If you are a beginner on the music business or an indie musician just getting started on the business of music; this post provides some insights on the reality of the business. Every indie musician has its dream of becoming big in the music business world. But first, make sure you understand the reality out there so that after years of quest for success it won’t end with a disappointment.
Myth 1: You need help from strong connections to get signed to a major label or get deals
Fact: If you are a newcomer, signing as an artist in the major label or getting lucrative deals is like playing a lottery. Even you have strong connections; this is not a guarantee that you can be sign to a label. Lots of services are promising indie musicians to get signed to a label or help them to get a deal. But in my experience, they are only squeezing money out of the indie artist. And VERY high percentage of the indie artist didn’t get their return.
This won’t stop you from pursuing a career in music business but currently with a lot of financial issues surrounding the music industry, this goal is becoming trickier and harder to achieve. It is not advisable to make this as your long term goal. What it seems to be possible is that anyone can buy or like your music with or without the help of the major label or help with connections that you need to pay for.
For example, make a goal first to have at least one fan buying or downloading your music (real money in exchange of your music); then start to do more work from there (more marketing, more songs, more fans, etc.). Just like any goal driven project, you need to make a single step forward each day in realizing this goal.
By the way, major labels only invest in proven talent that is already making a lot of money on their own. It is because signing this artist is a low risk investment compared to unknown/unproven artist. You can do this without establishing strong connections; your success can easily attract anyone in the field who is planning to join the bandwagon.
Myth 2: Indie artist can get airplay success in commercial FM stations with payola
Fact: Think of this the other way. If radio stations play list are dictated by payola, the bad music would be aired because they are paid. Thus the listeners would not be happy with this and the station rating would go down. It is why FM radio stations should be very careful with this and why payola is bad. They earn money from advertising. The quality of their playlist would drive more listeners which in turn would increase their advertising revenue.
If you pay them to play your music, you are bribing them. Supposing they accept the bribe, no matter how bad your music; it will be played. But it cannot catch that much public attention since its takes more than payola to make the song successful in airplay. It needs to be a hit song, a well-crafted and well-recorded music.
Photo Credits: Tracy Grauman
The same thing with Internet radio Jango. Songwriters don’t receive royalties from this. Here is one of the email I received from Jared Hallock: