With Fans Like These, Who Needs a Label

Technology has Revolutionized the Way we Listen to Music. iPod's and Downloads have Replaced Tapes and CD's, and the Changes are Still Happening. Music Power Brokers have Gathered in LA to Try to Anticipate the Next Big Thing

Jake Walden isn't just performing at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers Conference this year. He's also an example of the changing face of pop music.

"The point nowadays is you don't really need a label, because you can create your own team around you," according to Jake Walden, a Musician.

Walden's fans watch his videos on YouTube. Find out where he's performing on Facebook, and he says, even financed his latest album.

"We raised $25,000 through the fans, and they get advanced copies of the records, and I sign letters. I get to make my record and I own everything.

But Jeff Castelaz says that only goes so far. He runs a small Silverlake based record label, "Dangerbird," and says the days of the carefully packaged and promoted performer are not over, even in a YouTube world.

"How do you sustain it all, right? There's so much noise in the world right now," according to Jeff Castelaz, of "Dangerbird Records."

Noise transcended, says Castelaz, by a label like his putting the artists front and center.

Now The National Association of Recording Merchandisers is trying to figure out how to combine Jake's commitment to his art, with Jeff's promotional acumen, to bring the recording industry back to where it once was.

"It's what's around the music, underneath the music, beside the music. It's all these other opportunities. So it's merchandising, it's touring" according to Jim Donio, NARM President.

This is why artists and, of course, their music, seem to be everywhere now. The ringtone on your phone, the background tune on your favorite TV show or video game.

Each use represents a pay day for artists whose earnings have been severely curtailed thanks to on-line piracy, and frankly, the fans being less interested in buying entire albums anymore.

Gone are the days when a song alone, even a hit, or an artist alone, even a star, can make massive amounts of money each time.

Mark Jowett runs a label with bankable stars like Sarah McLaughlin on his roster, yet he admits, the tour and merchandising now dominate a performer's yearly schedule, not the single they just released.

"It's a great way for the act to get revenue when CD sales are declining," according to Mark Jowett, of Nettwerk.com

So while young artists like Jake Walden search for new and exciting ways to reach their audiences, music executives are searching for ways to get the companies that feature them, or you, to pay.

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