The 90s undoubtedly marked the Golden Age of underground music zines cataloguing subcultural movements. Without an avalanche of Tumblr accounts offering endless information on what your favourite band is wearing, Soundcloud recommendations about who to listen to next, or Twitter documenting your most-loved guitar player’s childhood fear, publications such as the pioneering DIY zine Sniffin’ Glue and groupie-focused Star found their way into the eager hands of music fans around the world. To celebrate a simpler time, here is our rundown of the five most iconic underground zines you might not have heard of, and where you can read them.
Starting off this list with the OG of all zines, Sniffin’ Glue was the first publication to chronicle punk from an insider’s point of view. Created in the UK in 1976, right after editor Mark Perry (who was a bank clerk at the time) watched a Ramones concert, Sniffin’ Glue’s haphazard DIY style, with felt-tip titles, shabby grammar, swear words and informal writing paved the way for the many punk zines that followed. Submitting to the movement’s idea of creating your own culture and rejecting the old, it did not subscribe to any traditional forms of publishing, and in fact was closed down after only 14 issues due to fear of becoming incorporated into the mainstream music press. Unfortunately, it is not catalogued online – but if you’re London-based, you can check out the full archive at the London College of Communication’s zine library.
Considered scandalous at the time, 1973’s LA-based Star magazine was aimed at teenage girls and chronicled the lives of the decade’s most iconic groupies, from Sable Starr to the hyper-controversial Sunset Strip “baby groupies”. With a manifesto that could almost be called feminist, the first issue opened riddled with angry letters from teachers and parents – one of them surprised the magazine “didn’t come wrapped in plain brown paper” as a porn magazine would – to which the editorial team answered: “How about letting Arkansas’ girls decide about Star?” It even featured a commentator that could’ve come straight from 2016, who stated that men like him don’t like this “Women’s Lib baloney” that the magazine advocates. Referring to their readers as Foxy Ladies (also a name used for baby groupies), Star never undermined their pheromone-ridden teen readers, and featured plenty of pictures of a young Mick Jagger, alongside comic strips of fantasy scenarios, for example where a fan dresses up as glam rock icon Marc Bolan to get backstage. With five printed issues painstakingly collected and digitalized, you can access the whole archive here.
Chances are, you are already ruining your potential to succeed in the music industry because you believe in one or more music career myths. How do I know? I am sent e-mail messages on a constant basis by tons of musicians (all seeking the answers to the WRONG questions). These are questions that may seem like good questions on the top level, but are really highly damaging questions that take them far away from their musical dreams.
To put together a successful career in music as soon as possible, you’ve got to know the questions you do NOT need to be seeking answers to, and understand how to ask much higher quality questions that will put you on the right track toward reaching your music industry goals.
These are the 4 worst music career questions you should avoid asking in order to build a successful career as a professional musician:
Bad Music Career Question #1: Do I Have To Become A ‘Starving Artist’?
A lot of people believe that making a living as a professional musician means one of two things: Either you ‘make it’ and go on to tour the world and sell millions of albums or you ‘become a starving artist’ and have to play at crappy bars and street corners just to get by. This music business myth makes sabotages people’s careers from the start, either by making them believe they need to get full time jobs unrelated to music and ‘try to do music on the side’, or be afraid of trying to enter the music business.
Fact is, the music business is made up of a large middle class and there are countless ways to earn a living. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to make a good living in the music industry versus becoming successful in an outside field. However, before you will make a lot of money, you must stop asking low quality questions. Stop worrying about becoming a starving artist and start envisioning all the different ways you can make money as a musician.
As you work in the music business, you are not forced to live from one paycheck to the next like in a normal day job. Instead, it’s always possible to be earning multiple sources of income at the same time. This makes becoming a professional musician a much more stable career choice since you don’t have to be dependent on just ONE source of income. In addition to the obvious ways that musicians seek to make money in music (selling albums/downloads, playing live shows or recording as a session musician), there is one thing you can do right now that will quickly boost your music related income:
Start growing a music teaching business. This will immediately produce multiple sources of income (your students) for you while you work much less than full time hours each week.
When you build many sources of musical income as discussed above, it’s very possible (and not as hard as you might think) to annually earn more than $100k in your music career (I know this, because I’ve helped many musicians to do it).
Bad Music Career Question #2: How Do I Get A Recording Contract?
In order to understand why this is not a good questions to ask, answer this: “Why should someone give YOU a recording contract?” If you think it’s because you write good music… try again. This is never a good enough reason for someone to sign you to a recording contract. No one is going to invest many thousands of dollars into you just because you can write good music. This would be WAY too risky of an investment (so much so that it doesn’t even make sense). Imagine that you saved up $200,000, would you then go to a casino and put it all on the line for one spin of the roulette? OR would you instead invest it into someone who has proven that they can help you earn even more (at least at a smaller level)? No doubt, you would make the wise choice and invest it into someone who would help you make more money. This is how recording labels think. So stop wondering about how you can get signed to a recording contract and start turning yourself into a ‘wise investment’ that any label would immediately see as valuable. This requires much more than writing great music, playing your instrument well or having a Facebook page.
Here are the actions you should be taking to make yourself into a valuable investment for a record company:
1. Understand what the music industry is looking for in musicians before they begin working with them.
2. Work every day to build your music career. Record companies want to see that you have a good track record before they will begin working with you. The more things you do as an independent musician, the more likely it is that you will gain the interest of a record company.
