5 Things We Can't Change in the Music Industry...

DON'T ALLOW THE MUSIC BUSINESS TO BURN YOU OUT... Below is a list of 5 things we need to come to terms with in order to focus on our real work. This is not saying these things don’t suck and aren’t very real hurdles; let’s just stop throwing our hands up and commiserating. Lets get our hands dirty, use these factors to creatively get what we need, and move forward.

The reality is there's a ton of crap that may stand in our way as musicians, and we need to find ways to use them to our advantage.

We have to remember this industry is not meant to be fair. There is no scale at which to measure what a “fair” deal is, and you get what you fight for.

Nepotism. Defined as “favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those with power or influence,” nepotism is a real thing that affects a lot of decisions this industry makes. This industry is as loose in rules as they come.

There is no certificate or license required to work in the music business. There is no fear of losing your "musicians" license if you don’t obey rules. We are governed by ourselves in this industry and by how far we are willing to go.

Let’s be honest, how else do you make decisions? You entrust those you like, or those who have helped you out in the past, with opportunities. You trust that your goodwill will come back to you when you make those decisions strategically. This is normal, and is often the way our business works.

Embrace nepotism. Use it to your advantage and befriend everyone. Take the time to invest in relationships so they reward you in years to come. It’s a two way street. Have others’ backs and they will have yours when you need it.

If you want something and you don’t have the connection to back it up or make it happen? Learn how to manoeuvre around it, and prove your value another way. Predict competitors’ decisions and intercept them. Speak to their needs and desires. Nepotism may still beat you out, but you may be surprised once in a while.

You’re never b**ching about nepotism when you’re on the receiving end of a nepotistic decision, right? So get on the right side of the game.

Enough about the annoying moving pieces. Let’s just come to terms with the reality that things will likely never happen when you think they will and, if they do, something else will happen that disrupts the timeline anyways.

Get comfortable with it and make it work. There’s no use for fits or brawls when timelines shift. Just work hard, keep your head down, and don’t get your panties in a bunch.

Do your best to plan ahead, explain the benefits to keeping up with the timeline to those around you, but be flexible with change when it comes barreling down your path. It’s the way it will always be. That being said, depending on your business, “going with the flow” isn’t always the easiest. Find a way to clearly communicate needs, costs, etc. and do your best!

It’s here to stay. Artists aren’t getting paid much, but when it was a physical world, not as many new ears were discovering your music - so pennies are better than nothing. When you grow into a big and “valuable” artist, sell direct, do exclusive deals, and make BIG money; but when you’re just starting up the ranks, it’s in your best interest to get your music everywhere.

Look at streaming as a marketing opportunity. You deserve nothing and no one owes you. Yes you are special and talented, and that is worth something, but growth will come by building up your value. You can do that by being accessible and easy to work with.

Streaming is convenient and music fans are way in to it, so unless you can build a platform or tool that has the same power, and invest a lot of dollars in to marketing it, I suggest you get creative with finding revenue elsewhere. A few ideas: activate your core fan base by running direct-to-fan campaigns with great platforms like PledgeMusic, and strategize selling more tickets at higher prices through creative marketing and brand partnerships etc.

If there’s anything quickly learned working on festival teams its that things will always seem incredibly disorganized. Often, it can seem like there is no way this festival is going to come together, but somehow it always does.

The festival business is overworked and understaffed. There is a lot of information and usually not enough people to manage it. Be understanding, be patient and see how you can help. Raging about it is not going to change a darn thing!

We’re living in the age of emails. Learning how to manage reactive work vs. proactive work will be your secret weapon. Just because something is at the top of your inbox DOES NOT mean it is the most pressing thing for you to do at the moment for your clients career to move forward.

It may feel like 982 people are yelling at you in your inbox, just waiting for you to yell back, but this is not an excuse to lose sight of your career goals and the bigger picture. Don’t get trapped in your inbox every day, and fight to keep up with the things you want and need vs. the things others need of you.

The emails won’t stop, but the way you manage your day-to-day needs to. Here’s a great 99u article about managing reactionary workflow in today’s digital age: http://99u.com/articles/5902/beware-of-reactionary-workflow.

We should be happy so many people want to email us! It’s a sign you’re doing something right! It’s no excuse to be frantic and disorganized all day every day. Get on top of it and develop good systems.

Good luck, and thanks for reading.


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