I’ve been drawing the comparison between the music industry and the writing industry for years. In fact, I even blogged about it earlier this year. Recently, I’ve also been watching a little of the movie industry for trends. It has been my observation that the writing industry is about 2-5 years behind the music industry in its development, and now I think I can also say that the music industry is likewise 2-5 years behind the movie industry.
What does that mean? It means if one wants to gaze into the future of the writing industry, one need only study the trends of the music and movie industries.
I recently ran across an article discussing the difficulties of indie music artists of breaking through the glass-ceiling into big industry presence. This has been a hot button topic among indie writers lately, what the relationship to indie publishers and self-publishing really is, and how will all of this play out in the shadow of the larger mega publishers. I think this article can shed some light on where the writing industry is headed.
Read the original article here (opens a new window so you can come back) – http://futureofmusic.org/blog/2013/02/15/can-indie-artist-break-through-glass-ceiling
I know some writers out there who are not familiar with the music industry lingo may find this article quite foreign and not really grasp what it’s talking about. Allow me to explain.
The gist of this article is about the reality that “indie artist” is a broad term that covers several different industry models. A true indie artist is one that does EVERYTHING themselves. This would be like our true self publishing, where the author takes 100% control of all aspects of producing the book.
But many indie musicians are in actuality “artists with an indie label.” In publishing the equivalent is indie publishing houses, like the one my two fiction books are currently available through. This model has now become a significant part of the music and movie industries, which means it is not surprising at all that the same model is now quite popular in writing, though it has yet to gain the respect found in the music and movie industries.
The article also talked about indie artists with major label distribution deals, where the musician pays for the production but the label provides the distribution. In writing, we’re calling this co-publishing now. Finally, the article makes mention of “spec deals” and the comparison here would be writers who do short stories for anthologies.
But in the end, no matter which model the indie musician falls under, they are all called indie musicians. I think we’ll wind up doing the same thing, calling all but those with major publishing deals an indie author. Self-published authors, small press authors, co-published authors…these are all at the end of the day indie authors.
What about the future?
As I said, I’ve also recently been drawing this comparison with the movie industry. To really cast the future, I want to bring in something that is quite obvious here, somewhat gray and less obvious in the music industry, and so far non-existent in the writing industry.
Most movies today are now produced by independent production companies. In fact this seems to be the norm now. Gone are the major movie productions actually filmed by a what we would call a major movie studio. In essence, they are farming out the production to smaller independent labels and then concentrating on the post-production release, distribution, and marketing. I mentioned this same practice above with the music industry, where indie labels are beginning to develop marketing and distribution agreements with major labels. In music, that’s still not the most lucrative route because major record labels are still into production, even though they are also farming out production in some cases, just like the movie industry is now doing as a standard. It probably will not be long before it also becomes standard in the music industry.
The movie industry is a step ahead of the music industry and two steps ahead of publishing industry. So if these trends continue, here’s what I predict.
Major publishing entities will begin farming out the production of titles to independent labels, and concentrating mostly on distribution and marketing.
That may very well be the future of publishing. Are you ready? If this is the future, and if writing follows the trend of the other disciplines, as it has done in the past and as I expect it to continue to do, then the best position for writers like me would be to build a solid presence with a strong indie publisher.
Self-published authors should consider looking for an indie label home for their titles. Indie labels need to really evaluate their practices, develop strong and lasting relationships with exceptional authors, and build an excellent reputation of having quality work available. And when the major labels realize that publishing, distribution, and marketing takes more resources than they have available for the diminishing returns in this evolving industry…when they start turning to indie labels to be the gatekeepers and to handle the nitty-gritty of production, we’ll all be ready to take the next step.