I’ve been reading the brilliant book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. It breaks down why some ideas stick and some ideas die. For instance, why are Aesop’s fables still remembered after 2,500 years (“The Tortoise and the Hare”, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, etc.)?
Why are urban legends so “sticky” like the famous kidney harvester story which has a dude accepting a cocktail from a random hottie in a bar and waking up in a hotel bathroom in a tub full of ice, a phone within reach, and a note attached to it that reads “Don’t move, you are missing a kidney, dial 911”?
How do these ideas or stories survive over years, decades, and centuries?
Why are people so interested in retelling them?
Retelling is the old school term for SHARING.
How come nobody is interested in sharing your music?
Whoa, wait, what?
I’ll repeat the question, how is it that we ALL know a friend of a friend who witnessed the famed kidney harvester story and nobody wants to listen to, purchase, or tell people about your music?
That’s the rub.
I believe that if your music is marketed correctly, it will be heard, and it will matter. That’s what we all want, right? Money or no money, we want people to look at our art endeavors and experience the music as the soundtrack to their lives.
You want it to be your song they’re listening to the first time they have sex.
You want it to be your song they’re listening to when that one crazy thing happens at the party that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives.
That’s the code that needs to be cracked to find your success in today’s music business.
Mostly y’all haven’t really thought about this at all, have you?
At the very best, y’all have spent 5 minutes thinking about connecting with your future fans and your entire lifetime working on the music.
This disproportionate allocation of your creative time between music and marketing is the reason behind your lack of response.
I will tell you that the same market shifting problems are at the core of the music industry’s sales slump.
You’re on your journey and your music is where your music is for right now. The quality, originality, and craftsmanship of your music is directly proportionate to how hard you’re willing to work at the recording and the creative process as well as your level of humility.
I say humility because it’s no secret that my most successful friends and artists are always humbly asking questions (to anybody and everybody) while my least successful friends and artists are always telling people “how it is” and why they can’t get a leg up.
There’s a man who thinks he can and a man who thinks he can’t. Both men are right.
Which one are you?
Which one do you want to be?
These two questions could have completely different answers, huh?
The good news is that if you want to make a living being an artist today, you don’t need permission from anybody.
You don’t have to wait.
You don’t need to get “lucky” and meet the right people who will open all the doors for you and place in a room full of EZ buttons and unicorns.
No, you can get started right now…but, only if you really want it, of course.
It used to be you couldn’t put out a record without a major record label because it was WAY too cost prohibitive, now it’s super inexpensive.
Jon Bon Jovi and Trent Reznor both figured out how to exchange their valuable time for studio access to create the recordings that broke them wide open and they did this without a record label when the cost of recording was 15 times what you’re facing.
Where there’s a will there’s a way (another sticky statement, right?)
If you can’t find a way, I assure you that the problem lies within your will. Either recognize and accept this notion to refocus your efforts or do yourself and the industry a favor and move on with your life.
Don’t be bitter about moving on if that’s your choice. It just means you didn’t really want it enough.
Your music is important but in today’s market it’s secondary when it comes to marketing. The first interaction a future fan will have with you as an artist will not be the music; it won’t be the single. Rather, the first interaction a future fan will have with you as an artist will be YOU.
If they like YOU, then they will listen to your music with an open heart and an open mind. At this point, the music better be good, man.
It better WORK.
If you’re sticky enough, they will respond and remember you.
But things have to be different. They have to be approached differently these days. This means they have to be thought about differently.
When you truly reexamine an approach things begin to change.
For instance, sometimes I will write more than 25 titles to a particular blog article. The first 15 are the obvious choices and the last 10 are when I really begin to rethink out of necessity. This is where the true creativity happens.
You have to approach your marketing this way.
If the big wigs really knew what was going on in today’s market, we’d have a hell of a lot more platinum records than just Drake, Taylor Swift, and Adele.
You have to be your own business first. You have to.
If you think that you’re going record a demo, then get a deal, you’re wrong. They don’t care. Even if they LOVE your demo they don’t care.
It’s not in their business model to develop you as an artist.
What does that mean?
No, of course not. It’s not in IHOP’s business model to change oil, they make pancakes.
Record labels can’t develop you because they no longer have the money.
They want to see that you have a growing business.
They want to see that your music has value in the market place not because you think it’s amazing, but because people are BUYING it. Period.
Record labels are looking to buy small businesses, not develop artists.
So the development is your job.
Artistically and in the marketplace.
Stop ignoring it.
You’re wasting valuable time.
If you need guidance, there are plenty of mentors out there to mold your creative endeavors as well as your marketing approach.
Target your audience. Who will most likely dig what you are doing?
Clearly Metallica fans are NOT going to give a crap about your amazing jazz music.
So target intelligently.
Go find your audience on social media and say “Hello”.
Yes, say “HELLO”. Is that so freaking hard?
Follow them first. When they follow back say hello. Give them something in a gesture of gratitude.
They will appreciate it if you serve it up right.
Ask QUESTIONS. Be interested in THEM.
When they feel that you are interested in them, they will begin to ask questions about you.
They will begin to be interested because you are an amazing person.
Answer their questions.
While you’re doing this provide some social proof that other people are interested in your music. One piece of social proof is a healthy following. Another would be some good reviews on your music. Another would be some quick clips of a live performance or two. Maybe a few BTS (Behind The Scenes) shots of you recording?
Remember walking out on the playground in grade school and seeing a huge group of kids in a circle? Probably a fight, right?
What did you do?
You went over to check it out!
“Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd” – P.T. Barnum
Everyone wants to be a rock star.
You’re living a life that most people will only read about in books.
Realize this but don’t be cocky or condescending.
You need them.
Then offer a killer deal on your music.
You’ll sell something.
Now you have a measurement.
If you can measure it, you can manage it.
Tweak the plan.
Make a better living.
You make your music to “stick”.
Now make your marketing just as sticky.