The music industry is one that, while enticing for many, that’s hard to break through. There are options other than the traditional pop star who makes millions however, as Daniel Ennis reminds us. Ennis is an English and advertising student at the University of Florida with a passion for music. Here’s his unique take on the subject:
“I have played in several bands over the last seven years, and before coming to college, I used to set up shows for other musicians to play too. We recorded a lot of music in those bands but didn’t have much interest in making money from it. We mostly just ended up handing CDs out at cost or giving free downloads to people. We didn’t make money, but we had a reputation in our hometown.
With websites such as Bandcamp, MySpace, Facebook, and other social media channels, music can be spread with the click of a button. This can be advantageous for do-it-yourself types because relatively unknown bands can easily attract fans all over the world, but at the same time, it’s detrimental to the record label system that has been in place since music has been recorded. Anybody can download anything. Social media and the internet perpetuate this spread of information and give opportunities to bands that wouldn’t ordinarily get attention. At the same time, the notoriety of bands that become known on e-zine and music community websites such as Pitchfork Media (http://pitchfork.com) or Stereogum (http://www.stereogum.com) has a shorter shelf-life. Bands come and go as frequently as the seasons, and trends in styles come and go at the same time. It’s a very interesting time, with a lot of opportunity for the early adapters that are willing to take a little risk and play the game.
If you have a DIY label, one of the biggest difficulties is creating interest. If the music is good enough, then it will speak for itself, so to speak. But it’s not always that easy. When the label promotes its artists through shows to create a grass-roots feel, while at the same time utilizing new forms of social media such as YouTube, it is easier for the listener to participate in generating interest, which makes it easier for the DIY label to exist.
Communication with potential fans is also a key. Communication, always seeming “new” and in the moment, always creating new things, or giving the impression that new things are always coming out is really important. But at the same time, you don’t want to saturate your audience with too much all at the same time. If the band can find the right balance between saturation and silence, they are likely to be able to get interest and notoriety enough to build a network of fans that come back for more.
The best way to succeed on Twitter is to be interactive. If you’re talking a lot, responding quickly to anyone’s retweets and mentions, they’re more likely to have a conversation with you. Conversation is a big way to get attention that can then promote music.
Social media is moving very fast all the time that it’s hard to predict which direction will be next. I would like to be able to say that Facebook will be around forever, but I know that’s not true—not by a long shot. Commercialization takes away the appeal of many sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, so people are more likely to abandon one social medium in search for another that doesn’t disrupt their day-to-day socializing as much.
People will want to keep finding ways to communicate on the internet and find new ways to interact so they can find new music (and other things such as news and videos). Still, it’s hard to say what’s next. Maybe Xanga will make a revival, but for the sake of people on the internet everywhere, I hope it doesn’t. (Xanga was notorious for illegal file sharing and pornography.)”
As someone without the ability to even carry a tune, I have a lot of respect for those who dedicate their lives to music in any sort way. If you’re musically inclined and want to read more about what exactly the industry is about and how to get involved, be sure to check out one of our newest releases So you Want to…Join the Music Industry, available on Amazon.