To sign or not to sign?

Posted on July 21, 2009 at 1:44 PM

I just read a fascinating article by Janis Ian (for those of you who haven't heard of her before, she is a singer songwriter still active now but having her major success in the early 70's).

She has written a piece on the Record Industry's reaction to free download material on the likes of the original Napster, Kazaa etc. The full article can be found here:

As an artist for over 40 years she has some very interesting insights into the Record Industry stating the following points:

!) She has never been out of debt to her record company, the money paid to her in advances never been fully paid back by the return on record sales her current percentage of which is about 8%.

2) What musicians need most of all is exposure, the free downloads of material is the entry point for most people to an artist's music.

3) Free downloads are not necessarily an alternative to paid for CDs or downloads from itunes etc. It is for most people a chance to hear music before you decide if you want to buy some more.

From my perspective I have had two major record deals. The record labels were useless. They need an artist or an artist's management to create the buzz or the vibe for an act...their only routes to market, historically have been to spend money on adverts...(inappropriate for some artists - not so bad if you are a pretty boy or girl with MOR appeal)...or pay songpluggers..this only works if the music is radio friendly.)  Thereafter an artist's buzz comes from their own activities not the record label. I am not particularly complaining about this....but if you are a young would be foilly yo believe that signing to a record label is any help on its own...and then they take 92% of the music earnings!

I already decided when I set out on this Tango adventure to try to build an audience before even contemplating a record label or publisher route. It seemed to me I had to see if anyone actually liked this music before I spoke sensibly to the Industry.

After a couple of months of loading songs etc on the Internet, I now realise the enormity of the challenge to be heard above the constant melee of music and promotional attempts, but also I am further resolved to stay away from the industry for the time being and if possible stay away permanently.

The reason for wanting to make this music is that I love creating, starting with the song, moving onto the recording and production and then I am quite enjoying the "marketing".....including thinking about videos etc, although i am not yet ready to produce a video of my own, hence the hijacking of other videos.

For me fame and money is only secondary consideration. If I had independent wealth I would still do this and still be faced with the same problem of getting people to listen to the music before they decide whether they like it.

If you are a musician reading this you will know that it is possible to engage with your friends and other networks. If that network is big, you will play gigs and maybe that network will snowball. However that is not enough to make music your full time career.

If you are not a musician, you might not realise that the world does not find new artists without serious promotional effort (I suppose I am making a case for the Industry). 

However in this connected world, I have decided to set myself the challenge to blitz the world with Egriega. I have my first round targets, and second round ambitions. First we need to get to early adopters. Either those committed to Tango or those who think I have a good point to prove.

See you later on this subject.

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