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The Demo As A Sellable Product
By Mark Curran - 06/05/2001 - 02:18 PM EDT

2001, Mark Curran.

Enormous changes have taken place in the music industry. For the first time in history since the inception of the pop music phenomenon in the late 1950's, musicians now have more opportunities to market their music directly to the consumer than ever before.

The internet has made the impossible possible, to break the stranglehold the major record companies and their distribution arms have had on the record industry since the 1960's.

Songwriters now have the opportunity to derive income from their demo tapes, above and beyond shopping them to publishers and record companies. This phenonmenon is called "Direct Distribution," and will be the focus of this column as it pertains to songwriters.

What prompted the writing of my book "SELL YOUR MUSIC"  was my discovery that very little had been written about specific strategies and methods of direct marketing independent music through the internet.

I knew that with the growth of such direct music marketing sites as the amazing popularity of the MP3 format among the general web populace, that the time had come for such a book. Thus began a long period of research and practical application.

Although the opportunities appear to be shrinking for songwriters in the traditional markets of staff positions with publishers and getting cuts on major records, they now have more opportunities in the direct retail market.

The end user has come to recognize that independent music can be every bit as good as the offerings made by the majors. MP3 and other formats are making this music available to anyone who wishes to find it.

Hundreds of songwriters and singer/songwriter/musicians are making a healthy full time living marketing their music directly online. It's not an easy road, but this is a given.

Success in the creative arts has always boiled down to the economics of distribution. The cost of distribution forces the distribution entity to become highly selective when choosing artists to fill the pipeline.

This has left over 99% of the artists creating product without a distribution entity. Sadly, much of the world's greatest music has been left unheard.

Then the internet arrived, and the weakest link in the chain has been fixed by technology.

It is now possible for the independent musician and songwriter to take control of his or her own destiny, to distribute their own product.

The quality demo tape has value in and of itself. It can be effectively marketed and sold directly to end users, even while it is being used to "pitch" your songwriting to the majors and minors. It is your product, you create it, you own it, and it deserves a chance to be heard by those who are interested in it, and deserves a chance to be sold to those who like your music enough to want to buy it.

Now it is possible to produce master quality demos in the home, and market them directly to the consumer, for next to no cost. This simple fact has one of the largest industries in the world up in arms, and has created shock waves in every aspect of the business. This is, as it should be, because innovations in popular music have always shaken up the status quo.

Selling your own music is hard, time consuming work.

But the ones who do it and do is successfully would not have it any other way, for waiting for their big break, or being an indentured servant to a record company that will not serve the artist's best interests are not acceptable options.

Nobody can market your music like you can, because nobody else cares as much about it, and nobody else will take the time and care to do it like you can. Unless you are wealthy, resist the temptation to hire others to do the job you can do yourself, at least at the beginning.

This may sound crazy coming from a consultant who makes his living doing the job for others, but it is a truth I make clear to all of my clients. Learn how to do it yourself, then you will be in a position to hire others to do it for you.

The internet makes it possible to sell your music to millions of people all over the world.

Recognize the fact that your demos have value.

This column will discuss and address ways in which you can market your demos and master recordings yourself.

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