How to Survive as a Musician in Today’s Market

Music 4.1: A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age by Bobby Owsinski

The music industry has changed dramatically over the years and continues to do so. A musician needs to understand a lot more than simply how to make music and perform well to survive in this day and age. That is where this book comes in. It is full of ideas, information, and tips that any musician can use to help further his or her career.

Before the Biz

According to the author, Music 0.5 predated the music business and recorded music. This is the time of sheet music and paino rolls, where songs were shared and much more important than the artist.

Records Reign

Music 1.o was when recorded music was pretty much one format, vinyl records. The “radio was the primary source of promotion , the record labels were run by record people, and records were bought from retail stores.” There was little interaction between consumer and artist.

Image Surpasses Everything

Music 1.5 is the era of MTV and CDs. This is when image started to become important. Nothing much changed with the marketing though. Radio was still king and record stores were still the only way to get the product.

The Birth of Digital Music

When music became available digitally and wide-spread pirating began, CDs were still selling, radio was still working to promote new music, and the industry insiders didn’t seem too concerned. This is the Music 2.0 era.

Monetized Digital Music

The industry figured out how to make money digitally, but piracy continued, CDs sales decreased and retail stores started to close. This was Music 2.5.

Artist Communication Rules

In the Music 3.0 climate, the artist began to communicate, interact, market, and sell directly to the consumer. Record labels, radio, and retail stores became less important and, at time, not even necessary.

The New Radio

YouTube and other online video platform start to replace radio for some listeners. This is where the trend of streaming began and is referred to as Music 3.5.

Streaming is the New Norm

In Music 4.0, streaming music has become the way a majority of people prefer to listen to music. According to Bobby Owsinski, this is the seventh generation of the music business.

Music 4.1

The music industry has gone through so much change. Now it is up to the labels, the publishers, and the artists themselves to adjust to the new normal and survive making music in the Internet Age. That is what this book is all about.


Owsinski presents some great ideas when it comes to marketing, distribution, publishing, and music. He breaks down the history of each generation as seen above, and offers useful tips and strategies any musician can use right out the box.

Marketing Ideas

“It’s easier to sell your music if you add extra value to it”

Here are ways you can do that;

  • Develop a Package – this can be anything such as including alternative mixes or box sets
  • Sequential Numbering – limits the availability and the product becomes a special edition and must-have
  • Merchandise – bundle the music with some merch (shirts, stickers, links to streaming)
  • Double-Sided Single – release an A and B side like the old 45 or cassingles
  • Old Formats – having music on vinyl or cassette can be a good publicity tool
  • Alternative Formats – USBs are the only one that come to mind, but there is probably other ones
  • Three Sides – offer a song in an early studio version, the final mix, and a live recording
  • Radical Mixes – offer remixes and possible fan-made ones too


You need a website and it should have . . .

  • A Bio – brief background about yourself or band.
  • Contact – how can people get a hold of you
  • Subscriber – set up a mailing list
  • Press – provide information for the press to easily write about you or your band, include other press clippings and articles, quotes from the media, links to interviews, high and low resolution pictures and graphics, logos, and links to music and video
  • Booking Info – can also add statistics like average gig attendance, photo gallery, quotes from fans and promoters, a typical set list, and a stage plot.
  • Social Media – drop the links and buttons for all your networks

Great Read

This is a great read and I am sure you will get something out of it that can vastly help you create and distribute music in this new day and age.

My List of 2018 Reads – great books for you to explore from my personal reading log