A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

What Should An Artist Do When They Start Off?

Should they focus on the definitive track, polishing it up with re-write after re-write, maybe even call in a song writing committee, just to get it to radio and be part of a dying game.

Once upon a time, perfection was everything. Today it is history. Steve Jobs made his name by focusing on one core product at the start.

An artist should be focused on that one song. They shouldn’t try anything else until they have nailed the song. There is no point building your web presence if you don’t have that song.

Artists should realise that we live in a world that has YouTube dominating as the world’s number one music service. The kids these days, they don’t buy, they stream. While people complain about Spotify, YouTube slipped in the back door and won. It won because the record labels procrastinated and extended the negotiations with Spotify. Therefore, artists should not judge their reach based on sales figures alone. 

Artists should be leading and dominating. This is what tech start-ups do very well. The artists that are doing neither, are just focusing on maintaining their current profit margins or are relying on someone else to make something happen. In other words, if artists choose to stay where they are to maximize profits, they are then a day away from losing all relevance.

This is what is happening to Bon Jovi. They released a terrible album, both in terms of sales and reviews/perception, and are now on an endless tour, raking in all the dollars. Meanwhile, a new brigade of rockers is stealing their thunder like Shinedown, Halestorm, Skillet, Imagine Dragons, One Republic and Mumford & Sons.

Same for Metallica. While “Death Magnetic” was a return to form, I dare anyone to say that it is their best album. The album came out in 2008 and for the last five years, they have been on an endless tour, raking in all the dollars. While they are currently out promoting their “movie (that cost $18 million and financed from the pockets of Metallica)”, other metal acts are stealing their thunder like Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Machine Head, Killswitch Engage, Bullet For My Valentine, Volbeat and Trivium.

Artists have the ability to connect directly with their audience. They don’t need the media to sell them or to keep them in the spotlight. It is up to the artist to do that. Of course there is still a lot of them complaining that the new way is not like the old way and that no one can get paid.

Look at the shifts on society. Once upon a time we got our mail once a day. Now we get our mail twenty-four seven. We need to be connected. Heaven forbid, if the internet goes down, or the broadband lines break. It will be chaos.

So many artists today are all in, trying to make it in the music business the old way. However that was never the case in the Seventies and the Eighties.

Brad Gillis had a side project cover band, while Night Ranger was trying to get a record deal. It kept the money coming in until his main gig got its shot. From this side project, he even managed to get an audition for Ozzy Osbourne and another gig. What are the chances of an artist doing the same today? Artists need to have a back up plan.

The back up plan also needs to be there, for the time when an artist has invested a lot of time and effort into an idea and they start to become attached emotionally to the project. So they keep at it and end up stuck in a position or a deal that they regret.

Why would an artist knuckle down and record an album when they are not connecting with anyone. I cannot count how many albums I have come across from bands, that have no social media presence or a couple of hundreds of likes on Facebook, however no one is talking about them. If artists aim to high and fail, where does an artist go afterwards compared to setting modest goals and succeeding.

If you are planning on spending money on your art, what plan do you have to profitably engage with your fan base? Check with any business that is investing in themselves. There is a plan to recoup.

What is the plan of a heavy metal musician? Get together with some friends, drink a lot of beer, smoke some green, record some songs and the whole world will bow down at the greatness before them. Yeah, right. If an artist wants to have a career in the music business, they need to have a monetization plan in place.

The metal and hard rock genres are still not fully in with the current way of doing things compared to other genres. Of course, some DIY bands are getting it, however a lot of them still don’t and if they do rely on getting a label deal they should realise that a lot of the labels are even worse at it getting it.

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