You’re now a musician. Ignore the hit parade. Spotify Top 50 is a miniscule cult. Yours might be even tinier but own it. If you believe you’re on the road to stardom, get out of the car right now, because that’s not how we play it these days. You can set yourself on fire and own the news cycle for half a day if you’re lucky, then again, most news outlets won’t cover it unless you’re already a star and then you’ll be dead, so what is it worth?
Practice. Get good at your craft. Keep your nose to the ground. Get better. Gain an audience. Try to grow it.
Dreams of private jets, models, debauchery, making it rain in nightclubs… That’s for athletes, not musicians. There are fewer athletes. And a whole bunch of them aren’t stars either. But there’s a whole slew of musicians. And the public is overwhelmed and distracted, people only see music as one option.
So don’t think about creating the hit. Ignore all the advice about having numerous hooks and grabbing the listener instantly, those are people trying to game an ungamable system.
It’s like in the old days. An album is evidence of your work. No one may buy it, few may stream it, one thing’s for sure, you’re not gonna make much money on it, it’s just one part of your portfolio. Think about your recorded work as your LinkedIn profile, a job resume. You’re seeking listeners, and trying to hold on to the ones you’ve got.
So you want a steady stream of product and innovative live shows… If you’re doing the same set every night, the joke is on you. You want people traveling to different cities to experience different shows. You want to engender curiosity. You want to be alive and breathing as opposed to dead. Eliminate the hard drives, truth is your friend, mistakes keep you honest, show that you’re still striving for excellence, and the public forgives errors, they want to get closer to a living, breathing person. Forget comping the vocals, making it perfect, that eliminates all the humanity, and slickness is history these days, that’s why events are so popular, they’re living and breathing and different with ups and downs. You can make it perfect, but they don’t want it perfect.
Sure, some people play the game and create perfumes and sell out to the corporations, but they are very few in number. And really, they’re little different from the Top Forty acts of yore, you always knew the rewards were with the other, if you’re not testing limits, people will avoid you. If you’re repeating yourself, you’re not growing. Don’t reside in a living hell, release yourself.
Your goal is to support yourself making music, nothing more.
And if you make it, it’s gonna take a really long time. Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch told me this, that it takes ten years for a rock act to make it, their band Foals just went into royalties after a decade. They also said that rock bands last when everything else does not.
Think about that, whether you create rock music or a different genre, the key is to last.
This is what the internet has wrought, this is what streaming has wrought, with everything available at your fingertips, nothing stands out, despite all the hoopla and hype. Come on, the newspaper prints the chart…BUT WHO READS THE NEWSPAPER? As for reviews…I hope your mother sees them, because that’s about all they’re good for.
You’re a musician first and foremost. See where it leads you.
And speak from your heart. Channel the gods. That’ll give you your best chance to make it to the middle.
Where most acts will reside, if not lower. The superstar game is for wusses. Just like back in ’68, all the action was in albums with no singles on FM. And then that sound took over.
I can’t tell you what sound will win. Actually, there’s room for all of ’em. Just know that inspiration is king. And don’t filter yourself. And have the skills which allow you to execute the sound in your head. And know that social media for promotion is overrated. You speak to your fans and then they grow your career. That’s all anybody trusts anymore, other people with no investment. This is what this decade of social media salesmanship has wrought, an entire populace that ignores it, despite those involved and reporting on it hyping it.
Ignore the hype. Get busy. We want to hear what you have to say.
At least some of us.