Contrary to what you may have heard, the web creates all kinds of new opportunities for artists – as long as they choose to engage with their fans and markets. Making money is about business, after all, but the positive thing about choosing to engage yourself is that you get to decide where the line between art and commerce sits. Everything is put in your hands.
My sister is a local-scale musician. She streams her work-in-progress songs for free from Soundcloud, sells her album from Bandcamp, promotes via Facebook and Twitter.
She’s also an ecologist by profession, which means that her music can afford to be a little quirkier (and occasionally strays into diurnal migration strategies). Uncommercial? Not necessarily: a Facebook app called Hear It Local allows anyone to book her for a house concert:
Of course, you might not have the resources to book a band to play in your living room (although I note that Hannah’s decided not to list a minimum amount). No matter; you can crowdfund the gig, and build attendance in the process:
These grassroots tools are a natural fit for the web, and change the game for smaller artists like Hannah. They can use them to power their own gig-related campaigns, or they could build a fanbase that could invite them to come and play in a particular location. (I know that the Canadian startup Sceneverse intends to take this to the nth degree; they’re worth watching.)
Just as there’s no need for all startups to be the next Facebook, there’s no need for all artists to be the next Madonna. These kinds of tools serve the spectrum in-between, allowing smaller, riskier artists – the ones that might have had to compromise to be picked up by traditional mass-market distribution methods – to earn good incomes from their art. That can only be a good thing for all of us.