Does this sound like you?  You have  a mini-recording studio in a tiny space…away from the distractions of family. Or, is your laptop/PC recording central?  Do you have to wait until your family is dreaming to get some creative time in?  It’s 2am and you’re in the moment, strumming, tinkling on the keyboard, putting down some beats, singing to your screen and posting on YouTube.  “Man, this sounds better than what’s on the radio”, you say to yourself.  If only…

Recording a 10-track CD costs about $30,000 on the low end and upwards of $50,000 on the high end to produce; and you’re thinking it’s never going to happen.  If only…  You’re internet search starts. You look for alternatives.  

Here are some of the questions I hear every day:

  1. How do I get the money I need to get my album going?
  2. My credit is shot and I can barely make ends meet, what are my options?
  3. No one’s ever heard of me, what’s it going to cost to advertise on my own?
  4. How do I get the attention of a Major Label?
  5. It’s hard to keep up with all the technology changes, where do I invest my time?
  6. I need a great singer or guitarist or lyrics, but how can I afford to hire someone?

I’ll answer these questions, but first, some stats to put this all in perspective.

According to Netcraft there are over 230 million live websites active as of June 2009.  What percentage are devoted to music alone?  Hard to say – but I can tell you that MySpace claims 27% of all their pages (110 million active pages) are music pages.  That’s about 30 million recording artists, primarily independent or unsigned on MySpace alone.  Using the MySpace percentage on all live websites (yes, I know it’s not scientifically accurate – but I’m painting a picture here), that would infer that over 6.2 million websites are devoted to the music industry. That’s a lot of websites. You’ll need to be really clever to get attention when 36 million other artists are trying to do the same thing!

Some recording artists want celebrity, but most just want to earn a comfortable living wage from the one thing that makes their hearts beat faster, their minds work overtime and puts a smile on people’s faces.  There’s hope!

Time to answer questions:

  1. You can raise funds by traditional means (takes longer, but do-able) or by taking a safe, calculated risk. There are many websites out there, like Artist Actualized, that help artists raise funds by putting them in front of ‘citizen investors’.  A budget is pre-determined and then music fans or investors go to the website and invest in your project or idea.  If people like YOU, they’ll invest.  You’ll need a good project plan, examples of your work and be willing to let people watch you work via internet posts and video.  As with everything else some companies do a better job than others and like the song says,  You’d Better Shop Around.  If you go the traditional route, I have another article posted on Ezines that outlines the ideas.
  2. If your credit is shot or you no longer have a bank account, look for artist support groups (Google, Yahoo, Ning have a few), or artist marketing or promo sites that help you with that.  They are out there, you just have to look around.  No one has perfect credit their entire life (unless you are really lucky) and now that the credit market is so tight, one of those groups may be the ticket you need to rebuild.
  3. There are 6 million websites that are devoted to music (remember the unscientific way we figured that out?), so the way to advertise with no money is to join the FREE networks.  Shy away from the ‘get rich quick’ or multi-level-marketing sites, most are scams, but there are music oriented networks that you can join.  Don’t forget there’s always, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, Bebo and many other social networking sites.  Keep your messaging simple.  Don’t sell – inform.  Promote someone else’s music you like…who knows, you may open for each other after establishing a cyber relationship and can arrange to be in the same town at the same time.  Michael Port, NY Times Bestselling author, has two free networks that are great for connecting:  Book Yourself Solid and Think Big Revolution.
  4. You don’t need a major label.  You need sweat equity.  You need time and patience.  You need a support system and/or a street team.  GenFreeMusic is one such social network.  You can be your own major label and keep most of the profits to yourself.
  5. The only way to keep up with technology is to follow it.  Read blogs, Ezines, and use RSS feeds to keep up with trends.  Suggested reading for market trends are Gerd Leonhard (Media Futurist), Seth Godin (Marketing thought leader), Chris Anderson (Author of Long Tail and Free) and Derek Sivers (Launched CDBaby).  All have blogs that inform and spark ideas for media and music.
  6. You have to put yourself under a harsh light.  It could be your musicianship is just under par to attract the kind of listeners you want.  You can do several things to make up for deficiencies; use one of the band/artist citizen fundraising groups to build your budget, look for music collaboration sites, like F-Jam to work with artists online.  A great way to polish your tracks is to use a producer/record label, like Bo-Ty Productions who know how to make you sound like the A-list recording artist you are.

The bottom line is that you don’t always need funding to get what you want.  Your success as a recording artist is dependent on social consumerism, not fame.  People learn to like you and then tell other people about you. Get yourself entrenched with like-minded people that collaborate, socialize and are active in wired social communities.  You’ll get better attention from yourself than you ever will from a major label.  If you just don’t have time to be your own record label, then use the power of the internet to help you attract citizen investors – you may have to share a small percentage of the proceeds to manage the banking and invoicing, but at least you won’t have to look under the cushions for coins.

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