By, Wendy Day ()
I get about 20-30 emails a week from newer artists asking me questions about this industry. Sadly, most of those questions don’t take into consideration how the music industry works, so they ask me questions that are some variation of “can you put me on?” The answer, unfortunately, is no, I can not. I wish I could, but it doesn’t work that way.
If you want to be successful in the music industry, you have to stand out and PROVE to record labels or investors that you have the ability to make money with your talent. You have to have a large following that will buy music, pay for shows, buy merchandise, and tell their friends about you. You need rabid fans.
For some reason, and this happens every year, I get about an additional 100 emails over the Christmas holiday asking the same thing–a variation of put me on, or help me get a deal, etc. The holidays must naturally be a time when most folks are considering their careers. These folks are part of the herd and don’t stand out, so I already know they will have to work harder than the next artist to succeed. Sadly, they have no clue.
Very few people take the time to learn how the industry works before emailing me. Because I wrote a book explaining how the industry works, and because I priced that book affordably (it’s the price of a lunch) so artists would have no excuse not to buy it, it annoys me when people don’t take the time to learn about something they want to spend the rest of their lives doing. If I can learn how to succeed in this industry, so can they! I’m not any smarter than they are.
Now, I get that most artists don’t want to put in the necessary work, and 99.9% won’t make the extreme commitment that it takes to succeed at anything in life, but it sure would be awesome if every artist wasn’t focused on the fame and money first. Fame and money is a result–a by-product of years of hard work, dedication, skill, and tenacity. It never comes easy.
This year (2013), on Christmas Day, along with the usual emails that I get, I received a text message from a rapper I’ve known for years. We interacted for a bit by text, sharing good wishes for the holiday, etc. I saw he was ice skating with his Mom in Vegas on his InstaGram. They were having fun. He then asked for my email address so he could send me a link to a 6 minute video of what 2013 had been like for him. I gave him my email address knowing it would take me a while to get to it. I noticed that aside from a Christmas celebration in Vegas, every other post before and afterwards was him working, performing, and promoting: Houston, Dallas, etc. I was impressed. I didn’t think anyone had that work ethic anymore.
On New Year’s Day, I had some free time, so I watched his video. It floored me! This artist that I had bumped into at numerous industry events over the years, bought a van with his investor and pimped it out so he could travel the country while performing and promoting himself. He built a studio in the van and a video editing bay. He installed beds so he could live in it and built a stage on the roof. And then he hit the road. He goes from city to city, performing and promoting. He even hit the big events that mattered and attracted fans: SXSW, etc. His name is Jef Jon Sin.
I was in awe of his commitment and hustle. I shared the video with my friends and artists who are close to me. I shared it with owners and presidents of labels who think like Jef thinks. I shared it with my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook followers and friends. I want this artist to win. Sadly, there isn’t much I can do to help him succeed, but I can co-sign him and spread his story. And I can tell every artist that instead of trying to find a way to be “discovered” in this industry, go find a way to stand out. And before you complain about money and funding, I gotta tell you that Jef found and secured an investor AND the money he spent on the van and moving around was offset by the money he saved on an apartment and monthly bills. He found a way to stand out and outwork every other artist out here. Why haven’t you? What’s your excuse?!
Here’s the inspirational video he sent me:
From: Jef Jon Sin
Date: December 25, 2013 at 12:45:10 PM EST
Subject: check out this video!
Hey Wendy Day ! I took a lot of your advice and went for it . This is a video of what the last year has looked like for me ! I’ll always love u ! Thank u for everything !