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September 13, 2010

Let's all pull together

Esteem for music and musicians must also come from industry workers who are not necessarily musicians. Many of these people have played music earlier in their lives and know what it takes. An increasing number of them still perform on some basis.

In its rawest and most powerful form, collegial esteem is presented as a contract in which a record label supports musicians to make and sell recordings, merchandise and a concert tour. In granting a million-dollar advance the company's decision-makers make a massive declaration of their support for the act.

The most difficult aspect of an Independent career is coping with the need to perform the many necessary tasks that have nothing to do with music: sound engineering, web development, accounting, promotion and so on. In the absence of a music company advance, Indies must build a network of people who can take the burden of these tasks from them. These people will not be willing to perform these tasks if they have no confidence that the musicians will reward them for their efforts.

Collegial esteem is built from many sources: sales figures, musical quality, professional integrity and more. Musicians must impress industry professionals with their ability to make money for both parties. As with the other sources of esteem, collegial esteem is most effective when it's based on multiple elements.

With the exception of the advance/recoupment model preferred by large companies, the esteem of colleague rarely results directly in income. More often, it results in a sharing of resources with the intention of making money in future. Sometimes it amounts to a name and phone number for someone else who might help.

The support of people in the music is quickly lost after a track record of business failure. It's hard to get support for the next record when the last one didn't sell many copies, and it's hard to get support for the tour following the one that sold very few tickets.


Musicians looking to 'take the next step' in their careers can convert the esteem of industry decision-makers into more direct forms of support. This support is offered in the expectation that income will be generated later and quickly withdrawn if that does not happen.

This post is the summary of Part 2 of Dr Huge's "How the record industry got it so wrong". The latest version of the complete ebook can be downloaded here and a hard copy can be ordered here.
Posted by DrHuge at September 13, 2010 4:59 PM

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