This is a guest post by Mark Snyder of Weekend Warrior Worship: a network of independent artists, songwriters, music industry pros, and like-minded supporters who strive to do one thing well – source the church with great, bible centered worship songs.
Music Industry News
Today, Mark Snyder talks about the Music Ecosystem
An ecosystem is anything that works together to achieve a goal. For instance, a biological ecosystem might include plants that convert solar energy to food, animals, insects that pollinate plants, animals that rely on the plants, etc. Each level has a role and a purpose. In the indie music business however, we often do not clearly identify the ecosystem we rely on, nor do we identify the roles and expected outputs of each level of our ‘ecosystem’. The result can be misspent money, frustrated expectations, and bad results.
Your ecosystem can consist of many things. Probably the most important resource in your ecosystem is yourself. There will be some things you can do well, and some things you might want others to do for you. In the case of Weekend Warrior Worship, we decided early on that music production was something we needed help with. This turned out to be a great choice, as we made a connection with Jeff McCullough who made immeasurable contributions to the project.. Something we did ourselves that we probably should have had help with was projecting our image – things like our website design, banner ads, press kit, etc. The key here is – do yourself what you are strong in, but honestly evaluate where you are not as strong and identify resources. Resources can be family, friends, online services, or other professional services. Use your network to help you to find good resources. In WWW case, we found a great resource in an old friend Dan Stone who made us some great videos very cost effectively.
If you are paying for services, the most important tip you can remember is to clearly identify the services for which you are paying, and do not assume you are getting things you are not. For instance, you may contract someone to make a demo or studio recording. This should consist of certain services, such as studio time, studio players, mixing, delivering master files, etc. But the producer is likely not offering you a way to get your music to the right people. He/she may say that a good demo is a way to do that, but there will certainly be more work or perhaps more services required to accomplish that. Similarly, if you are paying for advertising, radio promotion, video production, or whatever, be clear about what you are actually receiving. The bottom line is, nobody can sell you radio success, or commercial success, or a way to get ‘signed’ or ‘discovered’. They can and will sell you services that might help you to get there though.
There are many services that are offered online, and many online services that overlap each other. There are complete ‘indie artist platforms’ like Nimbit, CD Baby, Indie Heaven, etc. Many of these are monthly subscription based, and will tell you all of the advantages of using them. The thing to keep in mind is this – have a clear idea of what services you require, what you intend to do yourself, what you will need to have help with. Then evaluate what set of services are being offered by different vendors, and get the ones you need at a cost effective price. Someone may sell you 20 services, but if you only need 2 of them, it may not be a good bargain. Many of these services may indeed provide good value, but have it mapped out first.
One other note – the music industry is in constant flux, and is changing more than ever even as we write this. Social media changes all the time. Music discovery, delivery and purchasing methods change all the time. New technologies like Spotify, for instance are changing the way we discover consume music. The end of the radio era may be upon us. Whatever you do, try and keep your flexibility, and try to have control of your own image and your own creations, whether they be recordings, sheet music, or whatever. How many ‘MySpace’ artists have established their online presence at MySpace only to see FaceBook take over social networking? How many might wish they had set up their online presence around their own website instead? These are the things to keep in mind – arm yourself for change. Be a student of the industry itself, and think ahead, as you design your ecosystem and execute to realize your musical dreams within it.