One of the things that I think people need to come to terms with is that it doesn’t get better in music. No matter what you do and no matter what your achievements might be the odds are that no one is really going to care five years from now, or even 500 miles from where you are right now. This is a weird thing to wrap your head around I know, and it’s the kind of thing that takes a little bit of explaining. The crippling apathy that people have, even for musicians with notable projects under their belts is a hard thing to deal with. We talk all the time on this blog about ‘influencers’ and the power that they can have. But it’s also important to realize how few people actually become influencers and how if you haven’t reached that vaunted stage, or if you think you’ve reached that stage odds are you still are going to have a lot of trouble getting people to come out to shows. Again – no one wants to hear it, but this is how things shake out.



So to unpack my premise I want to look at the key metric musicians use to define their success – that is to say the number of people at a given show. Even if a band is selling thousands of units and they only get a handful of people coming to their shows then they will feel like they are shitty and not cared about, even if the numbers state otherwise. Now I know you might be different – I’m merely looking at the simple reality that I have faced time and time again over the years. So – if you are trying to define individual success, it might make sense to look at how well you draw as a person in whatever band you’re in. That is to say – if you’re able to get people to come watch you, no matter where you play, then people are going to connect. Now this is true for some musicians, but it’s a very limited demographic, one that’s way smaller than you might suspect. This is where we start to have to accept the apathy that defines this.

Time and time again I’ve seen people known for work in bands that routinely sell out 1500 cap rooms play shows to dozens of people, if that. This isn’t because of lack of brand recognition. Frequently these acts will bill themselves as X (Featuring members of Y) and that’s all well and good, artists should want to keep fans abreast of their projects. That being said – converting people from liking a bigger band to being into the smaller (And usually newer) one is almost impossible. Frequently this is because of stylistic differences between the two bands, but other times the bands will be in the same genre and be doing roughly the same thing, and yet the fans still don’t give a shit. This is where things get increasingly tricky. This is where we need to face unfortunate realities and come to terms with the fact that no matter what kind of ‘star power’ you think you have, unless that person is selling out rooms for their own solo project and are a main contributor to this one it doesn’t really mean anything.

Of course, odds are no one in your band has ever played to more than 300 people, much less thousands. So what do you tell yourself in that situation? How do you think that people are going to want to come see your band, if you’re simply trying to sell yourself on the strength of your musicianship? Of course there are other ways that you need to promote your band if you want people to care, but first realize the extent of this apathy. Realize that an artist can spend years to get to a point where they can play those legendary big rooms and then find out that even though they worked their asses off to do all of that they are still fucked, there is still no way forward. That’s simply because this industry is so often a nightmare and so often you find yourself drowning under the same difficulties you were drowning under five years ago. It doesn’t matter who your management is or who else you’ve worked with, people simply don’t want to care.



Don’t take this as an indictment of the music industry, but merely as a recalibration of goals.

It’s not a bad thing that people want to drive forward with this, and there are a lot of actionable careers and ways to create a path. You simply need to realize that they are there and that they aren’t going to be as easy as paying the right person to guest on your record or hoping to get the right influencer to talk about you. All of these things are useful promotional tools mind you, and all of these things will help you to find a better way forward, but in and of themselves there is no one thing that is really going to make people care and make this entire thing worth it. Instead you need to grind it out one step at a time and then, only then, are you going to find the sort of long term success that I think people really hope to glean from this industry.

So by all means drive forward, you do need to take advantage of every little speck of notoriety that you can get your hands on, but also appreciate these individual specks don’t mean much. In my view, and I will write more on this later – you need to be focusing on micro influencers. You need to find the exact right person in your scene who gives a shit about your bands and who has a ton of friends. They probably can’t change things much, but if they do it just enough to make things a little bit better then you know you’re on the path to something. Success means different things for different people, it’s up to you to define it.










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