File trading is history. 10% of the public will never pay for music, ignore them.
Files are history. Music, like television and so much more, is on demand. As time goes by, we will own less and less. As for those worried about a blackout, a breakdown of the internet, if you’ve got no power it makes no difference if you own files, and those in the know know you can sync files from streaming services like Spotify and Netflix to your device for those out of internet range excursions.
Streaming won. If you’re anti-streaming, you’re no different from the buggy whip manufacturers. Streaming is where you get paid, encourage your fans to sign up and partake.
Recorded music revenues are higher than ever for a hit, but recorded music revenue is just a sliver of your income. Of course, there’s the road, but there are so many more avenues of remuneration. Instead of bitching, you should be smiling, the future continues to be so bright that you should never remove your shades.
Albums are for oldsters. Today it’s about a constant flow of product.
If you don’t know who your audience is, you’re dead in the water. Bottom up, not top down. Mainstream media publicity means less than ever before, don’t count on the label or the press to build, inform and sustain your audience, that’s your job.
There’s no such thing as too much music. Your own long tail satisfies the hard core that will not shut up about you.
Major labels have never had less power.
The goal is to get on a streaming playlist as opposed to a radio playlist. Spotify, et al, are looking for reaction. It’s not how many people listen to the playlist, but how many people listen through your entire song and save it to their library. Those which are listened to and saved are put on other playlists and can be on the road to success.
Managers are more important than ever, they’re the new record companies.
You don’t shop for a deal, agents, managers, and labels find you, based on the data. Executives are combing the internet, looking at the data, 24/7, your goal is to post numbers, that is the game. And sure, the numbers can be manipulated, but it’s hard to do so across the board, in every vertical. If you’ve got high YouTube numbers but low Spotify numbers, if you’ve got streaming numbers but can’t draw a fan to a gig…then insiders know you’re a fraud.
Labels and other investors only want to know if you’ve got fans. That’s what they build from.
Hip-hop dominates and rock is dead. Rock shot itself in the foot, it didn’t embrace streaming, it focused on albums, it was based on impressing the small coterie that make up the rock infrastructure, it became an echo chamber.
Used to be the undercard at a festival was irrelevant, now it’s the way to get exposed.
The market is still manipulated, can you say “Billie Eilish”?
Play the game or don’t, decide which side you are on.
In the movie business no one knows who runs the studios, and in the music business no one knows who runs the labels. All the power is in the platforms, i.e. Netflix and Spotify.
Ignore the valuation of labels and publishing catalogs. They’re all based on the past. And investors are ignorant, can you say, “Guy Hands”? It’s about monetization of past assets more than monetization of the present. Then again, money needs to be parked somewhere, and if media tells the Street that music is burgeoning, that’s where the money goes. Live Nation stock went through the roof during the pandemic when there were no shows!
Bitching gets you nowhere, now more than ever, there’s just too much news in the channel, best to hunker down and work or get out of the lane.
Repeatability is everything, when was the last time you listened to Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul”?
Don’t believe the press, it’s manipulated. If someone is constantly in the news, it means that someone with relationships is spending dollars. That does not mean the hoi polloi cares, and it’s only about the hoi polloi.
No act will ever be as big as the pre-internet acts. There are just too many options, too many desires, and there’s too much clutter to cut through to make a big noise.
Innovation is hard, but innovation is where the rewards are. We live in the era of me-too, everybody copies what someone else has done, and true creativity is ignored. Everything new starts off slowly, remember that. And it’s the music that starts the scene, not the media, you can be featured everywhere and still be dead in the water.
Never has the public had more power. The public makes the hits, not the labels or the media. And the public spreads the word. And more than ever, it’s nearly impossible to manipulate. True success is more organic than ever before. Do what you do and make it better. Chart reaction. You’re building yourself. Step by step. It’s not about one big break, but many little breaks that hopefully add up to more.
Your hardest core fans are crazy, so be wary of feeding them. There are too many Rupert Pupkins out there, and most people have no idea who Rupert Pupkin was. If it happened in the twentieth century, it’s deep history, most of it unknown.
Awards won’t keep you warm at night, and they won’t increase your bank account. People don’t watch the shows and they don’t care.
It’s a sexist business. But it’s a conundrum, because so much successful music is based on sex.
Black culture rules. This is a touchy subject, but Black music has traditionally represented the underclass, which is less invested in traditional tropes and is willing to innovate and test limits because there is less to lose. Now everybody is poor, everybody is frustrated, everybody is looking for a way up, and Black culture leads the way. Unfortunately, these same Black people leading the culture are not rewarded with executive positions because the white people on Wall Street, which own these companies, are racist and scared of losing control of the store. They want to hire on criteria that no longer apply. They care more about where you went to school than whether you can get the job done. Are there exceptions, you bet! But never forget a huge percentage of Americans are threatened by the increasing population of people of color, and they are doing their best to keep their fingers in the dike. Meanwhile, their children are all rapping. How to make sense of it? You can’t!
The basics never change, it’s about the song.
If you want to have a hit write a song with melody, changes and have it sung by a great voice. Sounds simple, but very few can do this.
Voice competitions are TV shows, not music industry markets. We want to hear what you have to say more than we care about how you can sing. Write your own songs and the quality of your voice is less important, but if you’ve also got a great voice you’re closer to success.
It doesn’t have to be loud to be successful.
Spamming people doesn’t work, it only pisses them off, the road to success is an organic journey that can rarely be pumped.
Streaming and the road are oftentimes separate avenues. The road is about catalog, streaming is about of the moment. Then again, if you string together a few of the moment cuts you can sell out arenas, but don’t plan on playing the big rooms shortly thereafter.
Some of the biggest acts have no hits. Can you say Lady Gaga? Prior to “A Star is Born” she was on a long cold streak. She’s back there again. But because there are so few hit acts with her level of mindshare today, she continues to be focused on. The machine needs fodder, and there’s less A-level fodder than ever before.
Producers are creators, oftentimes more important than the act itself, can you say “Max Martin”? Proving if you’ve got the chops, if you can write a hit song, you can work forever. It’s more about the song than the sound.
Recordings service the youth. Oldster word of mouth moves much more slowly and it oftentimes focuses on live. And now millennials are oldsters.
Don’t complain concert attendees are using their phones. You’re selling an experience more than music; the music is just the enticement for a public gathering.
Documentation is everything, not only for concertgoers, but acts. Complete set lists and more documentation of each and every show, all activities of the act, are crucial to an act’s success. Don’t hire a PR person, hire a documentarian!
TikTok is about the audience, not the act. Remember this. Service the creators, not yourself. And if you don’t make youth music, you can successfully ignore TikTok all together. But don’t ignore Instagram!
Don’t make hip-hop? Go to Nashville, that’s where all the players are. Radio is losing control of country music, and therefore the country music landscape is widening. Today, country means guitars and trucks and families. You can start with the guitars and ignore the rest and still make inroads. It’s an open highway.
It’s a long way to the top if you want to make it. Bo Burnham had been doing it for fifteen years before his big Netflix breakthrough. You’ve got to pay your dues, and along the way you’ll be singing a lot of blues. If you’re fourteen and envision success…maybe you can have a hit, but you almost definitely won’t have a career.
There’s no adult version of Disney. So, Miley Cyrus and Olivia Rodrigo came up through the Disney system…Warren Haynes did not. If you’re a player, you’ve got to practice, you’ve got to find your way, it’s going to be a long journey.
Music is not an automatic road to riches, you’re lucky if you can give up your day job. The power in music is the attention, the ability to change people’s minds/viewpoints, if you want to make bank finish college and work for the Fortune 500.