How To Survive In Today’s Society

I’m a big fan of music. It’s been something that acts as a comfortable form of communication for me when I’m feeling excited, sad, happy, frustrated, and about another 100 emotions that come to the forefront. The record industry remains scared of their current business model imploding before their eyes.
Compact discs sales appear to be declining year after year, as more people enjoy storing thousands of songs on their portable Ipods and MP3 players, or just carrying around their catalog on a laptop hard drive. That doesn’t mean that people are listening to less music than ever. It just means they’re choosing to spend their money on other items more important to them: the live show, the merchandise, the specialized festivals.

How would you survive in today’s society with this business model? I think it’s important for musicians to realize that for that hour or two a night on stage, you need to put in solid time getting the word out about your band, establish worthwhile relationships and understand that you are competing against hundreds of thousands of bands the world over now. Bands who have access to the same free tools you do. Bands who are willing to spend the time creating bonds, sharing stories, exchanging face time with their fans.

It’s not enough to announce your website or myspace page from the stage 3 or 4 times. On regular club gigs where there are 4-5 bands a night, how would you expect the average club goer to remember your band name on first exposure, let alone keep your name on his or her mind by the time they go home?

Take the time to ask questions of your fans. You know they are already there for the social atmosphere, friends and music. Zig Ziglar mentions in many of his talks how ‘you can get anything you want if you help enough other people get what they want.’

The music industry became fractured when everyone was unwilling to work together and tried to use strong arm tactics to bring people to their knees. That’s as bad as trying to strike for higher wages at work. You build resentment and further fracture any sort of trust issue you may have established through the years.

I’m so happy that my friend’s band Ravage finally got the chance to sign a major independent deal with Metal Blade Records for their second album. 12 years into their career, the band members still keep a Do It Yourself philosophy when it comes to establishing credibility with their music and their followers. They share a love of the music with their fans, communicate through message forums, Myspace and chat regularly with journalists, radio disc jockeys and distributors across the world to keep their name and their music in the news.

You have to become a champion of your own brand. But it can’t be all about you. No one makes it in today’s society alone. Take a step back, look at what you can do for others and I think you’ll be surprised how much support you’ll gain in the long run.

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2 Responses to How To Survive In Today’s Society

  1. AtomicLola says:

    Very well written. I appreciate that you recognize the work bands need to put in to be competitive in the music industry. I think a lot of musicians go into things with the attitude that you just have to be talented and you will be worshiped. I think things are way to political in the music industry for something that is supposed to be artistic, connecting, spiritual or whatever else one might think of music as.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the “pay-to-play” policies going on with the festivals these days. I think it’s sick that bands have to shell out large sums of money out of their own pockets if they want to play a festival with a big name act.

    • msc2471 says:

      AtomicLola: Thank you for your insightful response. When it comes to “pay-to-play” policies in any way, shape or form, I’m highly outraged at what happens to these acts. Where I live, I’ve seen this policy not only instituted in festival settings (forcing bands to sell thousands of dollars of tickets to their friends, family and fans) but even for national touring act situations. Usually in the festival settings these acts will have to play an early morning or early afternoon slot, barely reaching the thousands in attendance when the bigger national and international acts take the stage. What’s been the worst I’ve seen is promoters promising local acts to play in front of a national headliner by selling a certain amount of tickets- but then when you arrive at the venue, learning that you will be going on a second stage that runs concurrent to the main show. If a promoter isn’t confident in his or her abilities to get the sales necessary to run the show based on the strength of the package of bands coming through, they need to work on their promotion skills and figure out better ways of providing value to the consumer to ensure the best turn out possible.

      I think musicians need to arm themselves with knowledge and education about what they are getting themselves into. More people than ever are into music at all ages, and with continuous learning the ones who keep taking steps forward to achieve their goals will be ahead of the people who think everyone else should take care of their band, their songs, and their business.

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