The Do-It-Yourself Musician: a musician who creates and markets their music, mostly without the direct aid of highly-paid experts or professionals.
A lot of us are in this boat. We don’t have thousands of dollars to record a record, or hire a publicist. We just want to write songs, record them, and get people to hear them. But there are a lot of skills and knowledge to creating and marketing music, besides just recording and marketing.
What DIY Doesn’t Mean
Being a do-it-yourselfer doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. You might pay a pro to help you record, or master. You might use a service to get a license for a cover song, or to collect royalties. You shouldn’t try to run your own web server for your web site, or send out your newsletters yourself. But you should know enough about how those things work to avoid getting ripped off. You should know enough to have an intelligent conversation, and communicate what you want.
The New Music Industry Is A New World
It used to be that, in order to reach fans, you pretty much had to go through a major record company. Now, you can upload a song to YouTube (or many other places), and hundreds of millions of people can view it. You might get Internet famous! Of course, your weird cousin Ed may be the only one who actually sees it.
My point is, the middlemen are largely gone. You can have recording gear for a few hundred dollars. You can make your own videos. You can write songs, record them, promote them — all without going to a recording studio, label or promoter. But here’s the flip side. If you don’t pay someone to do it, you’ve got to do it yourself!
So. . .
- How do you build a website?
- How do you set up email, or get the proper license for a cover song?
- What should you buy if you want to play live with your own backing tracks?
- What do you need to know about royalties, or recovering your stolen gear?
- How do you get over stage fright?
- What should you wear on stage?
These are just a few things the do-it-yourself musician has to contend with. And we don’t have big record labels, or managers to support us. We have to do it ourselves. And that’s why I’m here. Not that I’m any great shakes at all of this stuff. I’m just a guy, with some experience, on a similar to you. I write and record songs, and try to get them out there. Sometimes I have to find answers to some of the same questions many of you might face. I’ll share the answers here, when I can.
Perhaps you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by the multitudinous things you have to learn. I hope to make it easier. And I hope to learn from you, too.
Who Will Thrive In The New ‘Do-It-Yourself Musician’ Landscape?
My bet is a particular kind of person. Someone who can take on a lot of varied challenges. Someone who also accurately judges their limits. Someone who can do a lot of it themselves!
But in the old days, know-how was specialized, and technical knowledge was proprietary, or the milieu of the elite. Now, you can easily find articles about song licensing, or building a web site, or an XY stereo micing technique for acoustic guitars. The problem is who to trust. Everybody has a course to sell, or an affiliate link to promote. You need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
What you need are places to go to get information from people who have done what you want to do – communities for sharing good information. My hope is for The Do-It-Yourself Musician to be one of those places.
When I run into challenges related to creating and promoting my music, I’ll let you know. When I find a tool, or technique that helps me, I’ll share that too. I hope you will share your musical resources, too.