I conducted a poll on Twitter to see how musicians view their own music — service or product?
Now, let me preface: only three people voted, so it’s not a great sample. But still, I wondered if this was how most people view the music they make…
This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot. How do I want to think about the music I make? And will it change the way I share music?
First, let me define a “product” and a “service” (I know definitions are boring, but stick with me).
Product: an article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale.
Service: 1) the action of helping or doing work for someone, or 2) a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications, or utilities such as electricity and water.
So then I ask: do I want to sell my music as a product, or provide my music to people as a need and a help? Should I approach this like a nonprofit or a business?
Both ways are fine, but for different reasons.
The big labels sell products. Their ultimate goal — no matter how much they love music and want to help artists succeed — is money. They need everything down to the bottom dollar to count.
Justin Beiber. Product. Adele. Product. Shawn Mendes. Product.
This isn’t a bad thing — people gotta make money. But nonprofits are great too.
Here are the positives for both viewing your music as a product and as a service. Which positives do you like better?
Some artists have been a service to me (see the video below). Some artists have made music that has legitimately helped me get through tough stuff.
And I want my music to do that for people.
I want people to say, “Man, Caleb’s song really helped me cope with this or that” or “Caleb’s music makes me feel [insert positive emotion].”
So I’ve decided: my music is a service. Whatever music skills I have, I want to use them to help others.