Artists: A Look at the New Music Industry

Artists are less valuable to record labels today than in the past. Record labels used to be invested in the talent they brought in. Before the Internet, the process of finding marketable talent was long, hard work, requiring numerous expenses and a lot of time. It’s easy to see why it was in the record label’s best interest to cultivate the talent they found, rather than keep looking for the “next big thing”. Developing talent produced better artists that stayed in the industry longer–based on their growing level of talent and a mutually beneficial relationship with the music label.

Today, artists are being forgotten as quickly as they are being found, and being tricked into signing contracts that are nearly imprisoning. YouTube and reality TV have replaced the talent scout, allowing record labels to make relatively small investments in mediocre talent which they can then treat like a bowl of desperate wet noodles–throw them all against the wall, see what sticks.

Rinse and repeat…

How has it gotten to this point?

• The way labels discover talent has changed.

• The way people purchase music has changed.

• The labels find new talent, rather than develop the talent they have.

• The artist, in general, has become less valuable to a label.

Changes in the music industry have come to be, simply because the labels want to survive in a world where people are no longer buying CDs. In the past, labels made money based on album sales alone; however, today, labels are signing artists to “360 deals” which now only take a portion of album sales, but also merchandise, touring, appearances, etc. Music artists are suffering the most, giving up their work for expected profits in the 1% range.

As a music artist, is there still a career to be had in the music industry?

While it may seem like a scary time for the music artist, there is hope, as artists are learning to leverage the Internet the same way the labels are. Through on line self-promotion, music artists can enjoy low-cost benefits of mass exposure, enabling the largest profit margins in history.

Today’s successful music artist is just as much an entrepreneur as anything else.

Today’s artist is a brand, a business, just as much as he or she is a source of talent.

While it seems that successful people always find a way–its encouraging to know that music artists are no different.