Following an outdated link on a band site, I swung by the discussion boards at MP3.com the other day. It strikes me as sheer lunacy that a number of otherwise talented folks are sitting around waiting for some other company to come along and shovel money at them.
Folks, it ain't gonna happen. Those days are done.
In it's heyday, MP3 shared the venture-capital wealth with the indie populace. I produced records for two bands that were getting regular checks from MP3.com, and it was a nice thing. But as the bubble burst and the majors moved in, we all fell back to reality.
Support for what you're doing is going to have to come from your audience. Just like any other business, you need to find some customers who want what you're selling. (I think MP3 obscured that fact through their payback programs, and it lulled folks into a false sense that the checks would appear mystically every month.)
Second, ditch the poverty chic. Nobody's in business to give you stuff for free, but you can get things you need for a lot less than you would imagine. You can build a weblog on typepad for $5 a month. For $2 a month, you can visit one of our advertisers, who will let you post your MP3s on your own domain. If you can't invest $7 every month into marketing your music, you have far more urgent problems to deal with than building an audience.
Tomorrow, I'll write about a novel approach that one band is taking to bring MP3 distribution to a new level.