Nine Common Music Industry Problems That New Artists Face
Working in a creative field requires persistence. The music industry is no exception. The band, the music label, personal manager, the agent or the promoter are all likely to face more than one bump on the road. The trick here is to learning how to deal with disappointments and moving towards your goal without getting discouraged.
As a new artist, you will have to deal with many personal disappointments, as well as issues within the music industry. Here are the nine common challenges that artists face at the start of their careers along with the larger issues that face the industry.
1. There's No Response to the Demo
The first thing you should know about dealing with demonstration disappointment is that almost every single one of your favorite bands have faced this letdown. In most cases, you won't get a response to your demo. It doesn't have to mean you are doing anything wrong; sometimes it just takes a while for the right demo to reach the right person.
Even if one uses the right approach, one is not assured of success. However, one should keep doing these things to increase your chances:
Keep building your profile by playing shows
Pursue press coverage of your shows
Keep your promotion package updated and labels informed about what you are up to
Stay on top of your social media presence, including Facebook, Twitter, and your own blog
2. The Big Review Wasn't Published
Being told that the review of your album or band that was supposed to appear in a newspaper/magazine or on a certain website has been dropped is frustrating. How should you handle it?
First, understand that this, too, happens often, and it isn't personal. Sometimes writers say that a review will appear just to appease you, but often they are just as surprised as you when a review is dropped by an editor.
Getting bumped for bigger stories is part of the game, but you can make things better by following up. Put a call into your contact at the publication to find out what happened. See if you can get them to run it in the next issue instead.
If one makes a big deal out of the review at hand, if your distributor relies on news reviews to promote your album or touch base with everyone to let them know what happened and when the review may resurface.
In most cases, there is not much you can do to assure that a review will be published, instead, you can perfect your press game and build a personal relationship with the writers who are into your music.
3. No One Comes to the Show
Few things are as disheartening as playing to an empty room on the night of a gig. There may be finger pointing, but the bottom line is you can't force people to come to your show.
Do your best to turn a negative into a positive. Be gracious to so you will be welcomed back to the venue in the future. There's no guarantee that the crowds will pound down the door next time, but you can take steps to build buzz for that next show.
4. The Gig Gets Canceled
When you're dealing with people who don't put on shows professionally, there is always a chance that they will have to cancel a gig. You may deal with people who want to put on a show for you, start planning, but then realize they can't—and don't really tell you that until the last minute.
I once had a friend who spent months going through the process of booking a show for a certain band I was working with, only to have them disappear as the show date drew closer. We only discovered on the night of the show that the supposed venue was closed down.
Steel yourself for the inevitable canceled show. If it happens, file it under "things that will be a lot funnier when we make it" and move on. Even if things don't go as planned, remember to be polite and gracious with everyone you deal with; you never know whose help you're going to need some day.
5. Running Out of Money
You can sell what you may think is a lot of records and still be lucky to break even. You can play live music to great crowds every night and end up in debt at the end of the day. Getting to the point where you can support yourself through your music does require a lot of hard work and patience. As long as the sacrifice is worth it to you, the best thing you can do is to manage your money wisely.
6. Problems with the Royalty Collection Company
An artist would want to get paid for his/her work, but royalty collection companies are causing friction with one’s fans and this can reflect badly on the artist. From trying to collect additional royalties on music one has already been compensated for to demanding music fans to pay for public performance license when listening to the radio. The actions of these companies seem to have more to do with solving their own financial problems than making sure you get your share.
The problem besides from the fact that you pay a fee for a royalty collection company's service is that your fans do not realize that how little control you have over what your royalty collection company does using your name. To them, you are greedy. That is not an impression you want to show to your fans.
7. Internet Copyright and Royalty Issues
The internet opens up a lot of new opportunities for music promotion, but should labels be able to pull their artists' music off of sites like YouTube against the artists' wishes?
What is a fair royalty for video plays on sites such as YouTube?
How can one equalize the desire for musicians to be paid for the work done with the real earning from sites that host music?
8. RIAA File Sharing Lawsuits
The Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) file sharing lawsuits are not universally supported. Many have spoken out against them claiming that they damage the relationship between musicians and fans. Almost all musicians can confess to this. Also, its actions do so minimal to curb downloading but create a bad image of the music industry.
We don't have a clear answer on how awards from judgement that are paid to the RIAA to go to the musicians they are suing and that's a real problem.
9. Not Being Paid Radio Royalties
The United States is one of the only countries in the world that does not require terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to performers. Unfortunately, the debate over the issue has been controlled by Clear Channel and those who make good money hosting shows and making radio appearances. Most of them are opposed to these royalties since they would lose a lot of money. These interests have framed themselves in the debate as the champion of the young guys.