SOUTH SOUND SIDEKICK: The brutal honesty of today's music business

By Volcano Staff on November 23, 2012

South Sound Sidekick series offers advice from experts living in the, well, South Sound. It posts every Friday. Today, Maurice the Fish Records CEO Raymond Hayden has advice to musicians who are starting out in the musicic business or musicians who need a re-boot.

Raymond Hayden writes,

About a week ago, I was contacted by the Weekly Volcano to write an article based on what it takes to get started in the music business, get gigs, promote bands and their respective brands and stay true to ideals and visions.  Of course, being entrenched in the music scene I said yes and considered it a real opportunity to give back to the music community from which I thrive - you know, pay it forward.  As I started developing ideas for this article, I was reminded that without some very basic tools you shouldn't even make an attempt at jumping in. So, it is with that premise that I write to each of you who are either just getting started or are a veteran that needs a re-boot!

Like other industries, the music industry is always changing and adapting to the times.  However, over the past decade, the music scene has over gone some major changes with how people acquire music. With the onslaught of MP3s what used to be a "brick and mortar distributed" product is now easily accessible (free in many cases).  This was a total game changer for the industry.  Back in the day, artists and bands were looking to "get signed."  With these changes, record labels lost their ability to control the sales of their artist's albums - the whole getting signed goal for artists changed as well.

The current state of the industry is centered on three letters - D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself).  Technology has exponentially increased the ease of producing a CD and there has been a flood of new music to the market. Not necessarily to be looked up on as increased competition, but as a larger talent pool as there is plenty of room for great music at the top.  With this, comes an increased amount of responsibility to the artists themselves.  They must now be the artist, the merchandiser, the engineer, the producer, the publicist, the booking agent, the tour manager, etc. In other words, artists' futures and money are in their own hands. 

Reading between the lines? 

If you are not disciplined and expect someone else to do it for you, don't even bother - just stick to playing at family get-togethers.  If you work hard enough and put forth the effort, you might catch someone with influences ear, but the key is to NOT count on that.

My suggestion is simple. If your fire burns strong with the desire to create music and you are willing to put in the work, then start prepping for the marathon: practice your instrument; rehearse with your band (there is a difference); work your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Reverb Nation); go see other shows (support your local peers); network with your peers, venue owners, local periodicals, studios and radio stations (both traditional FM Stations and internet); above all, have fun and make sure your fans know how much you love and appreciate them. Other than what I just listed, I suggest you become involved with local music organizations, performance writing organizations (BMI, ASCAP), local Grammy chapter conventions and learn about the industry. Educate yourself on what you are getting yourself into.

Years back, when I realized how difficult it was to get people to respond, I created my own reality. I call it Maurice the Fish Records.  A family of like-minded artists who adhere to everything I've written about today.

If you hit a wall, be creative and CREATE YOUR OWN REALITY!  Be the game changer. ...