The industry debunked 'DIY' years ago, yet the concept remains a romanticized, religious idea for many artists and companies. More and more, that's proving to be an expensive belief, especially when it overloads, distracts, and demoralizes artists who need to be focused on their art first-and-foremost.
Here's what Daniel Glass of independent Glassnote Records told an audience at Musexpo on the topic on Monday. Glassnote is home to artists like Phoenix, Childish Gambino, Mumford & Sons, and the Temper Trap, among others.
I think it's very difficult to do things without a team. I would hate to have an artist or a manager leave this room thinking, 'oh that's easy, I can do this myself, I can just do the site, do the work, get my records loaded in and everything goes well,' or 'I can just sign the artist and go to a distributor and it ends there.'
I think 'DIY' means the autonomy of the decision-making on the taste within your operation. I think that's the do-it-yourself feeling where you don't have to depend on someone to tell you what to do with your music. But I still think that either you're putting together a loosely or tightly knit team of professionals to perform functions and rent them out or use consultants. I think it's been done quite well by certain people.
The Civil Wars, for example, went to the Grammys and had a profound effect and won two Grammys. They did things on their own but had an amazing team, and spent a lot of money getting there. I praise them, they got there and sold several hundred thousand albums.
But a pure DIY is really smart if you put together the right professional teams - song pluggers, publicists, distribution people, people who will do those things well for you.
Because people do those things really well, obviously there are people on this panel who do really well in distribution. So I'd go to those professionals. And go to like-minded people, if they distribute labels in the culture that you like, and they pay their bills and if you can get some recommendations, then take that out of the way.
The same thing with campaigns. If you're looking at Radio 1 or Triple J, or if you're looking at K-Rock or KCRW type of records, who's working on those records? So look at those teams, look at the pedigree.
Just like we look at who masters records, who mixes records. If you have a child, and your child God forbid needed surgery - a serious thing - you'd go to one of the twenty best surgeons in your country. You'd fly anywhere for your child.
So you may not check into that big hospital, but you would research it for your child. Same with your band and your music.
Pearl Jam has a team - they're doing it themselves. Radiohead has a team - they do it themselves. Odd Future put together a team, but it feels DIY. I just think that they are making creative decisions on their own, and not encumbered by some filter at a major corporation or label that will say, 'oh this should be the first single.' They're over that, they don't want to hear that anymore. These are successful touring bands.
So that's where it comes from. I think the DIY will tell you more about a band that's pretty self-sustaining in the touring area and then can do things on their own."
Michael Brandvold Tuesday, May 01, 2012
DIY should not be about literally doing it yourself, it should be about BYOB... Be Your Own Boss. That means hiring people to be part of your team when you need them to support your efforts.
No artist should expect to be able to do eveything themselves.
Visitor Tuesday, May 01, 2012
THere is also a distinction of being DIY out of neccessity as a hobbyist, and team building as a creative professional. Many of those trumpeting the horn of DIY are misguided hobbyists who beleive a $50 Tunecore account makes them a professional.
As much as I support and encourage all people in their creative endeavours, and hope that they ALL will have professional creative careers, a meaningful conversation needs to distinguish between these two groups.
Many of the hobbyists are also the ones trumpeting how liberated artists in the digital economy when this is just clearly not the truth for professionals. The Dept Of Labor Statistics shows a decline of over 45% of working professional musicians from 2001 through 2011.
Steven Wylie Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Did this post just made my day and took a 2000 lb. gorilla off my back.
Steven Wylie Tuesday, May 01, 2012
That was suppose to say "dude" not "did".
S. Fingers Tuesday, May 01, 2012
But what do you when you're barely earning money which all goes to paying bills and basic expenditures and you feel lucky just to buy a brand new set of guitar strings once in a blue moon?
You don't know anyone in the business, you can't afford band members, rehearsals, you're too old to find enthusiastic musicians who'd play for free, you read articles on the web saying you make everything (recording, mixing, mastering) at home in the box on your own, but the chances are really slim that it'll be any good. To exaggerate, it's you and yourself against the world.
Do you quit, or go on chasing a dream, or act pathetically by shamlessly promoting yourself on various sites like these with the hope that maybe, just maybe you would make a couple of sales?
Not quitting yet, trying the latter. So, here goes nothing: http://www.steadyfingers.com/
WILL Tuesday, May 01, 2012
...if you haven't got an ounce of leverage and you're way into your 30's or worse older, then just do it for fun. Fuck the dream..it'll screw you up.
