There are few things more exciting for a musician than sharing new work with the world for the first time. After months or even years spent working on something like a full-length album, musicians distribute their new work to the masses with the hope that their music will become something special and known to new audiences. Sadly, this hope is being realized less and less in 2019.
The biggest reason most new music falls through the cracks today is because of rampant, unchecked saturation. As music continues to live more and more in digital spaces, it’s becoming a whole lot cheaper to share than it used to be. Rather than having to be signed to a label or spending thousands to self-release physical albums or vinyl records, artists can now share their work inexpensively or even for free on some digital platforms. This shift is a double-edged sword for musicians. It’s never been easier to put music in front of people, but there’s no more music being made than audiences can possibly listen to.
The process of recording and producing music has also gotten a whole lot cheaper and easier. In 2019, it’s completely possible to record music from your bedroom that will get heard by millions of people, but a much more likely scenario is putting out self-produced and recorded work that never finds an audience.
How to cut through the noise to find an audience in today’s competitive music climate
It’s incredibly tough for new and established artists to find listeners today, but it can absolutely happen. Your best shot at connecting with audiences in this brutally complex and competitive music climate is to make great music. There’s so much incredible new music being made that audience tastes and expectations are pickier than ever. But sadly, putting out solid music is no guarantee that your work will be heard today.
Promoting your work, whether through DIY efforts or launching professional PR and radio campaigns, will boost your chances of finding an audience considerably, but there’s still no easy way to capture listener attention today. The money that many artists used to invest in recording and producing is now being directed towards promotion. PR and radio campaigns can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and DIY promotion tactics like pitching to playlist curators or blogs can can take the resources of a full-time job without producing any meaningful results.
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to connecting music with audiences today, but that’s always been the case in music. What’s changed is that there’s more new music now than there’s ever been. It can be crushing to pour money and love and time into a project that never gets heard, but that’s a potential reality all musicians today face. The remedy for this is what it’s always been: do everything in your power to create great music, try to make sure it has it’s best chance at being discovered, and keep trying.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.