Current thinking suggests that being an independent artist ‘sucks’ - paltry payouts from streaming services, your music as a loss leader, decline of album sales, EVERYTHING.
The biggest challenge for any artist to solve is the ‘obscurity problem’ - an idea coined by Tim O’Reilly in response to piracy. Godin posits that once people know you - i.e. you are no longer obscure - the financial side of your business will follow along.
“If everyone knows your song, someone’s going to show up and say: come do a live gig.” says Godin. “Someone’s going to show up and say: please sign this guitar. Someone’s going to show up and say: please endorse this brand of mouthwash.”
Godin’s insight offers artists great hope. Rather than whining about the difficulties of the current music business, it asks each artist to embrace the incredible opportunities for connection with fans.
Digital tools are an immense ally in creating and keeping these connections. And while ‘marketing’ and ‘social media’ are dirty words to most creatives, your success of using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, comes down to two steps:
- Make lots of cool shit
- Tell lots of people about it
Sounds easy, yes? WRONG. There’s an undeniable art to effectively using digital to enliven - rather than irritate - your fan base. But if you can be genuine, creative, and consistent with your marketing efforts, you’ll hastily be absolved of any obscurity problem.