Ask two people about the state of the music industry and you’ll get three answers. It’s certainly true that music has faced some real challenges with the rise of the internet, but it hasn’t all been a disaster! Far more people are producing and composing music than ever before, collectively pushing music and sound design to the fringes of artistic expression.
The internet, whilst the nightmare of the large record companies has provided a launching pad for countless bands that were swept up through popular appeal as opposed to rusty and formulaic big record label signings. New sources of revenue such as streaming, donation platforms and small-scale merchandise have helped small bands in the new post-CD climate. However positive the overall state of things are, there are several ways that musicians can avoid getting lost in the crowd and play the new digital world to their advantage.
Most bands have a Facebook page or a YouTube channel, but maintaining a consistent and engaging presence on these outlets will increase your exposure. Try running competitions, live streaming demos or starting a vlog to show fans the behind-the-scenes of your music.
Building up attention and engagement across digital platforms cannot be underestimated, as well as a great way to get your sound heard. Fans like to feel they know you so maintaining a digital persona will help to ensure this and provide a deeper connection between the listener and composer beyond the play button.
Many bands or producers have taken to creating sample packs or libraries of music and soundtracks to be used in advertising or TV although it can be a difficult field to crack therefore making in-roads here could provide you with the revenue that you need to continue with your artistic endeavours.
The purists amongst us might claim that it’s a form of selling out but separating your band music from your revenue source could prove to protect your band from pursuing a more commercial sound. In order to pay the bills, you could write jingles one day and produce thrash punk noisecore the next!
Physical album sales are still shrinking since their free-fall began at the turn of the millennium. Streaming revenue, although making up some of the losses still fails to provide the returns that artists could enjoy a couple of decades ago especially not for smaller artists. Live music is the obvious solution to falling sales which explains why live music counts for almost half the music industry’s income.
Live touring has always been the meat and gravy of the up-and-coming rock band for electronic acts, it’s tended to be somewhat less easy. This has changed through the exploding popularity of EDM which increases the ease that electronic musicians can expect a touring circuit or a slot in one of the EDM festivals that seem to be everywhere these days. We are not talking DJs here. I’m talking Jack Garratt, Hermitude and Pendulum.
This relates to the previous point, not only should compositions be new and original bringing something new to the already bursting library of sound but it should be delivered in an interesting way. This could be done through artwork or format of release, some artists have used apps, USB sticks or even puzzles to release their music.
Be creative and ensure that fans feel engaged and involved with the process. When it comes to live performances, this is just as important and if you are an electronic band, being able to compose your digital productions live will be of massive appeal to audiences. DJs are a dime a dozen; Hermitude for example combine the use of turntables, keys, drum machines and samplers in their shows. It rings of an authenticity impossible to recreate through simple mixing. Originality also applies to the image of the band – Gorillaz is a fine example where all the band members are cartoon characters with plot lines and the personalities are all tied together in a story which reveals itself through music videos, sleeve notes, artwork and lyrics. We all know that the easy days of mass produced rock are over, originality and quirkiness are the new leather jackets.
Learn to Produce
There was a time when bands had little option but to place their work in the hands of a producer to transform their individually recorded tracks into a full song. Nowadays it’s far easier to produce your own music even if just for a demo. Being able to mix together your recordings will not only improve your chances of getting picked up by a label but it will also open your mind to new sounds, instruments or techniques, this you might not have thought about before.
Think of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) as another instrument; every musician will know the awesome experience of picking up a new instrument and discovering a whole new approach to creating sounds – the DAW is an instrument on steroids.
Don’t be afraid to take the first steps towards transforming your ideas, plans and sounds into reality.
Article by: Joseph Matthews
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