A lot has been spoken about concerning indie artists and the ‘Long Tail', but with the introduction of more advanced in-home studio software, the gap has been widening into a chasm that so many artists fall into and can sometimes never return from.

The Long Tail

The Long Tail is a term that was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson. It is actually a very simple concept that describes the phenomenon of the online environment. It operates on the principle that 20% of the artists earn 80% of the music income and 80% of the artists earn 20% of the music income. In recent times the top of the tail has become even steeper with closer to 5% of the artists earning 95% of the income. This whole scenario is particularly relevant to the indie music market as it rushes headlong into the future.

It has become even more important than ever for an artist to hone their craft and prepare for the onslaught that is the independent music market. So exactly how does an artist navigate through the minefield that has become indie music? The answer – know your market.

A Clever Move

Two case studies from completely different fields are Ben Craven, an indie progressive rock artist from Brisbane, Australia; and another Aussie sensation, Stonefield who have scored a distribution agreement through former Warner Music Australia President of A & R, Michael Parisi's indie label, Wunderkind.

I first met Ben Craven several years ago and his demo version of his latest album “Great and Terrible Potions” blew me away. Playing every instrument and inserting every sound meticulously, he created an album that has been getting outstanding reviews, particularly across Europe. He hasn't toured or played his album live yet, but there has been no need. The album was given the stamp of approval by Roger Dean (album artist for Yes, Asia, Uriah Heap). Mr. Dean designed the album cover and this point alone has put the prog-rock fans into a feeding frenzy. If Roger likes it, then it must be good.

The move was a clever one on Ben's behalf; it opened the door for fans of prog-rock to at least take a listen. He knew he was sitting in the tail end of the long tail and decided to do something different to gather the attention of his target audience. He knew his market would be super critical of anyone sounding remotely similar to the greats like Pink Floyd so he made sure his approval was gained before the critics had their say.

The Payoff

The gamble of paying for a well-known prog-rock artist to prepare the album art paid off with online reviews calling him the spiritual grandchild of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson. His is now being released to music stores around Australia and across Europe and USA…and he did it all independently.

In the next post we will find out about all-girl band Stonefield and how they managed the indie minefield to get a major label's notice.

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