The almighty mess the music industry is in is nothing if not well publicised. Enormous growth in new alternative methods of acquiring music over the internet have punched a big hole right in the middle of the business. There is quite simply just not enough demand for the tangible product anymore, with the previously fetishised mediums of vinyl and CD on a rapid decline.
The public don’t care enough about owning the ‘real thing’, now that the raw files can be bought cheaply or shared for free.What does this all mean for the hordes of young talented bands and musicians desperate for success? Every major city now has a pretty large roster of small independent record labels vying for the attention of the wider public or battling over localised niche markets.
As a result, many bands are able to ‘get signed’ to one of these small labels, fulfilling a massive childhood dream. But is this really the step towards success that we imagine anymore? Though many independent labels have provided important stepping stones for upcoming acts, the harsh reality is that a lack of funding and PR can often mean no real progress ever materialises. Too many quality bands find themselves being told that their single or album will be appearing ‘soon’ — industry code for ‘we’re skint’. The real problem is the divide between the small independent labels and the level of the major labels.
Because of the problems the industry as a whole is experiencing, major labels cannot afford to take any risks with acts, and will only sign anyone they are 100% sure will be a certified money-spinner. Getting to the point of attracting interest from a major label is the mountain that modern acts find themselves having to climb, as independent labels are often incapable of sufficiently helping them up. For uncompromising musicians, unprepared to simply jump on a fad-fuelled bandwagon, how can real progress be achieved?
Though the draw of the statement “we’d like to sign you” is irresistible for many, increasingly doing it yourself seems to be the best option. By taking out the middle-man, many young bands are able to retain complete control of their music, and are able to devote more time and effort to their cause than an over-stretched independent label ever could. This century is going to see the success of the truly unstoppable enthusiasts and the shameless self-promotors.