Written by Tommy Darker.
Most artists feel helpless today. This is how I comprehend their crawling around the digital music world. Laws and the status quo have changed radically, the audience’s behaviour and preferences as well. And we cannot change their newly ingrained views. It would be pointless. In my opinion, the digital world has ‘change’ imprinted in its DNA.
I understand that we want to preserve the status quo, because it worked so far. But I think we miss out the opportunity for innovation presented here: to build our own future as independent entities and help a new culture emerge.
They say you cannot break the nose with small punches. You need to punch it vigorously.
That’s what we, as visionary independent artists, need to go for.
I have a plan and I intend to execute it gradually. I will briefly present my mindset here. So, follow along and tell me what you think. I would encourage you to share my views, whether you agree or not, so we can have a diversity of opinions.
Advantage for labels, opportunity for independent artists
Labels have strong cards in the game. Let’s see the ultimate truth for a moment.
Major labels. There are a few major players, with a few artists on board, mainstream following and a lot of strong connections and budget. They are on the left side of the Long Tail, their model is to build short-term hits and milk them till the next one. They know the recipe for a hit and walk on that very same way all the time. Predictability and reverential measurement of metrics are their weapon. If something happens not to work, they dump it. Scaling up is the ultimate goal, after all.
Independent artists. Our main characteristic and advantage: we are a lot, millions. And every single artist has some power and following that is difficult to ignore once combined with others as a group. An ant, as an entity, might be insignificant, but as a group, it can move objects multiple times of its size. In economic figures, our Long Tail part is competitive to the major artists.
Here’s where I see the opportunity. In collective power.
A few major players can change a market, but they cannot change a culture. A million minds can.
Startups showed the way. They showed, in progressive fashion, that an ecosystem around entrepreneurship can change, if there is persistence.
A few years ago nobody could believe that it would be so easy to create your own enterprise. A few visionaries started, persisted and inspired. They got early adopters on board. They kept persisting. And services to accommodate that culture shift soon appeared; because businesses saw an opportunity to make money by offering services to an emerging trend. The same goes for investors.
That trend took a share of people’s minds, who passed it on. Then social proof came, a few successes showed that it’s not impossible to build a profitable business out of a niche idea. And more followed. People started encapsulating and teaching this knowledge. And the culture became stronger. Everybody believes now. Culture shift completed.
The transition didn’t happen because of money or metrics. It happened because of persistence for radical change in the culture. It all started with a few crazy individuals.
None of these guys that founded startups was a businessman before. It was the need to do something bigger than themselves that pushed them towards innovation, creation and then education and knowledge.
Their accomplishment: now millions build healthy businesses out of what they love, by offering real, honest value to the real world.
The same thing can happen for musicians. Startups play with needs, we play with emotions. Needs and culture are extremely important for a healthy human being.
But we are not united. We do not have the same mindset to work as one, towards one direction. This is why a reset in mind is required. Before investing in videos, recordings and networking, we need to learn to invest in knowledge. Re-learning some things is essential for independent musicians to take advantage of their huge power.
Next up: the platform
I’m planning to build a platform to unite performing artists and change our habits. Easy to think, it will take much effort and patience to execute. The platform will not change the culture. We will. The platform will merely be the medium to enable us to see relationships hidden before, encouraging success stories buried in oblivion or revealing opportunities and ground for innovation that people thought was blurry.
PS. Follow my work @TommyDarker.
I’m Tommy Darker, the writing alter ego of an imaginative independent musician. I started ‘Think Beyond The Band’ because I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and I like helping other fellow musicians that struggle with the same problems.