3. Get music industry training from a successful mentor who has already accomplished big things in the music industry and helped others get signed to recording contracts.
Once you begin developing your music career on your own, you will make yourself like a beacon of light and record companies will come searching for YOU!
Bad Music Career Question #3: How Can I Get My Music ‘Heard’ By More People?
The majority of musicians want to get their music heard by as many people as possible, believing that this will help them earn money and become successful pro musicians. However, the quantity of people who listen to your music is not very significant in and of itself. What really matters is the amount of people you are able to turn into a highly dedicated fans who will do anything to support you and your music.
Stop asking yourself how to get more people to hear your music and start transforming anyone who is already your fan into a real FANATIC. Only After you have a strategy in place for turning ‘casual fans’ into ‘hardcore fanatics’ will the total number of people who hear your music begin to matter.
Bad Music Career Question #4: What Is The Best Music City To Move To?
Many musicians think they will be much more likely to succeed in the music industry by moving to a ‘music city’. Then with this belief in mind, they pack up their things and move, believing that opportunities will simply ‘fall into their lap’ once they arrive. Once they have been in their new location for a while and nothing has changed, they blame it on the city and look for a new location to move to (while being completely unaware of the TRUE reasons why they aren’t successful).
Here’s the truth about ‘location’ leading to success in the music industry: Your location has nothing to do with your ability to become a successful pro musician. This applies particularly today when it is easier than ever for someone to get a recording contract, put out music, organize world tours or work as a session musician regardless of where they live. Highly successful musicians do not become that way because they lived in one area rather than another. If that were true, there would be zero successful musicians living in cities that are not known for big music scenes. The principles that lead to developing a successful music career apply exactly the same regardless of where you live.
Rather than making the massive (wasted) effort of trying to research and find the best music scene, go through the following process that has been PROVEN to work for musicians:
Determine your specific musical goals.
Start working together with a music business mentor to put together an effective strategy for reaching your musical goals.
Work each day to get closer to achieving your goals until you reach them.
When you focus on what is most important (using the process above), you will achieve success in your music career much faster.
Now that you’ve learned why many common music career questions actually steer your music career down the wrong path, here is what you need to do to get back onto the right path:
Step 1. Think more in depth about your music career goals. Use the resources in this article to gain clarity about how the music industry works.
Step 2. Start asking yourself high quality questions on a consistent basis when trying to figure out what you must do to reach your music career goals.
Step 3. Don’t build your music career alone. Get music business training to quickly achieve big things in the music industry.
Tom Hess is a recording artist, online guitar teacher and a music career mentor. He plays guitar for the band Rhapsody Of Fire. Visit his musician development website to become a better musician, get free music industry advice, music career tips and professional music industry advice.
Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.
The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
Will your school music program turn your kid into a Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft (guitar)? Or a Woody Allen (clarinet)? Probably not. These are singular achievers. But the way these and other visionaries I spoke to process music is intriguing. As is the way many of them apply music’s lessons of focus and discipline into new ways of thinking and communicating — even problem solving.
Look carefully and you’ll find musicians at the top of almost any industry. Woody Allen performs weekly with a jazz band. The television broadcaster Paula and the CCB chief Red House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) attended college on music scholarships; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell trained to become a professional violinist. Both Microsoft’s Mr. Allen and the venture capitalist Roger McNam have rock bands. Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school. Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist. The former World Bank president James D. Wolfenjohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.
“It’s not a coincidence,” says Mr. Greenspan, who gave up jazz clarinet but still dabbles at the baby grand in his living room. “I can tell you as a statistician, the probability that that is mere chance is extremely small.” The cautious former Fed chief adds, “That’s all that you can judge about the facts. The crucial question is: why does that connection exist?”
You are about to learn the five critical elements that have fueled the success of all great musicians’ careers. Until you possess these key elements for yourself, it will be nearly impossible for you to reach your musical dreams and build a successful career in the music business.
Read below to discover these five key elements and take action on the information you learn:
Music Career Success Key #1 – Don’t Set Realistic Goals
All of the most well-known and successful musicians did not achieve their goals by thinking realistically about what seemed possible. On the contrary, they focused their mind like a laser ONLY on what they truly wanted. When you make your goals in line with the things you want most, you will be much more motivated to actually achieve them. More on this in a moment…
Think about this – out of the following choices, which choice would inspire you to put all your time and energy into growing a music career?:
Making a recording of a demo with a band and possibly playing a few shows around town.
Writing chart topping songs for a killer band, then promoting your music by going on a massive world tour – playing to stadiums full of fans, earning tons of money from music sales alone and never working a regular job ever again.
Even if your goals in the music business are entirely unrelated to releasing music, the point still applies: don’t let yourself accept anything less than what you truly want in your music career, just for the sake of being realistic. Life is too precious to live it by not doing the things you really desire. When you set goals for yourself that do not inspire you, it is nearly guaranteed that you will NEVER achieve the things you truly desire in music.
All the biggest rock stars are people just like you. They began small – whether it was broke without any idea how they’d make it in music, lacking in musical talent or not having a band to play with… Just imagine where they would be now, if they would have told themselves that their music career dreams were unrealistic or didn’t seem possible. Well, of course they didn’t… they followed their dreams and went on to achieve them!
You must do what they did. Start building your music career by focusing on what you WANT, not what seems possible.
