By now, most artists reading our blog have understood that it is better to be the king of your garden than to be the gardener of the king. For those who didn’t grasp the allegory, it is better to have a million streams as an indie artist than 10 as a signed act. However, there are some barely-ever-discussed truths about the music business that need to be laid out and read out loud at least once in a lifetime for they will give you both comfort and a kick in the ass about the cold reality engulfing the industry. Feeling like a tough guy? By all means, read on then!
10. Your music will be forgotten.
Although very important in nature, there will come a time (even if you made it and have millions of fans across the world) when your songs will entirely pass into anonimity. Times change, people change, sounds change, and there are many songs from the 1920s that only a hundred years later we don’t even know the existence of anymore. There’s a reason why all music becomes public domain after 70 years since the author’s death.
9. Everybody is looking out for themselves.
Cue Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B and Nicki Minaj triangle. Don’t get us wrong, all three female rappers are incredibly influential and important in today’s music business, but we do have to acknowledge the fact that Meghan seems to conveniently jump lanes to expand her fanbase and reach out more listeners even if that means working with the nemesis of another artist she worked with not too long ago.
8. Your personal beliefs, if expressed too loud, can stunt your career growth.
We won’t even count all the artists who fell out of favor with the public after openly supporting certain political candidates. A-listers who fought for peculiar causes also suffered major setbacks and blackballing from the music industry.
7. A lot, if not most, of the material supporting your novel art will have to come out of pocket.
Because nobody likes risking real dollars for an idea that’s only in your head. Whether we’re talking about an uncommon music video idea, a peculiar production style, or unusual songwriting methods, any form of art that is truly new and rule-bending must usually be supported entirely by the artist creating it. Even the big stars have faced numerous rejections from their label bosses regarding their revolutionary music albums and abstract marketing plans.
6. It will be many years before you can live off your music full-time.
For branding reasons, musicians are not allowed to share just how much they struggled before they made it. They are supposed to come off as these half-human half-god beings who do everything effortlessly in order to make the average person fall line, hook, and sinker for whatever they have to sell. In reality, unless born in an already well-connected family, it takes over a decade to break the glass ceiling of the struggling musician.
5. For truly efficient marketing, you must plan your releases years in advance.
Did you know on average the songs you’re hearing were created a whopping two years ago? If one is truly bold and entrusted by their management team, they may be able to push out a project born a year ago. This occurs for many reasons. Every release is planned to fit a certain trajectory the artist must follow to maximize the return on investment. And to fit that trajectory, you must plan for it years in advance.
4. Your ‘haters’ are actually the only honest voices you can trust once you cross into mainstream land.
Because you’ve become much more than a musician, because you’re a brand, now people and talent for hire want the association with you for their own interest and purposes. They will tell you your songs are banging even when they are half-assed. There comes a time when the artist can entirely lose objectivity toward the music they’re creating if they’re not aware of the psychological biases that take place in the minds of those around them due to success and popularity. So when you do get to that sweet spot in your career, go read the comment section on YouTube and criticism-filled threads on Reddit. Many avid haters are former loving fans.
3. You will lose your direction if you don’t have a strong identity.
Because the more momentum you gain, the more people knock on your door. If you don’t know what your brand will do and won’t do, you will agree to collaborate with ‘meh’ artists and end up feeling ‘blah’ about your past releases while the time passes and the fame wanes. Know who you are before aiming for the top of the cliff. You will only have a few safe ropes to use to come down from and only that many people you can help.
2. You will write way more songs than you think.
And only a small portion of those will ever get to see the light of day. The more experience you get, the more you understand not every lyric is supposed to get published and not every song will be a hit worth of a music video. But if you stop writing, you lose that ability to do magic with words. So, like all the other veterans in the business, you will have notebooks upon notebooks filled with lyrics and only some will make it to the recording booth.
1. You must enjoy the process for the public successes are few.
If you aim for Grammy awards and MTV nominations to quantify your level of success, you’re better off quitting now. As an indie artist, you truly are against the world and while there is a chance you might make it to that level, it is very, very slim and life is very, very short. You must LOVE writing, recording, networking, performing, and even studying taxes and marketing. You must work a lot and work hard and MAYBE one day the world will take notice at a global level. But if they don’t, at least you will have lived a life doing what you most loved.
Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2023
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