Musicians Can’t Cope With Their Own Business
Please note: If you’re a musician, feel free to make yourself a voodoo doll of me first. But, before putting the needles in, covering it in tar and feathers, tearing off limbs, and finally setting it on fire… give me break. You can do so after reading this post.
Whenever I’m attending any kind of music conference there’s one thing I’m curious about most: How many musicians are to be found at this event? How many of you are attending the seminars, workshops and lectures on schedule? Finally, after resigning once more: Why doesn’t it appeal to you?
Obviously, some events are well-attended by musicians… though the majority is not. Mainly, I’m going to constrain the issue more specifically down to Germany – simply for the reason I’m more familiar with that region.
Most of you will know I’m curator of all2gethernow [access protected, 2016-03-10], a platform and convention for music and culture. Since 2009, we established all2gethernow (a2n) as a conference not to be missed. Though we only went two rounds as of yet, we learned a lot.
Unfortunately, there’s one thing we still are trying to figure out. Even more unfortunately, it is a core issue we have to solve as soon as possible.
Our conference aims at bringing together all stakeholders from the so called music business, including everything related to that in culture. Otherwise, it is not worth tackling any issues and topics. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure we all agree that it’s most important to get musicians in there. To get them involved. Because we’re doing it for those who create our culture – ok, that sounds pretty pathetic. Kinda like we are their parents (whom we are not)… and it certainly isn’t about “we always wanted the best for you”.
Some simple observations for Germany to start with:
- all2gethernow (conference) and Popkomm (trade show) [link broken, 2016-03-10] for some part shared the same location in 2010. Admittedly, musicians were to be found at Popkomm while all geeky artists went to all2gethernow.
- Frankfurt Music Fair is flooded with musicians.
- Any workshop that’s not related to instruments is hard to sell.
- Even seminars and workshops that are part of an institutionalised schedule of any academy are fighting hard for scholars.
- Nearly all printed magazines for musicians in Germany are published through either PPV or MusikMedia. Last year, the latter has started a comprehensive portal for the first time tackling issues in copyright and online marketing.
- There’s just one platform, namely regioactive.de, that overtly pushes both – current issues in music business and live music/booking.
What does that mean?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there’s a deep gap between “traditional” musicians and “online” artists. Don’t get me wrong… of course most traditional musos will have their own website (at least on Facebook, MySpace etc), and most onliners are sure to perform offline.
Those who stick to print media are pretty likely longing to be signed with a label. Nothing wrong with that, but often they seem to tend towards believing in the mythical part of piracy, in “who killed our business”, and in “free culture” equals “give away for free and earn nothing”. I can only presume that they are also in fear to be urged to deal with business themselves – which is a good reason to hand over any responsibility by signing a contract.
But, please, if any of those musicians I’m tagging “traditional” reads this… there’s even more reason to catch a glimpse of issues in marketing, in how to connect with fans, even in issues in technology. You might have been accusing labels of foul contracts. If you don’t educate yourself in what happens outside, you will be framed by yourself.
DIY does not strictly say “do it all by yourself”. It’s like, be as much involved in business as you are inclined to and let a team of people do the rest. They must be good at what they’re doing, and they must be as motivated as you. Collaborate with fans. Or with a small label. Or with independent professionals.
But be sure to keep track of what happens. You’re the boss. That’s why it’s important to bridge the gap.
Recommended reading (found during writing):