There's a great article in the Tribune today that suggests the declining importance of record label contracts in musicians making a living from their passion. The article includes interviews with Chicago acts The Living Blue, Bailiff and Deanna Devore, who, while not disregarding the influence of labels altogether, seem to think the real power has shifted into the hands of the artists themselves.
"'There are a lot of good unsigned artists and a lot of bad signed ones,'" states Devore in the article. "'I still would like to [sign with a label] someday, but it's definitely not as necessary as maybe it used to be.'"
How to manage this DIY power for the greatest benefit, though, remains unclear.
I know many talented, driven indie musicians who are struggling to find a significant audience, and it's not always clear exactly why. Is it a lack of money or time for self-promotion? Not having the experience or skills to find the right resources?
As far as I can tell, in the age of self-recording, self-releasing and self-promoting, there's still no surefire way to develop an audience. Talent included. Even the effectiveness of MySpace is unclear. How many times do you actually take the time to listen to bands that send you a random request, or even click on their pages?
Chicago musicians - how have you leveraged DIY methods for promotion? What works? What doesn't?