We live in a crazy world.
A world where we'd rather pay streaming services than pay artists directly for their music. A world where bands engage directly with their fan base on social media. A world where musicians can make an entire album on their laptop... Is it bad? Not necessarily. Countless bands have been able to find tremendous opportunities and exposure because of the new model. It empowers artists to take action and connect as people, not just commodities.
Is it different? Yep. I think this is where some people get stuck thinking the music evolution is "bad," because it requires a change in perspective and approach. It isn't bad, it just changes how we do things in the industry.
Before I go any further, let me get something out there - you can do this. Be kind to yourself as you learn how to navigate this ever-changing industry and know that you offer something unique that is worth the adjustment. It's overwhelming, I know, but let's take it one step at a time...
What exactly does this new model mean for us today? It means that more than ever, if we want to find success, we have to stick together.
Supporting fellow artists takes little to no investment. It's a shared post on social media, a like or a comment. It's a local show admission, a t-shirt, a download. It's a word of encouragement.
But there's one major barrier that has to be broken first.
Something the music industry has built over the years, intentionally or not, is a sense of competition. Labels and gatekeepers have always fought for the dollars and attention of music consumers, and consequently, bands and artists have adopted this mindset in order to please the big players.
The problem with this mindset is it's not productive. It's futile and dismantles the very nature of creativity.
“When you look at the lives of innovators, there is often little distinction between work and play. And when creative people make it a point to spend time together, new ideas and joint projects emerge with little effort, a natural part of the rhythm of each day.” - Diana Pavlac Glyer, Bandersnatch
Creativity is communal by nature. Now that our industry has evolved, allowing for more creativity, this sense of competition should also be able to evolve into camaraderie, right?
But how do we do that? How do indie artists make a difference in the machine?
It starts with being honest about how we approach our music and if we're willing to make little changes in our thinking, away from competition, toward community:
Use your platforms to share good music. When's the last time you included someone else's work in your newsletter or on YouTube?
Partner locally with manufacturers, graphic designers, and service providers. Who does your merch and your album art? Can you take advantage of local talent within your community?
Be generous with your "likes" on social media. What holds you back from liking a post? Is there room for more? (Always)
Share something without expecting anything in return. When's the last time you were truly happy to celebrate another artist's success?
Tag another band in a post, without tagging your own. Are you able to identify opportunities for others?
Go to local shows. How often do you prioritize supporting your music scene by buying a ticket to a local show?
What's great about this is we get to set the temperature and the rules of engagement. I know a band in Louisiana who committed to this mindset and as a result, their local scene thrived and bigger acts started coming through to play their small town. Local bands got to play with national acts, fans got to meet their heroes, and to this day, the community is ALIVE.
So, how do you want to support others in the music industry? What holds you back from supporting them? Is it money? Time? Fear of sending your audience to someone else's music?
I want to challenge you today to support someone else's dream. Remember, with the creative freedom we've been offered, there's room for everyone at the table. Move forward in your music boldly, with no fear and with generosity.
To your success, Naø 🖤
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