If you’re an artist in the music industry then you’ll quickly recognize the traffic parallels, there to greet and then block you around every corner (in that order). The pertinent question of the day, however – will you let it stop you in your tracks, or will you let it shape you into a better artist?
Today the more obvious roadblock of music piracy gets most of the coverage, however whilst the rest of the world tries to find ways to sell music, many artists are in fact making rocketed advances utilizing the exposing power of the internet, particularly those who remain independent.
Yes it’s true that many more successful artists and labels don’t bring in the same cash that we saw in the 60’s, 70’s and particularly mid 80’s (with some ‘one-hit-wonders’ still living off their royalties decades later), but for the majority of independent artists, this day and age has never been more powerful in sifting the wheat from the chaff (as it were) and shining a light on those artists with true talent.
Only just a century ago, many musicians were still in bars and would set up their instrument in the middle of the floor and crowds would dance and sing around them. Word of mouth was (in the majority of cases) the only way a musician could and would get known. And when traveling entrepreneurs from afar would drop in, performers would have their chance at an international invite to perform as part of a traveling band.
Throughout the 20th century we saw the escalation of the ‘artist’ catapult to new highs. And with the accessibility of recorded music, we saw music sales skyrocket and peak in the 80’s-90’s, just before the rise of Napster.
Fast forward to today, and we are seeing the trends of old begin again. Big brand marketing and heavy listener-based radio plays still have their place, but the strongest weapon is once again word of mouth. For every hardworking (and most often flat-broke) independent musician, it’s not hard to see why this is their greatest ally.
No longer do you need the big $$ to be a superstar. We’ve seen so many acts in recent years with almost nothing upfront become some of the biggest acts in the world. 5SOS and Boyce Avenue would be the immediate frontrunners, with low-cost YouTube channels rocketing them to stardom. Then you have other talented songwriters working on their craft until their songs, either for themselves or others, expose their true talent to the world (the most commercial examples would be Sia and Bruno Mars).
The talent is once again being sifted to reveal those that carry their besotted ‘golden fleece’, and those independent artists that realize the true power of their own craft will rise to meet their audiences in the performance venues of their choosing around the world. Those that spend their days whining about how hard it all is will slowly fade away until they are replaced with others who are harder working. No one ever said it was an easy ride, but isn’t that part of the attraction?
Working on your craft like it is the most delicate and sensitive piece of yourself, honed and shaped into a thing of beauty – this is what the full cycle of the music industry in today’s world offers each artist willing to put a bit of elbow grease into their own career.
Simply put, having $$ upfront is great, but work on your talent first. The rest will take care of itself.
The multi-talented Josh “Syre” Needham is the bassist/guitarist/co-vocalist of Syre & Fresko, a husband-and-wife indie rock/pop duo hailing from Melbourne, Australia. Their excellent self-titled debut EP, released on October 17, can be streamed in full via Soundcloud and purchased for just $4.95 on iTunes. You can stream the EP’s haunting third track “Tightrope” below.