The continued growth of streaming platforms is fundamentally reshaping the music industry. The old gatekeepers of success are watching their kingdom crumble, as artists are taking full advantage of the emerging power dynamic. Historically, singing a deal with a major record label meant embarking on the road to stardom. But now, rather than hope for the attention of A&Rs (artists and repertoire), the contemporary musician has ample tools to create, be heard, and generate a following. However, this new dynamic has led to new challenges developing; the role of the musician has expanded beyond that of a creator. Passion may be contagious, but is it enough? Artists are now becoming the driving source of their own business. In this new ecosystem, one cannot be complacent and merely focus on the creative side, yet still expect to succeed. Understanding the industry, taking advantage of marketing strategies and building a following are vital to stand out in a vast pool of creators. Hence, the lines between artist and businessman are becoming increasingly blurred. As the movement rejecting record label deals or negotiating more favourable terms gains traction, the need for business know-how and industry experience also rises. Thinking of a career in music as a small business is a useful mind-set. It may not be the average 9-5 job, but it requires motivation, commitment, organisation and many more skills than only being able to create. This is not to say that success as an independent artist is impossible, nor that it is not alright to delegate and seek out those with expertise. Building a strong network of connections is part of the game and larger scale projects require helping hands. Time and experience are limited, and being able to recognise and acknowledge weak spots is an important skill to succeed. Finding likeminded people for support is increasingly important in bringing one’s artistic vision to life. Ultimately, with freedom comes responsibility, and the DIY musician must take on various roles to fully take advantage of the advantages of remaining independent. Let’s raise a glass to musicians and do our best to support them in their journey!
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