Video Killed the Radio Star and the Internet Broke it All: Welcome to the New Music Revolution.

By Phil Autelitano

Five hundred and even a hundred years ago, being a MUSICIAN was an actual, bona fide, profession. If you were good at it, you could make a decent living doing it. My dad was earning $500 a week during The Great Depression playing sax in local and regional Big Bands, four nights a week. It was a GREAT living at a time when the average person earned $10 a week. That was BEFORE the Record Industry became a MACHINE.

Essentially the Record Industry and its advertising and promotional Machine created the radio (and later, video) STAR, consolidating all the music industry “wealth” to a handful of key players. The average, every day musician making a living could no longer compete. Being a musician went from a legitimate career to something you did “on the side,” hoping to one day attract the Machine.

“Good music” became defined as “whatever you heard on the radio.” If you weren’t on the radio, or if you didn’t have an album signed to a major label, you simply weren’t perceived as a “good” musician, which was totally unfair.

The Machine continued to churn out “stars,” and the money got bigger and bigger — just like with Sports; thousand-dollar advances begat million-dollar advances which begat multi-million dollar advances. And with each advance, hundreds more “average” musicians were essentially put out of work.

As more and more LISTENERS got caught up in the Machine’s million-dollar promotional schemes, they didn’t spend their money on local or regional acts so much anymore. They saved their money for that new album, or that upcoming tour and that T-shirt from their favorite big name artist or the star du jour.

In the 2000s though, something BIGGER began to happen. The Internet happened. The iPod happened. Digital distribution and file sharing happened. Then Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, and so on. Since then, a seismic shift has begun in the Music industry — a virtual leveling of the playing field is happening.

Now, with all of the tools to promote and share their music almost equally to what the Machine can do, musicians are realizing opportunities again. They’re able to interact and engage directly with their audience and fans, and build loyalty, not just locally, but nationally and abroad. They’re able to share music and sell music, and promote their shows, and sell tickets, and swag. Local and regional acts are growing in popularity again, and reaching more people, faster, and those people are turning out to support them, more and more, just like the old days, before the Machine. The average music lover, too, is growing increasingly sick and tired of the Machine shoving music down their throats. Slowly but surely, being a Musician is becoming/will become a legitimate full-time, respectable occupation again.

For my musician friends, I tell you, hang in there. It’s coming. YOU, my friends, are the REVOLUTION. By promoting yourselves and your music via Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and God knows what else you do, you are fueling a major transfer of wealth AWAY from the Machine. More and more, big money music profits are being redistributed away from the artificially-inflated stars and spread across the industry as a whole. YOU are helping to make that happen.

In the months and years to come, being a MUSICIAN — an independent, solo artist — will be a GREAT career again for anyone who’s good at it — no different than being an attorney or a doctor in private practice, and maybe (hopefully) even better. YOU are paving the way for a new Music industry — one that’s not controlled or driven by a machine, but rather, the music itself. And that’s the way it should be — it’s should be ABOUT the Music. YOU are setting the example, and the stage, for the careers of generations of musicians to come. So don’t stop …till you get enough.

The Record Industry relies on BIG numbers, where an independent band or solo artist doesn’t need them. The amount of money that goes into contracting a “big name star,” alone can be absurd, but then there’s production, legal, promotion and more. By the time it’s all divvied-up, what’s left? I’ll tell you what’s left — Record Industry profits are dropping. One, because they’re spending more on cultivating and keeping their stars, and two, because of YOU — because YOU persevere and keep doing what you do, in spite of them.

Video killed the radio star, but the Internet BROKE all of it. There’s no denying it’s killing the Record Industry Machine. Try as they may, but they’re losing strength and power with each and every Facebook post and Tweet by an independent artist, with every iTunes song or CD sale you make, with every local show you do, and with every new, loyal fan YOU create.

The last decade or so, has been sort of a limbo for the industry. With all these new social platforms popping up left and right, and more and more people engaging them, it’s tough to keep up — not just for you, but for the big money Record companies who need to keep up, too — because their bottom-line is far greater than yours.

As social media has become mainstay, the next decade is sure to be the most incredible decade the Music Industry has ever seen. You’ll witness the fall from Grace of more and more major Record labels, as smaller, more flexible labels, and more independent artists, acquire the attention of their audience on their own terms. And while there will always be “big name stars” because, let’s face it, they’re EMBEDDED into pop culture now, you’ll start to see them working a lot harder …to compete with YOU.

It happened in the book industry. Today, authors don’t even NEED a publisher anymore. Book publishing is nowhere near the industry it was. The million-dollar advances still go to the big names, but that’s ALL they have. There’s no money in an “unknown” author any more. There’s no money to turn an unknown author into a big name author anymore, either. In fact, the major publishing houses that are left increasingly expect the AUTHOR to promote their own books, at their own expense. Why does an author even NEED them anymore? They don’t. Instead, they go online, they self-publish, they SELL online, they promote their book, they promote their talks …and they earn the money ALL for themselves. Granted its not millions of books, but an independent author can realize bigger profits on a fraction of that, doing it all themselves.

It started with books, it’s now happening to music. It’s following the chronological order of innovation — we started with print, then came radio, then TV. And television and the film industry will be next. The seeds are already planted. And once that happens, Sports will be next… you’ll witness the growth of local and regional sports versus “mainstream” sports, and ultimately, in movies and in sports, the multi-million dollar stars will slowly become fewer and farther between; that wealth redistributed and spread across the broader industries, respectively.

These are merely MY predictions, take them for what they are — sage advice, insights based on my own observations and business sense, whatever. (It’s what I do, I ADVISE people.) You may agree or disagree, but remember, when most revolutions happen — industrial, technological or otherwise — MOST PEOPLE don’t even KNOW they happen until AFTER they happen. Right now, YOU ARE THE REVOLUTION. Don’t lose sight of that. Your future, the future of the music industry, the future of generation after generation of new musicians, and of the Music itself, are ALL at YOUR fingertips. So if you LOVE the music and you LOVE creating it and performing it and spreading its joy and peace and love, NOW is YOUR TIME.

There’s NO REASON you can’t make a comfortable living, and even live the proverbial life of abundance, doing what YOU love to do — making MUSIC. Other people do it doing what THEY do (and it’s probably not half as fun!) It all starts with:

  1. Learning about and applying all of the current “tools of the trade” to promote and sell yourself online and off, most of which are now FREELY available to you, then it moves on to:
  2. continue honing your craft, and recording, and performing live,
  3. ENGAGING your audience,
  4. converting them to fans,
  5. and ultimately, building fan loyalty.

Remember, YOU are the Revolution, consider this your manifesto. Do not give up. Persevere. — Now Go!

Phil Autelitano

P.S., if you like this, please share it or click the button below to recommend it.

Phil Autelitano is founder/CEO of Mediarazzi. We develop and produce TV channels and content for Roku and Connected TV platforms. www.mediarazzi.com @PhilAutelitano

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a/k/a Phil Italiano, Publisher, Screw Magazine | www.screw.wtf | @PhilfromSCREW

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Phil Autelitano

Phil Autelitano

a/k/a Phil Italiano, Publisher, Screw Magazine | www.screw.wtf | @PhilfromSCREW

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