Some of my clients say the songs that get the most response from fans are the ones quickest to write. I wish that were true of this email. I was thinking of this as a concept for weeks, jotting notes here and there. It’s a long one so I’ll just step aside. If you read it before, I hope you find new insight in it. If not, I hope you find this as useful as many readers before you!
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You Only Need Four Things To Succeed In the Music Business. Easy.
Those four things are talent, effort, persistence, and value. That’s hard.
Can you succeed with only a couple of those things? Sure. Have you ever heard The Shaggs? Or Wesley Willis? They’re cultural icons despite arguably only having one of those characteristics. So, it happens.
But do I know a music manager who became successful on one of these characteristics alone? A publicist? A booking agent? Not a one.
Do I have any artist clients with only one of these characteristics? No chance.
Talent, persistence, and effort are probably self-explanatory but what do I mean by “value”?
Value is what you provide the audience. In my mind, it’s a bit different than talent, but those things are related. If you have talent, your performance alone can entertain, and that’s the value you provide your appreciating audience.
But value can come in other ways. It can come from your personality and how your audience appreciates you. It can come from your politics and how your audience finds in you a vessel for their own politics. It can come from your merchandise and how your audience appreciates collecting it. It can come from the community they find with your other fans.
For a music business professional, value is what you provide your clients or other people in the industry. Value comes from the results of your talent, effort, and persistence. You might get your foot in the door without results, but you’ll only be able to stay if you have them.
So, do you have all four?
If you have talent, effort, and persistence, you will go far in gaining an audience. But if your audience doesn’t find value in what you are providing them you will have a difficult time monetizing that audience and generating an income from which you can survive.
If you have effort, persistence, and value, you will go far in anything you want to do. You may associate yourself with talented people, or compensate for your lack of talent in other ways – outrageous theatrics or entertaining personality, for example. There certainly are plenty of people in the music business who have done amazingly well for themselves and their clients by focusing all their energies on these three characteristics – a lot of us are on this side of the desk precisely because we didn’t have the talent to be on THAT side.
If you have talent, persistence, and value, you will hang around for a long time, hopefully getting that chance you need for your talent to come through and the value you can provide be proven. But it’s going to be a long slog unless that chance comes early on.
If you have talent, effort, and value, you have a good chance at having an early success. But this business can be tough. Sometimes that chance doesn’t come soon enough no matter how great you are or how hard you worked. Life isn’t fair and the music business is a great example of that.
Now, have talent, put in a lot of effort, be persistent, and provide value, and you WILL succeed. You’ll succeed in just about anything you do.