THE RICH GET RICHER AND THE POOR GET POORER
This is what the internet has wrought, people flock to the popular. In a sea of chaos, you migrate to what is anointed. Therefore, Drake rules and your rock band is unknown.
For those not rich it’s important to do an attitudinal reset. Try not to get rich, try not to be a household name, focus on your fanbase, extract cash from it and depend upon these fans to spread the word and grow your audience and career. Don’t e-mail unsolicited songs to “tastemakers” and “gatekeepers,” it’s a complete waste of time. Don’t hire a publicity person. Don’t do anything but make music and post it online. And if you want to throw in some social media efforts to fan the flame of fandom, that’s good too. Bond with your audience, know who your fans are, not only with an e-mail list, but saying hi at shows. Fans will be there and do anything for you, don’t be afraid to ask. But don’t be tempted into thinking you’re just a step away from stardom, you’re not. But there’s plenty of money to be made. Instead of bitching about streaming payments, be thrilled that everybody can hear your music for free if they choose to. Chances are in the old, pre-internet era, you wouldn’t have a career at all. Play live. This is where the money is made and the fan relationship is cemented. You can make a ton of money being a semi-known. And if trends turn, there’s a chance it could be your turn for stardom, but don’t count on it.
THE MONEY IS ON THE ROAD
You can make and distribute a record without Universal, but you can’t tour without a promoter, most notably Live Nation and AEG. Michael Rapino and Jay Marciano are much more important than Lucian Grainge it’s just that the media has not caught up with this fact. The story has been about the loss of recording revenue and the recent rebound as a result of streaming, meanwhile live has been burgeoning for decades. Furthermore, live is a one of a kind experience in a digitally replicated world, it’s the difference between having sex with a significant other and masturbating to porn online. And, once you’ve made it, the promoter gives you all of the gate, whereas the label owns your recording, pays a low royalty and screws you on the payment thereof. Expect continued disruption in the recorded music space. The majors’ power is in radio and TV and newspapers, all of which mean less than ever before and will continue to shrink in power. You do need a bank, you do need a team, but not necessarily the Big Three.
STREAMING IS HERE TO STAY
If you hear anybody bitching about Spotify, stop listening to them.
THE CHARTS ARE BROKEN
The only meaningful chart is the streaming one. The Nielsen chart in “Billboard” is a complete joke, factoring in sales, streams and album equivalents and… Future players will look at it like the incomprehensible Rosetta Stone. Then again, this ridiculous chart that counts ticket bundles serves the players, anybody can be number one for a week. But it’s like winning a Grammy, people instantly forget, if they even know. We will go to a pure streaming chart, but not soon enough.
What is it? A collection of songs? Up until the internet, the length of an album was determined by technology, it was limited. Now albums can be forever! Don’t tell me about needing an LP for reviews, reviews are meaningless, across the board, in music, television and movies, even politics! It’s about word of mouth. You want to satisfy two masters, yourself and your audience. You want to create enough to satisfy yourself and put out enough material to satisfy your audience. Fans want more material. Don’t think about satiating potential fans, satiate the ones you’ve got. Keep in constant contact so they know when you’ve got a new release. Do live stuff on YouTube, Matt Nathanson put out an EP of Def Leppard covers. You may not know, you may not care, but his fans do. Take risks. But don’t get locked into the old syndrome of ten tracks every other year.
It dominates, but it won’t forever, it’s just a matter of when. Hip-hop embraced streaming when rock rejected it. Hip-hop gave it away for free when rock was bitching it could not get paid. Hip-hop is today, rock is yesterday, but what is tomorrow? Know that melody and changes and a good voice never go out of style, NEVER! That’s your easiest route to success if you’re not a rapper. Do what you want to, what you feel inside, don’t follow trends, that’s for amateurs.
THIS BEAT IS KILLING COUNTRY MUSIC
Watch this video, all ten plus minutes of it. This evidences how lowest common denominator sounds are killing popular music. Grady Smith calls it “snaps.” I call it an electronic sound that debuted in the eighties and was quickly superseded, kinda like synth solos, which Elton John and Keith Emerson employed and then abandoned, or maybe synth drums! This is what makes experienced listeners lament the quality of today’s music.