This is a very long, well written and well argued article from the Quietus site.
I don’t agree with it!
Well, I do and I don’t.
Read the whole piece and the comments (particulalry that of ‘Mitch’ towards the bottom).
I won’t try to paraphrase what the article is about other than to say that it argues that the demise of the old school industry and the need for musicians to become the archetypal ‘DIY musician’ will mean the end of opportunity for many would be artists. This is explained at length.
Whilst I agree that there are now obstacles for all aspiring musicians to overcome, I simply don’t agree that the evaporation of the record itself (and the record deal) as a primary source of income for bands is the end of a financial springboard (or safety net) for those seeking to live out a career as working musicians – whether they pursue global fame or self-financing niche notoriety.
Sure, it is in some senses a shame that the musician now has to fund the beginnings of their own career (financially and through learning non-musical skills). but that’s the way the world is now and pining for an old system will do no-one any good.
The flipside for me is that if you want to build a career, now there are more opportunities than ever to seek out a fanbase and build on it – whilst earning a living. My own experience tells me that if your material is good you can make a living quicker and more reliably outside of the old system.
Maybe it’s beyond your ability to earn a living by being a DIY musician because no-one really thinks you’re music is worth supporting?
If that’s the case, don’t moan about the system – get back to your craft and make some better music! Come back and try again.
Someone’s got to bring this up, because it’s not a pretty picture. Consider, first, direct-to-fan marketing and social networking, said to involve fans so that they’re more inclined to attend shows, invest in ‘product’, and help market it. In practise this is a time-consuming affair that reaps rewards for only the few. Even the simple act of posting updates on Facebook, tweeting and whatever else is hip this week requires time, effort and imagination, and while any sales margins subsequently provoked might initially seem higher, the ratio of exertion to remuneration remains low for most. It’s also an illusion that such sales cut out the middlemen, thereby increasing income, except at the very lowest rung of the ladder: the moment that sales start to pick up, middlemen start to encroach upon the artist’s territory, if in new disguises. People are needed to provide the structure through which such activities can function, and few will work for free – and nor should they – even though musicians are now expected to.