One of the greatest EntreMusician moments I’ve experienced occurred in Summer 2010, Downtown Youngstown, when SounDoctrine released “Inspire.” I was sharing with Wilma that the CD was finally out. While talking, she was toying with her phone and then flatly refused to purchase the CD I’d reached into my bag to hand her. Noting my awkward surprise, she turned her phone around to show me the album artwork, smiling, “I just bought it from iTunes!”
“Very Cool!” I thought. “The New Music Biz is Working Great!
I had always utilized the aggregate CD Baby since our first release, “Perseverance” in 2002. As the technology expanded, I would sign up for the new music services – blithely agreeing to them all. The Wilma moment convinced me I had made the right decision.
When we released “Endurance” in 2006, I noticed that CD Baby offered more options, including signing up for services which ‘Did Not Pay,’ implying those sites would increase our Exposure…
Now there’s a word I’d wrestled with before, mostly with promoters, asking us to travel, pay for our own gas, food & lodging, play multiple sets, sometimes multiple venues for ‘showcases,’ ‘workshops’ and ‘conventions,’ all in the Almighty Name of EXPOSURE…Sometimes I flatly refused, but most often I’d jumped at the chance, hoping and a wishin’ and losing more than a few band members along the way. Money Talks. Dreams Scream.
The download and streaming thing, however, seemed fresh and exciting. You know, ‘The Long Tail’ leading to the Grammy acceptance speech and all. But watching companies like Pandora, Spotify & ITunes Radio boast profits in the Millions* and Billions** on the backs of Songwriters & Artists who look at royalty statements that compute to about $0.00087 a track, even with a couple thousand Wilmas listening, means your day job IS far more promising.
I’ve seen cats dial up SounDoctrine on Spotify and listen to our songs with glee. It’s bittersweet to know you’re immediately accessible but won’t be paid for the access. It’s not so sweet watching your manager refuse to add up zeros to try and make a penny. It’s akin to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry’s hands are crinkled and sore from signing all of those foreign 12 cent checks. Most bands would kill for one million 12 cent checks.
On the performance side of the coin, companies like Sonicbids take the Promoter thing to an entirely new level by making the Artist pay for the right to be be exposed to knowledge of the gig and then pay again for asking for the opportunity to play. Gigmasters acts more like an online booking agent, but unlike living, breathing agents (unscrupulous as some can be), you can’t see them fight for you. Radio Play charges you directly for ‘plays’ and in no time at all, you can amass a spitload of email addresses of “fans” who never email you back. Ever.
Needless to say, I’ve been over & over this issue of EXPOSURE. Having done all of this, I’m not comfortable telling you Not To. I am very confident in saying that the price of Exposure cost you real money, real time for very little ROI. Stay Creative. Be Vigilant and Persevere. Build Your Friendship from the Ground Up and make Your Website the main stop for your artistry.
I’ve been listening to mixes I’m preparing for Janis Jones. We begin recording next week.