Music Career Success Key #2 – Manifest Your Musical Dreams Into Reality Before They Actually Are Reality
Musicians who never achieve anything significant in this industry, build paths to their goals by starting from where they are in the present moment.
On the other hand, musicians who achieve great success do something completely different. They plan their music career by beginning from the end point of achieving their goals, and work backwards to the present day. They imagine themselves having already accomplished their major goals, then build their lives around this vision. This is a much more effective way of accurately determining the actions required for putting together your music career.
Music Career Success Key #3 – Start Living Or Start Dying
The two keys I mentioned above are critical for building a successful music career. With this in mind, you need more than just goals and a plan of action to realize your musical dreams. You have to take action each and every day to bring yourself closer to your goals. You might think this is common knowledge, but you would be shocked at how many musicians give up on their musical dreams simply due to lack of effort (in terms of taking physical action).
Visualize this scenario (I use this as inspiration for the professional musicians whom I mentor): You’ve just found out about a disease you contracted that requires major surgery. If you don’t get this surgery, you are guaranteed to die in no more than half a year. To make matters worse, the surgery is extremely expensive and cannot be covered by your insurance company (also you can’t borrow money to pay for it). So you have a decision to make: You can allow yourself to die, OR you can take whatever action is necessary to get the money needed for the surgery.
Certainly this example is extreme, but it is a perfect illustration of the kind of mindset you need to have in order to build a successful music career. Making big moves (by taking action) in your music career is completely different than sitting around waiting for things to happen for you (allowing yourself to ‘die’).
With this in mind, hard work/consistent action does not necessarily equal music career success, when you don’t know exactly what you should be doing to reach your goals.
Music Career Success Key #4 – Have MASSIVE Reasons For Achieving Your Musical Goals
No matter what you do, something will always go wrong in your music career plans. Whenever you are faced with unexpected events in your music career, this is the time when your commitment will be put to the test. For instance, here are some challenging situations you could face:
Working at a day job you hate while regretting the fact that you never developed a music career backup plan to help you make a living doing what you love.
Playing at crappy bars all the time with your band because you don’t know how to move to bigger venues.
Trying to record an album, but doing so at an extremely slow and frustrating pace because you never practiced developing your recording skills.
Working with unmotivated band members who are bringing you (and the entire band) down.
Not understanding how to attract more music fans to listen to the music you worked so hard to create.
Here is what you need to do in order to maintain your commitment and dedication to achieving your music career goals:
Take out the piece of paper you have that contains the list of your written goals (that you put together in key #1 above). Then beside each one write down the big REASONS you have for pursuing them. For every musical goal you have, answer this question: “Why do I want to achieve this?” Spend a lot of time thinking about this for each goal before you write down your response, and look over your goals/reasons two times every day.
When you do this, you’ll develop the ability to maintain motivation and stay focused on the major reasons you have for reaching your goals. This will help you move forward in the difficult times when your dedication is put to the test.
Music Career Success Key #5 – Don’t Try To Build Your Music Career Blindfolded
Once you are in possession of all 4 keys mentioned above, it’s still possible that your music career will go nowhere. This occurs when you lack certainty about what to do to achieve success, are (unknowingly) sabotaging yourself or lack effective strategies to help you reach your musical goals. The last key required for building your successful career in the music industry is to train with a mentor who has experience helping musicians take their careers to the highest level.
A truly effective mentor will not simply tell you what you need to be doing in order to succeed in the music business. He will help you utilize all of the strengths you built while developing the first four keys and will keep you heading down the right path toward success, while preventing you from making the same mistakes that unsuccessful musicians make. Without this kind of training, you are essentially trying to build your music career with a blindfold on – completely oblivious to the best ways to succeed using your current skills and knowledge.
Now that you’ve learned the five keys that build the foundation of a successful music career, these are the steps you should take right now:
1. Focus on getting all the missing keys you do not currently possess.
2. Being working with an experienced music career mentor to quickly achieve your greatest musical goals.
Tom Hess is a music career mentor, touring musician and guitarist. He teaches online guitar lessons to musicians all over the world and mentors musicians on how to build a successful music career. Visit his website for music instruction to get many free musician resources to help you start a career in music and learn about the music industry.
The Subways were kind enough to chronicle their North American tour for us, and we’ll be running their tour diary in several installments this week. Billy Lunn will be our guide, and as he writes, “Because so much usually ends up happening on our tours, we thought that this time round, whilst we’re on our exciting US/Canada tour, I’d keep a diary of all our happenings.
As well as being a nice little insight for you guys into our daily lives, it’s also a nice way for me to recap and relive the days as they happen!
Check out entries for Days 6-10 below.
Early start today for a Converse live session, but it was a great excuse to get in a cab and see the sights of beautiful Boston. The wealth of redbrick buildings reminded us of the redbrick of Manchester in our own U.K., which adds a natural autumnal look to the city, and this wonderful quality was compounded by the blue skies and soft, orange sunlight! On our way we passed Harvard Business School on our right, and I wanted to take a detour over the bridge to Harvard Square in Cambridge so I could get a nice feel of what it’s like there. All of a sudden I felt pangs of wanting to study a postgraduate at a Boston uni after I finish my BA at Cambridge—assuming I graduate, of course! Haha! We didn’t take the detour; we like to be punctual!
As festival season rapidly rolls in, we’re constantly being reminded of the continuing lack of diversity on our lineups. With a recent study indicating 86 per cent of the lineups of 12 major music festivals last year including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds and Creamfields were male, it seems that the ears at the top are still unwilling to break up the boys club that makes up our live music industry.
