Tommy Silverman’s recent blog on the relative “success” of artists (or lack thereof) has drawn a lot of discussion web-wide. The basic assertion that only artists that have sold 10,000 copies are “successful” or “breaking” drew a lot of criticism, most notably from Jeff Price of Tunecore.
Behind all this talk of sales numbers, measurement of albums or singles downloads, Soundscan’s relative effectiveness and whether to focus on the short-head or the long-tail, I think we’re missing the forest for the trees.
As the world of independent artistic enterprises continues to explode ( with the artist/band as the CEO of their own music business, ) the simplest metric for success is profitability – are you making more than you spend to create, distribute and promote your music?
It’s perhaps too simple a formula in a music industry awash with “conferences” who’s life-blood is describing the water in which labels and former middle-men are currently drowning, but if you’re to build anything from scratch (and that’s as good a “strategy” for success in the razed landscape of music today), it’s good to start from the bottom, and move up.
Further Reading: The Future of Music Coalition has also weighed into the debate with some very pertinent thoughts.