MIDEM's Direct2Fan Camp Panel: From left: moderator Whitesmith Entertainment co-founder/ manager Emily White, singer-songwriter Michelle Phelan, Berklee College of Music student Brielle Blount and Google head of global content programming for Android Tim Quirk. (Photo: Louis Hau)
A MIDEM panel on direct-to-fan tactics turned out to be full of cautionary advice for those who think online social networking and commerce tools can provide artists with shortcuts to building a career.
"You still have to do all the work," said Tim Quirk, Google's head of global content programming for Android and former singer for Too Much Joy.
Quirk reminded attendees that the basics haven't changed. One, make good music. Two, get your music in as many places as you can. And three, make it easy for people to find you.
The image of an artist who wants nothing but to stay locked away in a room to create is "an evil, pernicious myth" that has persisted "because it makes it easy to take advantage of artists," Quirk said. "You need to be aware of the business stuff," he said. "Direct-to-fan means you can slowly build your own team over time...people you trust."
Irish singer-songwriter Michelle Phelan said that she appreciates the control she has through her do-it-yourself approach to managing her career. But she also warns that it requires a lot of work. Phelan recalled sitting on her bed one day, "surrounded with contracts, dealing with accounts," when she had an epiphany. "Shit, when did I become an entrepreneur?" she said. "When did I become the CEO of my company?"
But Phelan sees it all as the price she has to pay to do things on her own terms. "It's what I have to do if I want to do it DIY," she said.