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Are Independent Music Artists Gradually Becoming Dependent Music Artists?

As more indie artists gravitate toward new web services in mass, I often wonder about the individualism of the independent artist movement and where it will eventually end up.

dependent artist-unemployment lineWith new web services springing up to cater to the needs of artists by the day, it is becoming less practical for artists to spend money to update and maintain a personal web page. Nowadays with many budgets running tight, I can understand why many artists are cutting costs by signing up for a new web service instead.

To my dismay, the band | artist website is fast becoming an afterthought instead of the standard prerequisite. The ones I do find are often abandoned, rarely updated or left for dead in some obscure corner of the internet. Most just provide links to other popular web services on the net where they can be found as members.

So, why I am concerned? Web services that cater to Independent Artists should be great news!

For starters, here is a clipping form an article I read recently

Digital music company eMusic is rumored to be up for sale, according to various reports, but that hasn’t stopped it from signing licensing deals with big music. This morning, eMusic announced that it come to an agreement with Warner Music Group and that it will soon begin selling tracks from WMG’s roster of artists to its U.S. users.

I read articles like this all the time. It usually involves one web service being sold to the highest bidder and it assets assimilated into another web service – or a popular indie music site signing a deal with the one of the major labels.

When you take into account all the popular services artists maintain, brand and build a  presence on  – just to name a few: LaLa , Myspace, Last Fm, Bebo, Facebook, Itunes, Imeem(now Myspace), Youtube;  you start  to see a disturbing trend. Indie artist “interests” are gradually being controlled by high profile corporations/companies and important decisions are now being made by shareholders. Déjà vu all over again? Or Major labels finding a new goose to cook?

If these trends continue, much of what artists(we) do  on the internet and the decisions we make will become dependent on someone else; for instance the new  freemium model, the monetary terms set by Itunes, or the changing of the TOS (terms of service) you checked when you signed up for the said service. How often do you read the TOS anyway, or if you do… understand what you’re reading?

What should artists do about it?

To reverse this trend I feel artists should take the time to at least invest some kind of effort into dot coms and learn how to drive traffic from popular websites back to a home base. It should be an important first step to truly becoming independent. I cringe when I find a worth while artist and he/she shuttles me from a twitter account, then to a dot com which redirects me to a profile on myspace. Come On Artists! 60,000 followers and no website!?

What many artists fail to realize is much of their activity on the internet drives traffic. Instead of learning how to monetize traffic, many artists are missing out on a golden opportunity by expending much of their energy driving fans to services such as facebook. Then these same services cash in on much of their efforts by signing them(fans) up as new members and monetizing them(fans) all in one shot.

The next time you log into your account, check the side bar to the right of your page. The very same ads many of your fans are seeing as well…

indie ghost townI also believe if artists decide to take matters into their own hands, many developers would find it in their best interests to cater to individual artists and bands within the internet community; connecting artist/fans/websites in much the same way new applications connect web services. It would open up a world of new opportunities to the truly  independent community.

Exciting new applications for indies would eliminate the ghost town feeling I get when I navigate to an indie artist site.

If you have any doubts…  Remember This!  Independent Artists Drive Traffic On The Web!  Traffic= Currency! Currency=Empowerment. You don’t need Myspace. Myspace Needs you!

As it stands now, many artists are responsible for feeding the dependent cycle and allowing the industry to keep a foothold in the indie music business.

It’s something to think about the next time you decide to bypass your own personal space; in essence becoming more dependent with your identity and brand in someone else’s hands.



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  1. Some people take this stuff for granted, and I believe that their investing success suffers in the end. There's a major tendency to hope for quick solutions that the bulk of people end up doing more harm than good. A nice reality check helps everyone to keep our footing in a treacherous market.