Journalist (specializing in music, tech, entertainment and business). Politics and media junkie. Music scout. Storyteller. Read more at the bio page linked in the menu below.
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Much has changed for the independent musician in the last fifteen years. The cost to create a professional sounding record has dropped dramatically, meanwhile the advent of the internet and social media has snowballed into a marketing platform with easy distribution and funding methods. The formula for success has shifted from whom you know and what your record label decides to do with you to what you know and how you act upon it.
Thom Daugherty, who has been in the musical spotlight for well over a decade, says an independent musician can now have a final product that is produced, recorded, mixed, mastered and sound competitive with major label releases for a little less than $30,000.
“That is really exciting to me,” says Daugherty. “To know that an artist can invest $30,000 into the making of their album and they only need to sell roughly 3,000 copies before they are in the black on their investment.”
Daugherty first joined the Brit-meets-blues rock band The Elms in 2001 shortly after they signed with EMI/Sparrow Records. With multiple albums and years of touring, The Elms moved to Universal Records South before releasing an independent album where they had more creative control. When The Elms disbanded in 2010, Daugherty became the touring guitarist for popular country music group The Band Perry for two years.
Daugherty has experienced firsthand the many changes that have taken place in the music scene, especially in the recording process. “Instead of needing a budget of $500,000 to record an album — guaranteeing you need a label to bankroll the project — you can now record your own album for about $5,000 in your own basement,” Daugherty says. “It might not sound the greatest, but it is a great starting point.”
My fellow journalists,
For centuries we have had the unique opportunity to help protect and shape society. Our chosen profession, as trivial as it may seem sometimes, is not one we should take for granted and we certainly should not underestimate the role we play in this world. This role has evolved as the business models to support it have changed, particularly in more recent decades, but the underlying principles still remain intact. Yes, most don’t fully understand what it is we do, as we have to often explain our job’s ethics to even family and friends, but it is a small price to pay for the service we are able to give to society.
With great power comes great responsibility, right?
The problem is both the public and even some reporters underestimate and devalue the role we play today. We are not here to regurgitate information; that would be glorified public relations. We are not here to only report on car crashes or the opening of a new art museum; though that is certainly one facet of our job. We cannot lose sight of the fact that we are here to simply ask questions, whether they are tough questions to hold people accountable or simple questions for story research. We are here to give a voice to those who normally don’t have one on a larger platform. We are here to give faces to the serious problems and to humanize the outcome of decisions being made by others.
We aren’t here to pester those in power or those we may not agree with, but we are here to hold them accountable. We don’t ask questions for the sake of an argument or a good story. We ask questions because we honestly want to know the answers. In fact, journalists are very curious in nature, and it is built into our DNA to need to know the answers.
This is why we cannot forget the importance we have in our chosen profession and why we can’t shrug it off as just another job. We matter, regardless of what some people’s opinions may try to convince us.
But our significance is not simply reserved for what we do; it also is in what we don’t do. The fact that we exist and are ready to instantly investigate a developing story is enough to be crucial. Over the past decades, and even centuries, individuals with political or corporate power have often reconsidered their strategies simply because they know we are here. We are listening. We have our ear to the ground. They know we would hold them accountable if we found out what they are planning, so they have to consider the consequences.
We are like the Jimmy Crickets of society. Our influence is felt even without stories being published. Our presence is felt behind closed doors simply because we exist.
But this will only continue so long as everything we do publish meets the highest ethical standards. We cannot compromise our integrity in the smaller beats or local stories; otherwise, the foundation we stand on is no longer solid.
So don’t give in to this notion held by some that journalists are here to simply report the basics. Don’t fall for the argument that our job is becoming obsolete due to the growth of social media and aggregators. We have a tremendous profession that few people have the opportunity or privilege to hold. We don’t simply write words for a never-ending assembly line and we don’t stand in front of camera to entertain the masses. We help keep society running smoothly and to keep government in check, even on those slow news days with what feels like the less significant stories. Everything we do can and does matter. The fact that we continue to exist and continue to prove our journalistic integrity is enough to shape major behind-the-scene decisions every day.
Take pride in what we do and how we serve. Don’t take our responsibility and significance lightly. We’re still here. We still matter.
Back in 2005, I was forced to take “JoshMcConnell.net” since someone else had the coveted “.com” domain. I was bummed, but moved on. The good news, however, is that I was finally able to take over JoshMcConnell.com in November 2010 and now I’m finally putting it to use.
Despite using Tumblr off and on since its creation in 2007, I have decided to use it as the foundation for my new online home. A site is only as good as its number of users and now the users are actually flocking over to Tumblr. So it only makes sense to give it the spotlight. It may not be as robust as I would like, but thankfully I can still do some HTML tweaking to the layout. Besides, this is only a temporary home until post-grad is finished when I can create a more elaborate website.
Until then, JoshMcConnell.com is mainly a hub to all of my social media profiles as well as a place to occasionally share some of my thoughts. Hope you dig it.