15 Truths About the Music Business

By Ed Shane


1. Fame is fleeting.


It used to be difficult to get through the music funnel.  Now fame is available to everybody.  It’s easier to break through but more difficult to sustain.


2. Talent is no guarantee


Even if you’re a prodigy, you have to do the work.  If you’re not a prodigy, you have to work harder.  The “10,000 hours” concept is valid.  It may not be literally 10,000, but it’s got to be enough to make you ready when the big break comes.


3. Fans should be empowered.


Fans are forever, media exposure is for today.  Encourage fan sites.  Give your fans exclusives.  Fan are the key to your success.  They’ll be with you when the industry gives up on you.


4. Your music should be everywhere.


Start with SoundCloud, then go to iTunes, Spotify, and any platform you can get on.  Yes, physical CDs, too.  Be where your fans might look for you.  Marketing people call it being “platform agnostic.”   


5. CDs are souvenirs.


Physical CDs are made to sell at live gigs.  Sign them and they’re more personal, even if they’re ripped to an iPod.  Same for all your merch.  It’s a talisman for the experience of being at the gig with you.  


6. YouTube is your best friend.


Live performance video.  Lyric video.  Back stage video.  Video from the van.  Change it regularly and update posts often.  YouTube is the #1 place for music discovery.


7. Mailing lists are gold.


Hold on to contact information of anybody who likes your music.  Collect email addresses from everybody who buys at the merch table.  Use it to inform, but don’t spam.


8. Mystery is history.


The more you reveal abut yourself, the people will bond to you.  Let people know who you are and what you like.  Use Twitter to create dialog.  Commit to a life on social media to engage with fans.


9. You, you DO need a lawyer.


More specifically, a music business lawyer.  Whatever you spend to create a good deal at the beginning will seem like a pittance against what you’d spend to get out of the same deal, badly written (or not documented at all).


10. Trends don’t matter.


What’s here today is likely to be gone tomorrow.  Do what you do, not what the market wants.


11. Haters can be ignored.


Easier said than done, of course.  If you don’t have enough confidence in your work to ignore the critics, you’ll always second-guess yourself.  Breakthrough work most always gets rejected at first.  Haters just want to distract you. 


12. The news cycle is 24/7.


Spending a fortune on publicity gives you one shot.  Then what?  Work on bubbling up from the bottom instead of playing from the top down.  Bring your fans with you.  They’re worth more in the long run than today’s press coverage.


13. The big break takes time.


It’ll happen slower than you ever thought.  When it doesn’t happen immediately, it’s not failure.


14. You’ve got to be ready.


Your “one big break” is never the one you think it is.  The key to being ready is planning and execution.  You can always change plans, but only if you have a plan. 


15. Money comes later than you expect.


There’s plenty of money to be made in the long run if you don’t make money your number one priority.  Serve your art and serve your fans. 



Ed Shane is publisher of Best In Texas Magazine and the Texas Music Chart







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Learn more at http://LiveLoudTexas.com and follow him on Twitter: @giovanni








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