I have the cure for the anxiety and pain you’re feeling right now in your career.
It’s a prediction of sorts. More like a clear vision of what tomorrow will look like for artists who wish to get a record deal and I’ll bring facts to support my argument.
That means this premonition isn’t so magical as it is observational
It’s not going to taste good.
Follow me on this, artists, it’s important. Or don’t at your own peril.
The very first recorded Olympics were held in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece.
That means we have been timing people running (yes running was one of the first Olympic events) for at least 2,793 years.
Two thousand seven hundred and ninety-three years, that’s a long time.
For 2,729 years, no human had ever run a sub-4-minute mile.
For almost 3,000 years no human had ever run a mile in under 4 minutes until May 6th, 1954 when Roger Bannister did it in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. (He’s now Sir Roger Bannister).
What an incredible feat, right?
A miracle that took thousands of years to conquer!
A fluke maybe!
Maybe he was lucky like winning the lottery.
Surely it would be another thousand years, or hundred years, or at least a handful of decades before anyone else could ever do that again!
Running a mile in less than 4 minutes was so difficult it took 2,730 years for it to happen the first time. But Roger Bannister’s record was broken 46 days later by his rival, John Landy, on June 21 in Finland.
Then 47 days after that, both men racing against each other, would each break the sub-4-minute mile again! (Bannister won that race but didn’t beat Landy’s solo time. Still, Bannister was the first.)
Within 3 years 16 runners had broken the sub-4-minute-mile.
What the hell happened and how does this apply to your artist career?
Bannister broke the mental myth is what happened.
Roger Bannister proved it was possible and provided a cure for an “ailment” that was considered incurable.
FYI, the most intelligent physicians agreed, prior to May 6th, 1954, that running the mile in less than 4 minutes would be too dangerous and cause health risks. (Do you see how society conforms with certain myths?)
Once Roger did it, then everybody knew it was achievable, and now it’s a regular occurrence.
Here’s how it applies to you, and you’d better freakin’ pay attention.
Your “ailment”, your “myth” is that indie artists feel it’s too difficult to become successful these days and/or they need a label to do it.
The music business society agrees with that myth because the old way isn’t working and the business is looking for their own cure.
Granger Smith (aka Earl Dibbles, Jr.) build a $1.8-million-dollar indie artist empire from his laptop. Granger is a country artist and Earl Dibbles Jr. is an alter ego.
He created this empire via “content marketing” on social media and YouTube.
Smith defined his audience, targeted them, and then reached out with content that was relevant and personal to THEM.
In the case of Earl Dibbles Jr., the content manifested itself as a humorous set of videos and sayings that were so funny and personal to the South, many people shared them which made him extremely popular.
As far back as 3 years ago, record labels were scrambling to sign Granger.
But the team surrounding Smith always said ‘NO” because there was no need, at that time, to let a label put their hands that deep into his pockets.
For those of you still trying to do the math, $1.8-million-dollars per year breaks down to $150,000 per month gross.
That’s a business.
That’s what labels want, small businesses with viable audiences where they can implement their infrastructure for the purposes of blowing the brand up bigger.
You see the labels are suffering too. Their immediate cure is YOU creating an actual business with cash flow. But most of you still want to sell them the idea of you, the potential of you. Most of you do this because YOU don’t want to do the work…but I digress.
Well, that’s the way it used to happen 15 years ago. (ahem…wake up and smell your career burning after 15 years already).
Here’s the thing, Granger Smith is the messiah for indie artists. He’s your Roger Bannister.
What I’m going to say next is an OPINION, to be clear, on how something happened but my opinion doesn’t change the fact that the outcome ACTUALLY HAPPENED, so pay close attention.
Smith wasn’t going to get a #1 unless he signed with a label (fact). So, at some point, he and his team chose a label and signed. I’m sure they got a pretty sweet deal simply from the fact that they said “No” so many times before.
You always get a better deal when you don’t need them and they really need you. That’s just simple supply and demand economics, people.
Smith became a trophy of sorts on Music Row here in Nashville.
If I was Smith, I would’ve put a performance clause in the contract. Something that states the label has X amount of time to deliver a #1 single (or whatever he thought he could negotiate like a top 10, top 40 etc.) or the contract is null and void. If the label failed, he would be able to cross the street and try it with another label, owing nothing to the first.
Nobody can tell Granger that he isn’t marketable, get it?
Let’s think this through, now.
The fact is that Smith’s first single, “Backroad Song” went #1.
It’s also true that a #1 single requires an incredible amount of bandwidth and resources from any record label. These resources include time, energy, belief, relationships, and cash.
If you’re a student of the game you know that the record business in the hey-day was around $75-Billion-dollars a year and now it’s shrunk to just $15-Billion-dollar per year.
Knowing that all labels are (must be) running essentially skeleton crews these days with limited capital, the most promising artists get all the resources, right? (FYI, this was true even when labels were making money, but it’s been exacerbated by the shrinking sales).
Not potentially promising (because the art is good), but bottom line promising (meaning cash flow). These are 2 different things and you’d better understand the difference.
Granger Smith is the music industry version of Roger Bannister to the extent that he proved to all indie artists it can be done. There are no more excuses now.
I promise you that when he signed with Wheelhouse Records, there were some artists on that label who may have been more talented than Smith, but had to wait.
They’re probably still waiting.
They had to wait until the Smith project panned out before they were going to get access to the label’s resources they would need to break in the marketplace.
See where I’m going with this?
If you’re an artist with a ton of talent, but no audience, my biggest fear for you is what if the label says “YES”?
A record deal can be a blessing or a curse. It’s up to you stack the deck enough to control the outcome.
Too many of you have read this article but haven’t heard a thing I’m saying. Too many of you are thinking, Ha! If I get my deal, I’ll be home free!
It’s been done now.
I promise there are other artists that are fashioning their approach to marketing in a similar way as Granger Smith.
And NO! Not by creating funny characters, but by creating compelling content that is relevant and personal to their audiences. (That content can take many forms).
These respective audiences are anticipating every email, video, and social media post from the artists they’re connected to because they resonate with the content.
These new-age artists have adapted and are building their empires while you’re waiting for your deal.
You either get it and adapt, or you don’t and you’re a Luddite. Forever waiting.
They’re going to come into their label deals with big hammers at their respective negotiating tables and ensure that, at least for a little while, all the money, energy, and attention of your current or future label will go to them.
If you even ever get a deal that is.
Or you’ll wait to get out of your deal because the label love disappeared with that new artist’s cash flow.
And you’ll pay dearly for that in time and money.
By the way, my company, Daredevil Production, is growing rapidly with a business model that is based on this very concept; turning indie artists into sexy little businesses.
But, Daredevil isn’t the only company that’s figured this out, therefore you’re not just competing against artists.
Indie artists better get on board with the program and they better do it fast.
Getting a deal is no longer a viable alternative to creating your own audience.
Your talent and potential likeability won’t matter to a label who just signed an artist with a rabid audience and healthy cash flow.
Your potential talent won’t factor in whether you’re signed to that label or not.
“A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.”
You must figure out how to create your own audience.
You create the audience, the labels come to you, they give you everything they have and all your anxiety is magically cured.
Contact capture is necessary. After you define who the audience is you go find them, make a relationship via social media or live shows, and get the digits.
These direct-to-fan relationships are the cure for the common indie artist cold.
Effective social media is mission-critical for this task.
It’s up to you, artists, do you want to be the one bird in the hand, or do you want to hang with the crowd in the bush?
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