“No Time For Sergeants”
By Kenny Love
On the battlefield, whenever a squad commander (generally, a lieutenant or sergeant) is whacked, I mean, killed, while engaging the enemy in combat, it is expected that the nearest lower-ranking soldier (corporal or below) take the commander’s rank, pin it on, take charge of the squad, and (hopefully) lead the squad to victory or, at least, survival.
We now have a similar situation in the music industry with the closing of many major online music leaders, from Riffage.com to the latest, IUMA.com (For the record, as of this writing, IUMA.com has not yet succumbed). These companies are in the role of the above “commander.”
And, while there are no bloodbaths being waged (at least, no foreseeable ones), there are lingering uphill battles in the “e-commerce” mine field.
Therefore, another responsibility has yet been dumped onto independent musicians, forcing them even further into the “business” arena, whether they choose to go willingly, or not. And, that responsibility is “retail management.” Indie musicians are now in the role of the lower-ranking soldier.
Instead of continuously relying on the remaining number of online music sellers to hock your CD, then send you a check for your sales thirty days later, you are hereby advised to strongly investigate and consider getting your own web site “e-commerced.”
In other words, get your own web site set up to sell your own CDs. You should do this, if for no other reason than for ‘insurance’. Due to the ever-changing online environment, you have no idea or guarantee of who is going to be in business tomorrow when you awake.
And, you will, indeed, sleep much better knowing that life goes on (sales will continue) should one of your prime sales sites decides to go belly-up if your site is set up to sell.
You won’t need to take valuable time in trying to locate another e-commerce company you can live with, not to mention you will also now be able to be paid for your online sales almost immediately instead of, again, waiting for thirty days to be paid from another sales site.
I am not advocating your exclusively using your own site as the only sales point, and ceasing with allowing other vendors to sell your music. My motto is, ‘the more sales points and outlets, the better’. But, you certainly need to create a strong back-up plan of direct sales from your own domain.
I realize that a few artists are already doing so, but not nearly enough are. In fact, there exists a significant number who aren’t. And, the few who are selling direct, a hefty portion of them are not e-commerced to the highest level, which means accepting multiple major credit cards and online checking.
It is simply not enough to tell your customers, who enjoy your music and are ready to order your CD, to simply send a check to your P. O. Box, although you
*do* want to include this avenue for them as well. In fact, the overall point is to make accessible to your prospective customers, as many avenues as feasible for their purchase interest.
Lastly, I am also not insinuating that we are seeing a trend of major music vendors closing up shop. I believe that this is an individual situation, based on the amount of “offline” management experience being brought to the “online” table.
I, alternatively, am advising you that, in the interest of self-preservation and individual survival, to insure that your music does not become a victim and innocent bystander of online sales mismanagement.
I have provided a number of e-commerce companies and resources below that you may wish to, at least, investigate in the possibility of working with you in e-commerce-abling your own music web site.
1. I-Bill (http://www.ibill.com)
2. E-commerce Service Providers (http://www.1esp.net/)
3. Vcommerce (http://www.vcommerce.com)
4. Able Commerce (http://www.ablecommerce.com/)
In fact, an entire database of, not only e-commerce resources, but also advice, discussion forums, news reviews, and much more, is located at the following link. If the link is broken, simply copy it in its entirety and paste into your browser.
For, when the sergeants have fallen by the wayside, the troops left standing, must still forge on and survive.
Editor’s Note: Kenny Love serves the commercial Music industry as a record promoter, press publicist, and internationally syndicated music journalist. He is also publisher and editor of the popular “B# Newsletter,” a monthly email resource for independent musicians. Review the testimonials musicians are giving it by sending a request to [email protected]. Join at http://www.egroups.com/group/BsharpNews/.