With another new year in music to look forward to I want to use a paragraph or few to remind the likely reader of this blog – a writer or a band looking for a career in music – of some home truths.
If you want to make music for a living you have to put everything you have into it. Everything means everything. All your time, money and energy need to go towards actions that support your stated aims.
Music is also a great hobby. If you’re willing to give a little bit from within your comfort zone and do it until high summer, keep it as such. You won’t waste anyone’s time trying to achieve what you’re unwilling to achieve.
The thing is to enjoy what you do. Some people enjoy doing what it takes. Nothing else will do. They’re the lifers, the artists. Others enjoy going on holiday and making music on the side. They’re the hobbyists. One isn’t better than the other and life will become more enjoyable when you figure out which one you are.
A pop writer confided at a xmas party that he’d had 18 cuts the preceding year. That means that his songs were recorded and released 18 times by recording artists in a year. It’s a lot of cuts, if you didn’t know. He still can’t make a living.
We are more and more in the era of “is it a hit or is it shit?”. In other words, cool album tracks don’t make any money. If you write hits, you’re in the game. If not, well, that’s just a shame.
Globalisation in music means that every track released competes against every other track released everywhere in the world. In a global market, if your recording sounds ropey, don’t blame others when they opt to listen to something that sounds like a proper record.
Every song demo sent to an a&r guy is up against incredibly strong competition.
Invest in your recordings.
Imagine, for a moment, rock legends KISS, Freddie Mercury, Pink, Nirvana, Green Day, Bob Dylan, Spice Girls and just about any really successful artist ever. What do you see when you close your eyes?
It’s called an image. Having one will make a big difference to your chances of success. Isn’t it about time you, too, had one?
People often say that there’s a lot of great music out there, but it’s just not getting heard because of the way music companies and the media dominate the market with shit that no one likes.
Really? I mean, really, really? As the owner of a small music company that does business with companies big and small here and abroad I promise you that when stuff is great it gets reactions. If it doesn’t get reactions, maybe it needs more work. The absence of reactions is NOT because there is a conspiracy to sign shit. The absence of reactions is a consequence of the absence of anything exciting worth reacting to.
Take a moment to reflect. Turn off your mobile device and disconnect from Facebook. Forget the big announcement about the big news yada yada yada…
Instead, grab hold of your chosen instrument and write a song. Better still, make it happy hour from here til February. Write a song every day. What’s the worst that could happen? You might come across a hit.
Practice every day. Work out the stuff that’s giving you problems. Learn new stuff. Develop your talent. Invest in yourself. The worst that could happen is that you might become better.
Talk with your band mates and figure out how the hell you could look different. What’s the worst that could happen? You might end up looking like you’re actually applying for the job you want: that of a rock star.
The solution to creating something that really connects with other people?
Write. Practice. Innovate.