5 Music Biz Myths Debunked

April 19, 2013{ No Comments }

Music Biz Myths DebunkedBusting the big myths of the music business

[This post was written by guest contributors Ari Herstand and Cheryl B. Engelhardt.]

Ever since Myspace hit, musicians have been attempting to showcase themselves online in the most attractive light possible. Most musicians went about Myspace completely wrong by making their profiles look like it was pumped out by a major label. A sterile “Thanks for the follow!” banner was posted in the comment section of anyone who friended them and any comment or message was replied to by “management” to make it seem we were busier and more important than we were.

Only during Myspace’s cliff-jumping decline (and Facebook’s rise) did we (yes we’re at fault too) realize that we went about it all wrong. People weren’t connecting to the (failed) mystique like the stars of yore, but were connecting to those who opened up and showed their true identities. The artists who wrote back to their fans personally and didn’t pimp out their profiles to appear to be anything they weren’t — those were the ones who quickly rose.
+It Doesn’t Take a Web Genius

The new music model is all about transparency and not trying to be anyone you aren’t. There are no labels pulling the strings anymore for 99.99999% of the musicians out there doing it (and succeeding). Us DIYers are in full control and need to understand what works and especially what doesn’t in the age of Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia.
+How To Kill a 30 Year Career in 5 Minutes

We have put together 5 common myths about succeeding in the music industry that need to be BUSTED:

Myth #1: You should never share your age (especially if you are over 25).

Age doesn’t matter. You can develop your musical talents and “make it” starting at 15, 25, or 55 as long as you are in action around your career and are providing value for your fans. Sure, if you are appealing to the tween crowd, relate-ability can help if you are also a tween. But great music, fans, and career advancements are not dependent on age.

Gotye, F.U.N., Justin Timberlake, Michael Buble and Sara Bareilles are in their 30’s. Metallica members, Gavin Rossdale, Darius Rucker, LL Cool J are all in their 40’s. Madonna is in her 50s. Emmylou Harris in her 60’s. Heck, Pinetop Perkins won the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album at age 97.

Age is not a thing to lie about, especially in this age of information where it’s so simple to find the truth. With age comes different life experiences, all which you can use towards your advantage, especially as inspiration in your writing.

Myth #2: You should never share your relationship status.

I (this is Cheryl speaking here) was actually told by a music business lawyer that I shouldn’t mention to my fans that I have a boyfriend. That I should “appear available” to all of my fans. And for a long time, I believed it.

When I got engaged, I was SO excited I wanted to tell everyone I knew. But I was torn between keeping up the mysterious appearance of availability and actually being authentic with what was going on in my life. I decided to see what happens when I get real with people and share what’s going on for me. Not in detail, of course, but just enough to let them know I was human.

I understand if you get super famous and keep your personal relationships quiet to save your partner from unwanted press. But when I play a show and introduce a song as the song I wrote to tell my husband to f&ck off (before we got married, of course), it’s part of the story to let everyone know how it ended up and allows more people to relate to what I’m singing.

Myth #3: You need a team to be significant.

This goes back to the Myspace persona musicians unsuccessfully created. People are connecting to honesty and transparency these days. You don’t need to pretend that you have a booking agent, label or manager when you don’t. You do need to be able to kick ass at those duties on your own though.

Fans respect bands who can do it all on their own. It all comes down to quality. If you put out great music and put on a killer live show then no one will care if you have a giant label behind you or just doing it all yourself. Actually, they’ll respect you a lot more if you ARE just doing it on your own. This isn’t to say don’t team up with others. Definitely get together with other musicians/artists in your genre or local scene to collaborate and put your heads together on ways to advance yourselves. Our generation of of DIYers love helping each other out and seeing their talented friends succeed alongside them.

Myth #4: You need money to make money.

If you surround yourself with talented, creative people (like most musicians do) then you should have people in your network who can do nearly all the duties required to get a music career off the ground.

Early on, no one has any money, but everyone is looking to build their portfolio and resume so they can someday make money with their talents. If you’re no longer in your twenties and all your friends have 9-5 office jobs and you’re stuck in podunksville Wisconsin with absolutely no creative people around you, then hit up colleges in your area. Find film students to create an EPK and music video. Get a history student, whose passion is photography, and setup some photo shoots.

You don’t need a website designed from scratch – spend some time on WordPress or find a cheap website creating service for bands like Hostbaby. If you don’t have the money then you need to put the time in. If you don’t have the time, well then, you ain’t gonna make it in music. Prioritize what’s most important in your life.

Myth #5: You need to sleep your way to the top.

No you don’t. Sure, there are some creepy venue promoters and label execs that want to take advantage of your seemingly desperate desire to succeed and get into bed with you. But should you succumb to such advances from these few, ultimately insignificant gatekeepers, you are merely providing yourself with a temporary (and icky) short cut. Such actions can tarnish your reputation to those folks who actually matter in the end. This one is your choice, but wouldn’t you like to think your music is good enough without the need to recreate a sleazy porn scene?

That’s really the point of all of this myth busting. Your music is your music and is great on its own. You don’t need to lie, withhold information, puff yourself up, or do something you are uncomfortable with to advance your career. There are plenty of ways to do that on your own (like spending some time on Ari’s blog or downloading Cheryl’s E-course) that will be more rewarding for your music career and you, the human being.

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BIOs

Ari Herstand has been a full-time DIY musician for over 5 years. He’s played over 500 shows in 40 states and has opened for artists such as Ben Folds, Cake, Joshua Radin, Matt Nathanson and Ron Pope. His songs have been featured on TV shows like One Tree Hill and various Showtime and MTV shows. His latest studio album debuted at #11 on iTunes singer/songwriter charts. He writes an independent music business advice blog,  Ari’s Take and gets bands Up and Running through his one-on-one Get Specific consulting program.

Ari’s Take: http://aristake.com
Ari’s Take on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/aristake
Ari’s Take on Facebook: http://facebook.com/aristake
Sign up for Ari’s Take email list: http://aristake.com/signup.html
Ari Herstand music: http://ariherstand.com


Cheryl B. Engelhardt is a singer/songwriter and composer. Her website is www.cbemusic.com and you can follow her on Twitter @CBE.

She authored the killer E-course “In The Key Of Success: The 5 Week Jump Start Strategy” which will get your music career moving in the direction you want (go get it now).

 

 

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[Myth image from Shutterstock.]