by MATT BACON >
One of the key things I think it is important to remember in the music industry is the sheer luck involved in a lot of it.
Moreover you can’t forget that you need to get very lucky with the team around you. This is where things start to get dicey and extremely frustrating. Any band starting to make moves in the music industry sees that they are getting a team built around them. However any team worth its salt is going to have a whole roster of bands that they work with – and if you fall out of favor with your label team for whatever reason then you are going to find yourself very quickly starting to struggle with progressing in the industry. Simultaneously – staying at the focal point of any label team or management group is going to be a ridiculously complicated venture, one that requires a lot of work on your end and music that draws the affection of record label people – driving you to the success you want and deserve.
The nature of music company shakeups is I think the most threatening aspect of this.
It happens to bands all the time that are trying to come up. They are making the right moves, getting peoples attention, and ten suddenly there’s a shakeup at the label and the people who believed in them and brought them up no longer are there. Those people still believe in the band but they just aren’t going to be as able to invest resources and time into it. This is usually because they did such a good job with your band that other people want to hire them and bring hem up in the industry to work with bigger bands. It’s kind of funny how that works – that the success they help you have turns around to bite you in the ass and make your life notably shittier. That’s the sort of punishing struggle that has come to define this whole thing and which I think we need to be very aware of when trying to develop our bands.
For a long time I didn’t believe that this was how things worked. I thought that because loved the bands I managed I would constantly be able keep them in my mind and help them, even long after we stopped working together. This was the case for a long-ass time when I worked with smaller groups. There was always an opportunity to swing back, do someone a solid and help band continue to grow. In the past few months though as I’ve majorly leveled up in the industry I have come to realize that this is not at all the case. There are so many bands out there. So many bands you have to deal with individually on every level of this crazy thing. As much as you might believe in a band if at the end of the day they aren’t paying your bills and you have a million other balls in the air then you’re going to start to see the cracks inherent to this whole system.
This is one of those things that’s really hard to wrap your head around when you’re a smaller band or just one band of a few in a scene.
The music industry people who work to develop bands and turn them into a major thing are dealing with a ton of bands and frequently in a ton of genres. They are trying to handle a lot of balls in the air at once and if shit falls through then they are good and fucked. That’s not their fault, that’s just the basic status of the industry and has been for a long time. Even in the 70s you didn’t have A&R men only handling one band, you had people who worked five or six at least and tried to grow an entire roster. Of course they weren’t and aren’t the only people involved – which again is a huge part of why this is an issue. You’re trying to hustle with a variety of folks and if they lose interest in you for whatever reason then you’re going to have a really hard time in properly developing your product.
The unfortunate reality is no matter how good you are and how much you try and do for your scene and the world around you people are going to always have their favorite bands and it’s going to be up to you to prove to them that your band should count as a part of the. Sure for a while when you’re younger you might be able to get by with a manager really going out on a limb for you for a while, but getting those managers in the big leagues of the music industry is a challenging fucking process. They aren’t going to be interested in you unless you deliver and if they are truly of a high level then on top of that you need to be easy to work with. Folks are going to be willing to bend over backwards to some extent, but after a point you need to be able to step back and realize that things are not always going to be that evident and you might need to suck up the pained realities that this industry is going to constantly paint before us.
So yeah – when an inevitable label shakeup happens for whatever reason, be it internal label politics, better opportunities being offered, or whatever you need to be ready.
Sometime there’s nothing you can do and other times you need to go out of your in order to endear yourself to the people who are going to have the ultimate call over whether or not your band has the long term success you want. If you can’t find the people to believe in you then you need to start making some tough calls and deciding if this is really what you want to do, or if you need to reevaluate not just where your band is at but what your band does musically. I know you don’t want to hear it – but the opportunities are there for those who hunt.