The King is Dead – So is His Music Era

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I’ve travelled a lot. I’ve been to some of the most destitute corners of the world. Places that have no running water or electricity. Places where eating 3 meals a day is the exception. Places like Cameroon, Central Africa where the majority of people live on less than a dollar a day and don’t even know how to begin thinking about the outside world.

But no matter where I’ve been, the one thing that everyone has in common is that they know the name Michael Jackson.

It’s impossible to overstate his impact on the world. From a musical standpoint, Michael Jackson was an anomoly. I don’t think that any other entertainer in the history of the world monopolized as much air time as this man. He invaded brain space like no one else. He was the ultimate meme.

But Michael Jackson was a product of his unique time. Musically, Michael was remarkable. But if he was coming up today, I don’t think he’d even come close to becoming the global superstar that he was. MJ, the global celebrity was possible because of MTV, radio and the major record label distribution system.

Michael Jackson wanted to become a star because he could. And he did. He had the talent. He had the X factor. The medium was right. But could you imagine a young MJ in today’s industry; trying to take advantage of social media and the Web and consumer to consumer communication to sell concerts? He’d still be successful, I’m sure, but on a much smaller scale.

A lot of musicians still see the entire system that propped up  Jackson as the way things still are…as the way forward. But it’s not. It does you no good to try to want to be a star these days. The marketing and distribution channels that made Michael Jackson possible do aren’t effective anymore. These days, it’s better to be small whether you’re a company or indie record label or whatever. You have more control over your brand and your identity that way.

Dream big, but stay small. Try to be a cult, not a monopoly. Think Apple, not Microsoft. Think Phish, not Madonna. That’s where the world is going anyway.

Mika Schiller is a writer for the Indie music website MADE and he writes about where the music industry’s headed and how it relates to the Independent Music artist. He gives irreverent career and personal development advice to the Indie music artist. For more great writing and irresistible advice, along with a free report on effective MySpace music marketing, please visit http://www.letsgetmade.com

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