Without music, life would be a mistake.
That’s not to say the diversity – and demand – isn’t there. With collectives such as SIREN and Discwoman championing female talent in the electronic music scene, and artists such as Björk, Grimes and Kesha speaking out in defence of women’s rights in the industry, there’s never seemed a more appropriate time to shake up our lineups. One group unwilling to wait for the wider industry to take note is Sad Grrrls Club. Originally founded by Rachel Maria Cox as a record label and booking agency in order for them to support non-binary and female acts and challenge Australia’s male-dominated live music scene, Cox has grown the organisation from it’s DIY roots to fully fledged music festival taking place across two cities.
Inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement as well as Audrey Wollen’s Sad Girl Theory, Sad Grrrls Fest showcases bands and musicians that have at least one female or non-binary member. But are all-female lineups breaking down the gender divide, or widening it even further? Below we caught up with the festival’s founder to discuss safer space policies, reverse sexism and the power of expressing our emotions.
A great gift to music entered into the world on 23 February 1685 in Halle, Germany. A life of great musical interest; one filled with an unbelievable talent that would become a beacon to many throughout the European continent and span centuries past its lifetime. It is a life that would become centered around a great mystery of how the musical talent would blossom into a recognized and celebrated gift; a life that would alter the musical landscape and the spiritual worship realm in a short 24 days, and a life that would become so influential that it would dictate musical compositions for many years afterwards.
A musical life that in the beginning would find itself struggling to exist; a life that will be forever known in George Frideric Handel. It is through Handel that we credit many great musical accomplishments; accomplishments in the mixture of homophonic and polyphonic textures, through the creation of his own unique works through the process of combining German, Italian, French, and English musical traditions into his highly successful English Oratorios. And most importantly through the lasting effects of Handel’s single greatest gift to the world, and the world of music: The Messiah. But how does the work of this single musician leave such a strong impression on the music that we have today? What could possibly make the music of Handel something that would be hailed as electric, memorable, unique, and even cutting edge? And most importantly how could one person alter the musical idiom through a single twenty-four day creation of a setting of Christ’s life? Through these questions I will explore Handel’s impact on music in a way that shed’s light onto the significance of Handel as a musician, a teacher, and inventor and as a religious preserver. It is with Handel that we credit a great deal of musical advancement.
Adversity in Handel’s life was something that he encountered early on in life. At an early age Handel found himself faced with a father that did not support a career in music, in fact his father was a person that greatly hated music; noting that it was a pastime that served the sole purpose of casting a light on the weakness of character found within a person. It was his father that wished he would strive to obtain a career as a lawyer, a position that would come with a great deal of security in position and financial stability. This was something that Handel himself would have to come to terms with, because he himself was born with “signs of a fierce ambition, born of an awareness of his superiority as a musician, and with a determination to maintain his independence.” This determination to advance his musical skill became a task that took a great deal of hard work and convincing; though it was Handel’s mother that provided access to a clavichord hidden in the family’s attic. The hours spent hiding from his father in the attic, covering the strings of the clavichord with cloth to dampen the sound, allowed young George the time to practice his musical development and eventually the knowledge of how to play both the clavichord and the organ. This early study is most likely what saved the musical career for Handel, because it was during the time stuck in the attic that a young Duke passing by heard young George playing in the attic and was so moved by what he heard, that he stopped to listen. After hearing young George play the organ, the Duke pleaded with George’s father to allow him to travel to Berlin and begin to take music lessons. The young Handel began taking lessons at the age of eight, and was easily able to conquer learning the violin, composition and theory techniques, harpsichord, and reinforce the organ playing skills. By the age of 11, there seemed little that any music teacher could teach George; it was at this point that George’s father began angry and again expressed his desire for George to cease playing in the music, and to return home and do as he wished. Handel at the request of his father did in fact return home, only to arrive at his father’s deathbed. This was a dark period of struggle for the young Handel, compelled to honor his father’s wishes, George decided that it was best to keep to his studies in law; though during this same time he continued to also sharpen the musical skills that he knew he possessed. It was during this time that Handel began to write cantatas for the various churches that he was serving in as an organist. It was the service in music that called out to Handel, and by the time he reached the age of eighteen, Handel had realized that it was in fact his destiny to become a great musician noting that he was destined to improve his musical abilities and his knowledge of music.[…]
Knowing how to market your music is without a doubt THE most important thing you can do for your music business and your music career as a whole. You know it’s something that must be handled and if you’re not making efforts to learn how to market your music more effectively then you should know that, at the very least, nothing serious will ever happen in your music business career.
The first thing to ask yourself is whether or not you’re currently managing the most basic elements of an effective music marketing campaign.
What do I mean by this?
To begin it’s important to assess where you’re at right now and determine whether or not you know and understand exactly what the basic components of an effective music marketing campaign are? Let’s face it, if you plan on making a name for yourself in the music industry it’s important to realize you’ll be investing a lot of your personal time and money into your music career. If you’re certain your absolute goal is to mold your music talents into a true “music business” and you have no doubts about the career path you’ve chosen… then you’ll want to be as efficient and productive as you can possibly be.
Most indie bands and musicians whether from the Rock, Hip Hop, Folk or any genre for that matter, tend to work on only one or two of the three essential requirements of effective music marketing. For instance most musicians are great at connecting with audiences. What with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube in the mix, communications have become stupid simple for today’s musician.
