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What You Could Be Doing Yourself to Succeed In the Music Business

Updated on October 26, 2012

A Perfect Example

I just watched a commercial on Hulu from Google about a father who wanted to write a book for his son. When he tried to get it published he was turned down by all whose job it was to publish books. So he Goggled on how to self publish and he published a copy for his son. This story is a perfect example of what I myself want to accomplish with my music. It begins with thinking outside of the box, and realizing what can be accomplished by doing for yourself, what you can not get others to do for you even though it is their job to do just that very thing for people. I believe that this concept can be applied to music, art, books, film, or any sort of venture where you are trying to share ideas with others but can't get the businesses or people who's job it is to market, publicize, produce, and distribute. I believe the future of how to accomplish your goals artistically can be met with creativity and outside of the box thinking.

Do you really need a record company or recording contract to publicize your music and reach a world wide audience or can it be done independently

Possibilities for Reaching Your Audience - A New Paradigm

Collecting Feedback

The main idea here is that you first build your audience, from there you can analyze whatever feed back you get from your audience as you would by other's commenting on your topic. You keep a note book with all these suggestion and feed back that you have gathered and from there you can begin to strategize how you can approach you particular business model that helps you achieve your goal.

Record companies do provide the machinery and the funding to get artist 
recognized, and yes many have been doing so for decades. I am not saying don't sign with a record company and try doing it all 
yourself. But getting a recording contract with a record company can be just as daunting and difficult as getting a hit record. Many artists are turned away because they don't fit 
the image profile that many record companies choose to pursue or their talent is 
not recognized for what it is by some executive at a record company for its 
possible potential. Some are misunderstood completely and are redirected 
from the very thing that makes them who they are and what they represent. Many have suffered from being on a big label and not having received the 
proper attention needed to guide them to success. Many artist and musicians 
will tell tales that sound like nightmares about their dealings with record 
companies like the example portrayed in Paul Simon’s movie "One Trick Pony" 
or Michael Pare's "Eddie and the Cruisers"

 or Robert Townsend's "The Five Heart Beats."

The Real World

These are all real world scenarios that happen all the time in the 
business. But my real point that I am trying to convey is that the music business paradigm 
has been changing for quite some time now, and I am simply pointing to what can be done in the future of the business by 
individuals themselves to get the needed exposure by doing and not simply dreaming. These are just thoughts and in some cases actions that I am putting forth 
to be considered by whom ever thinks that this approach might work for them. Who is to say what art is, who is to say what the next hit song is, or who 
is to say who the next big artist is...

Like Bob Marley says in his song "Wake Up and Live"
"Don't bury your 
thoughts, put your dreams to reality"

Be Happy in Your Work

I am simply saying trying thinking and acting, outside the box, it doesn't cost you anything for trying something new while you reach for the star’s, and in the end isn't all about doing the things that make you happy. Want to be successful in business, do something that makes you happy. Whistle while you work.

I just wanted to add that getting to be on that unbelievable concert that makes you shine may simply be just a matter of being invited to play at some venue and having that break through performance. And sometimes getting that round the clock airplay on radio or MTV can result from public demand and not always cause you have bought your way into the program directors playlist.

Psychological Branding

Lots of songs are hated by the audience that it’s being directed at, but become hits because of the repetitious hourly airplay it gets. In other words it becomes a hit not because it’s good, but because it gets subliminally branded into peoples psyches. If that the route you want to take to success, by all means go for it. But I don't want my great song to be stopped simply because I don't have the finances to get the program director's palm greased to include me in the airplay rotation. 

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer had to once go and threaten a Radio Station Disc Jockey to play their music on RJR Radio Jamaica so that it would be included in the stations playlist. True story as recalled by Bunny Wailer about the early days of the Wailers band.

The Importance of Education

Most community colleges and private schools like Full Sail, Berkeley, Juilliard, and MIT that have music programs also offer classes on the business of music. I had to take two semesters of a music business class while getting my degree in music technology at Long Beach City College. I have a degree certificate for Record Producer and Recording Engineer From LBCC. 

I got to meet industry professionals like an engineer that worked for recording artist Maxwell reproducing his studio vocals for his live performances on stage. I got to meet songwriter / drummer Wayne Vaughan, who's wife was a singer with the vocal group the Emotions who were part of the Earth, Wind, and Fire family, and produced by them also for their solo material, Vaughan co-wrote the song "Let's Groove Tonight," a top ten hit for EWF. And in that same class I got to meet and talk to Bill Withers about his music career, how he got started and issues he faced in his music career. 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is while you can make an effort to DIY, that doesn't mean you don't need to seek advice or education along the way to success. In fact it's absolutely essential that you get as much info And technical advice and training to succeed in the business. 

Billy Joel has taken to going on speaking engagements to explain and answer questions about what it takes to be in the business. Prince toured for a whole year on his Musicology tour expressing the importance of knowing your craft to many school age students. No one is just born knowing what to do, it’s all a learning experience and it always has been. So I agree you have to have a KEEN EYE on the nature of your affairs and what is going on out there in the world.

This is the true nature of success. The thing is to connect with people first and foremost. 
If you build on it, success will come.


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