New to the conversation? Check out my greatest hits!


Record Labels Are Venture Capitalists

Venture capitalists are one of the engines that fuel our economy but, as sexy as they sound, they're not always the best route. Sure, you get capital up front, but you give up control. The amount of control you have to give up varies, but expect to give up at least 51% ownership. This means you gave up control of your business. Venture capitalists aren't there for cuddles and s'mores, it's all about return on investment (ROI). If a business doesn't produce enough cash for the venture capital firm, that business will get dropped.

It's a business.

Record labels are the exact same. They choose to "invest" in your band if you show promise to make them more money. You get an advance (capital) in exchange for control. If you're not a strong member of their portfolio (artist catalog) then it's quite likely you'll be dropped from the label and owe them that fat advance back. If you're not making them their money back plus interest, they'll drop you. If they don't like the direction you're going, (jazz band moving into crust punk?) they'll drop you. If you say something controversial, they'll drop you. Its a business.

Be very, very careful giving up any control of your music. Once you've given it away, you'll never get it back.

Never stop asking yourself, "What is in my music's best interest?". No one cares more about your music than you.


"Going Viral" Is A Waste

Please don't waste your time trying to go "viral". Trust me, you don't want it.

Sure, it's a sexy buzzword. Sounds downright fun to get a million youtube hits in a week; "Woo woo! We're gonna get a million dollar record contract now, lets go out and buy golden toilets!"


Speed of adoption is inversely correlated with longevity. Or, to put it more plainly:

The faster you rise, the faster you're gone.

The Beatles didn't "Go Viral", they worked their asses off on their music night after night after night. Michael Jordan didn't make a video of a cat playing a keyboard next to footage of him playing; he worked his ass off on his game night after night after night.

I'm not denying that the idea of getting your "Big Break From The Internets" isn't sexy. I've fantasized about the magical "discovery of our band" too. Sounds fun.

But don't forget how short memory is on the internet. Getting attention for the sake of attention is a waste of time. The only endurable way to build your musical future is to get attention because you've worked your ass off night after night after night, when your stage performance is so brilliant that anyone who sees you will tell their friends "Hey man, these guys are INSANE on stage! I want to steal their garbage they're so good!"


Music Lessons Make You Smarter

Once again, an amazing post by Eric. More info at Newsweek and in the book This Is Your Brain on Music.

Music really is awesome for you. Let's take a look at everything music does
-Childhood musical training creates a sustained increase in IQ.
-Musical training improves math skills
-Musicians have a 10-15% larger corpus callosum, the brain structure connecting the left & right hemispheres

However, it has yet to improve musicians' ability to arrive on time. Bummer.


Protect Ya Neck - Your Rhymes Will Be Bit

Songs Get Stolen. (That's right, Zeppelin stole the into to Stairway to Heaven)

It's devastating when someone is out there making money off of your baby. It hurts. Just pray they're not more famous than you which, in the public's eyes, means the bigger group wrote the song. (If you were proactive enough to get a copyright, by all means go after them! You're lucky!) But often issues such as this might get overlooked, or not be properly covered, the copyright is only good on a full moon, etc. 

Often, there is very little you can do. The internet is the wild west; once a song is out there, it's out of your control.

Don't despair. Don't freak out. Don't give up.

You should probably be flattered when someone blatantly steals your art. It means someone else believes your art is good enough to be worth stealing!

Remember, the greatest value you have as a musician is constantly delivering high value content. If you become known as a fountain of good ideas and songs, then you're power to defend your competitive advantage is iron clad. You're famous for songwriting not that one song.

People can steal your songs, but they can't steal your brain.

You should be constantly creating new and better songs to build up your reputation as someone who makes good songs. It's the same as with the software industry. New software can usually be reverse engineered and pirated within days of release. How do software company's stay profitable and keep competitors from swooping in copying their product at a cheaper price? It's the brand name that keeps you strong.

Apple makes well designed devices, not brilliant, super-high-tech gadgets using the most state-of-the art materials and software packages. Their customers think "Apple makes well designed devices that 'just work'". It doesn't matter than many other companies jump on the bandwagon to copy the iPhone. The iPhone is strong because of Apple's reputation for making well designed devices.

If David Byrne is in on a new project, I want to hear it! Yes, he wrote song great songs with the Talking Heads, but he's famous because David Byrne writes good music. You can't take that away.

Yes, you should get a copyright (PR & SR for my US readers). But it's not copyrights that protect you. It's your ability to constantly deliver high value content.


The Fine Line

As a young band, it's very tough to get the attention of taste makers without a fan base. And it's hard to get a fan base without taste makers.

Why is this? Why do so many people in the music industry seem like they live to ignore your music?

Let me introduce to you my buddy, the slush pile.

This is what music industry professionals see every day. There is essentially inifinite music on the planet now. It's inevitible your music will get lost if you don't do something. (That's what this blog is about; getting through the noise)

So in the beginning, we're left with the very unappetizing but very necessary task of bugging people until they listen. Excessive promotion/hype backfies, (you didn't actually need this scientific proof for that, did you?), and not-promoting isn't an answer either.

So how much is enough?

Sadly, there's no easy answer. This is one you have to learn for yourself. Every person you deal with has a different threshhold for how much promotion you can wave at them. Always be concious of how much you talk, what you're saying, and how the other person reacts. The more you learn how to empathize and read people the more effective your marketing will be.

Is your producer battling with an unproductive but very lucrative major label band that's behind deadline? You should probably go easy on contacting them. Stress means a shorter fuse. Is your promoter thinking about cancelling your event? Might be a good time to offer to chip in for flyers and help run them. Think about people.

Yes, this is very simple  stuff but it has a profound effect on how people will react to your promotion. You don't want to be a no-name band who is too pushy / stupid / not pushy enough. You'll stay no-name.

It just takes practice.