We’ve all heard it before. Don’t be a sell out! Be true to the art form, be true to yourself. Don’t sacrifice that for fame and fortune. Bla bla bla. Noble words coming from people who usually (a) aren’t in the music business or (b) are in the music business but need to hold another 2 jobs to stay afloat. Good for them! Let them make the “noble” choice but don’t let their choices influence you. Selling out is not copping out and I will explain exactly why in a minute.
The music industry is like any other industry, right? Your music is a business. You are a brand. But too often we don’t treat it like that. For some reason we think it should abide by its own laws – that those that have a true love for the artform, those that are the most gifted/talented, those that have the best songs should come out top, and those that approach it as a business should not. Wrong. Music is like any other industry, and the reason we make it so hard for ourselves, the reason we think the industry is inherently “tough” is because we don’t approach it this way.
Anything in life is about supply and demand. If there is no demand, there is no exchange. Feel free to follow the art-form and make music that you love, just remember that that does not necessarily mean that everyone else will love it or that it will be popular. If you are happy with writing, recording or performing music that is not well received commercially just remember that from a label/promoter’s point of view you’re not marketable and don’t expect to get rid of your day job.
Please note this is not coming from a place of greed, it’s simply the reality. If anyone wants to make music a career you have to treat it like a business, and with a business comes much needed research and product/service customisation to meet a need/want in the market. If you’re looking at earning your wage through being an artist, i.e. through record sales, performances and related merchandise, you might have to do what some people refer to as “selling out”. All that it means is that you’ve listened to the world’s music-taste and you’ve adapted your art to meet it so that an exchange can happen.
I say selling out is not copping out because its simply understanding the industry and giving it the respect it deserves. The music industry is far from saturated. Music listeners do not select their favourite artist and simply move on with their lives like they would with a brand of toothpaste or their favourite soft drink. There is always space to invite a new artist into their collection. The thing that makes the industry so fresh is that music gets old. Isn’t that ironic! Sure its great to listen to the classics but you can’t spend your whole life listening to the same CD over and over. You need to make room for the new, i.e. there is always demand.
Finding that demand is key to staying alive in the industry and to be able to do what you love for a living. Yes, “what you love”! Sure I write soft-rock because it comes naturally to me, but if you told me that if I had to make orchestral music or pop music in order to have a profitable music business therefore negate the need for the potentially unfulfilling day-job, hell yeah I’d do it! You mean that I’d be able to spend my working days creatively, pursuing something that has my name directly attached to it! Sign me up!
You see for me, and I’m sure for a lot of you, being creative is number one. Take away my guitar and I’ll make the best piano-ballads this year. Take away the piano and I’ll play drums in the most brilliant accompanying rhythm section to come out this summer. Whatever I have, I’ll pour my soul into it. I’ll give my all. Why? Because I LOVE music. I truly love the art-form and appreciate all aspects of it. Restrictions don’t stunt creativity, they stimulate it! A good musician can express him/herself with any instrument/any genre. Isn’t that the music ethos. The code?
Selling out is an excuse that unsuccessful people use. We are all scared of putting our heart and soul into something only for it to fail. It’s natural to use excuses to prevent us from getting hurt, to maintain that comfort zone. Please just don’t impart that disease in someone else’s head because you were too afraid to follow your own dreams. And please please don’t look at them with regret when they’re getting all the attention and living the life you’ve always wanted playing music that you could play in your sleep!
Remove the “Sell out” myth from your vocabulary. Love the artform, love all aspects of it.
Sean David is a singer/songwriter, music entrepreneur and journalist from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. For more info on what he’s been up to click here.
What is FindStream and how has it come into existence?
Behind FindStream were a few people madly in love with music & new technologies, desperate for making the world, i.e the web, a better place, and driven by the idea of creating a smart search system to locate all live media streams on air on the web. As a result of their efforts, the most comprehensive base of FM & Internet streaming radio stations has been built. And alongside to spotting the majority of all radio broadcasts, this team developed an algorithm to scan the music content inside the stream, thus knowing for a fact what is playing any minute on any station broadcasting from any part of the world. This is how FindStream has come into being.
How does it work?
Today, FindStream acts as radio airplay broadcast monitoring service which tracks radio airplay of songs on more than 30 000 radio stations.
Monitored panel includes terrestrial radio streams, as well as big and small independently broadcasted Internet-only radio stations from 73 countries worldwide. This meticulously crafted mix provides for an efficient detection and reporting of millions of titles played on the radio thusbuilding all-round picture of ever-changing music world.
What makes the technology special?
Music data & their intelligent analysis form the core of the FindStream technological know-how. Our expertise is based on a system of automatic live radio stream search that crawls the web and performs careful analysis of found streams. The ability to normalize music meta data inside the stream, quickly generate airplay report on any artist or even build a profound analytical forecast based on the broadcasting history makes the technology behind FindStream almost incomparable.
Due to constant monitoring of web broadcasting sources and database growth FindStream easily spots even newly appeared music content & opens up a new source for music search & discovery.
What are the benefits of using FindStream?
As a monitoring service, FindStream is about empowering musicians by offering them a smart tool to track, rank, and better promote music using by far the most popular source for music consumption – broadcast radio.
There are many aspects to FindStream that make it appealing to music pros, like an ever-expanding database, variety of monitored stations & reported parameters. This profound exploration of radio landscape allows us to built up an unparalleled music discovery & recommendation engine that rests on the opinion of thousands savvy music pros – radio DJ & programming directors.
With all the power that streaming platforms offers in terms of music discovery & recommendation, average music fans still have a very distinct feel to a professionally curated music experience provided by radio DJs. Their extensive music knowledge & ability to carefully piece tracks together bring out an amazing user experience that not a single even the most sophisticated algorithm can deliver.
How can it help musicians with their radio performances?
Broadcast radio is still by far the most popular audio platform, and clear understanding of the radio music world & your place there is vital for luring the audience & succeeding in a highly challenging music industry. And this is where FindStream comes in very handy.
Apart from handling real-time monitoring of regional copyright distribution across the global radios & tracking royalties due for each broadcasted title, FindStream gives musicians an exciting marketing tool that easily measures & analyzes their current popularity on the radio waves, spot the most active broadcasters & recommends the best way to improve the artist’s presence on the radio, plan concerts & marketing campaigns.
How do you want FindStream to develop? What are the future plans?
We at FindStream are very passionate about highlighting the diversity & quality of broadcast radio content, and we are looking at ways to showcase the benefits of thoughtful curation of perfect playlists as opposed to technologically created algorithm streaming services provide. We also plan to expand our monitored panel to cover all radio stations on the globe, so as not a single airplay is hidden.
Music isn’t just about job — it’s an important part of our life. And our goal is to turn FindStream into a single source of radio trends & music discovery, a tool for music pros to action the data & make the best of radio performance. A tall order, though for us it’s one worth delivering on.