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Tom Silverman Talks Trouble For The New Music Industry

milesofpilesI worked at a used bookstore in high school and college, and I learned something interesting about booksellers: most people who sell used books don’t read. My boss and his colleagues told me that over the years, sellers see so many books come and go that it becomes almost impossible to choose one to read, and eventually, you just kinda give up.

I remembered that detail this week as I was reading an interview at Wired.com with the founder of Tommy Boy Records, Tom Silverman. Silverman has a lot of things to say that are contrary to the whole, “hey-ho, technology is saving the music industry” line we hear so much these days. The bad news? The music market is so glutted with bands and artists struggling to DIY that nobody is making any money. Fewer artists are breaking through today than ever before.

According to Silverman, our love affair with technology has created a supersaturated system whereby there is too much content for any quality to rise to the top. He quotes numbers claiming that 79,000 (80%) of the albums released last year sold under 100 copies – a number so insignificant in terms of industry stats that it might as well not exist. In other words, the industry itself is becoming like a used bookseller, so overwhelmed by choice that all those many choices may as well not exist.

Introducing London’s Paintings of Ships

The UK’s Most Seaworthy Grunge Rockers Talk Launching Their First EP

paintingsofships2Unapologetic 90s guitar fuzz, nautically inspired lyrics – Paintings of Ships ­don’t care much about fitting into a commercially pleasing genre. In fact, they’d prefer not to become the next short-lived band o’ the week. The London-based trio, made up of Daniel Clancy (vocals/guitars), Catherine Wilson (bass guitar/vocals), and Matt Hill (drums) just released their self-produced EP, Shore For Sure. We caught up with Clancy to discuss their DIY approach and what, exactly, is going right (and wrong) in the music industry.

GH: You’ve been together since 2009. Have you been looking for a deal with a record label?

DC: We haven’t actively been looking for a record deal at all thus far. We’re just having fun. Playing as many gigs as we can and recording our EP have proven to be reward enough for us, really. It’s a buzz to hear songs I spent hours writing and losing sleep over blasting away in my headphones or putting smiles on people’s faces at gigs (or the opposite).

GH: Are you happy to be an independent project?

An In-Depth Look at DIY with IndieGuide.com Founders

“There’s never been a better time to be a musician,” say Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan of indie band Beatnik Turtle. Oh, and the guys also just happen to be the masterminds behind IndieGuide.com – an amazingly detailed resource for indie artists looking for information on how to build their own career.

Chertkow and Feehan got their start authoring The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual For The Do-It-Yourself Musician and The DIY Music Manual: How To Record, Promote, And Distribute Your Music Without A Record Deal. In short, these guys know a thing or two about DIY.

IndieGuide_LogoWe spoke to Chertkow and Feehan about what it takes for musicians to do it all themselves, and why, as Jim Morrison put it, “the time to hesitate is through.” Here’s what they had to say:

GH: Should the process of becoming a successful band be all about getting the attention of a label, or are we at a point where thriving indies should be saying no to label attention?

RC/JF: “The choice as to whether to go with a label or not is up to each band. But that’s the important thing: it’s a choice, not a necessity. In the past musicians had to go for the record deal. Today, it’s just a business decision.