There was always an age of around 25 back in the 80's/90's by which to measure if a career as a musician was realistic. If you had established yourself be it in a group or independentl even on a small scale then there was hope. It's no different today. Just cos you here this myth that it's possible to forge ahead without labels etc doesn't equate to struggling on in the longtail indefinately. There's too many deluded shit for brains out there - actors and musicians.
Food For Thought Wednesday, May 02, 2012
@Will - while i do really agree with your points i couldn't help but point out the late in life success of the great (64 year old) Charles Bradley.
WILL Wednesday, May 02, 2012
..not aware of said artist but for uncommercial genres such as jazz, classical, world etc age doesn't really enter the equation. Abit like playing golf...one can turn pro very late.
pauly Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Oh no i cannot have any excuses about not making it in this New Music Business. Yes indeed this is my dream & i'm
happen as i research for my business plan & make my dream come true.
i am real close to releasing a 14 track Album/CD titled:
"CANCER SURVIVOR" so i can perform this song at President
Barack Obama's reelection in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"An encouraging message to people & their loved ones who
have contacted this debillitating disease. pauly "Unmask the Music"
keithmohr Tuesday, May 01, 2012
I hear ya brother.. it is not easy to do it all on your own. I teach indies that you need to be 100% Ready, Willing, and Able to make a go of their music career full time.
If any of those 3 words are not at 100%.. don't try to make it happen until they are. That may mean saving money so you have a cushion while you are pushing. It may mean delaying the instant gratification of the big payoff while you pay off your debts. It may mean the only tour you'll be doing is in the family room with your family.
See, most think they are Willing, some think they are ready.. but very few are actually ABLE to go full time.
The door opens when all the locks are unlocked. To try and kick the door open or break it down is a mistake that will lead to heartache instead of happiness. Frustration instead of fun-loving. Bitterness instead of betterness.
Remember, it's a slow burn to outer space. A rocket goes 0.1mph when it launches. It takes awhile to get there!
Your biggest break will come when you are broken of yourself.
All the best!
problemchild Friday, May 11, 2012
What on earth are you on about? Nonsensical aspirational 90's babble...
Have you 'broken of yourself' yet?
Tapes Again Tuesday, May 01, 2012
In today's crowded market it seems to me that going with a label is more important than ever. One of the things lacking now is the filters that we used to have that allowed the buyers to distinguish between mediocre and good more easily. While that may be a barrier to entry it can be a good thing. An awful lot of people have no idea what "good" really means.
Tomii Sonic Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Just wanted to add that I strongly agree, well said!
davduf Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Not sure who said it first (not me) but DIY should stand for "DECIDE-it-yourself".
keithmohr Tuesday, May 01, 2012
I teach indies to DIT.. "Do It Together".. Indies can learn a lot from others who have had success. The issue is some are just too darned independent and think they can do it on their own. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Batman had Robin. Bonnie had Clyde.
To go at it alone is not wise. DIY can DYI..
"Doing It Yourself can Do Yourself In."
Visitor Thursday, May 03, 2012
mdti Wednesday, May 02, 2012
would you find logical that, if i go to a promotion company for my zic, that the guys get paid a certain sum according to "success thresholds". For example, if the strategy put in place does not reach some numbers, then there is no bonus.
at the present time those company take the money, do "a" job (not the best nor the most thoughtful) and that's it. One of them also even dared to anwser my question by a "oh, if that's money you are after..."...
Well, i'm not sure what I am after, but I am sure My money is what that promotion company is after :-)
So, logical or not to have incentives ? where the fee of the company will change according to the sucess of the work they do (and we know that nothing is granted in artistic business, but it is about getting those people do the job creatively rather than re-using the same outdated recipe whatever is the "product" they are working on).
gaetano Wednesday, May 02, 2012
This is a question for the ages, though as someone who has worked in a few areas of the industry as well as working as a commissioned based salesperson, I can tell you that it's just too subjective of an argument at this point.
Your manager is commission based, your agent is commission based, your marketing and PR have always been on a fixed retainer for the most part (and that's if it's not done in house by a label).
One of the great thing about having PR or marketing where they were is that they conceptualized, executed upon approval and then delivered due dilligence.
At this stage of the game, every single role I've outlined above has either changed, is changing or has the complete capacity to change in the future.
Avicci's manager is now a co producer and receives points. Topspin, who are a marketing (and distro) platform work on commssion (with a small monthly fee most of the time).
