on the Music Industry
Buzz Factor, Posted
Back to The
Here's part of a letter I received from Ant Boogie of Collective
Hallucination. Read it and then see my response below. It may surprise you
I just need to vent with someone who would probably understand where I'm
coming from. I am sooooo tired of the music industry as it stands now. It sucks.
Everywhere my band goes and performs, people flock to our shows. They love us
and they all have the same feeling: "Ya'll should be on radio and TV," etc.
However, the powers that be continue to force feed that garbage that's out
there to people and it frustrates me. I'm not just thinking of my band, but
there are so many great bands and solo artists out there who should be in the
forefront of the music industry.
I used to love the American music industry, but the years have worn on me and
I realize that it's impossible to be a real band (like Mint Condition)
in this country and have some form of success. I mean, even a band as hot as Family Stand got shifted in the bull and politricks of the
What the hell am I supposed to do? I can't even get "industry" folks to
return my phone calls. It's like, "Oh, they're good but ..." they aren't "small
enough in size" or "they're too old" or "they don't sound like ..."
I'm about to go postal on the music industry!
I appreciate Ant Boogie sharing his thoughts and allowing me to reprint them
here. His frustrations have been echoed by countless musicians I've encountered
over the years, including readers of this e-zine.
If my proceeding comments seems harsh, they're not directed at the letter
writer above. They're meant for the mass of music folk who are fed up with the
industry and the sense of helplessness and unfairness they feel is heaped upon
Fame, Fortune and
Let's start with Mr. Boogie's first paragraph and the words "Everywhere my
band goes and performs, people flock to our shows." Wow. That sounds to me like
a great achievement. Most bands would kill for a decent crowd at every show.
Any band that has a loyal following and packed houses at its shows should be
generating decent income from CD and merchandise sales, as well as a cut of
tickets sales at the door. That spells out indie success in my book.
Fans say, "Ya'll should be on radio and TV," which is a belief that Ant
Boogie obviously buys into himself. Because his band apparently isn't getting
the media exposure he feels they deserve, he feels frustrated.
But here are some important questions to answer along these lines concerning
your own music career:
- What is your ultimate definition of success?
- What has to happen for you to know you've reached your goal?
- What does "arriving" look like?
For most musicians, their answers are some vague combination of fame and
fortune. But I contend that you must get clear about the outcome you are working
If success means having a large and dedicated following and enough money to
support the musicians, it's quite likely that Ant Boogie's band is already
there. But if radio and TV exposure are the measuring sticks, no amount of
satisfied fans or revenue would make him happy.
In my opinion, mass media exposure is part of the old-school model of music
promotion. Niche marketing is the surest path to success these days. But a lot
of people will still tell you, "Hey, you should be all over the radio." And
maybe you will some day. But don't let other people's visions of success drive
your own definition.
What's Right and What's
There are a lot of things that should be this way or that way in the world
... but they simply aren't. Instead of focusing on what's wrong, zero in on your
strengths and what you have.
Industry people won't return your phone calls? Great. Screw 'em! Would needs
them anyway? Not you. Especially if you have fans who are supporting you in
droves. Why waste your time on "industry" people who aren't interested?
Those special fans of yours are doing more than returning your calls --
they're investing their precious time, money and energy in you and your music.
Focus on them, and not on the dysfunctional music business.
More Stuff You Need to Know ...
- The new MySpace Music
Marketing e-report continues to break all of my previous sales records for a
new title. Kate and Kacey Coppola call it "a to-the-point, honest account of the
good, the bad, and the great opportunities that MySpace can bring to
independent artists. It's a gold mine of information for new and old
- Another big hit is "16 Insights
for Indie Music Success: How to Promote Yourself, Make Money, and Live
Your Music Dreams," recorded live in Austin, Texas. Check out the unique
"hear this web page" feature here.
- See how the Beastie Boys empowered their fans to help them create a new
live concert film. It's all part of the evolution of creative consumers.
- I Want My Bob TV. If you're interested ... My first-ever music video is available for your viewing and
Until next time ... get out there and promote yourself!
Bob Baker is the author of "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook," "Unleash the
Artist Within" and "Branding Yourself Online." He also publishes
TheBuzzFactor.com, a web site and e-zine that deliver free music marketing tips
and self-promotion ideas to musicians of all kinds. Visit TheBuzzFactor.com for more