As a resident of Nashville I quite often find myself engaged in conversations regarding the current state of the music business. It's hard not to spend your time focused on the past - declining music sales, transition to digital, the empire of the "single," piracy, mergers, acquisitions, 360 record deals, etc. That said, I believe the best method for ensuring success is by putting all that energy into a vision for the future.
This year I've spent a lot of time and energy focusing on passion and the conveyance of passion via social networking. About a month ago I had a lengthy email conversation with a friend about social networking, passion, and the music business. Just for fun, I want to share my email. I never thought I'd take my message and actually insert it into a blog post, but here's what I wrote. :)
Social networking is about either engaging in a community of like-minded individuals or creating a community where you can find and engage with like-minded individuals. Step one, define your passion. Step two, talk about it. Talk about it openly and publicly so that you can find your community of like-minded individuals. Once you've attracted like-minded individuals you must engage with them. Start a conversation. Begin a dialogue. This will help to both further refine your passion, and to increase the size of your own personal billboard. More people are bound to find you the more people you are actively engaged with. Finally, once you've mastered your own image and refined your personal brand the natural next step is monetization. With an active and engaged audience focused on your brand, image, and passion you will naturally find a way to monetize the experience.
I recently read Gary Vaynerchuk's "Crush It" which pretty much can be summed up as follows:
I also feel it's pretty important for individuals directly involved in the industry to embrace emergent technology and social media. I get pretty fired up when I think about what's happened to the music industry as a result of technological innovation. Seems to me the industry has neglected a great deal of technology and has paid the price as a result. Rather than fight innovation and change, the industry should be embracing it and innovating as well. Both Lady Gaga's manager and Justin Bieber's manager understand this well. You can watch a video of a joint appearance they made about a year ago where they discuss their feelings at length. They both understand that monetization of their artist's brands is enhanced via disruptive technology.Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga Court Silicon Valley's Entrepreneurs
Also, several people have been able to circumvent traditional gatekeepers by focusing intensely on social media and networking. Check Seth Godin's post below with regards to the current role of gatekeepers:Reject the tyranny of being picked: pick yourself.
So, that said, I feel the best method of attack is to build your brand, build your presence, empower your fans and your community and see what happens.