Indie Music Marketing: Where the Music Industry Went Wrong Part 2: Why Indie Musicians are struggling to sell their music

This is part 2 of the Where the Music Industry Went Wrong series.  If you missed part 1, check it out here: Indie Music Marketing Part 1

Today I continue with my discussion on the three reasons why indie musicians are struggling to market and sell their music and how the music industry has contributed to the problem.  As I shared in the last post, one reason why indie musicians struggle to sell their music is because they don’t know or they have abandoned the real, true value of their music.

Are you a music entrepreneur? To be successful as a indie musician, you need to think like a music entrepreneur. You need to know the problem that your music solves for other people. You need to know the value of your music.  The reason why a lot of indie musicians struggle to sell their music is because most indie musicians don’t have this mindset.

The Music industry has contributed to this problem. The industry has focused too much on the benefits to musicians in selling their music.  What do I mean? You see the lavish lifestyles of musicians and hear about the big recording deals signed by huge artists.  This is promoted by the music industry to be the value of music.  The industry touts that you can make great money and have great fame as a musician.  The hip hop industry has been one of the biggest culprits in doing this. Yes, I am calling out the hip hop industry. We have seen rappers rap and boast about their material possessions, money, and women.   These rappers became successful.  Then, you started to see other rappers who wanted to be successful in the hip hop industry rap about the same thing.  Their logic was: I want to be a successful rap artist so I am going to do what other successful rap artists do and rap about the same things.  I don’t blame these artists for thinking this way.  They saw other rappers who were where they wanted to be and decided to do what they did. What happened? They rapped about the same things, but were not enjoying the same level of success. Why? They didn’t think like music entrepreneurs.  These huge rappers were not successful because they rapped about money, women, and fame.  The content of their rhymes were just features of the songs and not benefits.  They didn’t sell millions of records because of what they rapped about.  There was a deeper reason.  Their music, those lyrics, that content, solved the problems of their fans, record labels, and big corporations.  I’ll discuss this more in tomorrow’s post.

So a trend emerged in rap music that focused on boasting and promoting self-gain.  This created a problem in the music industry and actually hurt unsigned independent rappers who needed to think like entrepreneurs.  When you start to focus on meeting your needs and your problems, when your main reason for making music is to get your financial needs met, you stop thinking like a music entrepreneur.  A music entrepreneur knows and understands that the media doesn’t care about him or her making a lot of money, club owners don’t focus on your needs.  The media, your fans, venue owners, and other industry professionals have their own needs and problems.  A music entrepreneur makes music that solves their problems.

Maybe you are saying, “But Angela I don’t make music for the money.  The content of my music doesn’t focus on promoting self-gain.  I am not a hip hop artist. I’m a singer or a songwriter in a different genre of music”.   Maybe you do believe that music has great value and power to solve problems and change people. That’s great.

Not every indie musician becomes an artist to be rich and live a lavish lifestyle.  You may record and perform music because you simply love it and music helps you express yourself.  You may be a musician simply because you love music.  That’s great.  But, the moment you decide you want to sell your music, is the moment you have to begin to think like a music entrepreneur.  You have to now think about how other people benefit from hearing or buying your music.  You have to think about how your music solves their problems.  You have to become focused on the needs of others and not your needs.

I know that for a lot of you reading this, you already have this mindset.  You know that music is powerful and you know that music is valuable because it solves problems and meets the needs of others. You make music because you love it and you want other people to be uplifted and encouraged by it.  You know this but maybe you are having a problem of getting your music out there to the people so they can benefit from hearing it.  Despite knowing the real value of music, you still have a hard time selling your music. If this is the case, then the reason why you are struggling to sell your music may not be because you don’t know the value of it.  You may be struggling to sell your music because of the two reasons  I will discuss in later posts: you are not properly communicating the value of your music and/or you are not delivering the value of your music:

Next week: What problems does music solve in the lives of others? Learn the REAL value of your music? Discover the needs and problems facing music fans, venue owners, radio stations, media, etc.

Indie Music Marketing: Where the Music Industry Went Wrong Part 1: Why Indie Musicians are struggling to sell their music

There are three reasons why local, indie musicians are not achieving the levels of success they desire in the music industry. In this post, I will give a short overview of these three reasons and the role the music industry has played. If you are an indie artist and you are struggling to sell your music, if you are struggling to get promotion and publicity, then it is probably because of at least one of these three reasons.

