The Artist Is In The Driver’s Seat

Submitted by Peter Astedt

If you think that your future will be to get signed to a record label, think again. I read in several places that artists today must invest so much more before they are in alignment to be picked up by professionals in the industry. You must start thinking as an artist that you are your first label, your first publicist, your first publisher, and your first manager.

The future of the music industry will be consulting. There is not enough money to go around to be able to invest in new artists. In the old days, you invested dollars into 100 artists, and only 10 of them would make money, but on the other hand, these ten would bring in so much money that it paid for the other 90.

Today there is no one with a proper ROI plan that would invest in that way. The different streams of income make it so unpredictable. With the new digital tools, you can also wait until everything is stable to start to invest.

For an artist is not good enough to just have a good song. It’s not good enough to have a look. Instead, we expect that you come with good songs, a good image and a fanbase, along with a hell of a live show and also  be an active professional on social media. 

Instead, I can see the industry gearing towards professionals becoming  consultants. A really dirty word in the music industry. Almost as dirty as sell out and placements were in 2000 when I started to do that. With such a big risk of developing artists, consultancy is the only way forward. Sorry, I don’t have ten years to put on an artist that might happen to pay back the investment. Not even if I just paid with my time it would not make sense. Working for free for ten years to maybe get a small salary after that.  I have a mortgage to pay, need food on the table and no it’s not enough to just work with someone just because they are creative and talented

Like in startup work, it’s your job to find the first finances to get your startup going. We have to look at artist careers as startups. The artist must get the investments and hire the right teams to make the career go forward.  The risk is back on the artist. It’s their career and they are behind the wheel now. Forget the old labels that made the decisions. The artist is in the driver’s seat. Of course, with that responsibility, the artist also has to get the investment that is needed. They have to figure out the right advice and learn to take to listen and make the right decisions.

It’s not easy, the new world has certainly not made it easier for artists to have a successful career. Sure, the old gatekeepers like distribution, radio stations, and media, and that you don’t own your fanbase have all been solved. With that solved we also pushed the responsibility back on the artist.

The artist is in the driver’s seat now.