One thing that makes my life extremely hard on most days is the simple fact that most of the bands I work with don’t understand the basic economics of the music industry. And while yeah, some don’t understand that a band is investment and that you shouldn’t be paying band members until you’re pulling a grand a night, there is a whole other range of issues that you have to deal with as you grow in the music industry. Some of the misconceptions I deal with here are more basic than others, but they all revolve around the fact that you need to be educating yourself about work in a free market that is the perfect representation of pure capitalism, and is terrifying because of it.
5. There is no money
I work something like 100 or so hours a week and I make under what minimum wage would be at a normal forty hour a week job. This doesn’t especially bother me as I feel that I’m building towards something greater, but I think you get the point – it’s not about the money, and unless you get extremely lucky then you are never going to make more than twenty grand a year. I don’t count on making more than that and have structured my life around being perpetually lower class. Some people do manage to crack it, and good for them, but in most cases you’re going to have to accept that the music industry is going to choke you out and leave you to suffer in poverty. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a basic reality.
4. Seriously, there is no money
I make a little bit of money after working hard at this for five years and having written nearly five thousand articles. Just because you think you’re a better writer, musician or promoter than me doesn’t mean you’re going to get money. I might think you’re a hard worker and smart and valuable, but I don’t have the money to just pay you to do something, unfortunately that’s not how it works. While individuals can and should help each other out, you largely need to build yourself up and then maybe hopefully possibly get a little bit of money, but if we’re being honest you probably won’t get any. This isn’t a reflection on you, but just the music industry as a whole. Of course – this means that when you do get paid you had better be working your hardest to prove you deserve it.
3. Anything Worth Anything Costs Money
IMP does indeed cost a decent amount of money to get started. This definitely alienates people who think that they should be able to get anything they want for free or use digital services to do stuff themselves. Guess what. It doesn’t work that way. IMP costs money because James knows that it is worth something. Every freelancer worth their salt knows that if their product isn’t among the best they aren’t going to make anything, this is most true in the music industry. While there is definitely stuff that is worth doing for free (I still take up the occasional project for ‘exposure’) you should be aware that if you believe in your product then you are wroth some money, even if its only a hundred bucks, don’t feel afraid to charge that if you believe that you are genuinely worth that money. But people can tell, if you’re not worth that money and give them no reason to provide that money then they are simply not going to give it to you.
2. The People Who Are Making Money DESERVE It (Probably)
There’s only a handful of people really making a living in the music industry, but guess what, despite what you might think, despite the fact that one of them was a jerk to you, they probably deserve to be where they are. They have put in the hours, they have worked hard to make themselves figures who people know are wroth the money they are asking for. It takes a lot of sacrifice and hard work to generate any sort of forward momentum in this industry. I haven’t been in a relationship in years because of this, and I have many friends in a similar boat. That’s not to say though that everyone doing it deserves to be. A lot of people still aren’t picking up their phones, setting up stuff they said they would do, and generally being responsible individuals. There’s a lot of incompetents in the industry, it’s just a matter of working to a point where you merit a living and can see the incompetents for what they are. Again though – there’s a lot of good people who have ‘made it’ and that is incredibly rad, ne could even argue that it’s the reason a lot of us are still in it. Because…
1. You Can Become One of Those People
It’s hard to break it in the music industry but it’s not impossible. It requires years of working for free and pushing your bands to the limit if you really want anything from it, but you can still become one of those people. There are no real gatekeepers anymore. There are people who have money, but as that money gets increasingly diversified if you manage to uphold a good profile and a responsible image then people are going to want to work with you. It’s largely a matter of laying down groundwork and proving your mettle. Nothing is stopping you except for yourself, read The Wealth Of Nations I know it’s hard and in fancy language, but Adam Smith gives a surprisingly strong insight to the music industry when he explains how capitalism works. Prove that you are unique and people should want to work with you. Go out, educate yourself and get ready to grow – the music industry itself lies at your feet.