I listened to Ry Cooder’s new album. It doesn’t sound like anything else in the marketplace.
Then again he never did.
But back in the seventies you needed a major label to play, which he had, and he was the beneficiary of the Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders, double album samplers for two bucks. And with fewer records in the marketplace, he got press attention, although little airplay, and he built a career.
Today, today everybody’s chasing trends. In an era where the barrier to entry is low and there are so many media messages the consumer is overwhelmed.
What to do?
Run to the fringe!
Now this is not for the wannabe, this is not for the faint of heart, this is for the lifers, the truly dedicated who believe in themselves. Forget everything you’ve heard, all the metrics, the data, the social media hype, you’ve got to focus first and foremost on the music. It must sound DIFFERENT from everything else in the marketplace. Now, don’t change your sound to be different, you’ve got to be different to begin with, you’ve got to have a VISION, your time is NOW!
That’s right, if you’re experimenting, if you know where you want to go, if you don’t sound like the Top 40 or any radio format, this is your time, the people are hungry for you.
You see, today is the beginning of a burgeoning UNDERGROUND!
Don’t confuse this with the long tail. We’re not talking marginal niche. We’re talking something that could explode if everybody heard it. Which they won’t immediately, because that’s not how hype works. What we’re talking about is something that starts slow but burns hot. That gains adherents immediately. Passionate ones, who support you. Something that you only need to hear once, or maybe twice, to be converted. This was the Beatles. This was Queen. This was Hendrix. This was seemingly every legendary act of yore.
Whereas today we’re loaded up with Me Too acts.
If you’re easily classifiable, forget it, it’s about the UNCLASSIFIABLE!
And my goal here is not to inspire those who are nowhere, but to encourage those who feel defeated because they don’t fit in.
We lived in a monoculture in the MTV era. Before that we weren’t all listening to the same thing. And the irony is, now we’re not listening to the same thing anymore either. Despite all the Kanye hype, despite all the hype about Beyonce at Coachella, many people are not paying attention and don’t even know their music. As for the white rock acts, their audience is even smaller. And I’m not telling you the new left field music will be even bigger than they are, then again Hendrix was never on the Top 40, Bobby Sherman was much bigger.
You don’t create a new search engine. You don’t create a new social network. You don’t create a new shopping site. You don’t create a new dating site. BECAUSE THEY’VE ALREADY BEEN DONE! Why are you replicating the music that’s already out there? Business people don’t do this. Artists should be leaders. And just that, artists as opposed to business people. Artists test limits, go to unexplored areas, wait for the public to catch up with them, as opposed to being lowest common denominator trendmongers.
It can happen. And it will happen. It’s just a matter of when.