Indie Bands don't need a Record Deal

By Mike Ippersiel

[ad#inpost]The first battle ground for any independent band today is the internet. Getting the coveted major label record deal is pretty much a thing of the past - the labels are losing money and they don't even pretend to 'grow' an artist anymore. You can have a one album deal, or even a two song deal, and if there isn't an immediate 'hit' generated, you're out the door before your ass warmed up a spot on the label roster. Banking your career on holding out for a record deal is the music industry equivalent of waiting to be struck by lightning.

What do you need a Record Label for anyway?

Back in the sixties a record deal meant getting your music on the radio and out to the people. Today, commercial radio is facing a lot of difficulties with internet and satellite radio (not to mention MP3 players). Consumers have learned that they can listen to what they want, when they want with little or no commercials - why go back?

While some may complain that we don't have the 'sweet' record deals anymore, we do have something that more than makes up for it: the internet.

In my last series of articles (Why Your Band Needs A Web Site 1 - 3) I gave some tips on how to get a web site going for your band with minimal dollars. I also touched on why it was important to have your own domain. Your band is more than an outlet for your musical or songwriting talents - it's also a business.

Do It Yourself

Today's successful musician has to do more than just write good songs, they have to know how to promote themselves, book shows, maintain a solid internet presence and build up their fan base by touring regularly and kicking butt onstage. But before you say, "Whoa, this music business stuff sounds like a lot of work!", you can profit like never before with the internet.

Previously with a 'good' record deal you'd be paid perhaps ten cents per CD sold.  Now you can get as much as ninety-nine cents for a download of a single MP3 (or even more for a ring-tone). Put another way, you can sell ten times less and make the same amount of money as you would with a record label, or - you can sell the same amount and make ten times more money than you would with a record label!

The hard part is getting those sales. By remaining independent you'll lose the advantage of having the big label's marketing department flog your CD. On the plus side, you'll have one-hundred per cent control over how you're presented to the public. If you start small, work smart and work hard you can have an even bigger impact on your local region than a major label could get for you.

There's no secret forumla to making it - no magic bullet. It's all about hard work, persistence, acquiring knowledge and applying it to achieve your goals one at a time. Put in the hard work and you'll reap all the rewards for yourself, and you won't have to compromise your artistic integrity in the process.

Where to Start

I recommend checking out The Indie Band Bible by Mark Makoway (former guitarist of Moist).  It provides a wealth of information for someone looking to start a band, or get their band higher up the music industry food chain.  Another great idea that never seems to be mentioned to bands is to check out some business books.  A great way to ease into it is with a book like Starting an Online Business for Dummies.  These books are easy and fast to read, and informative.
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