5 Lies Indie Musicians Tell Themselves - hypebot

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Captain Wrong

Hee. In my experience, the people who hang on to number three (or a variation) with dear life make the worst music.

Scott Feldman

In a word (or two): Hell yeah!

There are so many companies, people, and (scary) thoughtleaders that think the Internet will solve all of the traditional problems facing indie musicians.

There's no substituting for brains 'n' talent. Once you accept and understand that, it's easy to see who's worth listening to and working with.

The downfall to it all is that the bogus singers (and sites/companies) clog the airwaves and prevent the good guys from getting through.

Hopefully there'll be some massive Darwinian succession where the good stuff rises to the top, and the rest burn in Hell - forced to listen to Milli Vanilli and eat McRib sandwiches while sitting in an un-air conditioned tour van stuck on the side of the road between gigs.

bill

There are lots of lies bands tell themselves. I think the biggest one is that they assume that being signed is the endgame and life is easy street after that. Truth is the work is just beginning.

Most people don't realize that most ofthe women in videos are models (and paid for), and the majority of the "bling" is just that- flash over substance. All of the stuff that most people associate with being a rock star in todays media are ostentatious displays of temporary wealth that will have to be sent to the pawnshop after the fleeting glory days are over.

For every artist that makes an apprearance on MTV cribs, there are several thousand others who are back in their mothers basement or in a studio apartment on the wrong side of the tracks wallowing in bitterness and wondering where their life went.

Mark Boudreau

These are all true when taken at face value but you have to dig a little deeper. The Internet HAS leveled the playing field to the point where a musician can make a go of it without being signed by a major label. It has given options when there were fewer before.

As for going DIY, yes you can if you are willing to put in the time and effort. Even if you do not want to there are a lot more services available to musicians that allow them to leverage the power of the Internet. And don't assume that people "in the biz" even understand what social media and Web 2.0 are let alone how to best utilize it.

Radio is still the gatekeeper? That's rapidly changing with podcasts, Internet radio (as long as that avenue doesn't get legislated out of existence) and services like Last.FM providing alternate "radio" exposure for a wider variety of musicians than commercial radio.

For sure it all starts with the song and from what I hear daily, there are plenty of great songs out there that I do not hear on commercial radio.

Gavroche

I agree with what Bill is saying. It's undeniable that the internet has leveled the playing field. Anybody can distribute music and engage fans online -- there are so many digital tools now for doing this, that musicians are now hiring digital marketing gurus to help. So while the internet leveling the playing field hasn't made too many indies rich, it has helped.

The web is overcrowded, but at least you can be "in the game" name with out a lot of bucks. 10yrs ago you needed to print CDs and then figure out a way to market them. Now, you can do everything digital, which has eliminated barriers to entry.

DIY is an interesting topic, as you can now make music and distribute DIY style, its REALLY touch to make any money DIY style. This is where the managers, marketers, etc come on. But, if you aren't looking to make money and are satisfied with a smaller niche style fan base, you're a happy camper today!

As for quality of music, well, its always mattered! People like good high quality music. Thats been the basis of the music model for years.

Gavroche

I agree with what Bill is saying. It's undeniable that the internet has leveled the playing field. Anybody can distribute music and engage fans online -- there are so many digital tools now for doing this, that musicians are now hiring digital marketing gurus to help. So while the internet leveling the playing field hasn't made too many indies rich, it has helped.

The web is overcrowded, but at least you can be "in the game" name with out a lot of bucks. 10yrs ago you needed to print CDs and then figure out a way to market them. Now, you can do everything digital, which has eliminated barriers to entry.

DIY is an interesting topic, as you can now make music and distribute DIY style, its REALLY touch to make any money DIY style. This is where the managers, marketers, etc come on. But, if you aren't looking to make money and are satisfied with a smaller niche style fan base, you're a happy camper today!

As for quality of music, well, its always mattered! People like good high quality music. Thats been the basis of the music model for years.

Seth

I agree with number 2, "I'm going DIY", but with qualification. Getting a reliable manager, agent, etc depends entirely on how much a band has already worked to get there themselves.

An agent does not want to work with a band that can't get a crowd to their show in their own market. A manager is not going to go out of their way for a band that only has 20 fans in any given town.

DIY and give each band member a different hat. Once it becomes too difficult to DIY, (200 - 500 people per venue, multiple cities), then it's time to look for those to help out.

But even then, the band members need to keep a paranoid eye on these people.

My band, THE THEM, hasn't gotten there, yet. But I sure as hell know we can't afford agents or managers!

verbenot

I don't know any indie rocker who cares about radio, or even listens to it. This whole list just seemed like an exercise for you to trumpet your marginal intelligence.

Senator O'Brien

Wow! who's fooling who here? I'm sorry but I have to speak up. Radio sure does matter. College/Indie radio that is. US/Canada college radio matters big-time.

