Dear Artists: Knock Out The Middlemen

29 Mar

Or since they are an entity of millions of people that you can’t knock out, metaphorically tell them to fuck off.

This is going to sound like a manifesto, probably, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and was too afraid to post it.  Hence the long silence.

Which is exactly why I am posting it here, quickly, while no one is looking…

It’s my feeling that artists, specifically musicians, are still where they were ten years ago (as in struggling to make a living doing their thing), partly because of their own mentality.

We artists don’t value our work enough.  I say that hoping that I am proven wrong.

We aren’t aware of how much what we provide is worth, because nobody’s been listening to us, everyone being so awash in everyone else’s noise.

When 10 hours of audio is uploaded to SoundCloud every minute and 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube (how many of those are songs, I wonder?), your tiny 4 and a half minute song looks like a minnow being tossed into a waterfall of fish of varying sizes.

If you’ve been making music for long enough, you know it’s no mystery that the 10,000 hour rule no longer applies to us musicmakers, (if it ever did).

But hold the boat, I’m not about to throw confetti on a pity party. This is a celebration: celebrating the disappearance of the middleman, the gatekeepers who decide if we get paid and how much, the tastemakers deciding if we deserve recognition or not. We are seeing the slow burning out of the traditional modes of distribution as well as consumption, and the torch is being passed back to artists (if we take it).

There’s enough lamenting the low cost of per-plays on Spotify and I’ve already mentioned how ridiculous I think it is that we are selling songs like cheeseburgers, at about the same cost.

We can do way better.

This is in response to a blog post on a site called The Verge that wonders “Can anyone turn streaming music into a real business?”

YES and NO.

Not just ANYONE can turn streaming music into a real business, which is great news.  Not just any businessman with a fleeting interest in music who mostly wants to make some dough off of fans and artists can join in the “business” of music.  Let’s enjoy watching them scuttle off elsewhere to make money.

Guess who CAN turn streaming music, or any music-related content-delivery racket into a business: YOU.

You the artist can use the internet, leverage your fans and create a tiny one-person business that puts food on your one plate and *maybe* if you really do it right can pay for your rent and health care.

Isn’t that what it comes down to?  We need to pay bills.

And we’re still stuck in the 70′s big record company mentality, all of us, fans and artists alike -that we forget how much what we do is really WORTH!

Not only that, we’re still blanket bombing people with our music, as if everybody cares.  And that’s where things are tricky nowadays -not only do less people care about any one thing, but you have to go find those people!  And they’re mixed in there with everyone else.

Record companies / labels used to find the right people by bombarding everyone with their stuff on the radio and tv until it stuck in some ears, and now that we all hate that kind of marketing, it’s even tougher.  We’re all smarter and protective of our ears.

So unfortunately no matter how nice they are as people, it means that the person who probably would care about your sound -or let’s say they would LOVE your sound -are also running into tons and tons of sounds they don’t necessarily love.

I’ll leave it at that for now, because I don’t want to crush anyone’s hopes, and I am far from an expert on this.

I’m still working on getting heard by the right people myself.  So I’ll leave it on a high note:

As long as you aren’t trying to live and die like a rockstar, when all you want is to be self-sufficient creating what you create, instead of squeezing it out of the wee free hours of the night after a 9 to 5, then I think something is on the horizon to answer that longing…

Or rather, it’s already here, if we just figure out a way to make it happen!  There’s no need for the *middleman, internet is here!

See the original article here.

To see my comment / rant on said article, scroll down to comment #75 or see it on my profile here.


*Let me clarify that when I say “middleman” I am also lumping Spotify & iTunes into that category.  I may be way misguided by saying we don’t need these music “discovery” systems, but I want to imply that we don’t need to be dependent on them..

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