When the city of Boston was new and unpaved the city fathers decided against laying out a regular street plan and instead merely paved the paths that had been worn by cattle. This resulted in a chaotic and inefficient street plan that lacks logic.
The path of least resistance, though may be easier for cattle, does not necessarily lead you to the destination you want most effectively.
Don’t blindly follow the Cow Path.
The game changed as did all the old rules.
This requires that we not pave over cow paths in the growth and development of our careers.
The traditional music industry evolved into the modern music business, and that implies a substantial amount of cowpaths be re-examined.
The traditional pathways for Music Career Development consists of outdated, inefficient, and in most cases-unsustainable approaches or strategies.
As you’ve begun to learn by now in this training series, the fact is that the traditional music industry as we knew it was simply unsustainable for the large majority of artists, and even the special few that were selected didn’t get quite what they bargained for.
Music Business and Artist Career Mismanagement.
Artists, on their own-were essentially thrown into the Game at level 10.
See, now instead of a natural, gradual, progressive development pathway as they grew their music career and brand identity… as they developed their talents and skills, learned and understood their business, embraced the roles and responsibilities, developed the relationships with their fan base… as they naturally came into their own as well rounded artists in control of their music businesses-who were on top of all the facets required to own and operate it profitably, sustainably, for the long term, with true freedom and fulfillment…
Instead of that incredibly long run on sentence of things, the few that were “selected,” were in many cases thrust into a large network of people and processes with conflicting agendas, unclear expectations, and a substantial amount of elements vital to them and their brand (their long term mark on this planet) that remained outside of their control.
The fact is that the old music industry wasn’t controlled by Artists and Music Makers, and it wasn’t even controlled by their fans… It was owned and operated by a cluster of larger than life corporations, business entities with very little accountability-who governed the scarce resources, controlling access to limited supply and distribution networks, and chose who and what passed through them… Or not.
Top level Accountability in the Traditional Music Industry?
Ultimately, Since there were so many limitations in this access and to these resources, which were run by big businesses, often times men who had very little interest in the deeper function of this unique little marketplace, the traditional music industry became a big budget, largely political back-room affair. (Now to be fair, many of the record label and corporate executives were indeed music lovers, and music makers, but we’ll save how that ended up for a little later)
Of course that’s not to say there weren’t or aren’t still good people at labels, within the industry, and on executive boards… I’ve come to learn that it’s not about an us vs. them, fuck the gatekeepers mantra, it’s about a fundamental understanding of what happened, and how we can do better…
Fortunately, this time, we’re in control.
Welcome to the Modern Music Industry
This time, it’s on us.
The Artists, the music makers and our fans are the majority share stakeholders and investors in this enterprise called the modern music business.
Welcome to The Artists Revolution.
The artists revolution have birthed a new breed of creator equipped with the dual skillsets of artistic and entrepreneurial savvy fit for the modern world.
Artists and Musicians in the Modern World who operate at a different level. Who understand the rules of the new game to grow their music career in the music industry, who have developed the right mindset, who’ve developed their Entrepreneurial skill-set and mastery over their tools. The Modern Toolset.
These Hybrid Artists combine the integration of creativity and technology to leverage the tools and opportunities of the Modern Music Industry, embrace the full capacity of their role as multi-media story tellers, and take control of their responsibility to unite, inspire, create for, and narrate the many experiences they’ll have with their fans and followers throughout the journey of their careers.
The Artists who enjoy the rewards of embracing becoming the leaders, creators, and designers of their career and experience greater levels of financial freedom, fulfillment and meaningful connections directly with their fan base… They are called Modern Artists.
Modern Artists lead this Revolution from the front. It’s the opposite of the gatekeeper driven crapshoot called the traditional music industry, and it’s how the power found it’s way back into the hands of the people, the Artists and Musicians, as well as their fans.
Defining Music Career Success in the Modern Music Business
As we etched out The Music Career Blueprints and Roadmap for a client named Tom’s Music Business I asked him a question.
“How do we achieve success in the modern music business as an artist or musician?”
Understandably taken aback a bit with how to answer that question I interrupted his thinking.
“I want to transform the way you think about success – and the way you grow your career in the modern music business.
Success is not a mystery that happens to some, and doesn’t happen to others. It is scientific. It is all required properties needed to fulfill an intended purpose.
Success is simply the accomplishment of an undertaking with a defined objective. It is the fulfillment of an aim or purpose.
