Written by Omari MC
The older I get, the more I realize people really aren’t too fond of the truth. As kids most of us are always taught to tell the truth, don’t lie, cheat, or steal. (I’m sure these sound familiar)
Now that I’m older I try to see things for how they really are. I realize that not only should we tell the truth 100% of the time, but we should not withhold the truth from anyone in an effort to ‘not hurt their feelings’.
There are certain truths when it comes to the music industry that just need to be said. (Especially the independent music scene)
Is this a controversial topic? You bet. My readers don’t need me to sugarcoat the truth. No person who truly intends to do good covers up reality.
So here goes 7 ugly truths behind the independent music scene.
1. YOUR SHORT ATTENTION SPAN
Most artists reading this won’t even make it to the end of the article, and at the same time I’m supposed to believe from all the emails I get that people are sooo serious about their music.
Let’s just uncover this ugly truth right off the bat, not everyone who tries to claim they’re an ‘artist’, ‘producer’ or ‘DJ’ is really that serious about their music.
Even the talented people just let opportunities walk right past them and don’t think twice about it.
I feel like yelling sometimes, “WAKE UP!! Don’t you know every second that passes by is another one you’re not a full time music artist.”
That should be killing you inside. I know it did for me. I literally couldn’t wait to quit my 9-5 to pursue my music career.
I think one of my problems is that I compare everyone’s passion for music to mine. Whenever I was presented with an opportunity to intern at Engine Room Audio in Manhattan for no pay an entire Summer I jumped at the chance.
Engine Room Audio in NY
I didn’t care if I had to starve an entire Summer because I wasn’t making any money, I knew that my labor would prove fruitful some day. (Lost a good 15 lbs in a just over a month that Summer by the way)
I didn’t care if I had to live in uncomfortable conditions, or if I was going to have to cut off my window unit to save on power. I made no excuse for myself.
The ugly truth is starvation is often an artist’s best friend, but most think they’re starving when they’re just a little bit hungry.
For example, I literally take all my knowledge of building a career and give it out in an over-the-shoulder, step-by-step course where artists can save years of headaches and build a successful independent music career (and hand it out for under twenty bucks.)
The fraction of supposed serious artists who take me up on the offer is embarrassing to say the least.
I had run into situations like this before (more below). I’m well aware not everyone is equally serious about their music, but I did think I’d see more people even attempt to give a crap about learning how to actually build their career.
However, I still continue to offer it because I know there’s always a small fraction of people who are just as starving as I was that Summer in NY.
2. STOP POINTING FINGERS
Back when I was in college I went to a music event that my school was sponsoring. They had a couple people who worked in the field come speak to us about ways to further our music career.
Honestly, the information they gave was very generic from what I can remember.
The biggest takeaway I got from going was most people who say they want a full time career in music are completely full of crap. I’ll explain…
In college I was actually making some moves with my music. I was paying my bills and even got one of my songs placed on VH1 back in the day. I was a music feign. I thought everybody was just as serious as me when it came to music, so I was pushing even harder to be at the top of my game.
COMPLETELY WRONG! After the event I was ready to take initiative and network with my fellow classmates to start collaborating. I took down everyone’s email address (about 20) who said they were willing to work and sent an email out THAT NIGHT explaining how eager I was to get to work.
You know how many people responded to me at all? 2.
You know how many actually followed up with the work? 0. A big goose egg.
And not to sound like a jerk, but I probably had the most music opportunities out of anyone I was emailing. Not because I’m more talented, but because of the shear laziness and procrastination that plagues the solid majority of independent artists today. Done Putting Off Your Music Career Yet?
3. IT’S NOT WHO YOU KNOW, IT’S WHAT YOU KNOW
No, you do not need better management.
No, you do not need a record label.
No, you do not need some radio or blogger to pick up your music.
These things have the possibility of helping, but they are ALL based on someone else’s abilities. Not yours.
The only way they know accurately is the (low success percentage) major label route.
The cold truth is the chances of you finding someone to catapult you to success are so small it’s not worth going that route either.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about wanting to reach a lot of people with your music, but the ugly truth is the approach over 99% of aspiring artists are taking to the industry is completely screwed up.
4. A FOOL WITH MONEY IS ALREADY POOR
The ugly truth behind money in the music industry is that it doesn’t cost as much as you think.
If most people had more money for their music career they wouldn’t even know the right way to spend it.
Don’t believe me? Tell me you weren’t thinking some of these…
“I’d go get a radio campaign if I had more money.”
“I’d hit the bloggers up and get them to feature my track.”
“I’d have more money to go record and get the best quality production.”
Then what? Then you HOPE that the song you made will get enough spins and will hit the tipping point for you to get a top single.
The fact is, if you’re not using your money wisely for your music now it’s not going to make much difference if you had more.
The ugly truth is your funds are not the the problem. Your lack of knowledge and unwillingness to take action are the problem. (Yes, this one is blunt, and no I’m not apologizing because I’m trying to save careers here and someone needs to help artists with the truth)
5. TIME TO SELL OUT (NOT YET)
The only ugly truth here is that artists don’t know where to go to get targeted traffic for their music.
Yes, people still listen to WHATEVER genre of music you make. There’s 7 freakin billion people in the world. You’re telling me there’s not a way for you to reach a ton of these people with the internet?
You don’t have to ‘sell out’ to start seeing an income from your music.
It is true that a lot of commercial stuff gets played on the radio, but there’s so many other ways to make money from your music that you simply have not acted on yet.
It is not the people’s fault. It is a lack of marketing knowledge that you’re not taking advantage of that you can easily acquire.
6. SPOTIFY IS KEEPING ALL MY MONEY!
Spotify can cut your album sales, but it can also grow your fan base.
Streaming services like Spotify don’t necessarily shrink your income if you know how to leverage your fan base with some direct marketing.
The ugly truth behind this problem is that artists have not taken the time to learn how to use some simple marketing techniques to gain more income.
Spotify is a great service and is not to blame for the vast lack of knowledge independent artists have about properly marketing themselves.
7. OK, I’LL GET ON THIS TOMORROW
Let’s get one thing straight. If I actually want to go and do something I’ll do anything in my power to make it happen.
And if I really want it badly enough I’ll start making moves on it today.
The music industry is not going under and there’s always going to be people who love listening to music.
In fact, there’s people out there right now who would probably love your music, but they’ve never heard of you because you keep putting off taking action for your music career.
You keep putting things above it and making excuses for why you can’t do it because it’s not truly a focal point for your life just yet.
The ugly truth is that you likely could have started learning how build a successful music career yourself by now, but you let other things get in the way. Done Putting Off Your Music Career Yet?