"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth." - Henry David Thoreau.
The "Truth" in today's music environment, specifically for today's artists, is that it seems harder and harder to find either money or fame, in spite of how much love goes into the music. It's a daily occurrence on the socials where a talented artist/band, well rehearsed with measurable "scene" anticipation, present their professionally recorded, labor of love single/ep/lp on a Friday, and in a matter of weeks is asking themselves, WHAT MORE CAN I DO?!?! It seems a universal truth that artists at all levels, in all markets, in every genre, are expressing growing frustration when it comes to accessing Money and/or Fame for their work. That seems to be the primary truth.
When we back up and evaluate the marketplace, it seems to be an insurmountable task to be THE pebble creating ripples in the pond, for we are in the middle of a downpour. Think about it, approximately 1 Million tracks are uploaded every month on all of the usual suspects: Spotify, Apple, Google Play, Amazon, etc. That math breaks down to 23 new singles EVERY... SINGLE... MINUTE!!!
Across the board it seems like every aspect of the music making & distribution process is falling square into the WIN column for the consumer, moving the artist further and further down the podium. The quality of recordings, the creativity in the writing, the unique sounds from new technology & gear, compounded by cheap to free methods of distribution, all add up to music fans having incredible choices WITHOUT having to spend much money, if any at all. All the while artists continue to be the ones pushing the boundaries and quality of music, expressing and displaying their emotions, spending their side hustle on gear first, rent second, in large part to satisfy the perceived demands and expectations of a seemingly disinterested consumer with entertainment ADHD.
Some seemingly "successful" artists are getting back to basics to try and buck the trend. Here are some of the common denominators that we've noticed:
Limiting their digital releases.
This does not mean they are not going to Spotify, it's that they're only putting out their best for "free" in an attempt to make a bigger "ripple"
They are keeping the bulk of their product in a pay'd environment ($.25/download on Bandcamp for example) for even a little support goes a long way
They are not rushing their work to market.
Many of the releases have been in the box for a while so that they could focus on the anticipation/PR
Many of these artists focus heavily on their branding via Facebook/Instagram stories to help build their human connection above and beyond the music
These artists seem to be much more prone to engage in the minutia of thanking fans, answering questions, and responding to a fans "engagement". This makes fans feel loved.
These artists often focus heavily on the artwork for they realize a music consumer usually shops with their eyes first as they're flipping through vinyl stacks or scrolling through digital catalogs
Video... Video... Video. They are presenting well produced music videos at a maximum, and are consistently going "live" on multiple social platforms at a minimum. This... is... critical.
Collaboration. Artists near the top of the pile in their given genre's seem to have a much broader "creative" team on their projects: writers, performers, studio players, etc.
A living room jam session can be more effective than the for-hire writer that knows nothing about you. Stay open and available to creativity whenever possible
Tour. Find a way, get on the road, meet new people, and TOUR!!!
At the end of the day Fame and Money, in any discipline, are difficult to come by. The TRUTH is no one really knows what the magic potion is. Remember this... So many great singles & hits throughout history were conceived and perfected in basements, garages, and living rooms everywhere. As long as artists continue to Love making art, those songs will never go away nor stop coming to fruition. Consumers always seem to heap Fame and Money on those tunes... somehow.