According to Billboard SoundScan mid-year numbers provided by A2IM, report, indie labels hit a record high with 34.4% of the overall market share based on master ownership (not distribution). That’s up from last year’s mid-year mark of 32.9%. Top selling independent label artists so far this year include:
(noted in album/TEA sales)
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Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
Though seldom discussed on most music industry blogs, college radio is an important part of the landscape for indie music acts. Though some stations are seeing hard times, others are thriving and music is often a key element in their success. Here are three stations that have made music news in 2013.
Boston Phoenix Closes, WTBU Seizes the Day
Alt newsweeklies are also important to indie musicians so the shuttering of the Boston Phoenix was bad news. However students involved with Boston University’s WTBU Radio saw an opportunity in the empty Boston Phoenix newspaper boxes scattered around the city.
So they started a zine and began distributing them via Boston Phoenix boxes.
“‘We have always promoted the alternative scene in Boston, but as a radio station, we focused on doing that through music,’ said WTBU General Manager and junior Deanna Archetto…When designing the zine, Archetto says the goal was to then draw on WTBU’s strength, largely its ‘punk aesthetic,’ to create content that is ‘in-your-face, informative, honest and fun.’”
Hard to say how long this can last but it’s nice to see old school tactics being revived.
Check out the first issue here.
Kbeach Radio Launches at Cal State Long Beach
As Radio Survivor’s Jennifer Waits noted, 2012 was a “Mixed Bag for College Radio.” These days most things music-related are a mix of good and bad but 2013 has seen at least one high point with the launch of Kbeach FM at Cal State Long Beach.
The station has been online only till now:
"Among the dignitaries in attendance was station founder Mike Soultanian, who was presented with the KBeach founder’s award. He spoke of KBeach’s humble beginnings in his dorm room in 1995. ‘When we started, there was no way to get onto FM or AM,’ Soultanian said of the online approach. ‘It wasn’t about listenership, it was about learning how to do radio.’"
KSUA Wins mtvU Woodie for Best College Station
Informed during SXSW that they were one of the final five contestants, KSUA staffers started prepping for an mtvU interview:
"KSUA general manager Rebecca File said they were fixing their hair and checking each other’s teeth in the reflection of their sunglasses, trying to look presentable. Then an mtvU film crew popped up and asked, ‘How does it feel to win an mtvU Woodie Award for best college radio station?’"
I bet it feels pretty darn good. Congratulations!
mtvU is planning a visit to Fairbanks to tape a College Radio Countdown at KSUA.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
DEBATE: Is the Indie Music Machine Slowing Down?
This past decade has been great for nerds. Everywhere you look, pop culture memes praise the rise of geeks and dorks alike in every phase of entertainment, and the same goes for music. The explosion of “indie music” blew up with the appraised definition of music nerd/hipster, so much that you couldn’t separate bands like Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective from guys in chucks, plaid shirts and bed hair. Now, as Hipster Runoff points out, academia that used to power indie music is starting to get swallowed up by the saturation and mass commercialism of indie music. Thanks to corporations looking to tap into youth markets and MTV-like brands struggling to remain relevant, indie music was adopted from the underground circles, and is now being liquifided into mere marketing placenta.
It was only a matter of time when die-hard mp3 bloggers were beaten out by the SEO-demons of the web, and cutting edge indie music would be over-circulated because bloggers in the end want to overshare music that people already know about and bring traffic. You see this already happening with Buzzmedia purchasing all of the longer-lasting blogs like Stereogum, and now even SPIN. You can’t blame traffic-focused bloggers to be obsessed with SEO-tactics, but it kills the academic foundation indie music was built on. And when you kill the academia, then the smaller musicians lose and so do the music fans.
Does this spell the end of indie music? Hell no. You can’t turn off the desire to seek out new music and not stay on top of the of the scenes. It doesn’t work that way; it’s a nature, not a movement. However, it means there’s going to be a new wave of academics rise from below to beat out the bloggers that drank the SEO kool-aid and save the intellectual sect of music. It’s going to require the effort on behalf of new writers and new readers to read the new writers. If we all give into the bought-out blogs, then it’s going to be a long recovery.
