Gone are the days of bands and solo artists needing to “get signed” by a major record label. The internet and websites like Reverbnation.com are allowing artist to direct market and promote their talents directly to fans and grow their own fan base without a signed contract. Although there is not CD in Wal-Mart to brag about, it is a good alternative to signing with a traditional label.
Reverbnation has its own charts that artists can climb based on web traffic, song plays, widgets, and unique listeners. These provide inputs for a ranking method that places artists on the chart as well as determines how much Reverbnation pays their artists.
Many artist on Reverbnation have joined together to “cross-promote” one another by forming their own online music labels. This allows them to play each others songs, climb the charts and then gain more exposure.
The artist known as “Grout” is one such example. Having joined 14 different online labels as well as started one himself, Grout has propelled himself to the top 150 pop artists in the world (on Reverbnation) and is currently #2 in San Diego, CA. Not bad for a musician that has never released an album and has never done a live show.
Will musicians like Grout ever be signed to a traditional label? Unlikely. But with the growing number of artists that are bypassing the old business model and getting their music out there with the web, it is a new ball-game and the old corporate structures will have to change with the times.