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Producing Independently - by Stephen Conroy
A young writer asked, "What do you do as a producer."
Something I read sums it up:
Produce a good product.
Set up distribution.
Promote it.

With so much out there this is not a simple task. Probably a good product isn't anywhere good enough. It probably has to be something so special that it creates its own market. This isn't true if you are a major corporation with the bucks to manipulate people into buying your product with clever marketing. For a small independent even succeeding with a great product is a long shot. It's not the quality of the product that sells it. That is just the first step without which everything else is doomed. Promotion is what sells.
Yes, of course you need distribution. That could be mailing your product from your home. This is perhaps not such a bad idea because unless YOU generate demand your distributors are not going to sell any product anyway. Still, it is nice to have your item listed with some places that sell it even if only for the advertising it gives you.

You've got to tell people about your product. Actually, this is almost impossible. A small independent without a marketing machine to push things and working on a miniscule budget, if any, has no chance of competing with the marketing corporations that have the bucks and the connections. Would it be a surprise if the big publishers also controlled the retail outlets? - like the way cinema producers own movie theatres. Independent product is competition - not wanted by the big publishers. Quality is not the issue. I read in the music business a group might even be signed just so the signing company can put them on the shelf out of the way so they won't be heard. So, what to do?

Really, you write or produce music because that is what you want to do regardless of the outcome. Then you do your best to get it out there. This is not a reasonable or even a sensible decision. You go against all odds and do it anyway. Perhaps you get noticed and some corporation provides marketing support. That's one route that has its benefits as well as its pitfalls. It may be the only reliable route to get noticed.

Now if you're really determined you just go for it. The internet gives you an incredible inexpensive power to communicate. And I think the independents' possibilities start here. You make connections. You find people that are interested. You receive support and enthusiasm. Ah, now you've got a "team" working with you. You've got a chance of reaching a significant number of people. This is a slow process. I find everything takes way longer than I could possibly have imagined. It is your pure conviction that what you offer justifies your efforts.

Oh yes, what does a producer do? You work at your "day job" to support your habit. Then you spend the rest of the time working at it.

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Stephen Conroy, Producer
Yaya Dialloís West African Music
Onzou Records,
www.onzou.com

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