Don’t spend your time on something broken, when you can do something that works even better.
Unless you’re a huge business with a lot of legacy to deal with, the shape of the long tail doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether music is getting increasingly “winner takes all”. This graph does NOT matter:
Why it doesn’t matter
Going into music, you know that the economics are messed up. Everyone has told you so. Unless you haven’t told anyone you’re going into music. Even then — opening one music business blog will tell you the same thing. Constant bickering over the way money is distributed, who gets paid, how much, why not more, why not less, ticket scalping, streaming royalties, exclusives, royalty split disputes…
It’s not pretty.
So you know that you should not create a reality for yourself where you’ll be dependent on the outcome of the ugly side of the music business. Create one where it doesn’t matter.
As soon as you commit to that, the overall economic picture of the music industry won’t matter quite as much.
What matters most
You should be focusing on your music, and on your fans, and on people who make music just like you. Focus on positivity.
Money is not the problem. Your attitude is.
Be proactive. Tell people about your music constantly. Find out who the programmers are for the venues where you want to play. Who the authors are of blogs or YouTube channels that post similar music. Comment. Message them. Ask them for feedback. Be humble and positive.
One day they’ll give you a chance. But they have to SEE that you’re working hard at it, so document your progress. Post at least 5 things to social media every day. Maybe even 10. Snapchat and Instagram Stories make that SUPER easy.
If you’re a band: set everyone up with access. More content.
You need to stand out above all the noise and you need to sustain people’s attention, so they don’t forget about you, so they don’t move on, so you keep appearing in their Facebook timelines and their inbox.
People’s individual attention long tails are the only long tails that matter.
You have a camera on your phone. Get in front of it. Document. Share.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. It has to be genuine. If you work hard, it will get better over time. Then people will feel part of your narrative, part of your story… and that it was kinda shitty early on is actually great: people LOVE a good underdog story.
If you’re worried about being boring because you spend too much time in your studio — set up a livestream. Sure it could get boring, but there will be highlights.
What about the money?
Then you’re going to make money on your own. Away from the rat race. Away from the long tail. Your fans are part of your story. Set up a Patreon. Use Kickstarter to launch new projects. Give them a way to commit.
If you work hard at it, people are going to take note. Including people with money. Influencer marketing is one of the hottest areas in marketing right now. Sponsors are going to show up. Reject all of them, except for the ones that really make sense. Don’t trade in your fans for money. Be you.
If you have a huge excited fanbase, they’ll be LOUD. People will hear you. So the deals will come. The shows will come. Their size will grow and so will the money you make from them.
Stay humble & positive.
And communicate your passion. ❤️️