Submitted by Peter Astedt
I have come across this idea a few times lately from various blogs and articles: that as an artist, you must have the mindset that you are your own label, publisher, PR agent, and everything else. Being an artist today is like to starting a company, and you must build it up from the ground up.
This stands in stark contrast to the dream that the music industry has been peddling for decades, particularly during the 80s and 90s, which was that you could only “make it” if you signed with a big record label. According to that narrative, your job was just to get to the moment when you sign the papers, and then you could sit back and enjoy the ride.
However, that was never entirely true, and now it’s even further from the truth. I’ve noticed that many young, intelligent people are abandoning major labels because they are frustrated that they can’t get the needle to move in any direction for an artist. I see the same frustration in many people who work for new tech companies that try to fit every artist into their own box, believing that every artist is equal and should follow the same path to success.
We are currently experiencing another shift in the music industry, which happens roughly every ten years. I love these changes because they create new opportunities and a whole new playing field, and I have been eagerly anticipating them.
However, the new disruption and changes going on right now all point in one direction: you cannot rely on someone else to “fix” your career. It’s time for you to take care of your career to the fullest. You must view the new world as your career being your own company, and everything around it there are just people to consult with to get your career moving in the right direction.
The future of the music industry will be built on networking and contacts. As an artist, you are a product that needs to be guided towards different goals in this world. If you think you can do it all by yourself, you are mistaken. It’s like Elon Musk buying Twitter and then trying to run every department himself, including coding the service, handling support, and managing the finances. Even though Twitter didn’t become what he wanted it to be, he never thought he could do it all by himself – he hired people to help him. You must do the same.
You can’t be good at everything, so you should focus on your image, music, and the message you want to communicate. Then, you need the experts and people with the networks to help take what you produce to your audience. Seek advice on what will work and start building. There is no one person who will take care of everything, allowing you to party and indulge in drugs. This requires hard work.
There is no longer just one path to getting your music out to the masses – there are thousands of different roads. The key is to think about what you need to succeed on these roads and seek out the right guides. You have to make the decisions and be in charge, but you also have to trust others to offer suggestions and help you along the way. Find the team.