We have seen the landscape for the Independent Musician change drastically. We have various types of social networking that musicians can now take advantage of to distribute and promote their original music. All of this can be done in real time. I can speak firsthand as a musician and say that there is something truly liberating in writing a song, recording that song, uploading it to the music distribution channel of my choice, and using Facebook and/or Twitter to tell people about it….all within under an hour if we so choose. I found my results were huge because I caught the people in my social networks off guard. I will certainly do this again. I think of music as a fresh loaf of bread coming out of the oven at your favorite local bakery. You want that loaf that just came out…fresh and fragrant. This is how people want their music, video and content overall now. So, I figured I would share a few links that I feel are necessity for the D.I.Y Musician in 2011, while sharing a few of the tools I use to make it all that happen.
1. I have a fire-wire interface and I use Sonar Cakewalk as my main Digital Audio Workstation. I have a few keyboards, drum machines, and microphones, along with all of my instruments to record. I was shown a few things by a friend, and the rest of the recording process I learned from watching tutorials on YouTube and the web. There is also a free recording software online called Audacity that a lot of beginners use to learn how to record.
2. After I record a tune, I have a local studio “Master” the song (or album) and I get a good loud version of the song ready that I can upload to websites that can stream and/or distribute music such as http://soundcloud.com or http://bandcamp.com. I upload the songs here and then use their free widget tools to share music on my social networks. (Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.)
The 2 points above are completely free options. I tend to lean toward Bandcamp for selling and using their widgets and built in statistics. Soundcloud is widely used for FREE distribution. Bandcamp also lets people choose their download format. (MP3, Lossless, .Wav, etc) I urge every music listener to go on this site and find an Independent Musician they like and give downloading a try.
3. If your social networking push with music widgets and some live performance-type YouTube Videos is getting your music out to your network, it may be time to pay for a larger distribution service like http://cdbaby.com to get your music onto iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and more. For about $30, you can get your music in huge online stores as a digital release.
4. Now, if you are really gaining traction with a digital release, it may be time to entice fans with limited physical runs catered to your die hard fans. Try something like http://discmakers.com and get a package deal for whatever your CD, T-shirt, and other merchandising needs are. I would say stick to the free stuff until you build a little name for yourself, so you are not sitting on 1000 cds for a year while you are networking online.
Now let’s face it. Most musicians on the indie level are not famous. How can we expect that we are going to sell 1000-10,000 cds or pieces of vinyl right off the bat? Local shows and a persistent internet marketing push to share music is where it’s at. Create a demand. Feed the demand with content online, shows, and physical content. Hope a few D.I.Y musicians and listeners alike found this little rant helpful. Feel free to comment and ask questions for more resources. I have a ton.