Success is no more relative to cash or things than it is to feeling or being or doing. It is the fulfillment of all required properties. It’s scientific.
If your objective was to build a chair… What would it take to be successful?
The definition of success in building a chair would of course be subjective, of course, but success would inherently and could only be achieved given the definition of the properties required to make it so-first.
If my defined objective was anything to sit on that would keep me from falling over, than a stool with at least three or four legs that stood upright would get the job done just fine…
If however, I wanted a high back rocking chair made out of oak that didn’t squeak… Well then I’d have a whole different set of requirements needing to be fulfilled before I was successful.
There isn’t a way for you to be completely successful unless you know what that looks like for you.
The properties must be defined.
As the Music Business Architect I naturally think in blueprints and design custom drawn Career Blueprints that include the development of artistic, entrepreneurial, and the personal properties of success for each musician… But however you would like to define or view the required elements of your careers success is what you should use.
However you choose to define and approach building your music business there is one stage that is often overlooked in the overall lifecycle of an artists music career and that leads us to the next top mistake the majority of Artists are making in building a thriving musical empire that sustains for the long-term.
Top Traditional Music Career Mistake: Not building a strong foundation and developing the infrastructure and systems for your careers growth and expansion.
Skyscrapers often emerge from deep foundations hundreds of feet beneath the surface. These large buildings are constructed with basal structures strong enough to support such heavy loads and all forms of changing conditions that will effect it.
In addition to your core brands identity, unique value position, and message, their are a “stack” of systems and processes that combine to execute the core functions of your music business operations.
But the infrastructure is one thing, it must be setup right for your unique blueprints and career trajectory… But the real “foundation” we are talking about is the solution to the biggest problem facing musicians in the modern music industry…
It can be summed up in one word…
That’s right. Your biggest obstacle isn’t getting in front of – or listened to – by the right people… That is available, instantly, any time, across any number of channels and formats…
Your biggest obstacle is getting them to CARE.
To truly pay attention to, and genuinely choose to support YOU.
Getting someone to push a button for a social share, listen or play is not the hard part…
The hard part is getting them to CARE about what you are doing. In addition to saying nice things to you or about you – to actually pull out their wallets and put their money where their mouth is-so to speak.
Let me ask you a question to help illustrate…
Have you ever experienced a situation where you have just had some transformational moment or journey and then ran into a loved run and you’re dying to share what you’ve just learned and it’s like they are there with you and listening to you but it’s obvious that they just couldn’t care less about anything you are talking about…
Major Frustration right!?
Clearly you are both on completely different pages and aren’t connecting. The message just ain’t getting through.
Different wavelengths. Emotional DISconnect.
That’s not a fun or engaging or motivating place to be huh?
So compare that to your best friend who just experienced virtually the exact same thing as you and then you bumped into each other…
This conversation pours like cool water at a wet t-shirt contest… IT JUST FLOWS!
What’s needed for this level of engagement and experience is both CONTEXT, and connection.
The point is that without context, without emotional connection to your audience and what you are delivering to them it is just momentary stories without a point. They may resonate with the people that listen to and consume your stuff, for reasons that relate to them and their life’s narrative-currently, or that speaks to them in some way on some level for some reason…
But if you let them in, if you connect with them emotionally and offer ways for them to share the journey of your career with them-at levels they are comfortable with… then you have someone who’s engaged with you and your art. Someone with at least a modicum of buy-in for what you are doing… they are invested at least to the smallest degree that they have publicly demonstrated their support for what you are doing.
This seemingly inconsequential distinction is a game changer for the growth of your career. It is the reason why someone would spend $10 a month to see what you (one individual artist) produce-instead of taking that same $10 and buying instant, on demand access to virtually every song-almost ever recorded.
Building a strong foundation means building and progressively developing that “less glamorous” but vital part of your music business… Your brands core identity and unique value position in your market.
You don’t have to understand the fundamentals of why and how this works but you do have to understand how to use the modern toolset to connect with your audience and grow your career. Stay tuned for that next lesson.
P.S. You can learn more about later-and also get the practical training and coaching to guide you through doing this for your own music business in Modern Musician Bootcamp.
The Music Business Architect for Independent Artists & Creators
Proudly Helping Hundreds of Modern Musicians liberate the music business, declare their artistic independence, and earn a full-time living doing what they love-on their own terms.
CEO of The Music Business Liberation Program
Author of The Music Business Manifesto
Creator of the Music Business Blueprint