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The Blame Game

I recently attended Martin Atkin’s : Band Tune Up at the Madison Media Institute in Madison, WI. As I mentioned in my previous article, Sharpening Your Music Skills, I’m a firm believer that musicians must educate themselves and take control of their career.

One of the most important lessons Martin stated was simple, “Stop blaming anyone for anything. Everything is your responsibility”.

I can’t tell you how many musicians I’ve heard complain about: The club stinks. They didn’t promote me properly. The audience was lame. My people didn’t show up. I need someone to sign me. Someday I will be discovered…

Find a better club. Promote yourself. Build your audience. Play for the 2 people who showed up as if they were the last 2 people on Earth. Record yourself. Sign you, to what? Be discovered? There are millions of bands on MySpace, Facebook and ReverbNation ‘waiting’ to be discovered. Create momentum for yourself, no one will do it for you.

Martin went on to say, “Nobody gives a f*%# about what is important to you, except you”. Read that again.

If you want to succeed in the music business or any business for that matter, learn all you can and take control of everything. It is your career on the line, and if you fail, there is always someone waiting to take your place.

Sharpening Your Music Marketing Skills

Years ago when I was dreaming of a career as a successful musician, I attended a music seminar by the (now) late Shad O’Shea and purchased his book, “Just For the Record“. [I loaned the book to ‘someone’ and really wish I had it back…..] Shad pretty much covered everything I needed to know, from publishing to releasing an ‘album’, and thoroughly explained the in’s and out’s of the music industry.

Years later, I released my “Out of Fashion” CD by using the techniques he had taught me. To be fair, I was never a mega folk rock star, but I enjoyed modest success. And ‘for the record’, the marketing skills I used to promote myself actually led to my internet marketing career.

Why am I telling you this? Musicians who want to be successful need to be educated. In my two decades of performance, I have seen talented musicians fail because they didn’t take the time to understand how this business works. In contrast, I’ve seen moderately talented musicians (myself included) have pretty successful runs simply because they understood the music business.

Surviving a Recession as a Musician

Kanon Kulpa recently published a post on Branding During a Recession. After discussions with fellow musicians, I’ve been thinking about how musicians are impacted by an economic slowdown.

As prices rise and incomes are stretched, entertainment is one of the early casualties of cutbacks. As Kanon mentioned in his article, people do not necessarily eliminate entertainment, they tend to look for lower cost alternatives. For example, it is a lot less expensive to grab a 12-pack and have a house party than hit the clubs.

For entertainers and venue owners, this can be a problem. As bar revenue decreases, owners and managers are forced to look at their expenditures and ask the question: Does providing music continue to generate revenue, or is it an expense that can be cut?
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