411 on the Independent Music Movement
Other // Unrated // $49.99 // January 1, 2008
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 11, 2008
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Everyone probably knows someone or knows someone who knows someone who is in music in some way, shape or form (maybe you're a musician yourself.) However, there's considerable difficulty in breaking into the music industry - a difficulty that has only grown in recent years due to the industry's decline in sales and their inability at times lately to connect with what the audience is looking for.

With thousands upon thousands of bands, it becomes difficult to promote anyone's band these dates and get them noticed or in front of the pack of thousands and thousands of other bands trying for the audience's attention. Aneel Robinson is a successful touring artist, and after many asked him how he managed to get off the ground floor, he decided to work with some of his friends to put together a program that will provide an overview for aspiring artists on how to get into the independent music business. I won't go over all the tips (because I'd then ruin the DVD), but I will go over an overview of the 3-DVD set.

As for being independent, one early text in the 3-DVD set from independent producer Steve Albini goes over the difficulties of being on a major label, and the story is certainly dark. What's even darker is the financial tally on one particular artist, which makes it seem as if everyone is getting rich but the artist, who managed to get a tiny fraction of the overall grosses.

The first DVD in the set offers interviews with a set of DJ's, who discuss their recommendations on how artists best approach getting their music on-air, with tips like leaving your contact information with your music (remarkably, they say that many CDs they like are sent without any contact information, so they have no way of contacting the artist.) The first platter also gives interviews with record store owners, who give advice on getting your indepdendent release on consignment into the stores. We learn about things like having a barcode and registering your album on soundscan to get the album on more point-of-sale systems and potentially into larger chains. Finally, an independent distributor talks about optimizing your packaging to catch the buyer's attention, promotion and trying to get your album ahead of the pack.

The second disc offers up viewpoints on different ways to get your record distributed, with featurettes on Music Forte (which helps artists get exposure in Japan), Public Access TV (an interesting idea on how to promote music, which I didn't even think of), Record Pools (getting your music out to DJ's who might not only be willing to break a new song, but collect feedback on the music), Music Publications, websites and CD Baby. There are also additional pieces on getting an accountant and an attorney, as well as the importance of Sound Exchange in terms of royalties, especially in the new online marketplace.

The menu system on this title is a little confusing at first - you select the interview you want to watch and then you are greeted with a screen that looks like another menu screen, but with no options. This intro screen does hang for what seems like about 10 seconds before the interview actually does begin. Some of the interview screens do have contact information for the person being interviewed, as well.

Speaking of contact information, there's plenty more on the third disc, as it offers the "Indie Bible", the latest version of the popular contact book, complete with addresses and website information. We also get audio interviews about onlinegigs.com and from Eric Norberg, the editor of the Adult Contemporary Music Research Newsletter. Looking through the Indie Bible, it's an extremely impressive and detailed listing of various contacts that really makes this worth a purchase on its own.

Overall, the combination of excellent advice throughout the interviews and the addition of the indie bible makes this a worthwhile purchase for aspiring musicians looking to take their first major steps towards success.


VIDEO: This program is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, and it does appear as if it was done on a low-budget. However, that actually kind of works in its favor, oddly enough, as it makes it seem a little more accessible than having a slick, sleek presentation that may strike some new artists as intimidating. Image quality was satisfactory, as the picture looked soft, although never hazy or blurry. Some minor artifacting was seen, and colors looked subdued - yet accurate. Audio was clear (some slight background noise can be heard at times, but doesn't interfere with interview audio) and fine.

Final Thoughts: Overall, the combination of excellent advice throughout the interviews and the addition of the "Indie Bible" makes this a worthwhile purchase for aspiring musicians. Recommended for those seeking to break into the music industry.

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