NOISE GATE: 6 Tenets for a New Music Industry, Part Six

Digital Music, Noise Gate

Today’s the last tenet in the series, and next week I’ll wrap up with some conclusions before getting back to regular programming in the new year. Last on the list is the importance of getting artists onside. Many bands bitch like crazy about their label, and actively recommend that people pirate their content – it’s a strange situation and one that’s unique to the music industry. How do you get them onside? Click over the jump for my recommendations.

  1. Music must be sharable – word of mouth is more important than ever
  2. Revenue must come from multiple sources – if one bit of the industry becomes obsolete, it shouldn’t sink the whole ship
  3. New technologies are to be welcomed and understood, not feared and litigated against
  4. A&R can be crowdsourced, but remember the long tail
  5. “Added value” is key – give people a reason not to pirate things
  6. Your artists are your most important spokespeople

Your artists are your most important spokespeople

Ask nearly any band out there what they think about filesharing, and most will tell you that they love it. They find it awesome (if a little creepy) that not just the entire front row but half the room, has a copy of that album they made when they were 16, doing their A-Levels and were called ‘The Horsefaeries’. What they love, most of all, is that far more people are listening to their music than ever before.

But ask them what they think of major labels, and you’re likely to hear a different story. Sure, whatever, it’s not true that you won’t let them make a reggae-skiffle album. I believe you. But the fans don’t, because they trust the band and they don’t trust you.

So get the artists onside. Be friends with them – real friends, not just ‘grinning for the press photo’ friends. Give them a reason to talk in interviews about how awesome it is being a part of your company. How you listen to what they think, and act on it. How you genuinely care about their music, and aren’t just using it to line your pockets – you do care about their music, right?

When you start doing that, the word will spread pretty quick. New bands will desperately want to be a part of your company, even if it means they get paid less. Ask anyone at Microsoft if they’d rather work at Google, and the answer will almost always be yes, even if Google doesn’t pay as well. You’ll get the best bands, the most fans, and, before long, the most money.

There’s no reason that major music companies have to be seen as the devil. They’ve got that reputation because most of the time they act like the devil. Be good to your staff, good to your bands, good to your fans, and they’ll happily give you their most valuable commodity – their attention.

More Noise Gate: Tenet 4: Let everyone else pick your new favourite band | Tenet 5: Let them eat carrots

Duncan Geere
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