I recently had the chance to interview Zachary, from a group called “Elysia” about life as touring a touring musicians, and profitability . I interview him about his experience of being a touring artist in the music industry. Zachary started the band in 2003 as a freshman in high school and is the vocalist and constant member of his band. Elysia is a pioneering Deathcore band from Sacramento, California that did independent DIY approaches to touring and album promotion for most of their career, as well as one record on a small independent record label, Ferret Records, as well as distribution on Rise Records. These record labels specialize and are known in the underground scene on helping hardcore, deathcore, metalcore, and other heavy musical genres gain exposure within the underground heavy music scene. The few questions I ask Zachary are “How are you able to mass support from fans, through promotion and making?”, “How are you able to save on expenses and make profits while on tour”, “As a musician, do you prefer DIY support, small independent record label or major record labels”, “What factors do you have to take into account in touring”, and “When conducting business with other people in the music industry, were business people nice to you, or were some business practices shady?”. Zachary states that he has gathered support for his band with the use of MySpace social marketing to members of his local scene. While on tour, Zachary has been able to save on expense by choosing to sleep in a van or at a fan’s house to avoid lodging costs. Zachary prefers both DIY methods of touring, as well with a small record label. He doesn’t prefer major record labels because he feels that they exploit the artist. During touring, Zachary has to watch their expenses and play at places where they know they can draw a crowd. Zachary has dealt with record label staff and executives in the career to find that most independent labels care for the success and finances of the artists, which other labels look out for themselves and exploit the artist. Zachary says there is room to profit as a touring musician if musicians are careful and prudent enough to do their own work and not let people that could potentially exploit the band to do the work for them.
Zachary cites his opinions and dealings with the music industry with the amount of years he has spent on the road with his time in Elysia. The questions I ask him are based on his experience as a touring musicians. He reinforces his opinion on the industry using his examples in touring as a source for his judgement. This interview shows ways that it is possible to make a success in the music industry. Zachary states that promotion and marketing is a key to success in the music industry. While major record labels can provide major promotion for the musicians, musicians under major record labels can get bound to a contract that will reap the earnings of the artists themselves. He feels that DIY or independent record label is the method of choice for a touring musician in the industry. Zachary has noted that the rise of social media network made it much easier to virally spread his music, which culminated in the success for his band in the underground deathcore scene of the mid-2000s. He cites many of his claims based on his experience, as well as experiences of fellow touring bands that have gained considerable attention for their genre of music.
I agree with Zachary. Major label has turned music into a business outlined with greed and exploitation of the musical artist since the 1980s. Touring musicians need to combat these methods by not signing to major labels and finding alternative ways of doing the work, or even doing all the work themselves. Major labels have managers and workers that try to get the best profits for the company, not the band. Independent labels, and DIY methods have helped artist gain the promotion and exposure they need to success, while helping them live comfortably.