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November 6, 2010

The power lies in the network

Great art is never created in isolation. It requires interaction for inspiration and cultural context. It requires materials and tools from other sources. It requires development and refinement - and a third party to answer the eternal question: "Does this piece really say what I'm trying to say?"

More broadly, artists have to be taught their skills and practice them with guidance from others. Most of the great artists of history learned from a number of teachers and reached the highest levels with a mentor who was usually a great artist.

Finally, in order to become great art, a work needs a huge number of people to appreciate it, discuss it and thus promote it. A work cannot touch anyone's life if no-one knows it exists.

This is the great asset of the major labels: a large network of very efficient production, distribution and promotions people. They were able to do so because of the dominance of broadcast media but those economics have changed in the 21st century. Although the majors still dominate the broadcast media, those media are no longer the only way for musicians to find their audience.

Independent musicians have to develop the same capacities: highly effective production, distribution and promotion. For a musician who just wants to be a musician, this can be the major stumbling block in a career.

Fortunately, another effect of 21st century technologies has been the growth in the number of people who specialise in these areas. Like musicians, some of these are talented amateurs and some are full-time professionals. It is up to the musicians to find people who can help them extend their business.

Help of this kind might come from fans, peers or colleagues but it will only come if a musician builds a large network of these. That requires genuine engagement with fans, community engagement with peers and business networking with colleagues. Get to know them and understand their abilities and preferences. Learn as much as you can from everyone. Get their feedback and offer to help them in their work.

Then it is simply a matter of asking the right person at the right time. You want to hear the words "Sure. I will help you with that."


The opportunity to take your career to the next level will probably come from someone who knows someone you know. Make a conscious effort to get involved with as many music industry people as you can: agents, managers, lawyers, promoters, songwriters, performers, songwriting and performance teachers, songwriting and performance groups, and so on. If you do, there is no limit to your career potential.

This post is one section of Part 3 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 November 6, 2010 7:20 PM

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