Insanity 101 – Part 2 – Music: Perception vs. Reality

By Tom (DJ Insanity)
Welcome back to my series that touches on some aspects of the music industry from the perspective of an indie record label owner. In my 2+ years of being heavily involved in the industry, I have noticed so inaccuracies with how management, labels, entertainment groups and so on are perceived. I will focus on clarifying these perceptions.

As you may or may not know, Facebook is the breeding ground of negativity, shameless self-promotion and consistent whining. Let me ask this very important question to all the bands out there. What makes your band stand out? Are you different than the thousands of other bands trying to make it? I would challenge you that the answer is an emphatic no. Let me elaborate.

As previously mentioned, Facebook is overrun with bands that seem to think they are getting shafted by venues, radio stations, record labels. But why? Well I’m here to tell you that the music matters very little. Now I understand that great music is timeless and does spawn a following of loyal fans that will do some pretty extreme things to be as close as possible to their band they worship. But, I like to think of success in this industry as an equation. There is a formula for success and without extreme determination, the willingness to sacrifice everything and certain skills in place most will find themselves struggling for many years until eventually tiring of the grind and calling it quits.

Not to worry my ambitious friends. There is hope out there but I find there are a lot of delusional bands out there. Paid 10k+ in recording for that big name producer? Well I applaud you for your investment. Now that you have the fancy name behind your product what are you going to do with it? The simple fact that Joe blow producer recorded your album doesn’t matter to anybody but you. If you have a great quality product but lack the skills to market it to the masses, well then my friend you have a very expensive box of unsold CD’s in your possession. This leads me to the next point.

I’m not certain where this idea came from that somehow Management, and indie labels are somehow well off and are just raking in the cash from artists. I look around and am left scratching my head at this notion. Unless you are some fly by night operation scamming money out of desperate acts, chances are that you aren’t taking big bags of 100 dollar bills to the bank. Management for the most part either work for free or for chicken feed. Usually management puts in over 60 hours of work into their artists, and receives pay equivalent of pennies per hour. And as a label I can tell you that most artists come to me with their hands out wanting me to pay for everything.

I learned very quickly to limit the investment in these acts. Making bands prove they have staying power, rather than funnel money into a brand that is simply going to collapse or that isn’t marketable. I have shelled out thousands upon thousands of dollars to acts that simply thought they were Gods in the music business. The find out that they weren’t cohesive and at the end of the day there is no way to get your investment back.

Rest assured, we are not looking to screw you over and we don’t think that we are more important than you. You’ve heard the term walk the walk, well that’s what I expect from a music prospect. You can talk a lot of game about how popular you are and how many fans you have. Step in the indie labels shoes if you will. What incentive would they have to put a huge investment into your brand if there is no evidence of marketability and/or potential for growth. If you can’t manage major growth and development based on that fact, then you either need to learn how to brand or you simply don’t care.

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