As 2011 draws to a close, let''s take stock of the year in music business trends: From a top-level vantage point, the industry continues along its downward spiral, with more major labels merging, downsizing, and closing; artists topping charts with 20,000 unit sales (or racking up a million 99-cent deals); and piracy still running rampant. Yet at the same time, Spotify and other “free” streaming services are exploding, cloud-based services and crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter are gaining momentum, and 500 million dollars have been pumped into startups like FanBridge, RootMusic, and Songkick.
What does this all mean to the average musician? While the “industry” takes hits, the ecosystem is shifting in favor of the artist. Barriers to entry have fallen away at every step in the process, from production tools to resources for marketing and distributing music. In a new “mass of niches,” fans seek unique, personalized experiences, and the web offers it all.
So if anyone can be a creator, and consumers have unlimited choices, how do you rise above the noise? By now, it''s a given that talent is not enough—your success depends on your entrepreneurial spirit. You have to be a marketer, be shrewd about working tools to your advantage.
But you don''t have to do it alone. In this month''s “Easy as MP3” Master Class, label execs, artists, and tech visionaries offer advice for maximizing online distribution opportunities.
Nobody knows how this will all shake out, but in the meantime, take hold of the “business” of your music. Understand your audience, maximize your resources, and be willing to take risks. Just like any successful entrepreneur.
Contact Sarah Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.