I’m realizing that we’re living in a time of prolificness. The days of releasing a CD and milking most of the album for singles is over. The day you release a CD it’s old news. It’s then time to click on the next story, the next sound clip, or the next never-to-be-big thing.
Jamey Johnson just released a 25-song CD set. 25 songs? I read an interview only a few years ago where the artist said that if you released a CD of more than 10 songs, you were self-absorbed and needed to get over yourself.
Not anymore. Ha. Maybe we’re in a world of the Self Absorbed.
Or maybe it’s like I discuss with my musician friends – there’s so much music out there, you have to just keep churning out new things to gain your few fans at a time or just keep your name in front of people.
It’s easy to record now. Get some mics, a home PC, Pro-Tools and voila – you can make your own record. Sign up with DiscMakers and for $250 they’ll do your artwork and print it professionally. Sign up with CD Baby and you have instant physical and online distribution. Yay! Anyone can be a musician!
And of course that’s debatable. But the reality is that those of us that are musicians – those of us who have spent years learning an instrument, or writing songs or running the roads – are now forced to compete with EVERYONE. We’re competing with mainstream, indies and the guy in Podunk, TX that can’t play an instrument, can’t sing, can’t perform, but just did a bunch of the local dancehall crowd’s favorite covers (this friend of mine did a CD called “Your Favorites, Not Mine”. That’s one of my top votes for Best All-Time CD Title).
How can you do it? What if you’re not prolific? I have to say that you will have a very hard time. I’d almost recommend that you make sure you’re young, suntanned and have a very nice body. If you’ve got a handsome/pretty face, even better – then at least you have a shot at mainstream success.
Because prolific is the name of the game. They say if you want a website it’s all about content, content, content. And I wouldn’t even say it has to be quality (although that certainly helps IMO). It’s about just churning new stuff out all the time. Videos, pictures, blogs, show dates, press quotes, and whatever-the-heck else you can get uploaded.
Can you be an original artist and churn out a new CD every year? Or can you regularly upload new songs for download from your website? Or if you’re a cover band, can you keep those regurgitated hits coming? And again, it’s not necessarily about quality. It’s about keeping yourself in front of people – and maintaining who you are more than anything. It’s a smaller way of branding yourself.
If people are surrounded by Oreos enough, they’re going to buy Oreos. But they’ve got to know about it and you’ve got to keep it out there.
It takes money. And time. And energy. And either a very small ego that just keeps it all coming out and doesn’t worry about the impact or a very large ego that keeps it all coming out and thinks you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread and everyone should love you.
This is the new age. In some ways, it IS the classic American dream. Guy works hard his whole life and moves up through the ranks to become successful. But the key is – “works hard his whole life”.
People talk about making things go viral and record companies are wising up about that one. Record companies are all about instant gratification (ok I guess we all are) and making something appear like it’s a grass roots band that suddenly captured the attention of millions of viewers on youtube. It seems to be the latest thing.
But it doesn’t last. Next year no one will remember that youtube video. No one. That band needs to keep churning stuff out. They need to be all over the place all of the time. And even then, they’re probably forgettable.
There’s so much going on – so much to listen to, so much to do, and less and less time (do you ever wonder how much time you would have free if you didn’t text and Facebook all day long?). True fans and the loyalty that they bring are like gold and difficult to keep interested. They’re surrounded by forgettable (and some unforgettable) downloads. But maybe you just released a new CD and they listened to it and they love it. But a day later they want another CD. They want more. A year later you are – “oh yeah that was that band that I really liked”. Because you are now about 10,000 texts and 15,000 Facebook posts later. A lot has happened.
Maybe we’re living too much. I don’t know how to judge it all. All I know is that there is a lot in this real and virtual world to experience and if you’re going to make any mark musically, you can certainly produce quality music and live with that great internal feeling that you did something fulfilling. But if you want to succeed as an artist, you’d better be prolific.