Ideas and Insights from Engineering, Science, Medicine and Arts
Edited by Satish Nambisan
Chapter 7: The entrepreneurial musician: the Tao of DIY
Over the past ten years, technological developments along with cultural and demographic changes have led to an upending of the traditional music industry. File-sharing and the proliferation of online tools for recording and distribution have been the key disruptors, eliminating musicians’ dependency on traditional production and distribution channels. The old school music industry relied on a loosely coordinated system of gatekeepers and middlemen: from labels, distributors, and retail record stores, to music publishers, radio station programmers, artist managers, and booking agents. Today’s musicians operate in a DIY (do it yourself) digital world that offers them new opportunities to create their own paths to success. Flutist and MacArthur award winner Claire Chase defines the musician-entrepreneur as an artist who is also “a producer, an organizer, an activist, and an inventor.” Claire founded the acclaimed new music group ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) in 2001, when she was fresh out of Oberlin College, Ohio. Claire sees her work as part of a growing movement, saying that “the 21st century, in many ways, could be the century of the new business model – the new music band in our case – the modular, adaptive, artist-driven performing arts organization.” Although it’s easier than ever for musicians to get their music out, what’s difficult is building awareness for one’s music in a market flooded with product. As referenced in the Seth Godin quote at the start of this chapter, success in music is all about creating and cultivating a fan base: a community of support that will fuel and sustain musicians’ creative endeavors.
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