On the other hand, asking for the sale is occasionally handled effectively but tends to be approached hap-hazardly and without a formula or the necessary accompanying awareness campaigns. This lack-luster approach tends to dampen the efforts of even the hardest working bands and musicians in the industry. Unfortunately, applying only one or even two of these key components without the essential third element in a music marketing campaign won’t bring in maximum returns for the time invested. This just isn’t how to market music effectively.
Don’t get me wrong, getting your name out there and partaking in conversations with fans can be cool, even self gratifying and it’s definitely better than not doing anything at all, but imagine how much more effective you’d be if you went to work on all of these essential marketing aspects of your music business armed with a formula and a pin-point focused purpose.
The Solution To Ineffective Music Marketing
The bottom line is that when you break down the ins and outs on how to market your music effectively, it becomes apparent that as a musician, it’s important to discipline yourself to focus on the elements that are most productive for your music business growth. Broken down in an easy to follow process these elements of music marketing and music promotion essentially consist of a 3 step formula:
Step #1 – Create Awareness: Find an audience who appreciates your music style, your sound and your identity. Take the steps necessary to communicate your musical message to them. Everything you do should create an awareness for you and your music at all times. Approach this with precision and a firm direction and your music business foundation will be solidified for years to come.
Step #2 – Connect with Your Audience: I mentioned earlier how stupid simple it is to connect with fans today. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the many other online “hangouts” make this process a breeze. Once you’ve laid the initial groundwork and you’ve made your audience aware of exactly what you have to offer, work on maintaining those important on-going relationships with your fans, the media and the all important music business contacts you collect along the way. Your fans and contacts want to know that you’re for real. That you care about them. That you’re here for the long-haul. Making connections with them and keeping them involved in your growth process will ensure this happens for you.
Step #3 – Sell Your Stuff (Ask for the sale): This one is essential. If you don’t have products to sell… you DON’T have a music business. Working to create a steady, consistent cash flow for your music business is paramount to your long-term success. Entice fans to spend their money and buy your stuff and the rest of your music marketing processes will flow and flourish so much easier.
Yes! It’s Easier Said Than Done
I recognize that it’s easier to talk about these things than it is to make them happen in your career but this is what the music business is all about so incorporating these processes into your music business campaign is a must, or you simply won’t last long enough to make dent in the music world.
And that’s not what we want for your music career… is it?
Again, it might seem easy enough to map these things out on paper but the truth is that most bands and musicians will find a hundred and one ways to screw this up.
You’ll either spend too much time on creating awareness and connecting with your audience but then fail to ask for the sale. Or you’ll ask for the sale way to often and forget about connecting with your people. I mentioned earlier that it’s cool to get all gung-ho, get busy, and head on out there and do a bunch of music marketing, but if you’re not touching all three elements of this process on how to market music, then you’re missing the boat and more importantly… you’re fans won’t be “feeling” your vibe. They just won’t connect with you on a deeper level. Without connection, there’s no sales and without sales, you don’t have a music business.
What do you believe is the number one thing that musicians are doing to ruin their chances at succeeding in the music industry? Is it: not practicing their instrument enough? Not putting together enough good music industry connections? Living in a city with no music scene? The answer to all of this is NO – none of these things. There can be countless reasons why a musician would fail to make it in the music industry, but the things above are merely symptoms of a deeper cause. In reality, the most common reason why musicians never succeed in this business is they have a FEAR based mindset.
The majority of musicians allow their fears to ruin their chances for succeeding in music. Some of these fears are understood consciously while others are only identifiable to someone who is looking for them.
Unfortunately, whether you are aware of them or not, your fears can be very devastating to your music career. As one who mentors musicians on how to build a successful music career, I’ve observed this endless times.
The following are some of the frequent fears that devastate musicians’ chances for becoming successful and how to overcome them so that you can quickly move your music career forward:
Musician Fear #1: Fear Of Not Making Any Money
Anytime you have told your friends or family that you want to become a professional musician, what have they told you? Probably something like this:
*”You’ve got to get a safe job first in order to have a solid backup plan for your music career.”
*”Musicians can’t make a good living”
*”All musicians have to play street corners for change just to get by”
In most cases you are told these things out of the best intentions… However, these ideas are highly misguided. Truth is, it’s not as hard as you might think to earn a good living in the music industry if you know specifically what to do to make money as a pro musician (and actually DO it). With this in mind, it’s exactly because the above false beliefs about the music industry are so wide spread, that they cause many musicians to fear not being able to make money. They then do things that lead to the exact OPPOSITE of what is needed to earn a good living.
The following is how trying ‘not’ to run into financial struggles in the music industry causes you to have difficulty making good money as a musician:
*You never make the effort to earn a lot more money in your music career. The worst thing you can possibly do is expect that you’ll struggle to make money as a musician. It’s certain that when you do this, you begin to live into the world you’ve created for yourself in your mind.
*You take your music career in the WRONG direction. By expecting failure in terms of making good money, many musicians start thinking they’ll be better off going to college to get a degree in a non-musical field, working at a “secure” job and THEN going after their music career dreams in their spare time. In the end, they almost always end up failing with this approach.
*You eat the goose that lays golden eggs. Note: What is written below could seem like “self-promotion,” since I mention how I mentor musicians as an illustration of a critical point. Of course, there is a very important lesson for you to learn here, and my words are true regardless of whether I am selling something or not. The lesson for you here illustrates how merely being AFRAID of becoming broke causes you to forever remain broke as a musician, until you make a significant change.
