The music industry has never been an easy place to make your fortune. Heck, many of the independent and “up and coming” bands that you listen to probably have day jobs. And in the current climate, it’s harder than ever for independent musicians. Every time you plug in your amp you face the same string of anxieties. Maybe you’re not commercial enough. Maybe you’re getting too old. Maybe you just don’t want it enough. Maybe the tides of public taste are pulling in the opposite direction to you. Maybe your dreams of rock stardom should be buried in the attic with your guitar strap and lucky plectrum… Or maybe you owe it to yourself to identify the reasons why your band isn’t getting taken as seriously as it should and take effective action.
In an age where there are more opportunities and fewer gatekeepers, many feel that the changing nature of the music industry actually makes it harder for promising artists to get discovered. But here are some of the reasons why you may not be taken as seriously as you deserve… and what you should do about it.
You care more about “making it” than being great
You’ve been doing this since your teens. And while many of your peers grew up and got “proper jobs”, you never abandoned your dreams of rock stardom. You’ve become an expert at trying to market your band’s brand, reaching out to t-shirt printing companies to create merch and trying to bill yourself to music bloggers as the next big thing.
And while all this is important, it shouldn’t supercede putting in the hours with the band and making sure you sound awesome.
Your demo screams “amateur”
Your demo is your calling card to the industry at large… Just make sure it’s saying all the right things about you. While you certainly don’t want it to sound over-produced (A&R professionals may assume that you’re over-compensating for a lack of raw talent) you don’t want it to scream “amateur hour” either. While there are many guides to recording your own demo out there, there’s no substitute to the expertise of a real Recording Studio. While we’re all feeling the pinch financially at the moment, investing in a professional sounding demo is an expenditure that you should absolutely consider.
So does your EPK… if you have one
If you want to get the music press on your side, you need a helpful, useful and attention-grabbing Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Keep in mind that music journalists see dozens of these every single day. And if they see one that’s riddled with typos, poorly formatted and lacking in the essential information that they need to do their jobs, they’re unlikely to give it a second glance.
You can play… but you can’t pitch
Finally, if you expect to be able to make it in the music business, you need to look at it as a business. And that means learning certain business skills… like the elevator pitch. You need to be able to engage A&Rs and music journos and bloggers with a succinct and easy to understand pitch. Like “We’re Slade meets Kasabian”… whatever the heck that might sound like.