Making it in the music business today

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Todd Simpson
Todd Simpson


An article by Todd Simpson

The sad news is that "Music Business" that is the biz of selling units of music is shrinking. It continues to shrink every year. But fear not, with change comes opportunity. Have a look at this chart.


This trend promises to continue well in to the future indicating the "Traditional" Music Biz is simply going away. But it's not really going to disapear. It's just changing. That's great news for you as an emerging artist. The first thing you have to do is forget the measure of success in the old model. Usually this involved getting signed by a big record company and such. These days, most of those companies are dead broke and inches from bankruptcy. So what to do?

The good news is there has never been a better time to be a musician. Distribution is now free (the internet) but your music should also stay free. This is something many new artists struggle with. But at first, until you have a pretty big following, your main enemy is OBSCURITY, or the fact that nobody knows you or your music. So give your music away, put it in indie movies, short films, anything. You just need to get it out there and get it heard.

You may be thinking "How will I make money if I give my music away?". You won't, at first. Once you reach a certain critical mass, (once you have a decent following that is statistically verifiable whether on youtube, twitter, whatever, that is a kind of currency, a kind of wealth. You can take that to vendors, (folks that make stuff you want like guitars and amps) and ask for a "sponsorship" essentially you agree to pimp product X to your audience in exchange for getting product X for free or crazy cheap.

You may say this, is great, but it won't pay my bills. Your right. To do that, you will need to find places to put your music. Sign up for as many online music services (like one mentioned here in the forums, and wads of others that will either buy your music for licensing / selling to others, or license it for you and split the proceeds. Many of these companies offer "non exclusive" contracts meaning you can put the same song on more than one sight.

Also, try to make friends with up and coming film directors. Contact the film program at every school/university near you and offer to help score student projects. Even if by "scoring" you just offer up some songs. Odds are some of those directors will find work, and when they do, you have a history with them and by then a relationship and that leads to opportunity. Next thing you know you are making music for movies.

Same is true for games. Insert yourself in the lives of creative people and establish relationships. It's these that will provide the best opportunities.

I've just listed a few ways to monetize your music. I didn't touch on touring, gigging, etc. But I wanted to go in to areas you might not think of. This is a great time to alive and to be making music. Embrace the change and find your path.


Todd Simpson

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