Mostly just a voyeur in this thread, but amen to this statement!! Life is short and things can change so very quickly. Make it count, every day.
Great questions, and this reminds me of something I came across awhile back. There was a gal who had some success on YouTube who was selling a class on how to “micro-Niche” yourself or your band. She did something like Gothic Goddess Metal or something really “out there”, but it was quite interesting and she had a micro-Niche for that which appealed to a certain group of people. She said (IIRC) that you need “super fans” and you only need about 1000 of those to really do well through multiple social media platforms as well as song sales and merchandise. In other words, really hone in on what you do best, and just do that fantastically for the people that really relate to your “brand” or niche.
Yeah Stan, that is definitely a cool way to go about it. Another way I look at it is this…
If we can find 5000 in the entire world that like us, and sell our music via iTunes etc, that’s 50k per year at $10 for an album. That’s pretty good money and if you think about it, shouldn’t be that hard to do. It all depends on how you go about it. I’ve done well in the past due to record companies helping get my name out. If I decide to do it without them for my new album I’m working on, I am close to positive I’ll hit 5000+ fans as a worst case scenario. For the music I play, I should be able to hit that amount + in Japan/south eastern Asian territories alone as they have always embraced the music I’ve created.
That said, a good Indy label is a plus too because they don’t have the same deals as the major labels, and if they push you, you can really see some decent money. Take a label like Frontiers in Italy, who is one of the biggest melodic rock labels in existence. They’ll do a 50/50 split with an artist upon recoup of their investment. Once the recoup, you get half of every piece of media sold if you release a CD. They also push you world wide, you get distribution, publishing in Europe and some other cool things. Not to mention, you can open up for any of the bands on the label or wind up on tour with them.
The thing is, there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. I’m in the same situation with my little cult following I’ve created over the years. They aren’t huge, but they like me enough to where I can survive and continue to release music. You find your niche, you cater to your people, and you see where it goes. You go down doing what you love while remaining true to yourself.
So how important is live playing/touring to establishing a music career? I would think that helps out a lot and I haven’t noticed that mentioned in connection with this thread yet.
It’s hugely important, but at the end of the day, it’s about what Cristina desires to do when she does decide to leave her job. She hasn’t made a mention of what she wants to do exactly and live performances may not be in her cards.
That said, as I mentioned before there are several ways to skin the proverbial music cat and succeed. Live performances are just one way. Many song writers, jingle writers, and video game music writers do not rely on live performances to make money. You can survive exclusively in those categories and make a lot of coin.
Between working in my own company and for dedicated jingle companies, I make some serious cash with stuff like that. Do I prefer live? Absolutely! But live is only one way to produce some income and at times, it may not show you the money like a jingle or video game will. So it is importent, but depends what your goals are.
All good questions. I’ve sometimes thought about it like this: I share my music in order to help other people feel their feelings. Not everyone is comfortable with negative emotions, and it means a lot to me if I can help someone to feel less alone, and less shitty, if I show them my flaws first. I want to expose my utter humanness. I have at times referred to myself as a “psychological daredevil.” I scrape and scrape away at things until I’m at the rawest truth, and that’s what I try to put in my music. I guess… for me, my songs are my “extra something” here. I’m just now developing the skills to present them in a polished musical package, but that’s what I want. I want to showcase the songs that I write, because I think they’re worth it. For the past 2-3 years I’ve been focusing heavily on getting better at music making, and not thinking as much about the songs. But the songs are what’s most important to me, at the end of the day. It’ll be the same girl screaming into the void, but it will sound beautiful.
So that’s what I’m really focused on: improving my skills. I’ve thought less about what I’ll do with the skills, but I have a decent start to my audience that I think I can build on, if I put out great music on a regular basis. (Which I have been super slow at lately.) I envision myself building my proficiency until I can create new songs fairly quickly, and at a high quality. I think that will help to grow my audience, and can also provide me with a growing catalogue for publishing purposes.
Hah, I totally saw that. The course was like $1,000. She made a compelling argument, but the whole thing was rather sleazy sounding to me at the same time.
Thanks for the response, good stuff. If you don’t mind my advice? I’d work on great songs…and put out as many as you can while settling for decent quality. The reason being? Everyone is listening on earbuds and only geeks like us who are deep into this recording stuff actually give a shit. Granted, you don’t want to put out crap, but I’d personally not worry as much about how great the sound is over how powerful the message is. You really hit on some great stuff with your vision. I think people will accept your material in any form you give it in because the message is pure and sometimes uncolored and less produced is the way to go. I’ll be listening, best of luck Cristina!
Hey @Cristina, it so happens that I am reading a book that you may find very useful for this thought process, called “How Music Works” by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. He’s quite the polymath, and he explores things from how sounds first became music, how architecture influenced musical evolution, accounts of studio time both from the point of view of a musician but also a producer/label owner, a long chapter on the business aspect… I’m enjoying it hugely and I really think some of what he writes about you would be interested to read. I highly recommend it! (btw it was recommended to me a few weeks ago by our buddy @ptalbot Patrick.)
It’s a great book, I enjoyed it too. David Byrne is a pretty smart guy and his analysis are pretty deep.
He’s just a bit off about streaming, because the book was released a few years ago, now the situation is far worse, with sales being basically killed by streaming with dire consequences to everyone except the streaming platforms themselves…
The “rawest truth” may have a lot to do with “vulnerability”, and that’s something that really comes through in your music and can touch the hearts of brave souls who are ready to explore those depths with you. Almost “art as therapy”. I definitely see that as a strength and an ‘extra something’ for you.
I liked the idea of extending “niche” (which seems to be a very big thing now) to “micro-niche”, since it’s probably counter-intuitive to the culturally ingrained idea of appealing to as wide an audience as possible. It seemed to work well for her. I don’t know how well it would work for anybody else though. It seems there’s a lot of the “I was successful at this so I can teach you how to do it too” marketing, so I saw it as that. I don’t know how translatable that is in real life, as each person’s experience of many things can be so different. But for someone who was trying to do exactly what she was and was failing at it, maybe it would be helpful for them.
Thanks I will check it out!