A couple of days out from the new year I thought that I might put together a little list of things that I hope to see in 2011. Of course this is somewhat in lieu of a list for Santa since well, 1. Christmas has passed and 2. I’m a few years past the Santa stage. I would like to stress only a few years past that stage.

1. Less free music and more quality music at any(some)price.

A single here and there to test the waters I get that. But a free ep every quarter/month/every other week? Cue Ed Lover! The profit margins may be very low these days, but at the end of the day a profit is still a profit. Right?

2. The end of mediafire et al as a tool for legitimate music promotion.

If you are a hobbyist and you want to send some music around to your friends to show them how adept you have become at constructing 4 bar loops by all means use something like the aforementioned sporage system(that’s combination spam and storage system). All others who fashion themselves professionals, please consider the bevy of options that are optimized for music promotion, which many are (gasp) free.

3. A return to the formula music>marketing.

Of course these days especially if you are an artist doin’-it-yourself, you have to do a fair amount of grassroots marketing, but when it seems that’s all you do? Sometimes I get the feeling that some artists believe that once they’ve made a recording that’s all that they need to do: Concentrate on making recordings. What about developing your craft? Professional athletes still practice don’t they? Why can’t you spend some time doing the same? Practicing, growing, learning, developing so that you will have added to your bag of tricks for the next musical masterpiece you record. Maybe for every 5 or more hours you spend on your music maybe you could then spend 1 hour marketing. Just a thought. Either that or when money allows hire… which brings me to my next point.

4. If you are in the business of PR for music I believe it is ok to tell some potential clients no if their music isn’t very good.

There’s enough bad music already in the ecosystem as it is (see #1). If you take you know what and put it in a pretty package it still smells. Just an observation…

5. Teach your(all of our)children well.

We have to do a better job of this collectively. Stop blaming the schools. That boat has sailed. The folks who run school divisions across the country have made their commitment to music well known, they don’t have one.

One of the greatest ways that we can affect change with the generations to come is to spend time with them and by being honest and constructive. Praise the music that they listen to that’s good and explain to them why in your opinion that it’s good and do the same for the bad. Then let them have a run at your collection. Then work to encourage them to understand that music is a discipline that requires skill and dedication and that anyone who tells them otherwise has lied to them. Then encourage them to come back to you when they can take the pebble out of your hand because when they can do that, they will be a musician.

6. Something new.

Over thirty years with hip-hop being the baby genre on the block. That’s a pretty big baby. I’m just wondering what’s next? It’s probably already happening, it just may not have a pretty catchall title. Reveal yourself.

7. Roots(see #5)

The way it is right now is not the way that it has always been. Just like the way it will be tomorrow will be different than it is right now. The one thing that we should be sure of is what was and quite possibly we can use what was as a barometer of what could be? The problem is too many have no idea what was and so what is, is the only barometer they have.

Case in point the is: You know how every major market has several radio stations that play a majority hip-hop supplemented with some R&B? There was a time in the not so distant 90’s that the inverse was true and not only that, the few stations that did play hip-hop records didn’t play the records that many of you think of as true classics. Why is this important(who cares right?) well these artists of yore somehow survived and forged out careers without significant radio play, first week sales et al. How did they do it? Through being highlighted on specialty mix shows, college radio, clubs etc., etc., translation: outside of the mainstream. Sound familiar? As KRS-One so eloquently stated “You must learn.”

8. Do something radically different than you did in 2010.

Here’s another inverse relationship type o’ thingy to try… If you spent x numbers of hours online in 2010 talking about music, how about spend a considerable amount of time offline in 2011 listening to music either at home or with friends or going out to support live music and not just national acts. Your friendly neighborhood troubadour has something to say as well and I’m sure they would love your support. See #3 also.

9. Place a limit on your creativity.

Yes you read that correctly. Sometimes it seems that we have unlimited options for everything. As an experiment what if you took some of those options away purposely: I’m going to compose a song without the aid of a computer. I can only use the instrumentation of a bass guitar, saxophone and vocal for this song. I can only record this song in one take. What would happen? You might be surprised, either pleasantly or otherwise.

10. Have fun.

Isn’t this one obvious? I want to see more artists having fun this year. Yeah it’s a business, but it is a business that should ultimately be fun. Everytime I see Prince play it looks like he is having fun. He is having fun because he is in complete sync with his instrument(s), his muse. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to that point, but isn’t that really the goal. You control the music, it doesn’t control you. Music is not fun, contrary to what some people would lead you to believe, until you can understand what you are doing on a base level and until you can execute on that level or above as well.

Here’s to a great 2011!

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.