I think one of the struggles of the music industry is the realization that no one can do everything for you, at least not if you want to go anywhere. And that’s really rough. It’s one of those things that you don’t really expect to see in the industry, you’d imagine that, given how their social media profiles look the stars are lounging around with calm chilled out lives only occasionally broken up by hopping in a plane to go somewhere exotic to perform a show. A lot of artists think that they can just pay to have that happen for them and to actualize their ideas. Now this would be a cool thing if it was a reality, but when you look at how a lot of our favorite artists live I think it becomes fairly obvious that these people are workaholics with a single minded devotion to growing their music and working to develop something truly special that not a lot of their peers can match up to. That’s what makes them stars after all, they just sell the fantasy.
Ultimately this is the problem when you see so many kids who fully expect that when they grow up they will be famous and when you realize that being a star involves being constantly on it becomes very quickly problematic for all parties involved. In the social media generation to stay in touch with your fans is easier than ever, and this is sort of the thing that keeps it all going. It’s the way that you can interact directly with people and give them a unique experience with you, even if you don’t have the capacity to tour a lot. When it comes down to it, most of the chatter going on about an artist at any given time is due to both their own social media posting and their actions getting shared on social media. If they aren’t involved in this then they are going to lose control of the narrative. The biggest artists realize this, hell all famous people realize this, just look at what Donald Trump has been able to create, he is his own PR man and it’s created a fascinating cult.
Of course this isn’t the only thing going on, people fail to realize how much time truly top level artists often put into their work. Not just in terms of working in the studio (I have rolled my eyes so many times at bands who think that they can write a record in a few weeks just because Led Zeppelin did it) but also in terms of constant interviews, media appearances and all that good stuff. Now you might be saying “Well, I’m a small artist who no one cares about!” but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be constantly busy if you really want it. You should be out there pushing for shows, trying to connect with labels and making friends with whoever you can. The artists who I see coming up in a big way are the ones who know how to grind all over, not just on social media, but also in terms of direct networking, emailing people and just generally trying to be cool. Even stars realize that they can’t just hide behind a manager, they have to be up front and in peoples faces, the interpersonal contact is a big key here.
A lot of artists seem to think that they get something out of being behind the veil and being hard to access. Now sometimes this does indeed work. I think that if Ghost had been super in your face about everything no one would have cared. In fact, finding out about who actually played Papa Emeritus and the Nameless Ghouls took something away from the band for me. That being said – most of the time, unless you have a really strong visual aesthetic anyway or are in a genre where artists frequently remain anonymous, like dungeon synth or obscure black metal then you aren’t really doing yourself any favors. People want artists who work their asses off in order to make a direct connection with them and who will tell them that they are being a part of something greater. They want to be a part of the life of the person who made them feel something so profound, it’s rewarding and a key part of what makes so many of these artists big. They connect.
Something I circle back too time and time again is encouraging artists, especially younger ones to look at where there favorite artists where at this point in their careers. Most musicians have a few bands who they try and base their careers off of, so you should look at those careers and identify what makes sense and what is merely working against you. It also allows you to sort of figure out that “Oh wait, I don’t know anyone in my scene and I’m not doing anything my favorite artists did to get big, fuck I better change” One of the struggles of this of course is that if your favorite artist that you’re referencing is from prior to 2005 or so a lot of the tools they used to get big are no longer relevant. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t study them, it just means that you need to evaluate how a lot of these things fit in the high speed digital world of the late 2010’s.
So that’s all I’m trying to say – if you’re trying to be a star, or even get somewhere with your music you need to grind. You have people like that “Six figure musician lady and the thing she avoids telling you is that a lot of her tips. Which are great, really need to be couched in the understanding that you will be working just as much as someone who makes six figures at a real job, it’s a constant grind and one that is going to be intense if you want to actually develop your career in a meaningful way. There are a lot of ways to grow but all of them involve you doing a ton of work, no matter how big your team. Managers just direct the work, they can’t always do it for you, so sit back and get ready to grind, because this is the great adventure.