There’s an old music saying
“It takes ten years to become am overnight success”
In creating the Music for Head and Heart platform I have had the privilege to talk to a wide range of musicians from enthusiastic beginners to seasoned professional artists. What has really struck me is that for any artist to achieve any kind of success (this will mean very different things to different people, the musician needs to have a good work ethic and be prepared to put in the time needed to develop skills as well as music promotion.
I remember listening to a Robert Fripp audiobook where he talked about his early days in music where he was still working as an estate agent during the day and would then travel to a gig in London, arrive back in the early hours and then start his day job that paid the bills! Tom Verlaine the brilliant guitarist who fronted the band Television, was still working part time in a book shop even when his classic album “Marquee Moon” was released. Both these artists were invested in their work and appreciated that there was no magic wand that would take them to the next level.
Balancing time and money
I’ve blogged about this before, but I’m increasingly aware that balancing time and money is crucial from most performers. I remember one niche festival that would pay a band 100 pounds to play a 20 minute set on the main stage. In contrast I had the same band paid 1800 plus flights and hotels to pay similar sized festival stage overseas. I’m currently offering my thoughts to a festival that is truly seeking to break the mold and create an experience for the public and artists alike that is not just a recycling of the same “safe formula” but is genuinely exploring new territory.
Many artists will fall into the “playing for exposure” trap and discover that its really tough to earn any kind of living. Of course everyone has to start somewhere and its highly optimistic to expect people to pay for entertainment that is not of a high standard. I’ve witnessed some superb performers playing to very small audiences and when I book artists I always do my very best to look after them.
Its very easy to be extremely busy, but non productive. The key is to have a strategy that focuses on the best use of time and money and to really pay attention to what works best. Overexposure is as much a problem as underexposure. The most successful artists find a balance that works best for them. I interviewed a world famous singer once who commented about how crucial it was to remain on the radar. Releasing a single every few years without other exposure isn’t going to cut it. Its like having your egg in one basket! Any music promotion requires focus, time and money.
This means ongoing work and “playing the long game” with exceptional attention to detail and a great work ethic. Many people from what I see and hear, don’t have the stamina for such a task
Attention to detail
Some artists are very focused and keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities. Others spectacularly snatch failure from the jaws of success! This often occurs when they are not looking at a wider picture. I’m recently booking for a major festival and approached some artists who didn’t seize an opportunity in case they got an offer to play at a smaller festival they were familiar with. Of course its 100% their right, but what amazes me is that they don’t explore to see what’s on offer and miss a trick.
Building social media online is also essential to reaching a wider audience. A performer recently mentioned releasing some material and was understandably excited about the prospect. I’ve been keeping an eye out online expecting a social media crank up, but a week away from a single launch there is NOTHING! No online increase in presence, no gigs planned and all social media followers are totally static.
Any kind of promotion in business requires time and money. The key is to know what to invest in and how to invest. Its really easy to burn money and time if you are not careful. These days there are all manner of outlets for music promotion and music promotion options that are affordable. More than ever its about perception. Whether we like it or not, festival/gig bookers and the media look at numbers of YouTube views, social media followers and Twitter stats. I wish this was not the case, but that’s the reality we live in. One thing is certain, a strong work ethic is essential to create any kind of success in whatever way you define it.