I get sick and tired of artists telling me that they are already doing the things necessary for success, when in fact; most of them haven’t the foggiest idea what music business success looks like. When you don’t know, then your objective should be humility, and within that state of humility you will allow yourself to be open to not only constructive criticism, but also opportunity.
Nowadays, a lot of artists have grown accustomed to writing checks with their mouths that their asses can’t cash. Moreover, artist arrogance is not a new phenomenon it has existed ever since the people who cut the checks told average musicians that they were superstars. Nevertheless, artists like Kanye “I am Michelangelo, I am Walt Disney, I am Steve Jobs” West have gotten more and more famous for being high off their own supply (rants) rather than their music. Sure it is arguable that Kanye West is in fact a genius; however, at least he has a string of hit records to build his argument on. As for you….not so much! The first rule of being a drug dealer is never get high off of your own supply, but many artists who aren’t even qualified to be Kanye’s assistance’s assistant’s assistant rapper seem to believe that overconfidence is the recipe for the day…not the case!
My colleagues and I (other music industry professionals) find it quite comical, yet tragic that so many unsigned or indie level artists are so overconfident that they fail to FOCUS ON THE BASICS LIKE BUILDING A FAN BASE THAT DOESN’T CONSIST OF “LIKES” AND “RETWEETS”, perfecting their live performance, or better still, making music that is relevant and breathtaking.
I get it, generation Y are lazy geniuses, but paradoxical as that may be, I haven’t met a genius who had to tell you he or she was a genius, but never exhibited the actions to substantiate the claim. Nobody likes a smart ass or a know-it-all, which begs the question, if you know everything there is to know about making it in the music industry, why are you broke and unknown?
Case and point, I asked an indie artist at a recent music conference, what I could do to help him further his music career; the artist looked at me as if I had said something offensive about his mother. His reply, “I’m already on my grind, and my team and me have started a movement.” WTF?
Okay, if your team is on the grind and you’ve started a movement, then where the fuck is all of your fans? Oh, my bad, your fans are only in cyber space, which makes them as fake as the cubic zirconia chain you are wearing and as fake as your grind, your movement, and your team!
BELIEVE ME, I CANNOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP!
During another conversation, a female artist told me that she wanted to find a manager that could help her advance her career. When I inquired about the current state of her music career, she told me that she hadn’t recorded any songs that were original, she didn’t have an artist website, and she wasn’t going to change her image or sound in order to fit into what the music industry deems commercially pleasing.
YEAH, I KNOW, WOW, RIGHT?
What sound, could she have possibly been referring to if she had never recorded an original song? What image? She didn’t have an artist website, or even a video for that matter, and as for her style, well, I ask again what image?
SHE WAS 100% DELUSIONAL!
In addition, she has nothing to manage, therefore finding a manager is a waste of her time and energy.
Examples like the ones above are why it is of paramount importance that artists today take a good look in the mirror and self assess their lives, goals, and music careers.
Since a man who represents himself has a fool for a client, I expect that artists will self-assess with the same biases that have been the primary causes of their unfounded arrogance. Be that as it may, I have provided an artist checklist that every unsigned artist should use as a career reference point.
Warning, if you do not fit this criterion, you better get your shit together and eat a couple slices of humble pie, before you are told to your face that your talent and arrogance don’t match.
- An artist website that offers your original music for sale, and EPK (Electronic Press Kit), contact information, tour/show dates.
- A presence on the three major social networks, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, with actual fan engagement—-if you have 100K followers, but 6 retweets, everyone knows your fans are FAKE.
- Two or more live shows per month—-where REAL human fans show up to see you play.
- A Music video—-not shot on an iPhone.
- YouTube videos that have a “Call to Action” like go to my website and buy my song.
- Original high-quality music—-no covers—-no Mixtapes.
- Endorsements by other already successful artists—-collaboration or opening act.
- Press—-magazine interviews, radio interviews, television
- Music reviews from reputable sources.
- Merchandise i.e. buttons, stickers, CD’s, digital download cards or bracelets.
- Logo with a consistent branding message.
- A sterling reputation as an artists and a person.
- Business and marketing plan.
- Ongoing Music business education.
- Professional business etiquette.
- A knack for discovering music career opportunities.
At minimum, these are the things that attract reputable professionals. If you want to avoid the sharks, snakes, con men, and two bit thieves of the music industry then tighten up your game. There are a plethora of services online that can steer you in the right direction, so roll up your sleeves and get to work! Before I go, I imagine that most artists won’t make it to the end of this article because they are too busy playing make believe.
by Sahpreem A. King
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