To answer your question, this has to work on a case to case basis as every artist has different needs and cannot just be put through even the most cutting edge machine and be guaranteed to show any type of return. Your talents are what will dictate the leverage, but not always the ends...
keithmohr Wednesday, May 02, 2012
I don't have time to risk my time on an artist who wants me to work on a % of their income. Time is more valuable to me than money these days. There's only so much time.
Let's face it.. indie artists are a flaky group of people. They have the attention span of 2 year olds on crack. You tell them what to do and they don't do it, or they self-manage. They are so busy looking for something to latch on to that relationships with them are temporary.
Most indies do not need a manager, because there is nothing to manage. They ALL can use better TIME-MANAGEMENT.
We're finding the best service we provide is consulting and coaching. Find out more about what we're doing at: http://www.indieheaven.com/mvpro
mdti Wednesday, May 02, 2012
the "my time is worth xxx" is a good value, i use it too.
BUt what I talked about is the difference between 1000/month and 1500/month (the bonus). that's 9000 instead of 6000 over a 6 month period. it pays a salary of one or a couple of your employees and the extra time you put in is is saved by what thos 1 or 2 extra employee do for you to make you make time for my project ;-)
What i saw being done for that price was just bad and i would have been a bit ashamed to do the same (fortunately, that was not my own money, but suffered of the lack of mindset as it was my project), so I will probably go to anyone else but this company if i ever do it again. unless he actually agrees to concentrate on the work, understand the product, and find something clever to do with it to make it stand out in terms of communication. Hence an incentive to get people at work.
May be the promotion company is not the right person to talk to in that case. After all, if I would go to those people, it would be for their contacts and network more than the marketing tricks they would put in place...
I don't crticize at all, i just see that i'm not gonna hire someone soon for the price i could pay, i'll have to wait longer :-)
MDTI Wednesday, May 02, 2012
well, after second reading, i'm a bit harsh saying that what they did was bad. It was standard where the product was not standard. that's what was disapointing... but i didn't have much of a word to say... I watched closely though ;-)
keithmohr Thursday, May 03, 2012
Makes sense. Maybe a retainer and a % commission based on income generated is a good model.
Kyle Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Everything you say is all good fine and dandy, though after clicking on your righteous link I'm still left with one question.
What if I'm Jewish?
keithmohr Thursday, May 03, 2012
no problem Kyle. I'm sure there is a company/service provider for you. My mission is to serve artists who share a common purpose. It's a niche. It's all good.
Naughty by Nurture Thursday, May 03, 2012
But what if I'm... Druish?
@bryceb88 Wednesday, May 02, 2012
This is a GREAT article. Provides perspective
@kevinmason Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Couldn't agree more!
@BryanInMusic Wednesday, May 02, 2012
I agree with a lot of this
@Hanna Easley Wednesday, May 02, 2012
This is mostly transferable to different fields. GREAT advice.
@lyonophon Wednesday, May 02, 2012
a thousand times yes. let's not forget about teamwork, oui?
@jherskowitz Wednesday, May 02, 2012
There is no "y" in "team", but there is an "m" & "e".
@bombshell13 Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Some sage advice
@BerkleeDoug Wednesday, May 02, 2012
I got to see Daniel Glass talk at CMJ last year and it was amazing.
@jamierow Wednesday, May 02, 2012
@dave_cool Wednesday, May 02, 2012
A must read.
@jenmitlas Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Really good points about the DIY phenomenon! I think people need understand the complexities and the teamwork efforts of the music industry if that is the career, not hobby path they'd like to take. I like the point you bring up about "recording in three months." I've noticed a lot of people are cheating themselves out by creating great music, but really poor production quality and/or releasing an EP for the wrong reasons and/or not following up with it.
Copyright Wednesday, May 02, 2012
He's right. You can't be too DIY. Which is why Glassnote is distributed by RED Music (SONY) and in turn sells their artists to Columbia and other Sony labels when they start generating profits. I love when indies pretend to care more than majors, even though they're just incubators. 90% of indie labels have the same business model: put out as many records for as little investment as possible, then sell off any successful bands to the majors for massive profits (such as initial buy-out $ and a % of sales). So, for any of you musicians reading these articles/comments, be wary of the so-called independent labels. They are all connected to the majors through dist./upstream deals. If they aren't stealing your money/art with bad agreements, they're just throwing you at the wall with other artists, hoping that they can sell your artistic lives to a major for big $$$ that you'll probably never see.
driver49 Wednesday, May 02, 2012
As I've said on countless occasions, "the greatest myth of 'do it yourself is... doing it yourself." --PS
Aoede Thursday, May 03, 2012
Agree with so many of the points here... but also think it's time for a new model-DIT-Do It Together-it is all about the teams that we can foster along the way-from the producer who believes in our song babies and nurtures their vision to the pr team who gets the word out before and after the CD is manufactured... and lets not forget the fans-without them on our team shouting out, sharing with others-our music would just sit and fail to move or inspire...thanks for sharing this!
