Winners and losers. That’s the world we live in today. Despite huge promotional campaigns, wherein these acts get reams of old wave media mentions, it turns out the public either wants you or it doesn’t, either knows of you and must buy your new work, or can quite handily avoid you.
Then there are the juggernauts, like Rihanna and Taylor Swift… People buy what they know, what’s happening, they want to be au courant…
In other words, you’re a winner or a loser. That long tail Chris Anderson spoke of? Turns out it’s a very steep ride. The bottom is far from the top. And there’s very little in between.
The industry is employing an old model in a new world. Used to be we were information starved and had to buy albums to hear them. Now we’re on info overload and you can hear anything you want on YouTube. Ownership is only for the very most dedicated.
And all that promo is front-loaded. A month after the album is released you hear nary a word.
You’ve got to plan for the long haul. Something that’s anathema to not only the music business, but American business at large. You’ve got to have a career. You’ve got to build.
In the old days, when your album stiffed it was returned by retailers and cut out of the catalog, it no longer existed. Whereas today your work lives online forever, ready to catch fire if it’s good and you can continue to draw fans to it. This is an opportunity. As is the streaming compensation model. You can continue to be compensated for decades if people care and listen. Listening is the key today. Hell, everybody knows “Gangnam Style”… It’s the most popular YouTube video of all time, topping 840 million plays. It didn’t enter public consciousness via radio, radio was last. And sales are puny compared to streams. This is the new world.
So when you see the endless hype for has-beens in mainstream media laugh. Know that the reporters are dumber than you are. They’re clinging to a dead model. Unwitting couriers for old men at labels inured to what once was as opposed to what now is.
Never have so many been exposed to something they care about so little.
The game has changed. Unless you’re one of the chosen few, and that’s a very few, less than five, you build from the bottom up instead of the top down. It happens slowly. But like anything with a good foundation, it lasts.