Trying to make it as an artist in 2019 is, undeniably, and uphill battle. With saturated markets and pitiful streaming revenues, attempting to cultivate a successful career as musician can seem impossibly difficult. But what if viewing competition as a negative is the wrong approach? Here we look at what those working in the industry have to gain from a saturated market.
Guest post by Kevin Carthy of Music With Flavor
There’s a lot to be discouraged about for serious musicians working in 2019. Between low streaming payouts and a rapidly growing number of musicians fighting for the chance to put their music in front of audiences, trying to make a meaningful musical impact often seems like a losing battle. It’s safe to say that more music is being made and released today that at any other point in history, which represents an unprecedented amount of competition for the average musician. But rather than viewing competition as a complete negative, songwriters, producers, and performers have the opportunity to gain quite a bit from working in saturated markets.
Competition means that there is a market for what you are doing
For many independent artists, distributing music to the major streaming platforms feels a little like sending music off into a black hole. It’s clear that millions of people around the world are looking to streaming platforms to listen to music, but reaching them can seem impossible for unestablished musicians. The good news is that lots of competition is an indicator of a massive, constantly growing audience that’s hungry for new music. Finding and connecting with your unique audience is challenging, but in 2019, that audience has never been larger and more interested in hearing great new music.
You don’t have to please everyone to be successful
In 2019, the age of pop music’s utter domination is long behind us. Since making music aimed at pleasing the masses often ends up falling through the cracks and never meaningfully connecting with audiences, musicians now have more opportunities to create authentically and on their own terms than ever before. With a market this saturated, attempting to win everyone over is a losing strategy and a recipe for creating bland music. Artists can thrive today by identifying niche markets and creating in a way that directly resonates with unique markets. Rather than working to connect with broad audiences, artists can find success by creating work that inspires small but active groups of listeners.
Competition can make your music better
Bad or even just mediocre music rarely finds its way to large audiences in 2019. Loads of musical competition makes it harder to be heard, but it also raises the bar for audience expectations in a huge way. Instead of viewing this negatively, we should be inspired to create the absolute best work that we can to keep up. Musicians of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels from around the world are creating outstanding work and finding massive audiences for their music. Instead of feeling jealous or left out, we can let competition and the great music other artists are making motivate us in a powerful and actionable way.
More artists making music makes it easier to learn more about your audience’s wants and needs
Steep and widespread competition doesn’t just represent obstacles between you and your audience. It also provides helpful playbooks for learning who audiences are and how to best reach them. Rather than working alone, we have thousands of models to look to when it comes to figuring out how to best promote our work and find listeners. Learning from the competition is especially helpful for artists who excel at creating music but don’t know how to market their work.
Your music becomes easier to find––if it’s unique enough
To understand why musical markets have become so saturated, we have to look at things like the digitization of music and the spread of affordable music distribution and home recording technology. The digital streaming platforms that are ushering in the unprecedented amount of competition in music are also making it easier for artists to market their work to niche markets and get discovered through discovery formats and playlists. However, this only applies to artists who are making music that’s truly unique. Even if you intentionally brand your music as something geared towards unique audiences, platforms that are saturated with a constant stream of new music are getting better at making it easy for the right sorts of listeners to find you. Competition can transform into a powerful benefit when it comes to the ability to be grouped in and branded alongside unique artists that sound similar to you.
Discovering and leveraging the positive benefits of making music in 2019’s massively saturated and competitive music climate isn’t just a good idea. It’s essential for survival. It might seem like meaningful opportunities in music are hard to find, but if you look close enough you’ll see that there’s never been more ways to create great work and put it in front of listeners who will be interested in hearing it.