I'm late posting today because we had some friends over last night for a get together and talking to one of my guests was crucial to today's post. My neighbor, Andy, has been pretty heavy into the music industry for his entire working career. I thought his opinion and insights into how the industry evolved could really be helpful to this week's topic which is sharing our opinions and thoughts on the publishing industry.
What does our future hold? Will ereaders and reading on the go through phones be the wave of the future? Will books in print become obsolete?
Talking to Andy really opened my eyes up. What I don't know about most current topics and news could fill a library, it has just never been my focus since my children were born. But that doesn't mean I don't care, and don't get interested when news is shared.
Our conversation started with me explaining my topic and then asking if I was right in assuming that all the songs I hear on the radio are produced by big name record labels (comparing them in my mind to the NY publishing houses). He explained that yes, they were all done by large labels. Well then, doesn't that mean music is still big?
Not exactly. He went on to tell me that music as a medium is going the wayside, that it competes too often for people's attention over gaming, texting, downloading apps and what have you. There is too much access to not only music, but to everything that can capture one's attention.
We went on to discuss Digital Rights Management (DRM) and how it failed within the music industry. Once one "free" music site opens up, it's shut down and another springs up in its place. There is less money being made because everyone can get the music for free. The CD has been devalued because of piracy and even though the industry tried by protecting digital rights and developing aspects to ensure musicians don't lose out, they still do.
Big labels in music sounds a lot like big names in publishing. Andy even went on to compare them to banks. Saying something witty and insightful along the lines of, "They don't support people who need it, they basically go after the least risk." Translating into if the band has a thousand people show up for performances, has marketed themselves successfully for years and basically proven themselves, then they are indeed worthy of the attention of a large label.
With the advent of Pro-tool, people can produce great sound in their own basement. But, like self-publishing a book, that does not make them true musicians. Don't get me wrong, there is a glutton of good music out on the market. But without the backing and money a large name is willing to put behind these artists, they are likely never heard.
So many wait to be "discovered" or "found" in any industry. But even reaching that first hurdle and getting signed by a large label, similar to getting a NY contract, does not ensure success. Money is not as generously poured on a new artist when they have a stable of producing artists that they also need to support. It's still better than a stick in the eye, but my point here is that even then success is not guaranteed.
We're getting more regional stars - fewer superstars. More modern stars with day jobs. The music industry is still scrambling to keep up, and unfortunately, may have made some missteps it will never recover from. I see the publishing industry doing the same thing - struggling to keep up and find a balance.
What does the future hold? I'm not sure, but one thing Andy said to me when we talked really struck a chord. He was explaining to his daughter why some of the music he shares with all his children, their friends will never have heard of. He talked about not waiting to be discovered, waiting for some knight in shining armor to come with a big bag of money, because it doesn't always happen. That instead "The story must be told."
In other words, make your success. Don't wait on being found or being discovered. Work as hard as you can to tell your story and to be heard. That is what will make or break any one in any business. You make your own future. Tell your own story.