• Marc-Alan Barnette

"I'm Quitting My Job to do Music..."

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…., “when Charles Dickens wrote those lines for TALE OF TWO CITIES, in 1859, he could be speaking about a lot of things. Aside from the obvious, about strive, poverty and war during the French Revolution, it could easily speak about today in the modern music industry. For the “best of times”, it has never been easier or more accessible for a writer or artist to get their work “out there.” Millions of songs, articles, books, poems, inventions, instructional videos, you name it, are out there, on the Internet. Someone can literally write a song in the morning, record it on a camera phone, and put it on one of the limitless web sites out there and start getting “views” and “likes”, by the afternoon.

For “the worst of times”, it is nearly impossible to monetize it. With unending supply, and continuous demand, it is hard to keep up with it all. For songwriters, it is very difficult requiring millions of “streams” to make any money from songs themselves. The real future is in performing artists, who can create a “brand” of who they are, build that brand and develop their fan base. Of course, with the Internet, they now can do that in many places previously unheard of.

So it is the “Best and Worst of times.” What to do? Well, that old saying, “don’t quit your day job” mostly applies. When someone makes that huge announcement to family and friends, “I’m quitting my job to do music full time…” it brings to mind that old adage. Most times, you have to do music as a “second job” or “second business”, but work as hard at it as your first job. There are still writers and artists that do just that. It is done all the time by motivated people all over the world.

Today’s artist/writer has to wear a lot of hats. Writing or gathering songs as their own publisher, songs, being involved with other writers, and then acting as their own producer, publisher, record labels, until they can get someone else to take over the job is basic music 101. They have to be a politician, doing constant social media, continually expanding their fan and friend base, always building. Hopefully, along the way, they pick up professionals to help them further their base. Being well rehearsed and developed will help them get better gigs and venues.

It leads to a formula I prescribe to: “ACTIVITY=PROXIMATY=OPPORTUNTIES”. Doing something consistently and well, leads to being around other people, venues, which lead to opportunities.

Then repeating the process.

There are always going to be huge stars. The “Taylor’s”, “Lady Ga Ga’s,”” Garth Brooks”, “Keith Urban’s”, will always find their way “out there.” But even many of those, particularly songwriters are not making as much money as they once did. The value on many things have dropped, as the avenues have increased. Once again, supply and demand. Always a balancing act.

But there is a huge gulf between those and the everyday, artist and writer and these are developing into more and more “niches’, finding their own footing in local and regional avenues. That is what builds into the larger success. It takes time and patience and being methodical.

If choosing a career in music, you should always go carefully, check each step, be around other people who know more than you. And constantly work toward your goals.

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. Which one will you make yours?