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Topic: Talent only gets you into the running

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  1. #1

    Lightbulb Talent only gets you into the running

    I am branching off of the "TAXI" thread here to focus on the topic of success in the music industry.

    I used to think that the songs I heard on the radio and on CDs in stores were there because these were the only people with enough talent to produce music that sounded like that.

    OK. I learned different.

    Once digital technology accelerated into high gear and allowed you to have the equivalent of a 1980s-grade $250,000 studio in your spare bedroom for $5,000...with much more capability than George Martin and the Beatles had at their disposal at Abbey Road...then all those people with talent but no access to a studio were suddenly able to generate professional-quality music.

    Today, there seems to be a HUGE amount of well-done music searching for an audience. Today, raw musical ability merely gets you in the door.

    Heck, many people without any special musical talent get in the door! Just listen to National Public Radio on Friday afternoons when they highlight an "up and coming artist" if you want to hear what I am talking about! Sheesh! They often swoon over such "average" musicians, in my opinion.

    When I used to run an Open Stage Night at a famous Midwest coffeehouse I heard lots of people with that level of "talent"...and I gently advised them to go home and practice, and study songwriting.

    I think it's really all about getting your particular style of music into the ears of people who will prefer it...and buy your CD.

    It's marketing, really.

    I don't mean that negatively. It's just a fact of life. You have to get your stuff out there, probably for free at first, to find your audience.

    Thoughts?

    --- Glenn

  2. #2

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    True,

    Out of sight,.. out of mind.

    I think this philosophy can translate well to any field in the entertainment world, weather it's music, art, film.. or even widget making.. No matter which industry a person is involved with, you have to be in the public eye.

    But in this age it's often difficult to obtain an audience. The average consumer only has so much time, money and attention span,... and when they're bombarded with multi million dollar advertisement campaigns, the average artist is unable to compete.



    Then again, what kind of success are we talking about… respected in your craft, or celebrity stardom?... Very different creatures.


  3. #3

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    Glen,

    Interesting thread. I really feel that the "recording/record" industry is changing drastically. Gone are the days of the major studio taking on a new act and "grooming" them for the big time. Nowadays it seems that an artist has the capacity to release their own album, recorded in their own studio, on their own dime. Then after they've aquired a following and sold 10,000 CD's out of the back of their van a record company will pick them up, maybe re-master the CD and then release it with a major marketing push. The record company has little investment and has a head start.

    It goes even further than that though now with the internet and mp3's. So much music available to our ears. I bumped into one web site where a guy had written a bunch of moviescore type themes and said you could use them for free as long as you gave him credit. He just wanted to get his work out there. With instant composition programs like Acid and Garageband a lot of people are puking out music with no real ability at all. And what's worse is that some of it even sounds good.

    Major studios are going out of business, record companies and artists are losing money due to piracy and there's a massive glut of great composers and great songs. On the other side of the coin, I've been told that there is a big demand for great music as well. A lot of people on this forum make a living as composers.

    Is it getting easier or harder to sustain a livelihood as a professional musician/composer?

    My 2 cents,

    Darren

  4. #4

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    I think motivation plays a huge factor in determining your "success". I mean not so much as in how much you're going to bust your tail to get out there, but more the reasons *why* you're doing it.

    It is so frustrating when I hear "lay" persons commenting how your worth/talent/ability is directly proportional to whether or not your gettings spins on radio or have a record deal. Man, there are sooo many directions I could take this, but in short, a record deal doesn't mean crap. I've been in the industry for years now and have seen many "high and mighty" signed artists rise (and then fall) with their deals. Their self-worth is shot, their ego smashed, and their attitude bitter). It's all just a game.

    The radio...a game. The marketing BS so people can know all about you....a game. Sales sales sales...a game. For many, the game drives them and that's good for them. For me, it's a distraction from doing what I love and the way I love doing it. Now granted, sometimes "the game" can get you to that place where you can call shots and "have it your way" on a higher profile level, but it is really on rare occasion that you're still not under someone, something, some contract, or some company that can ultimately take you out if you bend 'em the wrong way.

    All this to say, use your talent to serve what and who you love. The greatest reward comes from that. And if something happens that allows you to play the game you love in a higher profile capacity...go for it. That's my game. I keep getting pulled up by those from the "upper leagues" who hear the buzz. If they want to market, sell, and whatever...so be it. As long as I get to do what I do, I'm content.

    My best, Tweed

  5. #5

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    I have found at least 2 things to be true. (of course, there are probably more, but at least these two are true from my observations).

