Who You Know

Just above this sentence is a link to a post and it’s comments on the blog Music Think Tank. The particular post deals with the corruption and waste of talent and materials in the A/R, P/R, new artists demo debacle. It gave me an opportunity to re-emphasize my belief about what it “really” takes to make it in the music business.

Below I will copy and paste my comments as well as a slight validation of my concepts by the original author of the post. (But please swing by the MTT site if you have never been, it is a wealth of knowledge and speculation about music in the digital age.)

Paste from MTT:

I also think this post is great and that it is good to have exposed (however limited this audience may be) the utter waste of talent, resources, time, etc. etc. just for 95% of the hard work being sold for profit by the very people an artist pins many (all?) hope on.

But I must ask: Who here is surprised by this? My guess is not many.

I have said this many time before and I believe it bares repeating (once again) here: There are two main ingredients involved in becoming a “successful” or “working” musician / artist:

1) Great music / art

2)Great communication skills to develop strategic alliances / contacts / connections

Of course there are several other elements. One of these being getting the “great” music heard (one of the points of this MTT post)…Getting the songs heard falls in line with the second ingredient…BUT, I would dare to suggest that this part comes after establishing contacts / connections.

NO, there is absolutely no point in pushing CD’s into A/R or PR hands if they never knew of you to begin with. It is a complete waste of time, talent & resources (read the original post again).

As much as I hate it myself, the key is to “Make Contact” first. Be finicky, be selective but make the calls, send the e-mails, go to the parties / events and get to know the people that can help you. If these people like you for you and you like them…AND if you have a cache of great songs / art…Then you just might stand a chance of having them actually LISTEN to it.

Saturation is the enemy along with industry greed and selfishness. “Rock Star” ambition mentality is the enemy too. If you have great music / art, all that is left is to make sure the “right” ears get a chance to hear it when they WANT to hear it. There is no point sending a CD to someone who never heard of you or doesn’t know you personally. They DO NOT want to hear it. They do not have the time. But we all know that “friends” make time for each other.

You need a friend in the business. Do you have any? How would you go about making friends in the business?

Might I suggest limiting your expenses on making promo CD’s and PR materials. Rather be very frugal about how many of what you manufacture. Spend your money on trips to events that will allow you to socialize with people in the “industry”. Things like the Winter Music Conference in Miami each year (lots of fun). This is the kind of place where if you make some “friends” and you have a small supply of CD’s, USB sticks, DVD’s, vinyl, etc. etc. You can selectively give them to the contacts you have made that you honestly believe WILL listen to them.

I really believe it has always been this way but given the ridiculous amount of saturation in the music environment, this strategy is almost the only option left…Otherwise your music / promo just gets drowned in the sea of unsolicited music being (virtually) anonymously pushed on the music biz types.

After all, many of the “execs” you are trying to get to are human beings just like you. They have friends just like you and they have a passion (well, most of them) for music just like you. Get to know them and get them to know you…Then if your music really is “Great” you just might find your dreams becoming reality.

It is 2008 almost 2009…The days of shagging the proper executive are over…But you can still buy them a drink and talk shop. Maybe even find other common ground to make an even deeper connection. (But if your music / art is crap, you just stay in the studio and tighten up first!)

And now the original (Ariel Hyatt) blogger’s validation of my rant:

@Milton you are dead on – it all starts with someone you know! Derek Sivers always points this out in his talks and it is so totally true. I am always amazed to see our more successful artists are the ones that totally understand this and they elegantly work relationships with people in the industry in a wonderful way – I think musicians often forget that we (or at least I and most of the people I know) are in this business to be in contact with creative people and I love and value my relationships with artists. It’s funny many musicians who I consider colleagues and friends are not always artists that we represent – they are the smart ones.

  • Validation is a very comforting feeling, even if only one person is validating your idea.

I have often stuck my own foot so far down my own throat that many times I was sure it would be the end of my blogging / commenting days. It is the small moments like the one cited above that make it worthwhile to offer an opinion. That combined with the fact that I am older, a father, a husband and I have been playing around in this silly and ultra superficial world of musicians, clubs, parties, promoters, etc. etc. for over 20 years now. Where I was once jaded, I am now educated. A very fair trade if I do say so myself.

And here is a tune I am working on (soundtrack stuff, no pop aspirations here folks). Gosh, I hope it uploads proper:

OK, I am still a little rusty here on WordPress. It seems to have uploaded the track.


m e e k

  1. January 1st, 2009

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: