Top 5 Things I’ve Learned about the Music Industry

I’ve been a relatively serious music writer now for over two years. I’ve gotten a chance to meet some of my favorite musicians. I’ve covered shows in several states in a wide variety of venues. Here are a few of my observations from my experiences on the “front.”

1) The “It” Factor Still Matters – It’s difficult to explain to artists that don’t have it, but there’s really an “it” factor in this business. I can’t necessarily explain why one “girl and her guitar” act is amazing and another is awful. Sometimes it’s tone. Sometimes it’s just a natural ability. I feel bad not helping the latter, but this is the life of the critic.

2) Good music is timeless. – I tend to feature a lot of “roots” genres because those artists that can do the past justice score a lot of points in my book. I love a fresh take on an old sound. Basically good music is timeless; lyrics resonate with a variety of people, the mood of the music is relatable, and people can connect with the whole sound. That’s good music.

3) There’s a lot of excellent, undiscovered music. – If there’s anything I can say for certain it’s that even scouring the internet for good music, I still fall short. There are a lot of amazing musicians making music that has no marketing our tour behind it. They turn on a recorder of some kind and do one-take versions of originals and covers that are stunning. We need more people working to get this great work noticed.

4) There’s a lot of highly-marketed, mediocre music. – I get tons of messages encouraging me to listen to this or that band. I give them a spin and hear cliche lyrics and gimmicky music that mimics the popular acts of the top 40. To me, this is not what independent music is about. I want to support real home-grown, genuine artists.

5) The #DigitalMusicRevolution is changing everything. – I truly believe that digital music marketing is in the process of changing the entire face of the industry. Sites like bandcamp, soundcloud, and itunes are changing the buying patterns of music fans. Sites like songza, pandora, and spotify are changing the way people find and consume music. Whether the DMR is a good or bad thing for the music industry is, frankly, up to us. If people purchasing and supporting music use it to uplift the best art out there, we will generate success.

These may not seem groundbreaking, but they are important. These are lessons that can guide us as we continue to develop this change in the global music marketplace. The best thing you, dear reader, can do for the music industry is support good art. You don’t have to justify every listen or play, but justify your music purchases. Share your music with friends. Challenge friends that merely consume the mediocre, not in a mocking or condescending way, but ask them what they like and recommend something new. It’s amazing the friendships you can forge based on new, exciting music.

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