Independent Music DIY #4: The music eco-system

The World Wide Web has an abundance of information on the music eco-system. Blogs, articles, reviews, how-to’s, how-not-to’s, analysis, commentaries, templates, memes, videos, vlogs, podcasts, audio casts … hundreds of thousands of each type of content. By authorship, there is content for industry analysts, industry experts, industry writers, industry bloggers, professional bloggers, amateur writers, music enthusiasts, music platform staff, labels, promoters, artists, musicians, producers … hundreds of thousands of each type of author. Everyone means well and everyone communicates from experience or data or somewhere in between.

But when we started out, I realised none of it is really helpful when it comes to getting things done. One keeps trying one thing after the other but it takes you nowhere towards your goal.

The world has not changed since there were only big labels. All the platforms and new media will notice you only if you become big enough or have enough audience behind you. And new artists don’t have large audience because enough people don’t know they exist. Enough people don’t know they exist because the algorithms and the reviewers and other sundry gatekeepers don’t open the gate if an artist is not big enough. Round and round and round we go till we drop off.

If you are a new or emerging or experienced independent artist, you are likely to be mistaken that digital platforms, blogs, distributors are all looking for you and your music because that’s what their communication and ads and hooks say: “made for independent artists. All you gotta to do is your music, we will do the rest since we are made for you! Yeah!”. 

It makes one believe that once you sign up, your music will magically be visible to the listeners. Therein lies the catch. Once you sign up to any platform, all that happens is that you are now one of the many musicians/artists in the never-ending line of musicians/artists all clamouring for the listeners attention.

The listener can never find you unless you are in the Top 3 of the popular playlists or charts that platforms and media and analysts put out on their apps? Why? Because only the Top 3 are guaranteed to be seen on a mobile device screen (after the header image, the branding, etc).

Top 5 or Top 10 is also okay but you are living in hope that many individual listeners will click the playlist/chart and scroll beyond the first screen. Anything beyond Top 10 on a playlist or a chart goes into ‘hope as a strategy’. 

Our reality put us into the ‘prayer as a strategy’ category – praying that we get on a playlist. So we decided to break it down for ourselves and try to get a handle on who stands between an artist’s music and the audience. Here is what I suspect is a very high-level, partial list of the different parts of the music industry:

  1. Labels (big, small, independent)
  2. Artists & Repertoire (A&R) Representatives
  3. Music PR Firms
  4. Digital Service Provider (Music DSP)
  5. Media (national, regional, local; print, digital, electronic, broadcast)
  6. Music Distributors

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