David Rose, founder of KnowTheMusicBiz.com, has a little combination that many people in the independent music industry are lacking - that combo of sympathy for the unique characteristics of life as an indie musician/label/promoter and such AND a knowledge of the ins and outs of business - that side of things that many musicians cross their fingers and hope will take care of itself. That love of independent music (combined with enough business knowledge to doubt the reliability of this whole finger crossing method to take care of business) is what led Rose to launch his new website. He knows that life in the indie music industry often involves what he refers to as "the vow of poverty," but he doesn't want that vow to come into play because you got shafted on your deal. Rose sat down with me recently to tell me a little bit more about his website, where he's coming from, and what he thinks about the music business today.
This dual knowledge for Rose has come from living his working life in stints both inside and outside the music industry. Coming from the ranks of big business to the world of independent music, he was confronted time and time again with that indie music condundrum - loads of talent and sloppy business models to capitalize on that talent. There's a "knowledge gap" for musicians, says Rose, and that gap is what KnowTheMusicBiz aims to fill. To that end, the format of the site is all about trading knowledge. You'll find:
- Guest bloggers from inside the industry
- Content written by Rose and guest authors on an array of music biz relevant topics
- "What Would Joe Doe Do?" - a section of the site that lets users pose their burning band related questions to John Doe of X
- A wiki section to which anyone can post their musicial musings (the most read section of the site)
- Resources to help musicians find distributors, agents and more
- DIY Tips - An ever expanding collection of music biz tips from readers
- Music News - A one stop shop for great music industry content across the net
- A community message board for swapping tricks of the trade
The interactive nature of KnowTheMusicBiz is important to Rose. While he certainly wants to be a resource musicians can turn to when they need advice on managing their careers, he sees the site becoming a trading post of "what's working, what's not" info for musicians. Which CD pressing company quoted you the best prices but never delivered? Which promoter put a great show together for you? This kind of musician interaction is Rose hopes to developed more and more.
Although he rates this kind of online interaction as critical for musicians, don't go lumping Rose in with the MySpace mafia. When asked what single piece of advice he thought was most important to up and coming musicians, Rose turned to MySpace. "There is a strong misperception about MySpace," said Rose, sharing a story he had a read about a band who devoted 10 hours a day to inviting new MySpace friends to their site. "What if just one or two of those hours had been spent writing songs or practicing," he asked. Although he admits that some people in the industry check out a band's MySpace profile to get a feel for their popularity, he sees very little correlation between collecting MySpace friends and getting your music heard. MySpace is part of a marketing plan, but, "it is not THE marketing plan," he said.
Rose thinks musicians' time would be better spent learning to manage their own career. As he sees it, in the beginning, bands have to know how to be their own managers, promoters, agents and so forth, and they need learn how to put in this hard work. With KnowTheMusicBiz, he hopes to "open up the workings" of these things for musicians who need to learn the ropes.
What you won't get at KnowTheMusicBiz is false hope. Rose has watched from the inside as bands with the best music, the best press, the most popular tours, and the drum beat of excitement about their releases go on to sell very few albums. It's rough out there, and he knows it. He refers to the missing ingredient in what looks like it should be a success story as magic pixie dust, and he's not going to tell you that he knows where you can find some. What he will give you through his site are the tools you need to be ready if you are lucky enough to happen to get a dusting of the stuff.
Rose has (yet to be revealed!) plans in the works for KnowTheMusicBiz but for now, it is the slow and steady building of the site into a top notch go to resource for musicians. Not unlike the slow and steady career building he is recommending for his readers. That's how they know he gets where they are coming from - because he is going through it right along with them.