So this article has been making the rounds, and I want to say something about it. It brings up some important concepts for indie musicians and I want to explore them a bit. First, read:
Here are my impressions on the article:
I think you have to be really careful about how you deal with concepts like the ones dealt with in this article. For instance, the author's negative characterization of "culture's" level of support is based solely on feelings. Feelings aren't really an exacting science, and these types of feelings may end up alienating your own fans. Probably be careful with that, because your fans are THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO PAY YOU.
To go a step further, from my perspective as an artist: portraying the general populace as unwilling to support art is inaccurate. What I've seen is that, if people like what you are doing, they will buy it. They will come to your show (i.e. pay cover, put money in the hat, or just plain hand you cash). They bring friends to see you. They offer to host house shows. They will buy your music, tshirts, posters, etc.
Sure, I know what it is like to worry that I could loose potential album sales to Spotify listens. It is totally possible- even probable. But, I've also had people come up to me after shows and say "I listen to you on Spotify so much- I'm going to buy all of your CDs." Well, thanks Spotify, I guess.
Also, how many Spotify naysayers (yes, YOU) actually listen to music on Spotify? 90%? 95%?
I know I do, on occasion. Especially if the artist is unfamiliar to me or obscure. If you despise Spotify and want it to go away, then stop supporting it. Delete it from your phone and computer and remove your music from it, just like T-swif.
But I don't think streaming media is the real problem at all. Nor is the author's concept that the inner workings of the human heart have somehow shifted away from spending money on art and now need to be re-calibrated.
It seems to me the bigger task for artists is actually getting in front of people in situations where we can effectively deliver our music. This takes loads of time and effort. Years of time. The author works a 9-5 job, which maybe doesn't leave quite enough time to really explore the possibilities to make progress in music. Also, a "martyr"? Calling it martyrdom seems extreme given the fact that the author is currently alive. I don't want to digress. Be a crusader for your art. I feel pretty confident that you won't be killed for it.
Music isn't the only hard business. Many, many businesses involve years of steady, deliberate effort to become profitable. Many people devote years and countless thousands of dollars to a non-arts business because they believe in the power of their idea. Good things are tough. Getting somewhere is tough, but you can do it.
I think there is good reason to question evolving platforms, like streaming audio and video; to analyze their structure and to see how they can work for your benefit as an artist, and to leave them behind if you estimate that they don't help you. But focus on what you can do, not what society or culture isn't doing for you. It won't do you any good to hope that "culture" is going to someday reach down and turn your 9-5 earnings into your music income all on its own.
Focus on where you are right now. Focus on what you can do. Focus on the gigs you can get. Try to get gigs you think would be a stretch. Take a cue from P-moose and cover a tune on youtube.
Happy sleeping on floors to you, my friends. Don't confuse the quantity of your income with the quality of your art. Give us the feeling, and we'll give you the money, plain and simple.