Like an interesting song, a music career requires a delicate balance of ideas. Not holding anything back when it comes to what you want to achieve through making music is essential, but not tapering expectations means opening yourself up for major disappointments over and over again. It’s a hard balance to strike, but maintaining a sky’s the limit outlook with an attitude that acknowledges the many harsh realities of being a serious musician in 2019 is something every music-maker needs to try to do.
When it comes to deciding what artists to work with on a PR campaign, there are a lot of factors that go into a publicist’s decision—contrary to popular belief a reputable PR agency will not just take the money of anyone who offers it to us and then blast out a press release and call it a day. True PR takes a lot of very purposeful, diligent work in building our relationships with press, strategizing the best methods and angles for each and every client’s needs and story, and creating a narrative that will entice and capture an audience of press, their readers, the band’s fans, and eventually, labels, festival promoters, and venue owners.
In 2019, there’s no shortage of ways to measure a musical artist’s success. Between public play counts and the growing private listener analytic data that streaming platforms now give to artists, musicians have ways to see how well their music performs in real-time. This unprecedented reality clearly brings artists some sizable benefits. For example, a small, unestablished band doesn’t have to fork over cash for an expensive radio campaign to learn what cities listen to their music the most because streaming platforms give away that information for free.
But there’s some significant drawbacks to consider in today’s data-driven, instantly gratified music culture. There are constant, unavoidable reminders of whether an artist is conventionally successful or if their music isn’t being heard. Drawing a connection to your self worth and whether your music is successful or not is a recipe for the sort of creative-killing frustration that can do serious damage to not only your career, but also your personal well-being.
Releasing an album, EP, or even a single the right way takes loads of planning and effort. First there’s the hard work of writing and recording music, and then there’s the tedious business of making sure your music gets heard through promotion efforts. But how can an artist stay productive during the inevitable downtime between releases? Try as you might, you can’t make music 100% of your waking life, but what you do with your time after a big music release will lay the creative foundation for your next musical endeavor. Here’s four tips for making your time between releases productive:
Being rejected can be a devastating experience. Most of the non-creative world associates rejection with unrequited love expressed as a teenager, or being passed over for a promotion at work. Rejection is painful, so it makes sense why most people avoid it at all costs. Musicians who are serious about creating meaningful work don’t have that luxury.
Creating and performing music leaves musicians vulnerable and tied to risk through things like playing shows in front of hostile crowds or getting nasty reviews. Unfortunately, you risk being rejected for your work each and every time you choose to share it. Learning to cope with rejection is crucial if you want to sustain a meaningful career in music. Here are three reasons why:
Whether you play in a 7-piece band or make music alone, musical relationships are crucial. From having access to opportunities and resources to simply having another person to talk to who knows what it’s like to be a serious musician, we need musical relationships to help us in our careers. But for as important as these relationships are, they often fall apart in spectacular fashion.
When I started making music seriously in my early twenties, I had an idea in my head that once musicians got to a certain level of success, they’d be able to focus purely on their music. Music promotion, finances, booking shows – I thought all the unpleasant grunt work of musical life could one day be handed over to managers, accountants, and record labels if I could just be successful enough. More than a decade later, I’m happier than ever making music and am nowhere near the point of being able to schlep off the non-musical duties of my music career off on someone else. Over the years, my views on what a musician’s role can or should be have changed completely. I now believe that musicians should care about the non-musical aspects of their careers, but not for the reasons you might think.
Things like expensive instruments and recording equipment can definitely improve your music career, but no amount of money can buy talent and an artist’s willingness to work. There are free and inexpensive things musicians have access to every day that they can be doing to change their careers in a huge way. Here are three of them: