Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

July 24, 2006

How to 'Fix' the Music Industry

There are many reasons to get frustrated by the music business "system." Lack of variety and access to mainstream radio and retail. Live venues that don't seem to support new artists. Record labels that are mostly concerned with safe, least-common-denominator hits. The sad reality that Nick and Jessica couldn't make it :-)

When these factors rip at a musician's heart, there are often two results:

1) The musician feels like throwing up his hands, walking away from music, and spending the rest of his days as a Buddhist monk in isolation.

2) The musician rages against the system, gets angry about the way things are, insists that things need to change, then joins a Motley Crue tribute band.

Well, if you're truly passionate about your music, walking away from it should not even be an option. And if you're one of those creative types who wants to cure all the ills of "the industry," here are some thoughts for you ...

Changing the music industry is not unlike trying to change where and when the sun rises every morning. You can expend all the anger and energy you can muster, but the sun is still going to do its thing -- blissfully unaware that you're even unhappy with it.

Stop trying to fix everything and change everybody else. Your focus on frustration just creates more of it. The best way to make an impact in areas that need improvement is to take Gandhi's advice:

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Unless you're Clive Davis or one of the Dixie Chicks, you won't be able to influence the industry at large. (Okay, let's amend that to "unless you're Clive Davis ...")

You can't control what happens to the overall music business, but there is something you can control directly: How you conduct yourself and your own place in music. Focus on pursuing a career on you your own terms -- not terms imposed by the industry.

The more successful you are living by your own set of standards, the more energy and attention you'll create. And if other indie artists are likewise successful operating outside the traditional lines, that influence will grow stronger.

Rosa Parks didn't set out to change the entire civil rights system. She simply did what see thought was right and sat down where she felt she was entitled. That simple act of conviction created a social tidal wave that's still felt today.

Use that same philosophy with your music career. Be the change you want to see in the music world. Steer away from people who don't support your indie values. Find victories where you can. Build on them.

Through your positive example, people will take notice and ... the music industry may be slightly altered forever. Heck, maybe even Nick and Jessica will get back together.


posted by Bob Baker @ 9:08 AM   4 comments


At Jul 26, 2006 3:31:00 PM, Blogger said...

You're a smart man, Bob.

At Aug 1, 2006 8:15:00 PM, Blogger Corey Stewart said...

I couldn't agree more Bob.

From my experience I have noticed that most musicians are ready to blame everything else for their 'lack of success', 'lack of CD sales', 'lack of a fanbase' but they fail to realize that maybe their own attitude and 'lack of action' could be a contributing factor to their complaints.

It sometimes seems that we, as musicians can be our own worst enemies.

I personally think that the very things that seperates an artist/band that "makes it" (insert your own definition here but thats another story entirely) from the ones that "don't" are the actions that they take and the professionalism and determination that they project.

Your choice of Ghandi's quote "You must be the change you want to see in the world." is an excellent one. It sums up the sentiments perfectly.

A fantastic article,

Corey Stewart

At Aug 9, 2006 9:12:00 PM, Anonymous Brian said...


I wholeheartedly appreciate this article. It's given me the opportunity to realize that the industry should not be our beast of burden, but rather we should make changes ourselves. Being a revolutionary; the concept seems to overemphasize the importance of music, but without music, our culture would be severely diminished (pardon the pun).

So I thank you, Bob, for bringing this to the attention to the public. I have grown tired of seeing Motley Crüe tribute bands myself.

Yours Truly,


At Aug 22, 2006 3:09:00 PM, Blogger bigmanKY said...

Bob, you've got a very sharp point. The recorded music industry created its' business model from the things that existed previously: vaudeville, musical theater, printed music publishing, and other things. With limited exceptions, none of these things exsist anymore, and those that remain have been affected tremendously by social and technological change. Every new media invention has brought with it new opportunities, and new challenges to the old ways. We mustn't be the ones who feel threatened, but the ones riding the wave to the future.


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