In the 21st-century music biz, prostitutes and washing machines are obsolete.
That's the message presenters will send to attendees of this weekend's Homemade Music Symposium in Ybor City.
The second annual conference invites local musicians to pick the brains of industry insiders and the media. Among the highlights will be a keynote address by Peter Wells, co-founder of TuneCore, a digital service that allows musicians to bypass industry gatekeepers and get their songs onto iTunes, Amazon and the like for a nominal fee.
Wells' business partner, TuneCore founder Jeff Price, explained it this way: "Go back in time to Madonna, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones — choose your band or artist. No matter how much money you had, traditionally as an artist ... the one thing that you could not do on your own was distribute your physical products into the retail stores across the country... because the infrastructure costs for that are huge. ... (Record companies) would literally take the buyer out to a gig or give them free CDs or buy them a washing machine or do other unsavory things."
But digital distribution is changing the game. Unlike CD shops, the Internet offers unlimited shelf space and no up-front manufacturing costs, so independent artists can post music online and still get noticed. Think Lily Allen, Ingrid Michaelson and Colbie Caillat.
Thus ends the need to hire a deep-pocketed record label to schmooze with the gatekeepers at Wal-Mart and Best Buy.
"F--- that. Anyone can have access to distribution now," Price said. "Which means now the hookers and the washing machines are — well, there's going to be a downturn in that business."
Feedback from last years' 400 to 500 attendees, who ranged from children to senior citizens, went into planning this symposium.
"We listened to the musicians, and we said, 'What do you want? What do you need?'" said David Audet, founder and president of the Artists and Writers Group, which hosts the event.
If there's one thing struggling musicians need, it's free stuff. So the event and most of the surrounding concerts are free, thanks to a grant from the Ybor City Development Corporation. Hillsborough Community College provided the venue. Artists and Writers Group raised the rest. It's just a home-grown effort to encourage local talent and boost Ybor City's image, Audet said.
No prostitutes or washing machines required.