Friday, September 13, 2013

Without record companies acts like My Bloody Valentine just disappear

My Bloody Valentine complain that they weren't on the Mercury Music Prize shortlist because their self-released album isn't available on the iTunes store or Amazon. People who don't win prizes often think they're being conspired against but MBV's problem with the Mercury Music Prize is only one symptom of the problems faced by the bands who go it alone.

It's never been easier to make and release your own record without the need for a record company or a publisher. You'll keep a far greater share of what you make than you would ever have done in the past. The problem is you'll have great difficulty extending your reach beyond the people already on your mailing list. You don't need a record company to make records any more but you do need it to make you feel important, to bang the drum at radio and generally "stoke the star maker machinery behind the popular song", as Joni Mitchell put it forty years ago.

Without all the soft skills of a record company you can just disappear from public consciousness leaving barely a trace. As my old friend Brent Hansen likes to say, "it's never been easier to play; it's never been harder to win".


  1. Fair point although presumably it was a conscious decision not to have the album available on iTunes or Amazon as both would happily put this on sale.

  2. In web publishing we call this "seeding".

    I.e. paying an agency to go out and tell influential sites about your thing.

    It can have a bad reputation as it's most visible when it's done badly.

    Would be surprised if such a thing doesn't exist for the music industry.