from Trent Reznor’s _ “my thoughts on what to do as a new/unknown artist.”

I read this article every few months. I’m pretty stumped about how to apply this logic to filmmaking, but as far as the music industry is concerned…the man is right. It’s hard to deny.

This article originally appeared in the forums of,767183,767183#msg-767183

The gist of it: Make your record yourself and cut out the record company middlemen. Keep creative control and give it away to your public, but do so while building a community of fans. This community…is your real asset.

Some excerpts:

Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record sales. Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY. As an artist you want as many people as possible to hear your work. Word of mouth is the only true marketing that matters.

Collect people’s email info in exchange and start building your database of potential customers. Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make them limited editions / scarce goods…Make the packages special – make them by hand, sign them, make them unique, make them something YOU would want to have as a fan…Sell T-shirts. Sell buttons, posters… whatever.

The point is this: music IS free whether you want to believe that or not…This is a fact…so…have the public get what they want FROM YOU instead of a torrent site and garner good will in the process (plus build your database).

The database you are amassing should not be abused, but used to inform people that are interested in what you do when you have something going on – like a few shows, or a tour, or a new record, or a webcast, etc.

Constantly update your site with content – pictures, blogs, whatever. Give people a reason to return to your site all the time. Put up a bulletin board and start a community.

Utilize the multitude of tools available to you for very little cost if any – Flickr / YouTube / Vimeo / SoundCloud / Twitter etc.

The days of going out and seeing a mechanically reproduced work of art are numbered, it seems. Perhaps the trick is bundling films with a live performance? Something you can’t steal? Something that can’t be downloaded? Whatever the case, indie film needs to figure out how to adapt the post-digital revolution business model.


2 Responses to “from Trent Reznor’s _ “my thoughts on what to do as a new/unknown artist.””

  1. Autumn says:

    What about touring a film through indie filmhouses or venues? You “give away” short films on a website until you’ve got a following and it builds to a feature film tour. Cut out the studios and show it in alternate venues; basements, parks, graveyards, whatever. Problem is, I can’t see an underground film movement blossoming for just anyone. It seems like it would need a high profile filmmaker to get it started. Also, it takes so damn long to make a film, would you lose your following before you could pull together the film tour?

  2. I think this is a place to start. I moved here (ATX) because this is the kind of community I think could sustain that kind of thing…at least locally. Plenty of filmmakers, bands, and theatrical talent to go around. What if we could have a two day festival…that synthesizes this kind of thing?

    Imagine The Who playing a live soundtrack to Tommy. I’d see that. Granted, we’re talking on a much smaller scale…but it could be done…locally. Build a community. Spread the word. Cash in on the live experience and merch?

    Thanks for commenting here! 🙂