I talk here and on other forums about all things music, and questions always come up with people, "HOW DO I MAKE MONEY AT THIS?" Invariably, people want to know where is the money. In far too many things music, IT'S NOT THERE.
We are entering our second decade, since the end of the 90's, where most music went FREE. As people, most notably college students, figured out ways to download whatever they wanted to, when it got totally easy to put things immediately on I-phones and I pods, and having limitless choices in music selections, for free, there was just nothing to be done. It was accepted by the general public and we pretty much have to understand that. It is up to US to decide how to deal with it.
I mostly toss OUT the notion and discussion of money in music with people I council, mostly because they are NOT READY FOR IT in the first place. Most people are happy amateurs. Young people that are going for "something shiny" that sounds fun and good. They write songs (at least their version of songs), do camera phone videos for YOU TUBE, and FACEBOOK and put endless things featuring themselves OUT THERE. Unfortunately, most of them never stop to find out if what they have is WORTH being out there.
Most really are not.
In Nashville, there are ALWAYS new people coming in. About 100 a DAY are moving here with some design on a music career. Almost all are going to be SORELY dissapointed, burned out, and gone, completely before 6 months or two years. Most go on with their lives, go to college, fall in love, get married. have kids (or the other way around) and lose their fascination with music when they discover the other word involved in that, BUSINESS.
There are always showcases of some kind. I attended them all the time. A lot of them are pretty much the same. Males, females, groups, duos, all about 18, very cute, and sweet people, but many are very WEAK writer/performers. Most have Decent voices. ,but ABSOLUTELY FORGETTABLE SONGS, Toss in the thousands doing writers nights, open mics, trying to get and keep attention, and you have a LOT of people all trying to do this. Often, I am asked my opinions and most of the time, I him haw around, trying to find the right words. But I am always honest.
Do I ever say QUIT? Nope. Most have okay voices, are very sweet people, but ALL have a TON of work to do to even get to a passable point. If they want to hire me to help, I can do that, and I can make people BETTER. But they are often a long way away from being ready willing and famous. Sometimes they and their families and friends think they are "just around the corner from being famous." most are a lot farther away, and will burn out long before anything happens.
Now, at the same time I worked with a girl Friday who was 18, EXTRODINARILY TALENTED, very good songs, as a matter of fact the ONLY one I think I have ever seen that I couldn't just destroy the songs, the performance or much of anything about her. I was VERY IMPRESSED and I DON'T IMPRESS EASY. But even she has a long trip. She is moving to Nashville to go to school and her parents, who I spent time with also, are very down to earth, and like everything, just going to have to see. I hope she will stay focused, hope she will continue to work with me and I think she will get attention. But even that will not guarantee anything. There are people who come into this who are VERY TALENTED, but you don't know how long they will keep going. Most often, Life gets in the way. We'll see.
All depends on the FOLLOW THROUGH.
When it comes to making money, they are going to have to find ways in their careers. Some will get those record deals. Some will go those extra miles. But they'll have to do a LOT of things themselves. And that is the secret to music business.
There are always people at the top of the pyramid. Those hit artists, songs and writers that will be everywhere. As I have described, there are always the people that find their way to the top. But there are also people who do this who might not have the radio hits, might not be on top of the charts, but do well on their own. Much like those "character actors" you see in every television show and movie and know their faces but not their names. There will be those.
There are always people who create their own pathway. People who sell their own product, are on their own web sites. Ignite among the public. They sell their own merchandise. Interesting little self contained packages. I've seen a lot of those in my life. They have their own little niches. House concerts, like the one I am playing this weekend in East Tn., Perry J Bonck's, "FLEUR DE LIS concert series, are a viable option. There are opportunities out there. Just gotta go find them.
People who do charity work like my friend Scott Southworth. He performs in association with Meals on Wheels and gives a good deal of money to that charity. It gives him an in with clubs and venues all over the US when he travels with his "other job", a job that takes him all over. So he can do his regular job during the day, and set up a performing venue at night. He sells some CD's and gets known. Then he will go back at a later date.
It and his other activities, led him to getting press, a recent fold out in COUNTRY MUSIC WEEKLY magazine and a lot of good will. But here is the key. He is a REALLY GOOD PERFORMER AND WRITER. Talent does often take presidence. It finds a way. Some, like my friend Ed Bentley find their own avenues and create their own marketplace.
A web site I participate in, Just Plain Folks, has the head of their site, named Brian Whitney who said "If you could get 5000 people to pay you $35 yearly for product, t-shirts, hats, go to shows, downloads, etc. You have yourself A CAREER.
I attended a GLOBAL SONGWRITING conference meeting the other night where Sheree Spotore's gave a great presentation on people making money from indie cuts, licensing some songs and leasing masters. They were great ideas and Global is one of those organizations like MUSIC STARTS HERE and NSAI that I suggest people really wanting to do this consult.
There are ways. But you have to go find them. And the constant search for it is always a great thing.
Marc Alan Barnette