Question to all artists: do you know how conditioned you (still) are to the Old Way?
David Dufresne: Of course, there is nothing that prevents artists from just being artists. However, if an artist hopes to make a career out of being an artist, then that typically means that the artist will need to find both an audience that is engaged with the artist’s creative output, and ways to earn revenue from that engagement. If we talk about music, the Music Industry of the past 30 years defined the rules, both in how you found an audience and engaged with it (think radio, MTV, mainstream press), and how you monetized that engagement (by selling and licensing recordings, and the occasional concert ticket). You wanted a career? You needed to find your way into this Industry, understand the rules of the Game, and abide by them. This worked well for a relatively small number of artists, and very well for a relatively large number of businessmen, lawyers, and shareholders.
“As we all know too well, the innovations of the last 15 years in how you produce, distribute and promote music, mean that the rules about how you find an audience, and how you monetize it are seeing fundamental shifts.”
The technologies that are causing these shifts threaten many of the established rules, but also open the door to new rules and new models. A lot of this newness is still unproven, confusing and chaotic. It is often comforting for an artist to keep having faith in the old ways. However it is clearly the serious artist’s responsibility to understand what is happening and seek out the tools and techniques that will work for them.
David Dufresne: There is much conditioning that comes from the last 30 years, and defines how success in the music industry gets measured. Recently I was talking to a friend of mine that plays in a local Montreal band. Five relatively young guys, mid to late twenties, talented, good looking, and fashionable. Their band is successful, but in a small market (French-speaking Quebec, then maybe onwards to France, Belgium, etc.). They signed with a local label last year, recorded an album (good one, too), got some airplay on the radio, played shows in front of larger and larger crowds, etc. Despite all that, they are not making much money and they definitely are not leaving their day jobs anytime soon.