Everybody makes New Year's Resolutions, but it would really help if people made New Year's Resolutions that really stuck. For the music industry in 2012, it's for artists to go independent.
While the industry's sales were actually slightly up from a year before, the music industry's system is more broken than ever before. EMI, one of the big four labels dissolved in 2011, leaving only three majors (Warner, Sony, Universal). The system currently in place may not continue to be the same in the future and it may be better for artists to push for self-sufficiency.
I had a wonderful discussion with a friend of mine about this over New Year's where it had become apparent that bands still have a dollar and a dream to make it with a major.
However, those bands will clearly realize that labels won't be so quick to sign them without marketing savvy. At this point, labels are looking for a sure thing. They don't gamble nearly as much as they used to and they want to make sure that they're banking on whatever investment they make.
Bands have to be more self-sufficient because the industry seems to be moving in a way where labels won't exist as they are right now 2-5 years from now.
Bands need to not only market their shows, they need to know how to effectively use band pages on Facebook, Reverbnation, Root Music and the like, and they need to know how to effectively sell themselves to fans before selling themselves to labels. Bands will realize that labels are helpful, but if you can learn how to do a label's job better than a label can for you, you're much better off going it alone.
Let's make 2012 the year of independent bands and artists.