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October 06, 2007

Quit Your Day Job: How Indie Artists Make It

  Quit your day job 
  Originally uploaded by darwinsignlanguage.

I'm catching up on my weekend reading and writing before the Beer Scavenger Hunt of 2007 starts later today in Capital Hill (more on that later). I was quite excited to see an email announcing the new Hype Machine beta so I visited Stereogum (a legend in the mp3 blog world) because it's the number #1 referenced blog on Hype Machine.

I used to read Stereogum much more religiously before the sites like Hype Machine,, and (most recently) took over my attention. Stereogum is great because it posts new music(with permission) from both emerging and established artists before other places get it, highlights these emerging artists with interviews and profiles, and publicizes cool links like this, Arcade Fire's new site.

In my The Hard Road to Music Success post I referenced Stereogum as a popular music blog yet the Washington City Paper made the comparison that the website was small compared to the number of listeners a radio station could draw in during that medium's heyday.

I argued the problem with comparing website visits to radio listeners but more importantly, I wanted this post about Hotspur to underscore that despite the tech blogosphere's constant tirades against the music industry and specifically record labels, I don't think these discussions happen at the artist level. Usually, these discussions are at the macro level (record labels are toast and artists need to do it themselves), which is an engaging conversation but does it actually help a struggling band understand what they should be doing in this new media landscape to be successful?

As I've referenced before, I think Bob Lefsetz gets at the artists level more than most, stressing in no uncertain words that you'll never even have a chance at being successful unless you're doing it for the pure, unadulterated love of the music. Still, I don't think that up and coming bands know exactly what they should be doing in the new music industry: is it all about MySpace or all about selling self-produced albums via CDBaby or all about touring and playing relentlessly?

I'm not suggesting that ever was a specific plan to music success in the past (do A, B, and C and you're guaranteed to go platinum) but the music landscape and music industry is so different now that the number of paths to take are almost overwhelming. That's where the blogosphere could help: what should artist be doing, how should they be spending their time, etc.

A website or blog dedicated to artists sharing their thoughts, war stories, fears, and successes in trying to make it the music industry-- does such a site exist? If not, there should be one.

Well Sterogum's Quit Your Day Job is the closest thing I stumbled upon so far.It's a weekly post on artists trying to make it and it should be required reading for any band out there who is trying to figure out how to make music they love while still paying the bills.

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