8th Stage Aims to Bring Back Artist Development in the Music Industry

November 24, 2013

10:00 am

“Artist development is dead,” as Marcus D. Cobbs – co-founder and CEO Of 8th Stage – bluntly puts it. Cobbs explains that, as recently as Justin Bieber, artists went through the funnel of artist development, wherein a record offers to develop a specific artist’s skills and public image. The industry, however, has shifted away from that model and, instead, turns to discovering on YouTube what they (record labels) perceive to be immediate mass-market successes.

“We really wanted to bring all of [the pieces of artist development] into one place: an Amazon.com for ‘what it takes to build a music career.'”

Cobbs describes 8th Stage as a “a LinkedIn for independent music artists with built-in talent development.” Comparing it merely to LinkedIn, however, would be shortchanging the inherent value from the social platform. The site does more than create a network of music artists and industry professionals; it truly aims to provide both current and aspiring artists with a comprehensive resource to develop their careers according to their specific wants/needs.

“Because of the shift in the music industry, independent artists are now orphaned: there’s no transparency [provided] and there’s very little support [for them].”

According to Cobbs, while artist development isn’t – in actuality – totally dead (I mean, consider the success of shows like American Idol or The Voice, which still have artist development as a primary component of their competitions), there has been tremendous downsizing of talent scouts. The decreasing number of artists going through this development funnel is problematic, asserts Cobbs, and can ultimately lead to good musicians and singers failing to make any success due the lack of exposure to development opportunities.

“The problem isn’t that artists aren’t creating [music] – there’s plenty of room out there for this content and artists are making [that content]. The issue is that artists aren’t creating good enough [content].”

Having musicians go through this talent development funnel was designed to help them create compelling music that actually has the potential to become popularized among the population en masse. 8th Stage hopes to bring back this funnel – but in a completely different form and through a different medium (i.e. the Web) – by connecting independent musicians to other musicians and professionals in the industry on the platform.

“You can see [independent artists] struggling on Craigslist right now; you can see the pain. Tens of thousands out there are trying to [make these connections] through Craigslist.”

Through the 8th Stage platform, artists can make connections with other musicians (for the purposes of, say, forming a band), as well as people in the industry that could really help them develop their talent or give them leads to exposure opportunities. The site does not discriminate based on the number of years of musical experience a user has had, allowing both enthusiasts and those who have been working their way toward a sustainable career in music. On 8th Stage, an artist is given the ability to post a project (such as “making a music video”), which is followed by community responses offering to provide tips as well as resources to help complete that project.

Considering the features that 8th Stage has to offer, Cobbs opines:

“8th stage is like your do-it-yourself incubator. We give artists an opportunity to be their own kind of lean startup.”

8th Stage was most recently featured in Tech Cocktail’s Chicago Mixer & Startup Showcase

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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