You don’t want to be everywhere.
Jam your product down people’s throats and a few looky-loos might become aware of it, but in truth you’re pissing off great swaths of the public, to your detriment. Today it’s all about credibility and longevity, despite the major labels focusing on cartoons like it’s still the heyday of MTV.
The truth is no one has universal market share today, and to try to force it is a fool’s errand. The issue isn’t so much that people don’t know, but that people don’t CARE! With so many opportunities that appeal to them more, they laugh and deride your endless promotion of stuff about which they care not a whit.
It’s the late sixties all over again. There’s a divide, just like there was with AM and FM. The Spotify Top 50 is AM, trying to appeal to the most people. But all the action is on FM, in the niches. We see demonstration of this at live shows. Guitars are dead on the Spotify Top 50, but when you go to the live show they’re everywhere! People want music that speaks to them, not only generic blather with a beat that is good to dance to. Stop going for the top, because there is none and your effort to get there, the push, the hype, will work against you as opposed to for you.
You want to last.
This is a completely different paradigm from becoming a business. Selling perfume and whisky and tchotchkes, bleeding your fans dry. This is the era when music shines. The more you go inside, the bigger you’ll become outside. If you’re busy telling everybody how great you are all over mainstream media, if I can’t click online without seeing an ad for your product, you’re doing it wrong.
It’s no longer the eighties. Which were a shock to those who’d lived through what had come before. Suddenly, there were no longer two scenes, maybe even three if you include late seventies disco, BUT ONE! That’s right, either you were on MTV or you were marginal. We had a monoculture. But the monoculture was blown apart in the twenty first century, it’s now all about the niches, to sign and promote, to want to be an act that appeals to everybody demonstrates that you either don’t care about the music or you’re compromised. If we hear about your lifestyle, where you were, what you did, you’re doing it wrong. Then you’re like a twentieth century movie star, playing a role, feeding the gossip rags.
And the truth is most people today have no idea who those faces in the gossip pages are. No way. And they don’t care!
Think about that, people DON’T CARE!
Every lauded production that is a must-see is not. Today’s public can miss anything. If it’s any good, they’ll catch up on it on demand online thereafter, but chances are if they weren’t interested the first time around they’re not going to bother, because they’d rather spend their time going deeper into their own interests.
If they hear it from you, you’re doing it wrong. They must hear it from your fans! It must be organic. It’s inherently slow. Don’t be impatient, you’re building a career, you’re going on an adventure, you’re not building a springboard to monetize elsewhere, you’re a musician, exploring your art.
And a musician can be very powerful, as long as they don’t abdicate their power to the machine.
Music, when done right, is truth. That’s your goal. Forget the flash, forget the hype, you’ve got to be authentic. That’s what the younger generations want most. Sure, they consume mindless crap, but some still listened to AM radio in the late sixties. Then again, many didn’t have access to FM, certainly not in the car. Today everybody has access to EVERYTHING! Don’t bitch about payments, just try to encourage repeats. That’s where the money is, with stuff that sticks. Which now more than ever is deep, not a novelty, something that comes from the heart, a statement, not something evanescent. If you’re tying in with Amazon and UPS, if your face is everywhere, the joke is on you, people are laughing behind your back.
We’re proud that we’re no longer a number. Today everybody is an individual and they’re predisposed to not want to be a member of the horde. You try to corral them at your peril. People have to come to you.
But you must be really damn good.
Sure, once you’ve got traction you can focus on social media, but before that, focus on the music! Look at Facebook. Misinformation spreads virally and as many people see it, most people never ever experience it. We’re not all in one big happy kumbaya tent in politics and we’re not in music. As a matter of fact, you can ignore the “Billboard” charts completely. The best metric is live, tickets and grosses. But not all shows charge the same price meaning… You’re on your own, buddy. It’s just you. And the truth is there’s a network of people hunting 24/7 for great new stuff. Believe me they’ll find it if you make it. Spamming them doesn’t work. Pros have their ear to the ground, they want to know what is happening. As for the industry rags, sold out to the labels, and the mainstream media, doing puff promotional pieces, ignore them completely, they’re on the downward swing. Really.
It happens gradually. And then you realize how big it is.
Then again, nobody today can wait. But the truth is it takes time to develop. And talk with the icons, they always say their initial songs sucked. You’ve got to jump through the hoops, there are no short cuts if you want to be an artist.
But if you want to be a star… There’s an entire apparatus that needs you to feed it. But they don’t need you, they just need somebody, and when you stop delivering hits you’re out of the news and nobody believes in you, nobody is bonded to you, you were high up the peak, now you’re not even in sight of the mountain.
We’re in the middle of the transition. The machine is too busy doing it the old way to recognize change. If your name is everywhere you’re nowhere, remember that.