The Future of Music (Part 3 of 5)

5 Questions. 5 Voices. 5 Fresh Perspectives.

Welcome to part 3 of our 5 part conversation on the future of music. You can also check out the panel’s thoughts on the future of distribution and the album.

The Panel:

Phil Conner: President, Red Room Management. Red Room recently signed Kentucky-based rockers Nineball.

Mike Condo: Senior Sales manager of Gotee Records (Family Force 5, Ayeisha Woods, Relient K).

Josh Ballard: Vocalist/pianist for Until June.

Manchild: MC for the acclaimed underground hip-hop group Mars ILL.

Luke Bushias: guitarist for the Chicago-based band Made Avail, who currently have no record label affiliation.*

The Question: The “old way” of thinking about music was that an artist signed to a label, and handed over a significant part of their career to a professional staff, relying on total strangers for everything from recording to marketing. These days, artists carry “mobile studios” in backpacks, design and print their own merchandise, and market themselves through blogs and myspace. In this new era of “hands on” artistry, what are the most important elements of the business side of music for artists to master?

Condo: They are the driving force of their brand. As with anything, the more they put into the endeavor, the stronger the artist or band will become. It is our job as a label to partner with the artist and help them build their brand via national exposure, but we can’t go online and answer questions from fans. The old school idea that all artists have to do is make great songs and then go out and perform them simply isn’t true. Now artist have to go on myspace, youtube, and a dozen other networking sites to connect with their fans. Take it a step farther, and the same artists have to also set up a mobile platform where they can leave messages for all of their fans via their cell phone. It is now about direct contact with your fans on a daily basis.

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Josh: As an artist signed with a major Christian Label (Provident Label Group), we rely heavily on our team. However, in our case we are blessed to work with friends and not strangers and a label who believes in us. For an artists getting started, putting out records has never been more affordable and easy, however, that means the competition has gone up as well. You have twice as many artists with the same capabilities.

Manchild: Hustle, plain and simple. The “old” hustle was handing out tapes and promoting your own shows, and now it’s morphed into building up your e-mail list and cramming information at people that may be interested in your art. You have to stay on top of it stay constantly connected with fans. If you can combine that business sense with making quality music and touring, you can continue to exist in the market.

Phil: While it is getting easier and cheaper to make good sounding records at home, there is a ceiling as to how far an artist can go on their own. A friend of mine recently told me that he had just signed a record deal with a major label because he has had as much success as possible on his own. When I asked him why he finally “sold his soul” to a label, his answer was “I’ve done all I can do on my own.” He needed a major machine and major dollars behind him to get on MTV, to get on big tours etc, and “make the jump” to a national platform.

*Luke was not available to answer this question.

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