Published on January 2nd, 2010 | by Hugh Hession2
Where are my fans?
You’ve composed some awesome songs and found the right musicians to lay them down to track. You’ve spent countless hours at the console to ensure that the right sound you’ve had in your head is not lost in translation.
As a producer, I know first hand that this is not an easy process. Sometimes the initial instrument track was not set up to capture exactly what you wanted (an example is mic placement on the drums). It was a great performance, but the snare was weak. You try to go after that in the mix down by triggering drum samples over the original snare (drum replacement technique) to get that fatness you originally wanted. I’ve been there.
So when you finally have the right mix, you finish the process and burn a CD. Wow, sounds good, doesn’t it? Now your ready to let those tracks loose and let everyone hear ‘em.
What? The reaction was not what you expected? Are the songs not as good as what you really thought?
The lack of support from people (ironically, more from people you know) can be disheartening. I mean, you know you have a good song, but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything to the listener at that moment. What’s the problem? Does the song suck? Is it just not their thing?
I’ve had the chance to speak to other songwriters about this same subject. Not just average ones – very good songwriters – and they often reciprocate my thoughts. Why is this?
Here are my thoughts.
People expect a quality recording, period.
These days, recording music is easier to do. Where it used to take a major budget to go into a commercial recording studio and be radio-ready, it can be done at home with Pro-Tools and a library of plug-ins that can simulate virtually everything. As a result, it’s easy to produce quality music and upload it to the Internet quickly.
15 years ago, a great sounding CD from a band on the local level was actually impressive. Now it’s just the norm. Anything less will most likely be ignored.
A band on every corner
Now, don’t get me wrong. There has always been competition in the music business, but the playing field has changed dramatically during the last 15 to 20 years. There are a ton of bands and music artists out there! Bad or good, the internet makes it possible for a local or regional act to compete on a global scale, which coincides with my last point…
Back in the 70′s and 80′s, people bought their music from:
- Record Stores (which are dead as we know it).
- Kmart (This was before Wal-Mart had a major presence)
- Record Clubs (Columbia and BMG).
This was it. There was no Internet and MTV had only just started to break out in the early 80′s. Radio was the medium used to break music artists.
In addition, the only way to get any information about a band , was to buy one of the rock magazines like Cream (it has drastically changed since those days) or maybe be lucky enough to catch a band on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. There was a mystique to bands and musician’s in that time. Bands actually had careers last more than one album.
Now, Information is readily available on any band or artist aligned with both video and audio. There are hundreds of ways to access music. There are sub-genres of sub-genres! We are saturated with possibilities. The allure is not as evident anymore. Add all that to the global distribution reach that the internet provides, and it’s anyone’s game. There is no longer a filter and all are competing to be heard. It’s easy to get lost.
Talent is one thing but getting noticed is something completely different. With the influx of all available music out there, it’s not always easy to get people to catch on. The music loving public has become numb with a massive amount of choices and a hundred ways to get it. Expectations are high. It’s not easy to impress people anymore.
Promotional strategies have to be more cutting edge than they used to be. The competition is more than just intense, it’s insane. For every Maroon 5, I’ll give you 10 bands that sound just as good. How do you compete? How can you stand out as a band?
Fortunately, there is a reason why there are sub-genres of sub-genres. It’s because there are people out there who support them. Might be a small piece of the pie (that’s the beauty of the long-tail strategy), but it’s a fan base waiting to happen – you just might not have tapped into yet.