♥ Aoede ♪♫
JCFarrell Friday, May 04, 2012
People - This is the American business model today!
More make work white collar propaganda for the underemployed. There are way to many people around the music business today looking to sell a service,expertise, etc...
"kill your business, and kill your spirit" right! After you get done paying all of the team, you should have enough left to go to Mcdonalds. This sounds like a pitch for the traditional record company business model. You know, the 98% failure rate model with the 2% of the artist line up paying for everyone.
The studio system is DEAD! IT IS DEAD ! Let me explain.
In the late 20's/early 30's the movie studios owned everything. Sets, equipment, writers, actors, etc...(sound familiar).
When TV came in the 1950's, it broke the system. The movie studios became mostly distrubutors. Everyone else became free
lancers(and free to work for others).
The music industry developed along the same lines. As long as the only medium to promote artist was radio, the costs of
recording was tape(Ampex), and the cost of pressing 33LPs remained high and exclusive, the record industry maintain the
position of the gate keepers. Fast forward.
The digital revolution in the music industry is what TV was to the movie industry: Its demise. This is a great time in the business if you have the talent. It is one of the few industries in this ever increasing corporate controlled country for someone to go from nowwhere to somewhere.
Jon Friday, May 04, 2012
Hey y'all. It's perspective. I keep a close eye on bottom line, and I need to generate a certain income for cash flow each month. My CDs will never be blockbusters, but will (hopefully) continue to sell at the amounts I need to generate extra income next to my performance fee. If it costs me more to put out the music than I can afford, it's a bad decision. And downloads are extra, if I make anything off them, it's outside the budget I set. I don't look to sell a thousand or 500,000 CDs. I look to the recording to be a decent representation of the songs for people to decide to come enjoy a night out and hear what else I've done. I'm making enough to pay the bills and it seems like a decent model. If one song seems to catch on and lead somewhere that's great too. But having your own goals and DIY management needs to be unique to your own situation- what may be good for an artist who is 24 may not be the same for someone who is 38...
duskb Sunday, May 06, 2012
The major glaring hole in this article (and apparently your website's content) is the obvious. The recordings our present generation hold up with real value were all made in situations where multiple professionals were involved in every facet of production, including pre and post. This is not to sell short the value of professional guidance after the record has been made but without the contributions of experienced talent inside the room where the music is created all one ends up with is bad sounding music that's well promoted.
Then I fast forward this reality to Keith's well meaning website. I must have listened to more than half the songs in the top 20 alone and they all suffered from terrible production values; weak songwriting, awful recording practices (over-compression, eq, and limiting, distortion, digital mix buss saturation, bad mic technique, you name it), and sleepy performances. Who cares how well the product is marketed if there is no redeeming quailties to it?
The benefit we had with the old studio system was that for the most part the studios made sure that an experienced producer was at the helm and an engineer who had quite a bit of studio experience were employed from the beginning to make sure the product was commercialy viable, even if the songs were a bit weak. I don't see the value of DIY music because music was not meant to be made alone. It's a collaborative effort.
Further, music that has the intent to be released commercially should have yet even higher standards imposed on it. Yet today anyone with Pro Tools or Garage Band thinks they are record producers/engineers. What a joke! And the result we end up with are websites full of poorly recorded bad music, like myspace and apparently, quite unfortunately, indieheaven.
I do not mean to levy offense at either the writer of the article or Keith of indieheaven because everyone has to find a way to get out there. Unfortunately, until those that are involved in the distribution and promotion end are honest with the musicians about the weaknesses of their product and strengths and methodlogies employed in the "old system" their music will continue to sound weak and unimpressive, guaranteeing them a lifetime hobby of mediocre music instead of a career.
I believe we should aspire for better.
@ghettogandy Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Excellent advice in these comments.
WR Talent - Will Saturday, May 12, 2012
With all the tools available now the DIY route is the only route for most. However at the end of the day you still need a great record, this rule has not changed. if you remember the money and resources the majors used to put into projects trying to find a hit record. This is very important because some artists may feel disheartned if things dont take off when actually they needed time on their side to try harder and find the magic required to success whether it's online and not.
In fact nowadays the majors dont have the resources to do this anymore, that is why we don't have as many great creations of music like we used to have in the 60's 70's and 80's.
Will at WR Talent