We don’t believe music can ever be intimidated and coerced. New music will continue to re-shape and grow in it’s own way, but it’s going to take the music fans and new curators to help give the discussion new validity and meaning. One day, the nerds will go back to the bottom of the social food chain, but the music nerds will still be consuming music the same way.
5Q: Raz B
This week’s 5Q is pretty special for anyone that grew up on 90s MTV boy bands. If this song by B2K doesn’t ring a bell, then you either didn’t have a childhood or were simply too old for MTV at the time, which is totally reasonable. In any case, there was life after B2K for one of its members, Raz B. The R&B star chose to try a non-label project after his boy band days while living in China and the results have been nothing but encouraging since.
DOWNLOAD: Super Model
We hear you’re in China now. How did that happen? Where? How is it?
Well, I believe in speaking things into existence. Since our B2K days, I’ve wanted to go back to China. An opportunity presented itself where I could tour out here and it came at a time when I needed to clear my head so I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve performed in Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and many cities around China . I’m having a wonderful time out here.
When do you think about when you look back on the B2K days?
It totally depends on where my mind takes me. When I’m just thinking about performing and hanging with the boys during the good times, it’s followed by a lot of smiles and laughs. When I think about what could have been, sometimes I really hate what we did to our fans.
You had the #2 self-released single in May 2007. Was that when you realized going DIY could still be effective as a working artist? How do you compare it to working under a big label?
After B2K broke up, I considered going solo under a big label. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I could really trust managers, labels, etc. When I started working independently and looked at the quality of work I was producing, I was very confident in my ability as a solo artist. Working under a big label you have more money, which is always a good thing. I don’t think there’s a huge difference. If we were able to land at #2, then obviously I have a great team behind me and they work hard. More money always helps, but what’s meant to be, will be. I just like making music and continuing a relationship with my fans.
What’s a good way to maintain your audience’s engagement with online marketing?
It’s hard to say because you never what they’ll like. I just try to keep putting out good music and keeping them involved. I understand the role they play and continue to play in my life.
What’s the one thing you’ve noticed about yourself as a musician since B2K?
I think I’ve evolved musically. I’m free to do what I like and cross genres.
10 Promotional Strategies for DIY Musicians
Take it for what you will.
Instead of targeting music publications for reviews, where you’re competing with lots of other musicians, try starting with publications that focus on a theme to which your music relates. You’ll stick out from their usual submissions and, if they write about your music, you have a hook to catch the attention of music publications.
Connecting your work to established artists or popular events is a way to get attention. This can be as simple as covering a popular song or as complex as creating new music based on a current craze. Of course, you’ll then need to publicize your work to piggyback on related news.
Find someone to promote you since some people will then take you more seriously.
Go beyond single channel activites and the normal combination of touring, albums and merchandise to have a presence in other channels such as podcasts and publications.
Don’t focus on getting a single hit to grab attention. Instead, methodically build from one success to another, getting more attention at each stage of development.
The Street Team
Ask your fans to spread the word for you. Traditional street teams have to get out and put in lots of time posting flyers and the like but now with the help of social media your fans should be happy to tell their friends if you simply ask.
Engage Your Audience
Instead of getting wrapped up in social media trivia, try sharing photos, video clips and backstage stories to feed your fans and give them something to talk about.
Keep On Truckin’
Play live, play live, play live.
Explore performance venues other than clubs and concert halls such as house concerts and Google Hangouts.
When you have people’s attention for what you’re doing now be sure to let them know what you’re doing next to build anticipation.
Since 2006, hip-hop artist MC Lars has been a poster boy for indie music success and the DIY work ethic. After a short-lived relationship with Terry McBride and the Canadian record label/management company Nettwerk five years ago, Lars formed his own label, Horris Records. Since then, he has taken his self-described "post-punk laptop rap" and delivered it to a target audience he calls the ”iGeneration” — kids born between 1982 and 2000.
A couple of months ago I sent my assistant and ace correspondent Kendra Wright to the St. Louis date on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. There she sat down with MC Lars and captured his thoughts on his approach to a DIY music career, making money as an indie musician, his advice for new artists, and much more.
Here are the first two video excerpts from that great interview:
Article originally appeared on The Buzz Factor (http://www.thebuzzfactor.com) and was written by Bob Baker.