More Things That Most Music Biz Bloggers Won't Tell You


First of all, I'm obligated to mention that maybe you should read part one before continuing, but it's your life; do what you want. Which brings me to the topic at hand: only you can define your success. Okay, so maybe you can find that general sentiment on virtually any blog about any topic, but I'm not trying to pander to your desire to abandon your self-loathing or your need to have your ego stroked. What I mean is that you can't spend your life trying to live up to someone else's standard of excellence. Poke around online long enough and you may get overwhelmed with the notion that anything less than world tours and having a song on Madden is total failure. That's corporate office talk; “newsspeak” as it were. (Hey look, a “1984” reference!)

There's nothing wrong with having a day job and cashing in your vacation hours to go on tour. Only an overly-cynical, bitter, failed musician would try to tell you otherwise. I have seen plenty of people with this attitude and unsurprisingly, they are all douchebags. Yes, it is important to put it all on the line for your passion, but it's just foolish to assume that you'll be able to pay your bills solely by playing music. The best advice I've heard so far is: have several back-up plans. Beyond that, you should ask yourself what you really want out of the band you're in and make sure it's REALLY what you want. Being in a touring band sounds awesome when you're 10 and just starting guitar, but you may find years later that constantly dealing with shady promoters and flaky musicians just isn't your thing. Maybe you become so disillusioned with the idea of being in a professional band that you abandon the idea entirely and just try to help others out however you can. (Hey look, a reference to my personal life!)

Businesses talk about having their employees “be part of the team” and since a band is a business, you need a team. If you got a little queasy at the thought of your band being a business, then the DIY scene is for you. It's not glamorous and it doesn't pay well, but it's often a hell of a lot of fun and it gives you all the creative control you could ever want. If you want to be Trivium or Black Veil Brides, focus on your image and your marketing. That's no insult, it's just the truth. Create a back-story and don't deviate from it; never break character. “Character? I thought we were talking about music?” Yes, we are. Making music professionally is about having a product, it isn't about art. YOU are the product, not your music. Have a slick product and a plan for that product. Strategically plan EVERYTHING from your Facebook and Twitter posts to the release dates of each single. Plan the release of each piece of artwork and even what your merch is gonna look like, what special offers you give on what days... EVERYTHING. That's what the labels are there for; well, that and taking your money.

You know that band, My Chemical Romance? They came out of nowhere with this story that they were “homeless”. It was mentioned in every one of their early interviews, but in reality, they were just living in a van (on tour) like most bands, but they made it their “hook” and people ate it up. In politics they call it “spin”, but I just call it what it is; bullshit. It made them seem interesting enough to make people want to hear them. They sold themselves as the ultimate punk band. “What's more Punk Rock than being homeless?” might have been a phrase uttered at an early MCR band meeting, but that's purely speculation. What you can't deny is that they had a plan, stuck to it and found success. Meaning, they got what they wanted.

Again I ask you to consider what you really want out of your music. If you want to make money as a musician, write what's popular. If you want to create art, no one is stopping you. You just want free drinks for playing covers on the weekend? Go for it and be happy! Only your ego can hold you back once you decide which side of the fence you want to be on, but whatever you choose, commit fully and unapologetically. The majority could not care any less about who sold out, they just want to dance (aka dry-hump) to your music.

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