You read a book once, you watch a movie a couple of times, but music is forever.
And this is a sea change. In monetization.
Isn’t it funny that the film business has accepted this, yet the music business has not. You don’t see actors taking to the Internet protesting Netflix, saying that they’re losing all that money from DVDs… Oh, that’s right, the studios screwed the talent on DVDs, but my point is streaming won in visual entertainment, but seemingly everyone who is a recording artist can’t stop bitching about Spotify.
But this isn’t about Spotify, or YouTube, or Beats Music, per se. It’s about a difference in consumption.
Once upon a time, the big effort was getting people to buy your record.
Now it’s getting people to LISTEN TO IT! AGAIN AND AGAIN!
In a world overflowing with entertainment, can you produce something so necessary that your fans and others can’t help but be drawn to it and continue to listen to it?
This is the blockbuster syndrome.
Even in the nineties, when MTV was rampant, most people owned little music. CDs were expensive, nobody had many, so they sat there spinning albums, learning all the deep tracks, going to the show to hear them. Now they only have time for the hits. Are you writing and recording hits?
In other words, if it takes multiple plays to understand and get your music, chances are you won’t even be niche, if that.
Difficult is passe. You can record the album tracks, but unless you’re a superstar and they’re as easily digestible and good as the hit, almost no one will listen.
This has already happened in the film business. Check the box office. One or two big winners and then also-rans. Everyone gravitates to the hits, they want to be part of the discussion, and oftentimes we know what’s a stiff by Friday afternoon, with our minions out in the theatres reporting.
Same deal in TV. When a show gets bad ratings do they let it run a season to develop an audience? Only in rare instances, maybe when superstar talent is involved and they believe in it, otherwise the show’s CANCELED!
That’s what’s happening throughout the music business. Albums are getting CANCELED, and no one seems to want to admit it.
Look at the SoundScan numbers, they’re positively anemic. Everyone blames it on piracy, but the truth is the audience has outgrown the album format, it doesn’t work for them, especially when they can go on YouTube and just get the hit.
So when you’re laying down your tracks, if you want to gain an audience, you’ve got to think about them, not you. Is what you’re doing so special that your fans will eat it up, play it incessantly and share it with their friends? Or is it good, something palatable people could enjoy, but will skip right over on their way to what’s popular.
Don’t decry popularity. Those tracks contain an essence most stuff that falls by the wayside does not. “Roar” works, even if it’s not as good as Katy Perry’s previous stuff. And if she ends up with enough hit singles people will push her album into the millions. But this is so different from when we sold millions to begin with, out of the box, because so many people were interested.
And the cycle is just that fast. Entering at number one is essentially irrelevant. Really, name the number one album from two weeks ago, three, I dare you.
So focus first on tracks. Get people clawing for more instead of foisting your work upon them. We live in a pull economy, and if you’re all about pushing, you’re probably not gonna last.