And all of those indie stations not only have a vast reach on music fans, they have internet stations, webcasts and websites that mirror their broadcast....daily.

All of you would do yourselves a big favor by bone-ing up on college radio. Those music-lovebugs or DJs WANT to find you. They want to help break you. They neeeed to discover you. They die for it.

Now, can you tell me what it means to have REAL spins on a P1,P2,P3 stations around the states? ( REAL spins meaning you don't have to pay for it). Do you know what good it does when you can really chart on dozens of stations?

Well, charting is what a regional booker needs in order to know where and how to promote you and get you good paying gigs....where you can then sell your CDs, downloads and swag.

Also, by getting REAL spins and charting and then going out to where your fans are is what ALL decent investors, clubs, college buyers and big and small labels want and need in order to see if you are to be dealt with in a proper
way.

As for managers and agents....you gotta give them something to manage. We can't manage those that give us zero to manage .

Please, the 6th lies is to say that nothing matters. It does. I know first hand.
....and I make a pretty good living at it.

Unless you have a bucket of money to shake it all up... its you, your good music, radio, the net and the road that matters....and not much else.

Keep the faith.


Bruce Houghton

Thanks for the comments and debate though I have to say some of them are a bit mean spirited. Any one who reads Hypebot regularly knows that I dislike the major label system and celebrate indie and d.i.y.

My intention was not to insult indie musicians but to share what I believe is a reality check. And as an agent for 25 years who works with many indie acts (with I believe I have a reasonable vantage point from which to comment.

bill

Verbenot, totally uncalled for. I don't know if you're in a band or not, but major media (MTV, Fuse, and commercial radio) still have an enormous impact on consumer awareness outside of your precious elitist microcosm. Maybe next time you won't hide behind your anonymity and let us see your credentials?

Alexa Weber Morales

So true. Thanks for these points.

#1: Amen. And as Derek Sivers has said, musicians need to turn off the computer every once in a while and make music.

#2: I am learning this but you still have to be very careful about the choices you make and constantly recalibrate. Lots of folks are eager to take your money but may require plenty of oversight to actually deliver.

#3: Agreed. The music always has and will come first. Plenty of crap music gets carpet-bombed on us through the media, but I still believe only the best songs stand the test of time. Will anyone be humming "Promiscuous Girl" in 10-20 years?

#4: Public and college radio are the saving grace of many indie musicians. Don't discount them. However, it still often takes a good promoter to get your music into rotation. Either that or you have to have a stomach for getting on the phone very early in the morning and calling DJs, music directors and station managers.

#5: You said it.

--Alexa

Ruben

DIY is a big problem before you even get to the marketing stage. There are lots of very talented musicians who record, mix and master with stunning incompetence.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should, and it ceases to be an economy when it ends up sounding like rubbish.

Mastering is often the worst place to DIY. There is a reason that mastering rooms have all that esoteric gear and an experienced engineer in them and Cubase/Logic and a pair of nearfields just can't compete.

There are often deals to be had with both recording and mastering studios. If you really value your music you should want to show it at its best.

wheatus

The Top 9 Lies Record Executives and other "Gate Keepers" Tell Themselves:

1...It's my cool and not the music that sells acts.

2...If I buy this radio guy some coke he'll owe me and remember it.

3...CD's are gonna come back. As soon as DRM settles in and P2P is licensed people will re-buy all their digital catalog as physical, start listening to radio again and we'll be back in the money.

4...The single song scenario works but the economy is bad right now.

4.5...It's all about legacy catalog.

5...I'll still be here in this ivory tower long after indie music is dead and co opted.

5.5....I'm not to old to be a youth culture taste maker.

6...Doug Morris is right.


Oh and...on the list of lies indie musicians tell themselves...You forgot to mention the vast RIAA / Major Label conspiracy to steal content and destroy peoples ability to get the music they want so as to regain the control over delivery that they had in the days before this damn internet fad.

brendan b brown
wheatus

wheatus

Right, because people can really hear the difference between .9 under zero DB and .7 when it's a 20 second DRM AAC file clip on iTunes.

Has it occurred to you that homogenized mastering done by the same big 4 engineers who are locked in a loudness war with each other IS the "rubbish" you mention?

Consider the fact that modern mastering on the big releases has devolved into a contest to see how much headroom can get crammed into the high register of a pixelated, square little digital disc before it abruptly stops responding at 20KHz and clips your CD player.

Then it gets radio compression on top of that!

Most of the big mastering houses don't bother with the esoteric gear any more....they put it into Pyramix and clip it to the 9's.

Variety is the spice of life, even if some of the home made food you taste at the crafts fair is bad...someone, somewhere is crafting genius in the basement. And the gear they are using is cheap. That might irritate you, make you feel like it's not under the corrupted thumb of the conventional music delivery system...but it is a fact.

brendan b brown
wheatus

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