The music industry is changing, but has the way we do business? Pt 1 – have a plan

the landscape is changing

Not just the weather that’s changing…the music industry is too!

Part 1 – have a plan. The music industry is changing, but has the way we do business changed?

A few weeks ago I wrote a brief blog on the importance of video as an online tool for promoting you as an artist or band. It occurred to me that even with this and all the other tools available to the aspiring artist online that to be successful you have to have a plan to pull all these tools and ideas together. This is the music business after all, therefore you have to treat it like one.

The industry has changed wholesale, everyone can see that and the term DIY is one that’s being used more and more by labels not just artists. If you are signed to an independent label today if you have to be careful about what they are doing for their money and make sure they aren’t just doing something you could be doing yourself!

Let me give you an example a little closer to home; Aurovine’s very own ‘2nd Life Band’ in South Africa are completely independent. They run the band as a business and everyone has a role to do on and off the stage as well as employing the services of a manager and marketing advisor full time…….and what’s more they make a comfortable living out of it too………..they have no label, no management company, no ‘powers that be’ to please – it’s just the ‘2nd Life Band team and they decide when to write, when to release, when to tour, where to tour and when to start it all over again; they live and die by their own decisions.

Of course technology has changed over the years and having a digital strategy is useful, video is key to promotion as we have already discussed but there has to be an overall plan; the band needs organising and you all need  to stick to the plan and follow it through.

Depeche Mode are a band that have been around for 35 years now and have lived their entire careers on the peripheral of the Pop world almost creating their own genre as they continually strive to re-invent themselves at crucial stages in their careers. From intense criticism and the inability to be taken seriously in their early years to filling stadiums at their peak, to the plateaux of a number of steady albums in the twilight years it almost seems like they just seemed to wing it from one decade to the next but there must have followed some idea of a plan, didn’t they. They will tell you differently, they will say they didn’t know what would happen from one day to the next but in my eyes there was a plan, however subtle.

Martin Gore once said he never told anyone what his songs are about when asked because it ‘spoils the magic of the song for someone else….’. He empathised with his audience. And they loved him for it. They followed the band with a surprising intensity that many envied and disbelieved. In 1990, Enjoy the Silence was nominated for Best Single at the Brit Awards and for an alleged joke Martin Gore mailed the Fanbase and said ‘why don’t you vote for Enjoy the silence and see if we can win the award…” what Gore didn’t bank on was the response. They did vote and Depeche mode won their first Brit award. A powerful position to be in.

The lessons to learn are if you look after your audience and give them what they want they will support you in ways that you never dreamed of. I would also bear in mind that if you are still looking for a label and there is some interest there then they will still be looking to see what you have been ‘doing for yourself’ up until that point. They are more likely to sign an artist or band who clearly isn’t afraid of hard work than one that is….  So, have a plan from the start!

Look out for part 2 tomorrow.

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