I occasionally receive messages from musicians who initially hesitated to join my music career training program or attend my music career money making event (where I show musicians how to easily make tons of money), because they are under the impression that they “cannot afford it.” Even after I take them through the overwhelming proof for how my programs have given HUGE results to the musicians I’ve worked with, they still remain skeptical and fearful. This skepticism comes from the same false narratives described above – that all musicians will inevitably become broke and struggle, so there is no point in pursuing a music career. Ironically, by attempting to “save” a few bucks in the moment and passing on the training (that is PROVEN to get results) on how to develop a lucrative music career, you are ensuring that you will never make a big income with music. This is referred to as “eating the goose that lays golden eggs” because you decide to eat the goose now rather than wait for golden eggs to appear later. Rather than learning how to earn money in your music career and building toward the future, you give in to your fear… guaranteeing that you will never make progress to move your career to a higher level.
How To Keep This Fear From De-railing Your Music Career:
1. Know that the belief that all musicians struggle to make money isn’t true and it certainly does not have to be your reality. This realization alone will keep you from letting fear steer your music career away from the things you really want.
2. Instead of being preoccupied with thoughts of how hard it will be to make money in music, take action to learn more about how to BECOME financially successful as a musician. There is a clear (and rudimentary) difference between these 2 mindsets and the ends that each one leads to are complete opposites.
Musician Fear #2: Fear Of Not Succeeding In Your Music Career
Too many musicians mess up their music careers by fearing that:
*They aren’t young enough to have a music career
*They don’t have enough talent to make it in music
*They don’t live in a big enough music city
*They don’t have a university degree in a musical field
*Their musical style is not well known where they live
*There are not enough serious musicians where they live who they can work with
*If they fail, they will look dumb in front of all the people who they told about their musical dreams (friends, family, etc.)
Besides the numerous reasons why these fears are irrational, know the following:
1. What you believe becomes your reality. If you think you have a good excuse for why you simply can’t become a successful musician (such as any of the things above), you will rationalize it and use it as a way to avoid advancing your music career. When you do this, you are GUARANTEED to fail at breaking into the music business. The other side of the coin is also true: if you believe that you are definitely going to become successful, and you are the master of your destiny, you will find a way to do whatever needs to get done to reach your goals. It’s clear that the latter mindset has a massively higher rate of success (both in the music business and in everyday life).
2. If you don’t even attempt to grow a successful music career – you have failed. Even worse than this guarantee of 100% failure, is you are going to regret not taking action to do what you dreamed of with music when you look back at all the opportunities you missed.
Musician Fear #3: Fear Of Becoming Successful In Your Music Career
Does it sound ridiculous to be afraid of becoming successful? It’s not. While the above fear of “failure” is a frequent occurrence for musicians who are new to the music industry, the fear of “becoming successful” is common for more seasoned musicians who are close to making a major breakthrough in their music careers.
These musicians can easily self-destruct by worrying about how their lives will be different when they become successful, how others will view them, how difficult it will be to continue their success or believing below the surface that they do not truly “deserve” to be successful. This causes many musicians begin to intentionally sabotage themselves by NOT doing things they know are in their own best interest (such as joining bands, going on tour or getting the training that they know they need that will build their career).
How To Not Let Fear Of Failure (Or Success) De-rail Your Music Career:
1. Understand that all the things you tell yourself about why you can’t have a music career in your specific scenario are just stories you make up. You have MASSIVE potential for success as a musician (much more than you realize), regardless of how old you are, what your current musical background is or the location where you live.
2. Think like highly successful musicians think. As I explained already, there is a basic difference between “playing to WIN” (in your music career) vs. playing “not to lose”. Successful musicians play to win and they do not focus on “avoiding fear” – they focus on “achieving success”… and this is what you must do as well.
3. Stack the deck of cards in your favor. You will drastically raise your odds of success in the music business (and beat your fear of failure), once you begin navigating the music industry without a blindfold on. Instead, quickly make progress by getting trained by a music career success mentor who has already helped many musicians achieve success in their music careers.
Musician Fear #4: Fear Of Being Treated Unfairly By Music Companies, Promoters And Other Industry Executives
The music industry is filled with long winded stories from (failed) musicians who claim that someone in the music industry has lead them to fail because they forced them to sign a bad contract, refused to pay them enough money or “screwed” them in some other way. Stories like this make many musicians afraid of getting into any business deals in the music industry and sometimes keep them from even trying to pursue a music career.
Here is a big music industry secret that no one will tell you that will turn this fear into potential for achieving success:
It’s the COMPANIES who should have a fear of being taken advantage of by the MUSICIANS they work with. Fact is, most music companies are NOT out there to screw the musicians they work with. Instead, they are really HUNGRY for new talent, for “everyone wins” partnerships and for ways to best use their resources (with the help of musicians they hire) to help everyone involved prosper.
At the same time, these companies are also afraid of spending MASSIVE sums of money into musicians who:
*Are emotionally or mentally unstable
*Feel “entitled” to receive the company’s money and resources simply because they may be good musicians
*Are lazy and can’t be depended upon
*Do not help the company earn money in a way that is mutually beneficial
… and a long list of other factors.
Truth is, music companies invest tons of time, money and other resources into the musicians they work with. They have a lot more at stake than most of the musicians they work with do, so they have to be very careful about doing business with the right musicians. They are inclined to refuse to act against their own best interest by working with musicians who seem risky (as investments) or who ask for more money than they have earned.
