On one of the boards, I’m working on we got into a discussion about how to help DIY artists. Today many artists are DIY much longer than they were twenty years ago. Mainly because the technology today provides a lot of what the midsize record labels were providing in form of knowledge and opportunities. Twenty years ago, it was a tough question to get distribution, something that today you can get just a click away and reach the whole planet in very little time.
This led to that more of the development is now dependent on the artist. What you can see on the market is also a rise of new people working as consultants to bring in the knowledge that is lost from the midsize labels to the artist. In fact, what the midsize label was providing in form of knowledge and marketing is now available to be bought in the form of a consultant.
This is though not in phase with the development with the DIY artists. They still hear that you should have been signed and developed where they are now, but the truth is that they probably have to develop themselves for at least a couple of years.
This of course leads to the fact that artist now must invest a significantly bigger budget to be able to break through as an artist living out the dream of their music. The leap over from DIY and having a team that you paid for with percentage was far more reachable twenty years ago. Instead, we expect the artist to be able to sustain the team financially much longer today.
In the end yes, the industry has now put the risk on to the artist. At the same time, it has also left a bigger gap where the artist can decide what they can do with their music and have a very much bigger decision on how their career should develop.
This was the discussion on our board meeting. The problem we see today is that we attend many conferences, a new phenomenon that comes out with that more artists needs teams and people need more consulting jobs. We see a lot of new DIY artist at these conferences. Still, there are very few artists that we really say “wow” when we discover their music. We see many “ok” artists, ones that with the right development with five-year plan could maybe become one of the”wow” factors. The issue is just that no one is interesting enough to develop. As a consultant, you can’t really develop since you need a salary. The artist just invests a bit and now thinks the product is ready and just wants to jump straight in where some repayment should happen. In reality, they are not ready to get going. It’s very rare that you get a “wow” moment in a showcase or a sent-in demo or even a tip-off from a friend, I can easily count on both hands the moment I have had that experience. Most of the successes I have worked with have become of developing in five to seven years. It's just that I can’t really take the risk any longer to drive ten different projects that maybe will happen to turn into something. Back in the day, I got a kind of insurance by owning master's or publishing, but the new scatter landscape of income makes it impossible to say which part I should have as safety to be able to make a decision to support a bunch of artists.
I foresee in the future, there will be a big update on the map of how you get a star going in the music industry.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.