The era we are living in is, in my opinion, the best ever for making music.
Everything from composing to distributing your song is doable on your own, without any limitation.
You could make an entire album for $100, recorded in your bedroom, and have a ROI of hundreds of thousand dollars.
Skeptical people will argue that the quality of the sound will be atrocious, that good equipment can not be bought for less than $3,000 or $4,000, that softwares are very expensive as well, that distribution is a thing but promotion requires skills and a world class team…
Me, I see excuses not to execute.
I wrote about that pretty briefly yesterday in my post about why recording studios were closing one after another, and while I am at it, I wanted to salute the /r/WeAreTheMusicMakers from Reddit that has been incredible, full of sense, intelligent and polite towards my article.
The best time to be alive
From the time where you could record music up until 2000-something, recording music was not even a thought if you had no contract with a record label or a nice filled wallet to pay studio time or a good friend owning a recording studio.
In order to have a record deal, you would have to book gigs and basically be discovered by an A&R through your performances or request to perform in front of a studio directly.
People don’t realize that recording at home is something relatively new in the history of music and being able to record at home for everybody is even younger.
I asked my Instagram a while ago how many of them actually had a pirated / illegal version of the software they are recording with. The result came up to 60% (out of around 1,000 people) of musicians, artists, singers, music producers, possessing an illegal version of Logic Pro, Pro Tools, FL Studio, StudioOne or Ableton Live.
Past the software part, recording music has become incredibly cheap. As I stated it multiple times in my articles, you can go in any Wal-Mart or Target and buy $100 worth of recording equipment like a audio mixer and microphone with its pop-filter in a bundle.
Even cheaper, some record directly their music with their smartphone!
Distribution is easier than ever
Once again, distributing music, before, was a nightmare because you had to record it on a medium in order to distribute it.
Whether it was a vinyl, a tape or a CD, there were manufacturing costs that you could not really absorb yourself and therefore, needed that record deal to be able to distribute it to the biggest audience possible.
You could not just knock on a door and have your CD put in the aisles of your local store, this didn’t work like that. You needed a full distribution team to even have it considered by the shop owners.
Now, there are plenty of services, like CDBaby, which distributes it on all platforms for not even $10.
You could even go free if you would consider putting your song or album only on Soundcloud or Youtube.
This takes not even 24h to be afloat.
Why signing with a label in 2018?
You would sign a record deal because we were making records.
Now, we don’t make records. As a matter of fact we don’t make record players. When you buy a laptop, there is no CD player. When you buy a car, there is a tablet already built-in with apps like spotify natively set up (sometimes with a full year membership “offered”).
When you sign a record deal right now, you don’t have money from online sales (excepted maybe with small labels that have some ethic), it’s all on physical sales, but what did you just sign? We don’t sale records.
Entering the #1 Billboard 200 used to require 2 or 3 millions sales. Kendrick Lamar just made it in a week with his album “Black Panther” because he sold 130,000 copies. (Yes, you enter the #1 with 70,000 sales)
Promotion is where it’s at
That’s the delicate part that everybody is conscious and anxious about.
Actually, that is the topic that most artists, singers and music producers are arguing about because it requires some strategy that often they don’t have.
It is mainly due to the fact that the internet is at scale and people don’t realize how easy it is right now to publish music and be successful without the help of any label.
But as a Music strategist, advisor and marketer, let me give you the one thing that will beat record labels and that nobody has:
Right now, you can make 1 million streams on Spotify, all on your own (I’ve worked with EDM bands that do this easily), as long as you are willing to put in the work and self brand on social media on a daily basis. Actually, on a hourly basis.
You need the patience to eat dirt for 24 months and love the grind and the journey that leads you there.
You need the patience to understand that the market is evolving and that the end consumer is no longer buying records, no longer buying mp3, no longer buying premiums to listen to music.
You need the patience to self brand, socialize, take care of your followers so they turn into fans and own your art 100%.
Would you wake up to work at your 9–5 job if you knew your paycheck would have a 89% tax on it?