Three Reasons why Most Indie Musicians are struggling to sell their music:
Reason # 1. Indie Musicians have forgotten or are not aware of, the true value and power of music.

Reason # 2. Indie Musicians do not communicate the value of their music or they do so poorly. This reason aims at how musicians market and promote their music. This reason also explains why most musicians are not able to network effectively at industry events and get the attention of music executives and the press. I will discuss this reason in a later blog post.

Reason # 3. Indie Musicians do not deliver the value of their music to their fans. This is all about distribution, how your music is delivered, received, and experienced by your fans. This is about how your fans experience your brand. I’ll discuss this reason later in another post.

In this post, I will discuss reason #1. Most indie musicians consider themselves entrepreneurs. They take great pride in marketing and selling their own music. They see themselves as business owners, as they should. However, most indie musicians have not made the mindshift change that is needed to begin thinking and behaving like an entrepreneur, as a business owner. That is, most musicians fail to ask themselves the question that every entrepreneur must ask to be successful: What is the value of the work that I do or the product I make? In other words, what problem does my music solve for my target audience? If you can answer that question, then you have the mind of a music entrepreneur.

So what is the real reason why the music industry is in the state that it is in today? The music industry has cheapened the value of music and reduced the value of music to entertainment, to a catchy beat or hook, to packaging. These are all features and not benefits. All marketers know that in order to effectively market your product, you have to focus on the benefits that your product delivers to the consumer. You shouldn’t focus on the features. The value of your product is not in the features but in the benefits. The value of your music is not in your hook or your beat but it’s in how people receive your hook. It’s in how your hook/beat/lyrics solves the problems of others. I will talk about this more in my next post.

The music industry and musicians themselves have also reduced the value of music by denying the powerful impact and influence, both good and bad, that music has on its listeners. We have heard musicians refute the influence of music and their ability to influence their fans. How many times have you heard an artist, especially a hip hop artist say that he/she is not a role model? I argue that in doing so, musicians are ignoring the power of the music that they make and therefore, the value of the product they are selling. They are also turning down an opportunity to connect with their fans in a powerful, influential way. Mike Masnick, founder of Floor64 and TechDirt.com says that the business model musicians need to adopt can be best represented by the formula, cwf+rtb = $$. Cwf= connect with fans and rtb= reason to buy. I agree. Musicians need to connect with their fans and give them a reason to buy in order to have success now in the music industry. In order for musicians to connect with their fans and give them a reason to buy, musicians first need to understand the value that music has in the lives of their fans and in society.

Music is more than entertainment for fans. Music has more value and more power. When musicians begin to realize this and focus on the real value and power of their music, they will build a successful business model that allows them to connect with their fans and give their fans a reason to buy.

People do not just want to be entertained. It is true that people buy music to be entertained, but real music entrepreneurs dig deeper to find out the real motivation behind why people buy music. A real music entrepreneur asks these questions: Why do people want to be entertained? Why do people want to be entertained with music? When a music entrepreneur can answer those questions, then he or she will know the value of music and can give people a reason to buy it.

So why do people listen to music? Why do people want to be entertained? There are many reasons. One reason, people use entertainment as escapism. People turn to music to get their minds off of the struggles they face everyday. People also listen to music because it helps them deal with their struggles and problems. People listen to music when they are happy, they listen to music when they are sad. Listening to music is an emotional experience for so many people. People love the way music makes them feel. Music helps people express and deal with their emotions. Music helps people to relax and deal with stress. People also use music to change an atmosphere, to create an environment, a mood. Music has the power to change our moods. Music inspires, motivates. Music is so much more than entertainment and a catchy hook.

If you don’t understand the value that your music has in the lives of fans, media, press, and venue owners, then you will have a hard time marketing, promoting and selling your music. If you don’t know the problems and challenges that these people have, then you are not a music entrepreneur. If you don’t know the problem that your music solves for these people, then you are not a music entrepreneur.  If you have not created music that solves their problems, then you are not a music entrepreneur.

Over the next few weeks, I will continue the “where the music industry went wrong” series.  I will continue to discuss the value of music and how this can help musicians market and promote their music. I will give you action steps that you can apply right now to discover the value of the music you create. I will also talk about how indie musicians need to communicate the value of their music.

Let me know your comments so far. Do you agree with me? disagree? Leave me a comment.

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