Indie artists get all excited about distribution. They think if they get on itunes, rhapsody, etc..etc..etc..they will sell millions of downloads. Internet distributors have made a handsome amount of money by sticking indie artists on a gajillion websites, and for the most part, most have not sold many downloads. Why is this? I mean, if Cold Play can sell 700,000 downloads on itunes, why can’t the average indie?
Well, it’s called demand. See, most indie artists think if they simply create the product, then their music will sell when they stick it on countless websites. How foolish. They have signed a deal to “Osmosis Records.” Or, they think since God has called them to do their music, that He will miraculously raise the dead and they will buy their music. No… God is not in the music business.
What does create sales of music is DEMAND. The question of the epoch is how does an indie artist, who is just starting out create demand? I have a few thoughts on this subject.
1- Create GREAT content! There is a ton of good on the dubya3 these days, but very little GREAT. And, lets go back a step and talk about good and great. The average indie artist is simply that, average. People don’t buy average anymore, but they do support GREAT artists. Now, I’m not talking only about great music.. cause we all know having great music is just a part of the equation. Great can mean the artist has it happening on multiple fronts. But it points back to great CONTENT. People won’t gravitate towards mediocrity. People hate mediocrity.
2- Perform live often! It amazes me how many indies I come across who make a CD and who have never performed live. Hmmm… that would be like creating a race car and never driving it around the track! Some create their CD to be a digital business card, which provides them the vehicle to tell friends and family, “Look what I can do!” Another foolish activity, but then again, if all you want to do is impress people on the “Friends and Family” label, go for it! You gotta get out there live and cultivate real, live human being fans. The majority of your music sales will come from live performance. I’d say 90% come from live, 10% come off the dubya3.
3- Cultivate fan relationships! Look, music has been devalued to where it’s next to nothing. People think 99 cents is too much for a single song. So, use your music as a loss leader to create and cultivate relationships with people. They want to know the person behind the music. Now, this is all a mute point if your music stinks, so if you have been doing this for a few years and coming up empty, better look at your content, it’s trying to tell you something. Stinky music is like smelly diapers…
4- Change your systems! If things are not working and you are not seeing the results you are after, change the way you do things. Spending 80 hours per week on MySpace adding friends and no one cares? Get off the computer and go down to the street corner in your town with your geetar and start singing. I challenge everyone who reads this to go down to main street in your town and start sharing your music on a street corner. See if you have what it takes!
5- Think outside the box! News Flash… Most churches are not booking artists these days. Why not? There are many reasons, lack of budget, they have been burned by prima donna musicians, people are not coming to a church to hear music, etc… So, you need to think about where you can go do your thing. I’ve already mentioned street corners.. How about a homeless shelter? How about a local prison? Senior citizen home? Oooh.. not so glamorous.. and it doesn’t pay. Newsflash… God provides in mysterious ways, and not always through an honorarium or a love offering handed to you at the end of a concert. They key is getting out of your house! Amazing things happen when you leave your house! So, get off your computer and go out into the world.
OK.. I must be in a bad mood, because I realize most of what I shared is quite negative.. But hear me out, someone has to tell it like it is! I get tired of the “be a star for Jesus” contests, and the “battle of the christian bands” bull crap that I see out there. We have to get away from the “Play main stage in front of thousands….” mindset.
A long lasting and effective music ministry is built on a firm foundation. One person at a time. Go above and beyond and watch them turn into a fan…for life!
Now go get em!