Lady GaGa is the 1%.
I don’t mean she’s to be hated, that she has no talent, only that she won, she’s ubiquitous, she’s rich.
And odds are you’re not going to be.
Society demands a certain amount of commonality, things we all know about and comment upon. It’s usually based on quality, but not always, look at the Rebecca Black phenomenon. So we all watch the Super Bowl, so we can comment on it the following day. This accounts for the growth of awards shows, we want to be involved.
But there are very few of these paragons.
The major labels are shooting for them. Back when it was a limited universe, which they controlled, they could create more of them. In the Internet era, we only need a few stars to rally around, which is why we have fewer labels and they’re having less success. We just don’t need what they’re selling.
It doesn’t make economic sense. To spend that much money with the dream that you’ll break through. Because almost nothing breaks through.
Which leaves the DIY world.
When I say DIY, don’t think of the last century, think of today.
You can literally do it yourself.
You can make your record on your computer and market it online and even sell it yourself. I’m not saying you’re gonna be a millionaire, but you’ve got the tools.
But people are balking. The oldsters keep saying you can’t make a record for bupkes, that you’ve got to do it the old way to have quality.
But we see there’s a limited market for this level of quality. Of push. Because not only does it involve the record, but a whole team of people marketing and promoting to a public that in most cases is shrugging its shoulders.
And the youngsters just want a taste of what once was. Kind of like that Woody Allen movie "Midnight In Paris", believing that if they could only jet back to the MTV era, they could win.
We could debate all day long the odds of winning back then, and the price that was paid, but the main point is those days are through. History. Gone forever.
You’re now part of the 99%. Own it.
The 99% is about art. It’s about being honest and truthful and hoping someone resonates.
You can go on a TV show and have Simon Cowell and his ilk mold you into a two-dimensional vessel primed to win the commonality sweepstakes. But even if you do win, you must realize that although you’ll be famous, you’ll be grist for the mill. We don’t look up to these manufactured stars, we make fun of them. Furthermore, Cowell and his ilk take most of the profits. As do the labels. That’s the essence of a 360 deal. They want a return on investment. And you’re that investment.
Or you can jettison the above and try to make it on your vitals. Your ability to play, to say something.
You can’t win at their game without selling out to them.
Which is why you’re best off playing the new game.
Once you’ve got traction, everyone will come looking for a taste. This is what killed the mainstream rappers. By time they sold out to the alcohol companies and the department stores we could no longer believe in them. Your challenge is to create something new and keep control, because once you take the money, you’re history.
You can sell it yourself and Live Nation and AEG will book you, because that’s their business, producing live shows. They’re not like the labels of yore. They’re tools to use.
And television and the Fortune 500 may offer cash and exposure, but if you think they care about you, you probably believe there’s a Christmas in July.
So write off the old game. We’re back to the sixties. It’s truly about music.
And although everybody picked up a guitar in the wake of the Beatles, very few made it. Same deal today. You may have gotten a trophy for participating in soccer, but only the winners get trophies in music.
And I’m not talking about the Grammys, I’m talking about careers, fans and yes, money.
And marketing is important, but secondary to music.
We don’t care if you can sing the hits as well as the stars on YouTube. Can you write a hit? If so, your voice doesn’t have to be that great. And since you’re part of the 99%, can you write a hit that’s different from what’s on Top Forty, an anti-hit? That’s how all those classic rockers succeeded way back when.
Yes, most acts suck. But the people, the public, the audience, is always looking for something great. They love to champion greatness, someone who does it differently, one of them, the 99%.
Louis C.K. became a star overnight by doing it different.