In today's exciting digital music era, artists not only handle their own production, but also their own distribution, promotion, etc. The basically have to figure it all out by themselves and make their own decisions. In our very first guest post, Neil S. Matharoo, aka Soundstatues, looks back on taking the DIY road and experimenting to try to "make it".
By Neil S. Matharoo
It’s a great time to be a musician.
With modern technology, anyone can compose, record, and release music—with zero interference from shady, cigar-chomping businessmen.
There is a downside to this wonderful new world, however: everyone is composing, recording, and releasing music.
And how is a musician supposed to find an audience when there are millions of competing voices? Traditionally, this is where record labels stepped in (at the cost of owning the musicians’ work).
But now, record labels have been weakened to the point of irrelevance (unless you’re talking about manufactured pop music). So, the independent musician is on his own when it comes to getting his music heard.
And there’s another major problem: how can a musician earn money from his music? Every person deserves to be paid fairly for his work, even if his work is of a creative nature.
I myself was grappling with these difficult issues recently. I knew I’d written music which would resonate with many people, but I’m just a guy living in an apartment in Brooklyn. How on earth could I get my music heard?
I tried everything. I spammed social media, posted on message boards, emailed every label and agency I could find. Along the way, I found a site called Jamendo, which looked interesting. I quickly uploaded the song "Give It Up" and moved on.
A few weeks later, I reviewed the results of my promotion campaign. It was pretty dismal: nothing had worked. Most music-hosting sites turned out to be musicians just spamming each other for inflated stats.
But then I remembered this Jamendo thing, and I logged in to check my stats. I was expecting another failure.
I couldn’t believe it: Thousands of plays. Thousands of downloads.
I couldn’t believe it: Thousands of plays. Thousands of downloads. Fighting down my initial excitement, I assumed it was a fluke. But each day, I checked my updated stats, and there were thousands and thousands of plays and downloads.
Over the next few months, I periodically uploaded more of my music onto Jamendo, and two more of my songs ("Admire" and "In the Face of Injustice") got played and downloaded tens of thousands of times.
Jamendo is one of the very few places on the web where independent artists can be heard fairly. And if the music is good, then an audience will be found. All it takes is a few minutes to create an artist profile and upload your songs.
Here’s where it gets good, though. Because Jamendo has an actual, authentic user base (and not just musicians spamming each other), popular music will spread out of Jamendo. To my surprise, many people use my music from Jamendo as the backing audio to their personal videos on YouTube. And because Jamendo notifies its users that the music is part of the Creative Commons domain, proper credit is given to the musician in these videos.
Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s a real treat to see that a soccer team in Poland used my music in their video. But there’s a hidden bonus: YouTube pays me streaming royalties from these videos.
Jamendo has been the keystone of my music promotion. It has resulted in far more exposure than any other site I’ve used!
This leads me to my next point: Jamendo can indirectly help you earn money from your music. Yes, Jamendo offers music for free download. But as I tracked my huge increase in plays on Jamendo, I saw a parallel increase in revenue from services like Spotify, Deezer, and iTunes.
And with this hugely increased exposure came podcast and blog coverage, which resulted in even more paid streams from other avenues. I’ve even been contacted by various music industry professionals thanks to my success on Jamendo (I’m still independent though; I’m waiting for the right deal).
Jamendo has been the keystone of my music promotion. It has resulted in far more exposure than any other site I’ve used, which has had a ripple effect in other areas of my promotion strategies. I strongly suggest all independent musicians try it.
Just don’t spam each other for inflated stats, because that ruins the experience for the listeners! If your music is good, it will find an audience on Jamendo.