asks Paris Cesvette, herself being a consummate musician, producer, shejane, remixer, radio host and avid music scene observer/indie artist and referring to Google’s/YouTube’s plans of shutting down those indie artists who haven’t signed their latest terms in regards to streaming music and video. “For love?”, I halfheartedly intend to reply for a split second, then second think my response and go: “I can’t help, but wonder more and more about that.”, as the major music corporations seem set on driving everyone else out of their business except the acts signed to their labels – and just about a hand full at that.
So it had me thinking: Can indie artists really get a break for themselves when keeping to piggyback established artists and swarming around them and their media outlets? Knowing that they’ll never have the budgets required to drum up these big campaigns that the remaining major labels run on behalf of their artists? The co-marketing, the co- and cross-selling, the sheer presence they afford themselves in order to sell their “products”? The answer is very clear to me: No way in hell we’ll ever even get anywhere near any of the established ones by emulating the strategies and specific measures of armies of PR and media folks working for them. As an indie, you typically wear anywhere between five to ten hats – in one person. But you’re still not equipped with anything more than two hands, 10 fingers, ideally a brain occupying the cavity inside the skull and between the ears and usually working from the comfort of your home office/home studio. How are we ever going to be anywhere near as efficient as those teams of professionals dedicating all their productive time throughout the day to getting the word out about this or that particular artist and their latest single, music video, album release, musical cooperation with another artist, special appearances etc. etc.? We won’t. We’ll always be hundreds of miles behind before we can even begin to dream of the bigger picture and of getting a break.
So, what do we do? I think, the circuit of indie artists got it all wrong. You can’t expect to yield results employing the methods and strategies that have worked for the industry in previous decades – for a number of reasons. But the most apparent reason to me is: The “pitch” has to come from an entire different angle. If “we” shoot for mass exposure – we’ll inevitably lose as that place is firmly secured by the PR firms working for major labels. Then what?
One word: Exclusivity. Being rare or – big word – unique. Hard to find, hard to get a hold of. It has to take an effort to find a particular indie artist and their music. What? Was I being crazy? Hasn’t the internet taught us the exact opposite? Like, e.g. easy to navigate artist websites, zero ambiguity in terms of navigating the content presented, availability on all major online stores, with iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby being a must a.s.o. a.s.f.
I don’t think, any of this is going to work at all. What are the odds your latest single appears somewhere right next to – say – Jay-Z’s latest production? Or Beyoncé’s most recent music video? In order for this to work, you’d have to know the “algorithms” placing those artists at the top of every online listing there is. And when I say “algorithms”, I mean – aw, you guessed it, huh? – MONEY, of course!. What’s the average marketing budget for an indie artist between making the rent for his studio appartment, rehearsal studio, maybe recording studio? Time. Putting in the extra time to somehow promote their work. So, that is a must-tank for sure by comparison.
Hence: Play the hard-to-get card! “Oh, you found my music? Great! Where’d you find me? How did you get there? What would you have wished to see in order to get there faster? Would you like your friends to hear about me, too?” That sort of thing. Exclusivity, being a niche product. And by asking these questions, you’re also establishing a customer relation right away and as a welcome side effect.
A single fish can only stand out from a school of fish, if they find a deserted place in the ocean. Sure, you might get eaten by bigger fish. But seriously: What’s there to lose?