The Dream, The Drudgery: Still Want to Be a DIY Artist?

Today’s musician enjoys unprecedented levels of direct fan access, and the ability to create a small musical business.

That is an exciting revolution, though even the most successful DIY artists face an incredibly large amount of non-musical work.

That was the subject of a recent Digital Music News article, one that delved into the extreme amount of work that do-it-yourself artists face.  The piece drew serious artist response.  “One of the toughest things I fight through is just staying relevant in all places at once,” David Nevue, a full-time concert pianist, told Digital Music News.  “You begin to feel like you’re treading water, and quickly losing your ability to stay current, stay on top of technology, and stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening.”

Anyone can pick up a guitar, write a song, and press send.  But is anyone listening?  As the ‘DIY revolution’ starts to settle in, the big question is whether the ‘middle-class artist’ will actually develop into a meaningful group, free of their menial day jobs.  A Long Tail utopia would support hundreds of thousands of such artists; the more realistic, super-fragmented landscape will probably support far less.

Either way, the do-it-yourselfer – or even label signee – better get prepared for a serious amount of commitment towards non-musical craft.  That is true even with the large amount of online promotional partners and tools.  “I certainly know artists who are very on top of every aspect of their business, and the general business and tech-savvy of artists has certainly been increasing,” said Noah Dinkin, cofounder of fan management platform FanBridge (fanbridge.com).  “But as a whole, most artists I know would prefer to write music and play shows rather than check the analytics of their latest web campaign.”

But that is exactly what the world demands of today’s troubadours, at least those who want more than just a moonlighting hobby.  Welcome to the world of DIY, a blessing of independence that carries a demanding price tag.