If you’re a musician and want to succeed as a pro, it’s essential to spend thousands of hours cultivating your art. It’s just as crucial to be aware of how the business is changing, so you can make informed decisions about how to advance your career. As John Branca will tell you, knowledge can help you to say “no” when necessary. It’s part of becoming an astute artist. Here are a few major trends to watch.
1. Change Is Everywhere
Whether it’s mechanical royalties, contract terms, the rise of AI (artificial intelligence), the power of streaming services, or music marketing methods, change is everywhere.
It’s important to know what these changes are and to make wise choices about how you want to leverage them. This is where it’s a good idea to take a look at successful artists in your genre, get a read on their strategies, and decide what’s best for you. Otherwise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Stay aware, but stay focused.
2. Social Media Is Dominant
Instagram and TikTok are important platforms for musicians and fans who are Millennials and in Generation Z. Generation X straddles Instagram and Facebook, and Baby Boomers dominate Facebook. Twitter runs the gamut. There are notable exceptions, of course. The crucial takeaway: Smart, strategic use of social media platforms is necessary to gain traction.
3. Major Record Deals are Rare
Consider Chance the Rapper and The Civil Wars. Neither of them had major record deals, and they’ve enjoyed widespread acclaim. The idea of playing out at clubs and being discovered by a major A&R (artist and rep) executive, while romantic, is usually wishful thinking. Artists who do get major record deals tend to leave and switch companies more often than they used to. Groups (like Steely Dan) who made most of their money from studio recordings are mostly relics of the past; touring is a major way to earn now.
4. Globalization Is Here
Globalization has had a massive effect on the music industry, and the nature of that effect has taken many forms. It’s allowed for widespread dissemination of music, led to bankruptcies (think of what happened to Virgin France), allowed artists to share and learn about different types of music, and diluted regional styles. Globalization has led to mixed results for music creators.
Knowledge is power. Stay aware of changes and trends so you can have a sustainable and fruitful musical career.