27.11.10

The Volume Issue

Having the capability like never before to produce, distribute and market your music comes with a catch - too much volume.

The democratisation that allows anyone to get in the game and release their work means that more people will take advantage of the opportunity. More releases = a greater volume of choice.

And with this wave of availability comes an even greater volume issue. Shouting.

Artists and labels still believe that the louder you shout about your work, the more it's likely to be noticed. The problem is - you can't outshout the big guys. Major labels with more manpower, access to the mainstream media and advertising spend are great at shouting. We've suddenly realised they are all yelling at us about the same thing:

LOOK AT THIS NEW ARTIST AREN'T THEY THE BEST EVERYONE LIKES THEM SO SHOULD YOU.

For the rest of us, the temptation is to shout along - especially as there are more voices vying for attention. With this much noise going on - not only from the music industry, but in every consumer market - people just stop listening.

The only way around this is to start a conversation amongst your community with a great story. Its not good enough to be a fresh new artist and next big thing. You and your art must speak to a community that wants to engage because they get something out of the connection.

This is why social media has become such a powerful tool for musicians. Those that use it well will be able to form strong ties with their fan base - and keep it alive. Those that use it simply to keep shouting will fail to see the benefits.

Amazing photograph of Ċ½ilvinas Kempinas' work - www.transmediale.de/en/white-noise - by weexinsitu on Flickr

22.11.10

What Next for Goldfrapp?

Alison Goldfrapp made an announcement last week that the band has ended their contract with EMI. This news does not come with any concrete detail - simply that their "time with EMI has come to a contractual end". Speaking on 6Music (according to popinstereo.com) Alison stated that the split is exciting - a new chapter with an "endless world of opportunity".

Goldfrapp are in an enviable position, and I certainly hope they use this transition zone to do something revolutionary. They are one of those groups who have built a strong community globally - through creating a diverse catalogue and a fantastic live show. Despite the relative lack of critical acclaim of the latest album Head First, their popularity has not significantly waned over the past decade (for the record - I thought the album was great). Which makes them an attractive proposition for any label or investor.

But will they go down this route? What stops them from setting out on their own - using their experience to establish their own business, record a new album, and embark on another tour. Or will they simply head off on the tried and tested route and find another big label? And if so, what would stop that relationship from going the way of their dealings with EMI?

My hope is that it is the former. I want a group like Goldfrapp to take control of their next step and set an example of a new model for the artist within the music industry. The band has every asset at their disposal - distribution, marketing, and a community that is waiting for their next move. Establishing their own strategy for this new phase of their career would demonstrate to others that this can be done - in fact, anyone can do it right now. Artists dont need to be discovered or fight for their place on a label roster - they simply need to understand what they want to get out of their careers, and take the right steps to achieving that vision.

My suspicion is that the band got out of a sinking ship and is now looking for the next one. Alison's statement of "what will we do and will anyone want us" is not suggesting the fans will turn their backs, but betrays a fear that the group feels it may not find another label home.

It may seem easier to put your career in the hands of someone else, but will it achieve your vision of success - or will you be fighting to realise theirs?