    1. It is all about who you know. The entertainment industry is a business of relationships.

    2. If someone can make money off of you...FOR SURE...meaning, you are a proven money maker and lack risk...you will succeed and find someone to "invest" in you and hire you. It is also all about the money.
    Regards,
    Brian W. Ralston

    Check out my new FREE iPhone App! Click Here!

  6. #6

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    ... in short, a record deal doesn't mean crap. I've been in the industry for years now and have seen many "high and mighty" signed artists rise (and then fall) with their deals. Their self-worth is shot, their ego smashed, and their attitude bitter). It's all just a game.

    The radio...a game. The marketing BS so people can know all about you....a game. Sales sales sales...a game. For many, the game drives them and that's good for them. For me, it's a distraction from doing what I love and the way I love doing it.
    I agree, Tweed.

    Ultimately you'll be happiest making music YOU love...not music that someone else tells you is "good" because THEY like it.

    And really, when you hear true crap on the radio...and yet that crap is being snapped up in the record stores or downloaded onto iPods like crazy...it makes you throw out the idea that the general public should be the decider of whether your music is any "good" !

    You know, some of the unhappiest musical times for me have been when I was making commercial music for hire for a client with money but very different tastes from mine. It's really unpleasant to try to perfect a "sound" that you cannot stand!

    But I think that if you can produce decent music, and you work hard at MARKETING and getting your music out before your potential audience...then you WILL find people who enjoy your particular style (and do please find your own style...it's ultimately the most rewarding).

    --- Glenn

  7. #7

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    As soon as someone starts paying you for your "art" they own you and your art and can actually take the joy out of creating.

    A couple of questions to ponder:

    1) If you were independently wealthy would you still write and perform music?

    2) If you were independently wealthy would you persue a record contract/movie career?

    In other words if you could just sit on a beach somewhere and compose all day for your self would that sustain you. Or do you have the need to get your songs out to the masses and by doing that subject yourself to the evils of the music industry?

    Darren

  8. #8
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    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    Equally important is how you interact with others once your foot is in the door. I have been slowly working my way into making a living as a composer for commercials, short films, and now a video game. I feel that I am an "ok" composer and I do work hard when I have a project. But I'd say that, equally important, is how I've treated the people I have worked for and just having a baseline of decent social skills. I know that this seems really basic but it never ceases to amaze me how many people will just act like total jerks and not realize they are doing it. Most people like "confidence", not "arrogance" in the people that work for them. Being humble but outgoing, I think, has been one of the key things I have done to continue drawing in the same clients again and again. So if you can maintain those contacts and keep working, more will come eventually. I'm not making a living yet but I'm dangerously close to it.

    Eric

  9. #9

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    It can seem to the Newcomer,that, Show Business is all sewn up, by handsome , popular, talented, sociable, confident types. But what always cheers me up..........
    1.Meatloaf was a symbol.(OK not Brad Pitt stakes, but he had a lot of women fans)
    2.Danny de Vito is a huge Movie Star/Producer.
    The rise of the $5000 music studio,is a good and a bad thing.This is the Great Age of High production Values, and microscopic content.And a lot of people have figured out how to give things a glossy production.
    Two recent TV series illustrate this pretty well."Desperate Housewives" and "Nip and Tuck."
    The look, editing styles, music, camera work all suggest a tone of depth and meaning. But lets face it they are Soap Opera's.
    Of course, you could argue, if we gotta have soap operas, why not spend time and money polishing them up till they shine.
    Fair enough, but these are just 2 examples writ large of a very prevalent cultural trend.
    Production 8/10
    Content 3/10
    On the upside,whatever wierd niche of music you may be into.There is an audience,and the means to produce and distribute.
    Hence the rise of the Cottage industry.If you sell 5,000 cd's for 100% of the profit, it is no worse than selling 50,000 cd's for 10% of the profit.
    My only tip would be, this works better when you need to do it, rather than would quite like to do it.
    regards

  10. #10

    Re: Talent only gets you into the running

    Quote Originally Posted by Tweedbox
    All this to say, use your talent to serve what and who you love. The greatest reward comes from that. And if something happens that allows you to play the game you love in a higher profile capacity...go for it. That's my game. I keep getting pulled up by those from the "upper leagues" who hear the buzz. If they want to market, sell, and whatever...so be it. As long as I get to do what I do, I'm content.

    My best, Tweed
    I think that's some of the best advice I've read regarding making music in a long time ...

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