Just in case you don’t know who Stephen Malkmus is, he’s the lead singer of the classic American indie band Pavement. You know that group that was signed to Matador Records and had the hits Zurich is Stained and Grounded? Phew! Now that we have that cleared up we can get on to the rest of the article, something that is all about how to actually be successful in the music industry like our good friend SM. However, things have changed somewhat since Pavement Started out in 1989 in the music biz. Which means it’s a whole different landscape for today’s musicians to navigate. Although that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. In fact, if anything it may be a little easier for those with talent and drive to succeed in today’s music industry. Keep reading to find out why.
It’s not about gigs and record labels anymore
In 1989 if you wanted to make it in the music biz, the most likely road you would take was to form a band, usually in your parent’s garage. Then practice and practice until you got a few gigs, and once you got into the groove of things, it was time to get a record industry executive to take enough interest in you to attend one of these gigs. Hopefully, they liked what they saw they would sign you. Probably for not much money to start with, and they would tell you what to wear and how to do your hair to boot. But the industry has changed so much in the last 30 years it almost unrecognizable.
It is about sharing and promoting your music
Instead of going for gigs first, it’s all about focusing on the music that you are making. With platforms like Indie Music, Youtube and SoundCloud you can upload your music quickly and easily and then share it with people that could become fans. In fact, some of the music specific platforms will even do the promotion side of things for you. Although many people self-promote too posting on social media and using sites like Reddit to identify possible markets for their art and sharing within those groups.
In this way, the music industry has become much more focused on talent and the actual craft and is more egalitarian for those that have this. As there are so many tools at their disposal to disseminate their work.
Craft not personality
Further to this idea, the modern music scene is so much more about the craft and talent that personality that is used to be. OK, I’m not saying that success in the music biz, even in the old day was all about personality. But there are certainly some notable examples of those that succeed more on charisma than the value of their message or music like Milli Vanilli and other pop acts.
However, with the scene being much more about the actual musical product and less about the person behind it, we see all sorts and type of people being successful. Not just those that fit the traditional band or genre stereotypes. That means you can follow your goal of becoming a paid musician and get your work out there without having to craft your image into a very specific or particular mould to appeal to a certain audience.