We have worked with artists and songs for almost three decades. Now more than ever, it just has to be about the songs.
For some reason people think being a great singer, or entertainer, or artist is what it is all about. This is because we see the marketing behind these kinds of people and they stick out to us. So we conclude then that is what we should aspire to.
But as we have watched the music industry crash and burn a little bit, and we have seen that the declining world of selling records or CDs or even downloads, this “artist” obsession may not be the smartest focus. Sure artists can still play live, but what happens if you cannot tour for work or family reasons, or can’t find gigs? Sure artists can try to get radio play, but what if you cannot past the radio promoters?
Then suddenly the idea of being an artist can feel like a hollow pursuit. It’s only when we get back to thinking about the songs that we write, the lyrics, the melodies, the things that really perk up peoples ears in the first place, this is when we get back to the sweet spot.
To prove this point that songs are what it’s all about, all you have to do is look at the worlds of the record label and the music publishing company.
The labels are the ones who have felt this extreme change in the music industry. They have watched as downloads and then streaming have effectively stopped any purchasing of music other than monthly subscriptions. Now, yes it’s evident that streaming is bringing back some income into the music industry, but that is not exactly going back to the artist. And if you are an independent artist, streaming is an even smaller trickle.
Publishing on the other hand has not really changed. It’s still about finding a great song, and exploiting that song as best you can. As a matter of fact, there are more ways to exploit and publish songs to the world that there has ever been before. Yes streaming exists and it is very easy to get a song online to digital outlets, but there has been another avenue for songs that has always existed but has expanded recently.
As television has gone from network programming to cable programming and now to streaming services, all of these are now making content. These are television shows, original movies, and many more pieces of content that all need music. And these shows are looking for great songs. Yes the artist figures into that, but what they are really looking for is great songs that fit the visuals. This makes the song that much more valuable and with all the shows out there, and movies, and games, and commercials, and there is more need for songs than ever.
Commercials in fact have changed completely in the last 20 years. Where you used to hear kitschy jingles, little snappy ear worms that you couldn’t forget, commercials and advertising are now using songs by artists. Catchy ditties with fun hooks and great production that marketers use instead of what they used to do with jingles.
Then there is the whole world of gaming, and all the music needed for this world. Add to that everything that’s on YouTube, and all the videos including self-help, and how to, and the music that needs to go behind that, and there is a plethora of need for great songs.
Now if you are an artist, there’s no reason to think it is all for naught. But I think the smarter move these days is to concentrate on great songs, and that may mean less songs that are higher quality.
Then instead of album marketing, and touring, and radio (although radio singles still are good ways to get the song heard), maybe trying to find ways to get one great song used and bringing in income is a smarter move.
Would love to hear comments, and hear from you on this if you’d like to talk about it more.
Have a great week.
Eric Copeland is a producer, and all that other stuff, but it all started as a songwriter. Recently he saw the light and is focusing now more on the songs. If you are an artist or songwriter and want to do the same, get in touch today!