I read this post from Rob Daily over at the Plutonic Group website and it immediately resonated with me. I wanted to re-publish it here (with their permission), since I think it’s well worth reading!
While it’s a little crass in areas, I think it’s absolutely spot on with the advice – and it addresses many things I’ve seen and read from new or unsigned artists.
I have been in the music industry for a ton of years now, both as a Manager and Label Exec and nothing irks me the most is when I hear Unsigned Artists spewing music industry “fiction” as if it is “reality”.
This “fiction” is constantly regurgitated by Unsigned Artists all over the World on a daily basis… and truth be told… it saddens me to see all of them believing the garbage that is spewed and me knowing full well that it will literally paralyze their careers if they do embrace it and live it.
So, without further ado… here is a list of the most (common) misconceptions that a ton of Unsigned Artists believe on a worldwide basis:
- We just need to open for a big “signed” band. – Are you kidding me? What are you bringing to the table for them other than your 5 friends and Mom and Dad? Big bands have bands that open for them that have: Followings, Career Momentum, Hit songs, radio push and a ton of marketing behind them. Without any of that…the big bands lose money.
- We just need to go on tour with a big “signed” band. – Again, are you kidding me? Really?!?! What value do you bring to the table for that band? Oh, you can definitely do a “Tour Buy-On” to tour with that band. But here’s what you get…your band will be the first of 3 openers… which means you play at doors when nobody is at the venue… the headliner goes on at 9:30pm and they never see you perform… nor do their fans. And to be quite honest with you… the headliner couldn’t give 2 shits about you. Why? Because you paid $500 per show to be on tour with them. Your band chose to try and take the “easy” route to get noticed and in doing so, you lost complete respect by your tour mates because they hate bands like you. Also, even though you paid $500/night to go on tour… you will make no money from touring… and don’t even think about making money selling merchandise… the other bands will make sure that doesn’t happen. Because they hate you.
- We need to get our Facebook “likes” way up. – Getting your Facebook “Likes” way up there only works if you have a great image, brand and amazing songs. If you don’t have that… please donate your money to a local charity because you will be just wasting your money. If you do have a solid fan base on Facebook…socialize with them. Get them engaged into your world… if you are not willing to do that. Please quit being in a band now and go get a job.
- We need to get our “Twitter” followers way up. – Please read above notes.
- We need to get a “Booking Agent”. – Booking Agents get paid a 10% commission for getting you gigs. Why should they work for free knowing your band isn’t ready yet? Are you really that lazy that you can’t self-book? Real bands get out there and do what they need to do to spread the word about their band. When you are ready for a Booking Agent, they will come to you.
- We need to get a “Manager”. – Why should a Manager want to manage you? Are they really in a position to lose money for 2-3 years? Do you have anything to manage? A Manager’s job is only to guide, counsel and direct artists. They aren’t a PR Firm, Bank, Booking Agent or your friend. Management is a business not a hobby.
- We need to record a full album. – WTF? Who buys albums from bands at your career level? Do you really feel that you have 10 amazing songs that people want to buy? Chances are you don’t. Do an EP and use 3-5 Amazing Songs.
- We need a sick ass video. – Dude… no you don’t. Unless you are a major signed band… nobody cares about your video.
- We need to get a famous Producer to record us. – Hello Reality… sure you do. LOL… again no you don’t. Spend your time writing the best songs. Producers aren’t magicians and they do not have ability to turn a shitty song into a hit. What they can do is make your shitty song sound better… but that’s it.
- We need equipment endorsements. – Of course you do… you and the 1 million other bands out there. Let’s be honest… an equipment endorsement is more of an ego-boost for you so you can feel like you “made it”. Truth be told… equipment companies would be too embarrassed to offer you a deal. Concentrate on your songs.
- We outgrew our Manager and we need a newer/bigger one. – This subject matter pisses me off. NO you didn’t outgrow your Manager… your ego did. So let’s get this straight… the guy/gal who suffered working for your band for 2-3 years unpaid and sacrificed their life to fulfil yours… you outgrew them? How so? Do tell? Bands who think and believe this shit are scumbags in my opinion and karma will get them. Mark my words on this.
- Our Booking Agent can’t get us any shows, we need a new one now. – WTF? You are lucky to even have a Booking Agent who is willing to sacrifice their reputation on your Unsigned band. What are you doing on your end to help spread the word on your band? My guess is you are sitting home in Dubuque, Iowa gulping down beer and chicken wings… while pointing and blaming everyone around you for your dismal career.
- We need a PR Person. – No you don’t. I get tons of emails from PR Firms all day long trying to get their awful bands press… and because you have no amazing songs, momentum , image and backstory in place… there isn’t much a PR Person can do on their end to get you coverage. PR Firms do not have a magic wand at their disposal to get you press coverage. My advice to you is create a movement around your band… do something different so it is noteworthy enough so a PR Firm can have something to pitch… until then… save your money.
- We need to fire our PR Person because they can’t get us Press. – LOL… of course you do… Please read #13.
- We don’t want to pay our Manager now, what does he/she exactly do for us? – You are truly a scumbag for thinking this.
- We need a Record Deal. – No you don’t. When you are ready to get a record deal… the universe will let you know.
The number one thing you need to worry about now at your career level… is creating amazing songs. Not good songs, not great songs….but AMAZING Songs. None of the above areas will help your career until you yourself get off your lazy ass and actually put in the 10,000 hours that are necessary to make it. Only you can make that happen.
(If you’re interested, Rob got a ton of email and comment responses to his original article, which he published in a follow up here.)