How To Not Let This Fear De-rail Your Music Career:
Know that what you just learned is a huge inside tip into how the music business actually works and will make all the difference between success and failure. Rather than being afraid that music companies are out to screw musicians, understand that you have a great opportunity to put yourself light years ahead of the competition in the music industry. Here is what you need to do:
*Know EXACTLY what people in the music industry look for in you (this extends way beyond your musical skills).
*Gather the pieces of value you require to make yourself the best choice for the greatest music career opportunities.
*Clearly display your value to the companies you want to work with by developing a rock-solid reputation for yourself as a risk-free musician who adds value for others.
By doing this, music companies will actively seek you out to give you the opportunities that other musicians never dreamed of.
Now that you have a good understanding of what fears hold so many musicians back from developing their music careers, take mental note of your thoughts and beliefs around working in the music industry. Once you become aware of the fears that are keeping YOU back, take action to transform your mindset (utilizing the resources and tools mentioned throughout this article). When you do this, you will find that your fears dissolve away as your music career starts quickly going in the right direction.
To quickly begin building a successful music career, find a music career success mentor.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online and a music career mentor. Tom also trains musicians on how to succeed in the music business. On his professional musician website tomhess.net you can read many more articles about making a living with a music career.
The whole point of digital music is the risk-free grazing”
Cory Doctorow, Canadian journalist and co-editor and of the off-beat blog Boing Boing, is an activist in favor of liberalizing copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. Doctorow and others continue to write prolifically about the apocalyptic changes facing Intellectual Property in general and the music industry in specific.
In this article, we will explore the cataclysm facing U.S. industry through the portal example of the music industry, a simple industry in comparison to those of automotive or energy. However, in the simplicity of this example we may uncover some lessons that apply to all industries.
In his web-article, “The Inevitable March of Recorded Music Towards Free,” Michael Arrington tells us that music CD sales continue to plummet alarmingly. “Artists like Prince and Nine Inch Nails are flouting their labels and either giving music away or telling their fans to steal it… Radiohead, which is no longer controlled by their label, Capitol Records, put their new digital album on sale on the Internet for whatever price people want to pay for it.” As many others have iterated in recent years, Arrington reminds us that unless effective legal, technical, or other artificial impediments to production can be created, “simple economic theory dictates that the price of music [must] fall to zero as more ‘competitors’ (in this case, listeners who copy) enter the market.”
Unless sovereign governments that subscribe to the Universal Copyright Convention take drastic measures, such as the proposed mandatory music tax to prop up the industry, there virtually exist no economic or legal barriers to keep the price of recorded music from falling toward zero. In response, artists and labels will probably return to focusing on other revenue streams that can, and will, be exploited. Specifically, these include live music, merchandise, and limited edition physical copies of their music.
According to author Stephen J. Dubner, “The smartest thing about the Rolling Stones under Jagger’s leadership is the band’s workmanlike, corporate approach to touring. The economics of pop music include two main revenue streams: record sales and touring profits. Record sales are a) unpredictable; and b) divided up among many parties. If you learn how to tour efficiently, meanwhile, the profits–including not only ticket sales but also corporate sponsorship, t-shirt sales, etc.,–can be staggering. You can essentially control how much you earn by adding more dates, whereas it’s hard to control how many records you sell.” (“Mick Jagger, Profit Maximizer,” Freakonomics Blog, 26 July 2007).
In order to get a handle on the problems brought about by digital media in the music industry, we turn to the data most relied upon by the industry. This data comes through Neilsen SoundScan which operates a system for collecting information and tracking sales. Most relevant to the topic of this column, SoundScan provides the official method for tracking sales of music and music video products throughout the United States and Canada. The company collects data on a weekly basis and makes it available every Wednesday to subscribers from all facets of the music industry. These include executives of record companies, publishing firms, music retailers, independent promoters, film entertainment producers and distributors, and artist management companies. Because SoundScan provides the sales data used by Billboard, the leading trade magazine, for the creation of its music charts, this role effectively makes SoundScan the official source of sales records in the music industry.
Quo vadis? According to Neilsen Soundscan, “In a fragmented media world where technology is reshaping consumer habits, music continues to be the soundtrack of our daily lives. According to Music 360 2014, Nielsen’s third annual in-depth study of the tastes, habits and preferences of U.S. music listeners, 93% of the country’s population listens to music, spending more than 25 hours each week tuning into their favorite tunes.”
For most Americans, music is the top form of entertainment. In a 2014 survey, 75% of respondents stated that they actively chose to listen to music over other media entertainment. Music is part of our lives throughout all times of the day. One fourth of music listening takes place while driving or riding in vehicles. Another 15% of our weekly music time takes place at work or while doing household chores.
It has become no surprise over the past five years that CD sales have diminished while download listening and sales have increased. Bob Runett of Poynter Online comments, “Start waving the cigarette lighters and swaying side to side–the love affair between music fans and their cell phones is getting more intense. Phones with music capabilities will account for 54 percent of handset sales globally in five years, according to a report consulting firm Strategy Analytics Inc. The report suggests that we keep watching the growth of cellular music decks (CMDs), devices that deliver excellent sound quality and focus on music more than images.” (“A Few Notes About Music and Convergence,” 25 November 2014)
Stephen J. Dubner summed up the mess quite well almost a decade ago. “It strikes me as ironic that a new technology (digital music) may have accidentally forced record labels to abandon the status quo (releasing albums) and return to the past (selling singles). I sometimes think that the biggest mistake the record industry ever made was abandoning the pop single in the first place. Customers were forced to buy albums to get the one or two songs they loved; how many albums can you say that you truly love, or love even 50% of the songs–10? 20? But now the people have spoken: they want one song at a time, digitally please, maybe even free.” (“What’s the Future of the Music Industry? A Freakonomics Quorum,” 20 September 2007).
