MUSIC INDUSTRY INSIDE OUT Cotton On

Katie Noonan

Katie Noonan

Music Industry Inside Out is an online educational resource devoted to helping musicians across the country learn more about the industry. It’s the brainchild of Martine Cotton, a long-time events manager and educator that has managed to rope in some of Aussie music’s most prominent names to share their wisdom. Cotton talks to SHAUN COWE about the site.

 

“Most recently I’ve got interviews from Katie Noonan and Harmony Jane, who’s a big country music star. I also did Magoo, who’s quite a legendary music producer, and he was fantastic.”

The list of names is Cotton’s upcoming interviews and a good representation of the diverse cross-section of the music community Cotton tries to incorporate into her site. With articles ranging from music recording tips, to business starter courses, to artist interviews, the site is an eclectic mix of information. However, one of the challenges Cotton has found has been distilling professional wisdom into beginner terminology.

“My biggest struggle with the industry professionals is getting them to keep the language and jargon in layman’s terms. I have to constantly whisper to them across the camera things like ‘What do you mean by record cycles?’ They live and breathe it so they forget that a lot of people don’t know what these terms mean.”

One of the biggest things that has struck Cotton, since starting the site in March, is the overwhelmingly positive response by the industry professionals in giving interviews. So far, she counts only two rejections.

“Everyone’s totally keen to do it. The main problem for people is actually finding time to do it. This period, from June to November, is the busiest time in the music industry. I think, really, the music industry is very open about sharing information and knowledge.”

When asked what the best piece of advice she’s found from the interviews, she is quick to point to two pieces that mirror her own 24-year career: patience and strategy.

“Basically, setting up a career takes a really long time. You’ve got to be really strategic about how you do things and success doesn’t happen overnight so you’ve got to manage your expectations.” Then Cotton adds, laughing: “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll. Quite seriously.”

With the site created by Cotton herself, with the particular aim of helping rural musicians network and learn alongside their city counterparts, she is quick to cite the merits of the internet. Though, as an events manager since the ’90s, she’s seen how it’s affected the music community negatively, too.

“Music is no longer a commodity. The commodity is now the experience. I think if a band can put on a really amazing show and build an incredible niche community of passionate fans, then they’re going to do okay. You can’t expect to make money out of your recorded music anymore. It’s become more of a promotional tool.”

Of course, many of Cotton’s articles deal with the money side of being a musician, with some even covering how to make money from recordings. For her, the main aim is to present as well-rounded and comprehensive guide as possible.

“I explore every avenue. I definitely think recording is very important, and producing, and being savvy with your distribution and having CDs at gigs to sell to that niche community is incredibly important. Certainly, there’s no right or wrong way to do anything because every genre has a slightly different take. You’ve got to understand your audience.”

Finally, Cotton’s plans for the future are to move from internet to classroom, with seminars and a national expansion of the educational movement.

“We’re looking at doing a mentor tour nationally next year. Probably do webinars as well, that kind of thing. If I can get support from the council and the various state bodies I definitely want to tour regionally and connect with people living regionally with other like-minded people.

 

Check out what’s on offer at musicindustryinsideout.com.au

 

 

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