I guess if you could define success, the answer may be different for you than it is for me. In the music business the definition of success is open for debate. Most musicians share the dream of “making it” but what does that mean exactly? In the good ol days if you had a record deal then you knew you hit the big time; today there is a very small percentage of emerging artists that can get a recording contract good enough to quit their day jobs and make a lasting career out of it.
If you are not top 40 material then you might as well forget about approaching the major record labels, unless you are willing to sacrifice some or all of your artistic integrity. But what about the indie labels? Well I have much more respect for a label that allows the artist to be just that, an artist. The downside is that many independent labels can not compete with the “Big 4” when it comes to buying their artists’ way into the spotlight. There is only so much spotlight to go around and the major labels have been hogging it forever because they can afford to do so.
The good news is that the internet provides a new way to get exposure and possibly be discovered. The bad news is that the internet is flooded, so it’s tough to get the plays your band desires when no one knows that you are there. When you decide to D.I.Y., you must be willing to put forth the hours to help spread the word that you actually exist, otherwise you’re nothing more than an unnoticed tumble weed rolling through a crowded city center.
Downloading music has changed the industry entirely. This has helped and hurt musicians at the same time. Fewer people are buying full length albums now because very often they are buying songs individually or not buying the music at all. Streaming music for free is also an option nowadays which gives fans another option to listen without buying. When Metallica took a stance against illegal music downloading many fans got upset but what about new music acts that don’t have 30 years of album sales to use as a cushion? How will these artists survive?
If you still want to pursue a career in music D.I.Y. style then you will need to take some necessary steps.
1). You will need to put some money into your music act, there’s no getting around it
2). You will need to give away music for free to get exposure (no one will buy if they haven’t heard your music)
3). You will need to promote the hell out of your music on social media and other websites
4). You will need help from friends to spread the word about you online and offline
5) You should form alliances with other musicians and help each other out with promotions
6) Don’t rely on venues, booking agents or other bands to promote your shows
7) And most importantly, don’t suck!
Will you get discovered?
Will you become successful?
Who the hell knows? But if you think like me then you will be a successful musician if you’ve touched someone’s soul with a song (and not just your mom’s).