In contemplating writing about the music industry my thoughts meandered to the old Byrds tune about making it in the music business. Heavily laced with sarcasm and irony, it seems to point out that our modern day frustrations as musicians were no less appreciated in the burgeoning era of rock and roll. Perhaps we are more jaded by the instant celebrity of American Idol finalists or You tubers who seemingly become famous overnight but nonetheless we frustratingly stare into the dismal abyss in search of fleeting and fickle fame. We are downtrodden by our lack of followers and streams. We are discouraged by poorly attended gigs. We are despondent about the music industry as a whole and frankly tempted at multiple times daily to just pull the plug on our guitars and go home. The truth is being a musician is hard. We are our own worst critics and fans. The vast majority of us barely make enough money to put gas in the van. We constantly are riddled with self-doubt and simultaneously feel as if we are making the greatest music on Earth. And the one question we all ask is how do we succeed? The answer is either being extraordinarily talented or extraordinarily lucky.
Most likely like me, you are somewhere in between and the reality is we have to hustle to survive. We have to self-promote shamelessly and we have to knock on venue doors to book gigs. We save our pennies to upgrade equipment and record demos. We have to solicit fans to follow us on social media. And if we are lucky we can hire a PR firm to knock on doors we can’t reach. Finally after all that we get to show up and play music which is all we really wanted to do in the first place. But then comes the dream of something better, a bigger stage and a larger audience. No longer content with a small spotlight we desire the pinnacle of success but getting to the top of the mountain ain’t easy or we would all be there. The key I feel is however to just keep climbing. Sometimes by the inches and other times by miles, but always to keep moving forward. One of best pieces of advice I have heard from an industry professional was to be consistent and persistent. Consistently write and create for the love of the art and persistently work on the business side of things. If you want to be seen and heard, eventually by doing so you will become so large you can’t be ignored.
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