I saw one of the more brilliant music videos I've come across in some time today. Naturally, it wasn't on MTV; it was on YouTube. By an "unsigned artist" named Jessica Delfino. Here it is:
A few years ago, this poor girl might have never found a record label; now she doesn't need one. What's more, even if she ultimately is label-bound, it's more fun that I found her now -- before she becomes famous.
'Cause I e-mailed her, and she e-mailed me back in, like, 10 minutes. She complimented me on the Idea Grove Web site, and even fooled around long enough to stumble across a Charles Ives quote that applied to her work ("I don't write music for sissy ears.")
Anyhoo, a couple hours after I heard from Jessica, jazzycatzz posted this article on Spin Thicket, which describes how bands are becoming so adept at using social networks to promote their work that they are actually rejecting offers from major labels.
The band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, for example,
hired their own manufacturer, distributor and marketing company, and instead of the $1 an album they'd typically make from a record company, they'll get about $6 for every copy they sell.
Hard to argue with that -- especially considering how fickle labels have become with their artists. These days, in fact, many labels are only willing to sign artists for a "single song, maybe two, and a ring tone."
Which brings us to the worst reality of all for the music business -- their biggest revenue staple, the CD, is going by the wayside.
As Mark Cuban put it in a post today:
I would say the music industry has put itself in the position of being incredibly stupid. They are dependent on a format, the CD, that few people listen to...
Why can't the music industry get that we should be able to buy music when we want, where we want, in the format in which we consume it, on our IPods and comparable devices. Until that happens, total music sales will continue to decline and quckly.
As for the major labels, they are going to have to start offering more -- rather than less -- to artists. Either that, or settle for a considerably smaller share of the take.
Update/correction: Jessica isn't actually unsigned; she's with the indy label Loudmouth Records.