Like many of us, I (Dr. Sase) also have worked as a musician/producer/engineer/indie label owner releasing esoterica since the 1960s. While occasionally made an adequate living off my music, I also developed my talents as an economist, earning a doctorate in that field. Therefore, I comment from this dual perspective of an economist/musician.
The post-future, as many music pundits call it, does not really differ that much from the past. How and why folks obtain their music continues to reflect at least three related decision drivers. We can summarize the three most relevant as 1) Content, 2) Durability, and 3) Time-Cost. Let us explain further.
When I started to record music in the early 1960s, the market was filled with “one-hit wonders.” It was the age of AM (amplitude modulation), DJ radio. It was also the age of the 45 RPM record with the hit on the A Side and usually some filler cut on the B Side. It was not uncommon for anyone with a 2-track reel-to-reel to “download” the one hit desired from their favorite radio station. There were few groups that offered entire twelve-inch LPs with mostly great songs. The first such LP that I purchased was Meet the Beatles by those four lads from Liverpool.
During the late 1960s, the industry turned more to “Greatest Hit” collections by groups that had previously turned out a string of AM hits and to “concept” albums. During this golden age of LP sales, the Beatles, the Stones, the Grateful Dead, Yes, King Crimson, and numerous other groups released albums filled with solid content. Bottom line: consumers don’t mind paying for product if they feel that they are receiving value.
Why would someone buy a twelve-inch LP when they could borrow a copy and tape record the songs to a reel-to-reel or, later on, to a compact cassette? The answers at that time were simple. First, it was “cool” to have a great album collection, especially one that a member of the opposite gender could thumb through in one’s dorm room. Let us simply say that one’s album collection could inform another party about one’s tastes and possible sub-culture and personality. Therefore, an attractive collection provided a certain degree of social currency. Might this account for the resurgence of
vinyl in recent years?
The second part of the equation came in the form of actual product durability. Like current downloads, self-recorded reel-to-reel and cassette tapes generally suffered from some loss of fidelity in the transition. More importantly, the integrity and permanence of the media also left something to be desired. Thirty to forty years ago, tape would flake, break, and tangle around the capston. Unless one backed up their collection to a second-generation tape, many of one’s favorite tunes could be lost.
Today, computer hard drives crash. Without the expense of an additional hard drive and the time involved to make the transfer, the same durability issues ensue. What about CDs? As most of us who use CD-Rs for multiple purposes know, the technology that instantly burns an image leaves a product that remains more delicate and subject to damage in comparison to a commercially fabricated CD, stamped from a metal master. Will the Internet clouds provide the same level of comfort for music producers and listeners? We will just have to wait and see.
This third element basically reflects the old “tape is running/time-is-money” economic argument and may explain why younger music-listeners prefer to download songs either legally or illegally. It echoes the same economics that led listeners in the 1960s to record their favorite hits off of the radio. The substance of the argument has to do with how an individual values his/her time. If music-lovers works for a low hourly wage (or often no income at all), they will value the time spent downloading, backing up, and transferring cuts in terms of what they could be earning during the same time.
Let us consider the following example. Assuming that twelve downloads or a comparable CD costs $12.00, a baby-sitter earning $6 per hour could afford to spend as much as two hours of time ripping music to achieve the same value. However, someone with a skilled trade or a college degree may be earning $24.00 or more per hour. Spending more than one half hour at ripping would exceed the value derived. The counter-argument of the time-cost of travelling to a brick-and-mortar music store gets offset by a person’s ability to log-on to Amazon or elsewhere in less than a minute and possibly receive free shipping. The market will always change as the primary market demographic ages. It happened with the Baby-Boomers of the 1960s and 1970s and it will happen with Generation X, Y and Z in the current century.
The bottom line of all of this debate rests in the fact that a consumer will choose the mode of deliverable that optimizes his/her bundle of values. This bundle includes quality and quantity of content, durability, and time-cost effectiveness. These remain the lessons that music makers and music deliverers must understand to survive. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
“When I’m drivin’ in my car, And that man comes on the radio, He’s tellin’ me more and more, About some useless information, Supposed to fire my imagination, I can’t get no, oh no, no, no.” -Michael Philip Jagger, British Economist, London School of Economics
In conclusion, we recognize that certain values motivate consumers as well as businesses. These values include content, durability, and time cost. It does not matter whether the good or service under consideration exists in the form of real, personal, or intellectual property. The premise remains the same for making music, building automobiles, teaching economics, and providing legal services.
The British economist Adam Smith summarized this phenomenon 229 years ago in his concept of an invisible hand at work in the marketplace. In effect, markets work because all market participants seek to optimize their own self interests. As long as both parties involved in a transaction perceive that they will emerge better off after consummating the transaction, they will participate. If one (or both parties) does not share this perception, no music, automobile, education, nor legal services will change hands. In effect, the market fails to produce a satisfactory outcome.