What is a DIY (Do It Yourself) approach when it comes to music?
You’ve probably heard the term before when it comes to home improvement but, in this context, we are talking about releasing music independently of any support from the likes of record labels or managers. Being an independent artist is now more popular than ever…still, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before choosing a DIY approach.
• Creative control | Want to throw an obnoxious sax on your record? Or a Mbira in that final chorus? It’s up to you – you can trust your ears and creativity.
• Rights retention | You get to retain all master and publishing copyrights, forever.
• Royalty collection | You can collect all income arising from the use of your music. As a DIY artist, streaming revenue, album sales and sync licensing deals go right into your pocket.
• YOU pick your team | Playlist promo, PR, Digital, Web3 Creatives, Press, etc., you can plug in the exact pros that best match your needs. Another benefit is the ability to build your own trustworthy team of creatives to work towards a common goal.
• No financial backing | Running a release campaign can be expensive. The right team will be effective, but they won’t push your music for free.
• Limited resources | Music companies have dedicated teams that will help you with registering your songs, ensuring they’re monetized correctly, help with designing artworks, producing music videos, etc.,
• Limited network | Labels, publishers and managers are embedded in the industry and so can potentially open doors for you that you wouldn’t be able to alone. If going DIY, you’re limited to who you know.
• Less time for the art | The administration, promotion and analysis tasks that underpin music releases are very time-consuming processes. Do you have time to do all of that alongside writing and recording your music?
The current playing field:
The digital revolution has served artists and creators with the tools to reach huge audiences like never before. 50 years ago, if you wanted to release your music, you had to go through an oftentimes very expensive recording process, think about pressing your record and sending physical copies out to secure support from a label/publisher. This could take YEARS. However, it’s now possible for an artist to record and produce their music to a professional standard from their bedroom and have the record live on all streaming platforms within a matter of days or even hours. Social media then provides a powerful and direct-to-consumer avenue that was once unthinkable.
Historically, the major companies were able to dictate which artists broke, and those that didn’t – this is no longer the case. These significant changes to the ways in which recorded music is created, consumed and promoted present some obvious benefits to independent artists. However, it does also mean that the competition is increasingly fierce, with artists clamouring for the attention of a finite fan base.
A big benefit of going with a label is the financial backing/investment, access to a network of top creatives, and expert insight into marketing/promotion. Music companies have dedicated teams in place to market and promote your music, meaning you have a higher chance of securing that chart position, big playlist or sync. This also means more time for you to focus solely on the music, and leave the admin to the pros.
With more than circa 40,000 recordings uploaded to Spotify daily, it’s clear that to stand out, one either has to be extremely lucky or have the right team and investment behind them to maximise streams, plays and sales. But it isn’t all bad news for artists and creators…
A choice-driven marketplace:
It all comes down to one thing; CHOICE. Artists now have myriad choices when it comes to creating and releasing their music. They can quite easily implement a DIY music approach and, providing they have the resources and a robust strategy to promote and market their releases (which is perhaps not as simple as it sounds), there is nothing stopping them from becoming commercially successful. As a further bi-product of this choice, the pressure is on for music organisations to ensure that they are truly adding value to every artist they work with like never before.
So why work with a label/publisher/management? They can open doors for you, provide investment, strategy, support on monetisation, legal support, source opportunities, assist with branding, and more. But this isn’t the only avenue to success anymore. Whether a DIY music release or a release through a label… the choice is YOURS.