A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories


Creators Don’t Have A Clear Definition Of Success

On one hand, Nirvana sold 7 million copies of “Nevermind” in the US. By December 1992, all the band members had to show was a house. The rest of the monies went on fees, lawyers, accountants, managers, record labels and miscellaneous expenses.

While on the other hand, Tommy Emmanuel has a career in the music business. He releases new music frequently, tours frequently, runs master classes, works as a session guitarist and songwriter. He doesn’t have the 7 million multi-platinum sales on the board however he has been in the music business since the mid Seventies.

What is your definition of success?

Define that first.

Creators Are Not Sure On What To Focus

There you are, in your room, writing and demoing away the killer song that will break you to the masses. Time goes by and suddenly you have created 5, then 10, then 15 songs. When do you say enough and start focusing on that one song and putting that out to market and seeing how it floats in the sea of twenty million unheard songs.

Then once the song is out what do you do. This is where you will need to focus on three things:

1. Are new people gravitating to your song
2. Put time frames in place and measure it and then compare the time frames.
3. Work and finish off the next song.

Creators Don’t Put Their Time Into Understanding Metrics

How is your song being used? How is it being listened too? Which musical platform is getting the most traction?

There are a few ways to do this. Talk to your fans. Create fan groups and give them ranks. Tell them to email you so that they can join one of those groups and talk about the songs released, the new songs in the pipework and so forth. You would be surprised how much goodwill and loyalty this fosters.

Creators Have No Budget

You need to invest in yourself to launch your music onto the world and after that is done, you still need investment in yourself to maintain it.

No Sign Of Life

In IT/Product launches, the actual creators of a new product get really scared right after their products launch because of the very typical “launch bump” and the eventual “pit of despair” when the press and social media stop caring about you.

So let’s take that analogy and apply it to music.

You create your song, record it, mix it, master it and then release it.

And nothing happens.

There is no sign of life that your song is even alive.

Maybe it wasn’t good enough for fans to like it enough that they couldn’t live without it.

Songs have a funny way of finding their way into people’s lives. The big difference today is that the get paid right now paradigm of the past is gone. That paradigm worked when the Record Labels had control of the distribution and acted as gatekeepers. Todays paradigm is different. A song released 5 to 10 years ago could connect with an audience right now. Are you still around to capitalise on this change of fortune. If you are in the music business for the right reasons you will be still around.

No Idea On How To Grow

I am sure that any business entity has come across the following three questions;

Why are we not growing?
Why is growth slowing?
Why are we shrinking?

In order to plan for growth businesses put someone in a position to build that plan, execute that plan and study the results so the next plan can be 20% better.

Apply that to music and ask any artist if they have a growth plan and how do they measure if they are growing.

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

How Do You Know If An Album Is Successful?

You are an artist performing solo or within a band.

You decide to record an album.

You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.

You do some promo and release it.

Then what do you do.

It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.

Sebastian Bach still can’t get his head around why he has 800,000 Facebook Followers and only 6000 people in the U.S purchased his new album “Give Em Hell” in the opening week. For the record, it is a great album. I have heard the album, but I didn’t purchase it. I went to Spotify and streamed it.

So if it doesn’t sell as expected, it doesn’t that mean the album didn’t do well. What it means is that fans of music have consumed it in many different ways. I actually liked it enough to go onto Amazon and add it to my shopping cart. I haven’t purchased it yet. I will wait until the price drops below $10 before I do. And then it will go on the shelve in its wrapper.

In this day and age sales can never be used a metric for success. However, if there are songs there that are undeniable and an audience starts to resonate with those songs, then expect to sell.

Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy era. In the same era that has greedy corporations telling politicians that piracy is decimating the music industry.

Well, this piracy era hasn’t stopped Five Finger Death Punch from moving over 500,000 units in the U.S alone for each album. Yep that’s right, Five Finger Death Punch have been selling records since their debut album came out in 2007. Even the recent “Wrong Side of Heaven” Volumes 1 and 2 are moving close to the 500,000 mark for each of them. Combined these two albums have moved over 700,000 units.

So I am really over bands or artists who lament that no one buys their music. People do buy music. People do stream music. People do download music without paying for it.

And all of those people who access an artists music both legally and illegal will also invest in concert tickets and merchandise. They will even invest in REAL limited/deluxe edition perks. Not the kind of perks that just come with a DVD or a T Shirt.

Artists should take a leaf out of RatPak Records. They have various packages available with each release and at a price that isn’t extortion.

In my opinion, an album can be defined as a success if people are coming to the shows and singing the songs of the album.

WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything however if you talk to any WASP fan and I bet you they can sing the songs from that album. In 2014, it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.

Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell in the millions, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.

One of my favourite independent bands “Digital Summer” have been managing their own career and their own releases with great success. Recently they just had a run of dates with Volbeat and Trivium. Prior to that, they have done tours with Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Three Doors Down and many other acts. They have done shows on their own. And they manage themselves. They finance their own recordings. They ask their fans to help out via fan funding campaigns. So big deal if their albums haven’t sold in the millions. They are over 10 years deep and still rocking.

So how do you know if an album is successful in 2014?

If people are listening to it, coming out to the shows and singing the songs.