When are people going to realise that music doesn’t create value. Customers do. People. The people who listen and consume the music are in charge of the value tree. They decide what song or album is valuable and what isn’t. And it’s a cold hard truth for any creator out there. You might have a record deal and a massive PR machine, however if no one is interested in what you create, it’s back to the drawing board.
Do a few more releases that fail to connect and the downward spiral is real. It doesn’t mean you can’t make it back, however when people are in a downward spiral they have a tendency to cut corners and dumb down their art for the sake of making it back. And for a little while, it might pick you back up. But then, demand for your art goes down again, which means you lose again. The great artists are aware that writing a song that connects with millions is magical but it’s not scalable. No one can write hit songs forever. In the 80’s and 90’s, Desmond Child was the hit making machine, along with Diane Warren and Jim Vallance. Today, it’s Max Martin and Dr Luke and others. Even bands like U2, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Ratt and Bon Jovi couldn’t sustain the “hits”, albeit they had a pretty good run which guarantees them a victory lap after a victory lap.
The key to success is random. It’s unexpected when a song connects and breaks through. But instead of having the mindset to keep showing up and creating in the same way you did before, creators try to recreate the unexpected success. Writing songs that become hits is a different mindset to writing a “hit song”.
And artists got those unexpected hits by being imperfect. By paying their dues and honing their craft. By being willing to speak their truth and taking a stance on issues. We need people to believe in. And we believe most in those whose risks resonate.
The record labels are worried about their stock price or their greatly compensated executive salaries while they underpay creators and drop them at will. Meanwhile we all pay taxes while they pay none. So don’t think the label will have your back when people are not interested in your product.
Today’s story is about artists who are unable to get traction. It’s because they think the music they create has some value. But it doesn’t. It has no value at the start. It might later, if people decide it’s valuable.
But the space for attention is cluttered and your new song is competing with the history of music, which is at people’s fingertips. But it can rise to the top. There just needs to be a message to it, instead of the usual clichés. Remember, people create value. It’s not the other way around.