Record Companies are Dead – What Now?

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In the 21st century, record companies are losing their relevance. Why? It’s simple. The Internet.

Record companies failed to respond quickly enough to the benefits and challenges that the World Wide Web brought. For example its early failures to deal with Music piracy and the lack of availability of music online in the late 1990s. Today, we’re spoilt for choice and can easily shop around at various retailers for online music such as iTunes, Amazon, Napster, 7digital etc as well as the various streaming services such as Spotify and Last.fm.

These services however, should have been available long before they became prominent in our everyday digital lives. People resorted to piracy and the original version of Napster for instance, because they wanted music straightaway, no hassle. If the world of technology and the world of music came together sooner, then perhaps the issue of piracy and lost revenue could have been softened, allowing record labels to spend more time on seeking new exciting artists and developing their careers rather than chasing profits lost through their ineptitude.

This is not an anti-record label rant, rather a serious look at the reality that artists no longer need record labels to start their careers, nor do they need to be bound by their stipulations and the limitations they can occasionally bring. The Internet has empowered musicians allowing them to take complete charge of their works and career progression. This is why record labels are no longer relevant.

It’s not all sweet and simple though. With the freedom and endless possibilities that the web brings, there is an equal amount of challenge, technical jargon, stumbling blocks and competition just to get to the point where your music is easily available.

Take a look through the social networking ghost town of MySpace and you’ll see just how much musical junk exists out there. There’s a lot. Many people have uploaded any old rubbish which has clogged up the internet making many corners of it a musical scrapyard. As a result, it’s no longer enough just to upload your tracks to MySpace, SoundCloud or wherever hoping that enough people will discover you to build up a fan base. You have a lot of work to do.

As a self-releasing musician, you’re going to have to wear many hats. As well as being a good musician, you’ll find yourself dealing with Administration, graphic and web design, social networking, merchandising, marketing… and that’s before you even get out into the real world and start meeting people face-to-face!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging about these many hats and what musicians and bands need to do to get heard. Leave comments about your experiences and how you’ve promoted your music and any success stories too.

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