By: Rick Baker, J.D.
May 3, 2018
To help original musical artists in a digitally revived 2018 music business, this is the first in a series of blog posts designed to help true originals advance their career in the music business. As a former Music Attorney for many years and in my current Music Business Consulting business, I teach lawyers and music industry professionals and now I’m going to share with you valuable tips that I’ve shared only with them.
My hope is that these knowledge bombs will open your eyes and ears and help you get into the proper mindset to approach your rewarding career in the music business.
Every time I ever met with a new original musical artist client, the very first question I would ask them is this: What is your goal as a musical act? The answer was usually the same. I want to get signed by a major recording label. At which point I would usually tell them “WRONG GOAL” and then explain why and what the real goal should be of any original musical act.
Artists and others in the music industry often forget what the real goal of being an original musical artist and having a lucrative and successful career is and what drives everything else that makes that possible…
You see, at the end of the day the entertainment business, whether it’s movies, television, music, video games, is all about Draw. In other words, it’s a competition for eyeballs and eardrums and yes, it is a popularity contest.
Now, I’m not talking about your music…I’m talking about what your goal should be if you want to be a successful original musical artist. And it’s all about the ability to draw people to see you perform your act live.
Here’s an example. Think of an artist like Bruce Springsteen. When it is announced that Bruce and the E Street Band is going to play 3 nights in a row at Madison Square Garden and it sells out in 30 minutes, that’s draw! BAM! And in the music business, that is power. It is earned over time, being honest in your songwriting, honing your ability to perform and take your audience on a memorable journey. In other words, to entertain them!
Here’s one to ponder:
Why do people even listen to music, or go to live shows, or watch or listen to any entertainment product?
This should be one of those “AH-HA” moments that should make see the forest from the trees. Take a step back from yourself and your act for a moment and really think about this. In the recent digital age, we have so many entertainment options we are truly overwhelmed.
The competition for eyeballs and eardrums (draw) has grown exponentially because of the Internet and smart phone accessibility so now more than ever, we decide what is worthy of our time by what we feel will enrich our lives and make them better. Isn’t this how you live now? We all want to save time and access the good stuff quickly.
Many aspiring musical artists think that if they just do their thing that some big entertainment company is going to just come along and make them an instant millionaire. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, that’s really the complete opposite of how it works.
If you really have the musical goods (songs & performance) then it becomes a promotional effort to increase draw and grow a fan base. If you can do this on any significant level, the big companies will find you should you want to go that route.
Do you think the deals will be better if you can show that you are already well on your way and people dig your music and your act? Of course they will. The majors simply have the budgets to advance that promotion and grow it exponentially.
Instead, you should be asking yourself, how good are your songs, how authentic and inspiring is your performance, in other words, have you got the goods? I know this isn’t an easy question to answer and self-examination is a tricky thing. It requires looking in the mirror and taking a hard look but every great artist goes through this process constantly.
I understand and respect any songwriter/performer that would write and perform because they just have to get it out of them and perform because it’s just who they are...and that's great! But I’m talking about the music business and in the big leagues, it’s about draw and social proof.
So look at it this way. If you really have that certain charisma and charm that resonates, if your songs are really good and people like them, then the recording and publishing revenue, merchandise revenue and bigger live shows and tours are all there waiting for you. It takes promotion and hard work but as with anything, it comes down to how badly you want it.
In my next article, I’ll share the four things that can make or break your original musical act. Comment, share and feel free to reach out and let's talk music business.
Rick Baker, B.S., J.D., former Music Attorney is a Music Business Consultant, Producer & Professional Guitarist and lives in Winter Park, Florida.