interviewed. With years of broadcasting experience, I could tell Emillio had a passion to be a real on-air personality and actually help aspiring artists. Needless to say I eventually linked up with DJ Kawon and Emillio EgBar and the rest is history. We create some of the best content online and pride ourselves in setting the standard for others to follow. I strongly suggest this blueprint going forward for helping to break artists. It’s the opposite of impersonal and very effective for all parties involved. Not just anyone with a mic and a laptop can do it though. It takes hard work and dedication to create a new lane for artists to have at their disposal. It’s just as frustrating and time consuming as working in FM radio. The reward is greater though knowing you have no corporate handlers telling you what to play and not play. We hope to see you over at ngiradio.com sometime soon.
Watch the above video with myself and Emillio EgBar discussing the ins and outs of this very cold business. Until next time … I said my piece!