Now I know this article is going to sound self serving, but I think that it’s an important one to go over, and that is because this article is about how you need to listen to the industry people trying to give you advice. Here’s the thing about your local friendly industry person. They aren’t paid to let you do what ever you want, they are paid to put you in your place and help you to realize what needs to be done in order to succeed. Now a lot of that is not going to be stuff that you want to hear. A lot of it in fact is going to be stuff that will actively make you mad largely because these things require patience and money, two things musicians famously don’t have a ton of. I just want to spend some time looking at why these things are important though and what you need to be doing in order to make sure that you’re doing what you need to so that your career doesn’t totally fall apart with any given release you’re trying to put out.
Something I want to make very clear is who is not an ‘industry person’ though they might work in the music industry. These people include the dude who runs your rehearsal space, the people who produce your records, engineers and everyone else who guides the creative process. By the same token venue owners and bookers are generally not going to be giving you the best advice either. This is not because those people are stupid but because they are looking at the industry from one perspective and don’t have the manager or labels much more zoomed out view on things. I know that this can be a really tricky bit to wrap your head around. Realize though that most of these industry people genuinely want what is best for you, they realize, especially on the independent level, that the possibility of a quick buck is remote and that you need to really step back and have a grander plan if you want to get anywhere with this thing.’
Of course, you think I’m being silly, because isn’t “The industry” traditionally the bad guy in any musicians sob story? Well yeah, because the industry people are the people trying to make a record succeed through any means necessary and a lot of times that means that they need there to be realistic time frames and budgets for things and a lot of musicians don’t want to do the research to realize that these people are just doing their darn best given finnicky clients and expectant fans. It’s not a lot that you can easily handle, in fact it’s a lot of stuff that you are going to find yourslf struggling with time and time again because this world isn’t really laid out in a way where you can get the immediate results you want. Instead you’re going to need to step back and try to put something together that takes time and money. This is what almost anyone who works in this business will tell you and it consistently leads to aggravation.
It’s the tug of war between musicians and the forces of the world that drives us crazy. When you tell people that they need to trust the process they think that you’re a sage adviser. But when those same people find themselves in the middle of the process it becomes a much harder thing. Getting people to dig into the industry and take advantage of the opportunities they have also requires them to separate themselves from the legions of artists who just drop material and don’t realize that without a plan following you or a willingness to let the professionals do their jobs in a realistic way they won’t get anywhere. It’s a question of realizing all the steps, and that every little delay gets reverberated down the chain. This can start with the core team, but more often it’s reflected in the outside people you’re counting on, be it fans, journalists or playlisters. Not everyone is motivated to get back to you super fast.
And of course no one really cares that much. Everyone has a thousand different clients that they are trying to deal with and the clients who give them the hardest time are going to be clients that they end up trying to avoid working with because it just gives them gray hairs. You as an artist want to be the easiest possible artist to work with because youu’re going to be working with people who are very busy and who you hired because they were busy because they had a lot of cool clients. You need to appreciate that by being difficult it doesn’t matter who is paying you because they have a bunch of other people paying them and by making their lives more difficult you are immediately alienating the people who you rely the most on. Whereas if you step back and take the time to learn you’re going to find a lot more calm and success.
So I know it’s a hard lesson to hear. I know it’s not a lesson you want to deal with because waiting on a sick album. The thing is even production times alone are hard, as is all of the administrative work that goes into distribution. If I were to break down everything that goes into putting out a record on even an independent label and reminded this to every artist I work with on a weekly basis I feel like they might start to wonder how anything ever gets done. There have been records I’ve worked that were like military fucking operations and it only gets worse as you get bigger. So step back, trust the process, there is a method to the madness.