As a kid growing up in the ‘90s, all I wanted was to be a rockstar, have my music played on the radio, and make killer music videos for MTV.
That’s what the music industry promised to provide the lucky artists and bands who got signed. My how things have changed.
If you’re an artist or band trying to get your music out to the world (or even make a living) then you need to play by the new rules.
Gone are the old days of the music industry where you would hope to get signed to a label and then become a star (i.e. everything would be done for you).
Today you need to view yourself (and your music) through the lens of three very important truths. I call them the new rules of the music industry, and those who play by them will succeed.
Rule #1 - You Are A Brand
No longer are you simply a musician or artist. You are a brand. Knowing this distinction is critical to gaining traction and growing your fanbase.
The word “brand” can come with a negative connotation for all the creatives and artists reading this but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Being a brand as an artist simply means that you need to learn the art of promotion and entrepreneurship. You basically have to become a business person.
Because music is still a business. Always has been. Always will be.
It’s just that in the “old days” the business was handled for you by other people. Namely your label and their team.
Someone still has to promote your music - these days that someone is you!
Rule #2 - You Are A Content Creator
The key to good promotion is to remember that we live in an age of content consumption.
Whether it’s binge watching on Netflix or reading blog after blog, people these days want to consume content and they want lots of it.
Your job as an artist is to give your fans a steady diet of content related to you and your brand.
What could this content be?
For starters, your music. This is the obvious one. Share your latest single or music video. Great.
But there is so much more you can do.
Why not share videos of you in the songwriting process? Or in the studio recording your latest album? Or snap some footage from your phone on stage?
Do live Q&As with your fans. Talk about what you do for fun OTHER than music.
Whatever it is, share something about you, your music, and your life. Your fans will love it and appreciate it.
And here’s the key - to stay relevant in today’s world you must stay top of mind. You do this by creating regular bits of content - rather than only releasing an album or EP once a year or every other year.
View yourself as a content creator and not just a musician and you’ll be in good shape.
Rule #3 - Don’t Try To Be Perfect
When I was growing up, all the bands I loved had perfect everything. Perfect-sounding albums, perfect-looking music videos, and perfect writeups in magazines.
They were always presented as polished and untouchable.
The problem with perfect though is that it holds many artists back from simply finishing new music or sharing a piece of content. This is a big no-no.
Granted we don’t want to share crap - not at all. We simply want to be authentic and real, sharing our best stuff as best as we can.
There’s a point at which your recordings as an artist will only be but so good. They won’t be perfect. Release them anyway and move on to the next project.
Ironically this is how you improve as an artist!
The age of glossy perfection is coming to an end for most artists. My generation (the millennials) prefer the raw, authentic you - so give it to them!
Will You Play By The Rules?
I still love the idea of becoming a rockstar and being able to focus purely on the art and craft of my music while other people do all the hard work of promoting me and growing my fan base.
But the old rules don’t apply anymore. It’s a brave new world and those who play be these new rules will be the ones who build longevity and be rewarded with the chance to continue to make the music they love
Are you an artist or musician looking to make your music sound as good as the stuff you hear on the radio? Check out all the free resources here to take the quality of your recordings up a few notches!