Posted: Jan 31, 2022
Category: The Musician Business
**Guest post by Eric Todd of YFM, The Big Break Solution.
"Once upon a time, back in the 80’s the world was chock full of record labels, both major and indie, limited to a single one-way street to success. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad, it just was what it was. An “original” artist worked towards the elusive big break of a record deal or musicians played in cover bands and there existed a great divide between them.
No one could imagine that we’d be living in the Bizarro World in 2022 (on so many levels), where the exact opposite is true. Today, only a few big labels exist, but there is now a multi-lane superhighway to find success, by whatever success means to the artist. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is what it is.
The dawn of the mp3, music streaming, livestreaming, and other technology platforms aimed directly at Indies truly created a paradigm shift of opportunity. You can choose to stay in your lane, no matter if your goal is to remain fiercely indie, sign the even more elusive record deal, or a hybrid thereof, like remaining independent, with label services support. Still, there remain major obstacles that technology has not solved.
Very few Indies breakout without a major label behind them. Why? We could just say it’s the big machine and mountain of money invested in a major artist and call it a day, but that’s far from the whole truth. Technology never solved for X when X=A&R. Thus, most indie releases suffer the fate of oblivion in mediocrity without those critical label services that include true artist development.
It is undeniable that our music icons were given the time to develop while under contract to create art that stood the test of time and trends. Not so much, today. Indies must develop on their own before a label, manager, or publisher will give them the time of day.
This leads to another issue never solved by tech: promotion of music that’s been primed by artist self-development and deserving of a global audience. Going viral is the only way.
Every Indie is hoping to go viral out of the gate to be discovered by a major label or millions of fans. Craig Howard, YFM’s Chief Promotion Officer has been curating awesome talent that resonated with fans since 2017, resulting in hundreds of viral campaigns. He says, “A viral success causing intense engagement is one part science and three parts luck, but what is essential for growth beyond the campaign is only achieved by genuine musicianship, strategic management, and consistency, which most artists fail at because they're not ready to or have the means to work for the success.” The moral of the story is to be careful what you wish for and be certain you are prepared to do the work to get there and beyond a single viral success.
So, set 2022 on the right course to own your journey by taking practical steps to grow as an artist. Change lanes to the one that helps you to hyper-focus on creating great art and authentically engaging with your followers to convert them into fans. You already intuitively know that followers are not fans, and streams are not sales, so be mindful not to fool yourself into believing otherwise.
And don’t worry about perfection either. Perfection becomes white noise after a while (see every vocal competitive reality series of the last decade). Most iconic artists are far from perfect; however, they possess great character, a talent for interpretation, and an uncanny ability to connect with hand-crafted art baked into a three-minute tune. That takes time to develop. Making it look easy ain’t easy."
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