Monday, 13 June 2011

"Its A Shit Business"

imgres by mattstevensguitar
imgres, a photo by mattstevensguitar on Flickr.

Just read about a musician complaining about how low their CD sales are, then saying they don't promote their music or play live or spend any money on advertising. Another musician was complaining "they don't get the breaks" that they used to get more people at gigs and they can't get the support slots with "big acts". But its never them to blame.....

If you don't tell people about your music you won't sell anything (and say thank you to the people who help you!). You have to invest in what you do to get anywhere. They'll spend £800 on a guitar and worry about spending £5 on getting some flyers done. Its crazy.

If you're not bothered about having an audience that is fine - if you love making music and want to do it just for you thats great. Music is a wonderful thing to do as a hobby. This is fine, its great. Just do it, I don't blame you. Worrying about commercial factors will ruin most music anyway. (BTW this how I make records, then I worry about trying to get people to listen to them later).

But don't complain when you don't sell any records if you don't put the work in, making good music is not the only thing you have to do to engage with your audience.

Its just the way it is.

The world does not need more bitter musicians moaning about lack of exposure. JUST GET ON ON WITH IT.

Build a small audience, treat them well, ask them to tell their friends and say thank you. Reinvest in advertising and work hard at promo and be good live. Be grateful for any exposure you get.

The most important thing is to realise that NO ONE OWES YOU A LIVING FROM MUSIC.

Be thankful for anyone who listens to what you do and stop moaning. Start working if you want to get anywhere but no one wants to hear another moaning musician, its also fine if you don't want a career in music, just don't complain about it if you don't sell any music. Music should be about more than money. Music is awesome, the best form of communication ever.

If its making you unhappy do something about it! As The League Of Gentleman said "its a shit business". :)


srm1138 said...

Exactly right!

Marko Polo said...

Your right, "No one owes you a living from music," .

Nail hit on head.

Tom Emmons said...

It seems so obvious. If you don't put stuff out there, it's not heard/seen. The audience isn't psychic, after all.

Well. Mostly, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Bang on! I've seen too many people moan and it puts me off their music even if I liked it before - let alone if it's the first thing I see of them!

I'm making my debut solo album now, I'd love it if it sold well, as anyone would - but I'll be happy about every sale, not moaning about every one that doesn't happen!

Oli said...

Before the whole internet music thing happened, I remember a guitarist friend of mine was really bitter about his lack of gigs and exposure. What he'd done was to record a really good hard bop ish quintet album, pressed a thousand copies, and sent out about 500 to venues, promoters, festivals, agents etc. And that's it. One CD to each address. No phone call to say it was in the post, no phone call to check it arrived. No phone call 6 weeks later to see if they'd listened. No new CD sent out the following year.

I'm not sure what my point is. You HAVE to flog it really hard to sell anything, unless demand is universal or you have a monopoly. And some musicians just aren't good at selling: they may have every other professional attribute honed to perfection, but if you can't sell yourself it's not much use.

I think this is why so many jazz musicians are so bitter, because they have to study insanely hard, as hard as say, an engineer, but there's no easy way to get a job. Classical musicians can literally look in the paper and apply for jobs, thanks to the institutional nature of their scene, and the iniquitous public funding arrangements. For the rest of us, marketing has to be part of the job.

The Unknown Stuntman said...

Yep, bang on.

It's bloody hard work promoting ur music, especially if like me there's no live presence, just online/digital. So either....keep going, or stop & enjoy your hobby.

As you say Matt - it's just the way it is.

sweary doris said...

and remember to be nice to everyone on the way up, because you will need them on the way down?
People are brainwashed by all this shitty reality TV bollocks into thinking they will have one hit and be stadium/festival massive immediately; it doesn't work like that. Or they imagine they will be endorsed by some company and make a fortune out of merchandise, without even having an LP..If you are looking to get rich, find another way or a sideline; it isn't about that any more. It's about doing what you love and being passionate about it, and maybe hoping the world 'gets' it.

Unknown said...

YES!! Massively agree - thanks for all the clever comments guys :)

UnsignedBandPromotion said...

The business is no more shit than any other, it's just that the main group of protagonists are at an age when they think the world owes them a living! I liked the bit where you said, "and say thank you to the people who help you!" A bunch of flowers, a box of chox or a bottle of wine with a "thanx" goes a very long way :)

Unknown said...

Amen, Matt!

Ugo Capeto said...

(music) marketing is not everybody's cup of tea, and it's understandable a musician may not be willing to do all that stuff, or just doesn't know how to do it right (proper connections, etc). In that case, it's probably a good idea to hire somebody, a pro, if possible. It's a bit like mastering.


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