Why Musicians miss out on the greatest opportunity of their lives

My wife enjoys watching The Voice on NBC, yet another vocal talent show promising fame, glory, and riches to one lucky winner. My routine is always the same when these types of shows come on. At first I scoff. Then I attempt to do my work in the same room while ignoring the TV. Within minutes I find myself distracted enough by the show that the laptop closes and I end up supplying a running commentary on the performances for my sweetheart, as she smiles knowingly at my eventual and inevitable caving.

So I’ve watched my fair share of reality singing shows. The one thing that goads me about all the musical talent shows is that the artists rarely see the incredible opportunity standing, waving its beefy arms, right in front of them.

It all starts with a Truth

Here’s The Truth (that’s right, capitals) about music these days… artists don’t need a label. They need a lot of other things, a producer, a booking agent, a manager, a website designer, but not a label. “Don’t the labels provide all the things you just mentioned?” you might ask. Yes, they do.

For a huge fee. Musicians don’t need to pay that. They don’t need labels.

Honestly, musical artists don’t even NEED the things I just mentioned. They need a great instrument, some recording equipment, and a hook. That’s it. Add a website, maybe a friend that knows a thing or two about sound mixing, and they have what they need to be a working artist.

Here’s the hard part

The hardest part about being an unknown artist is the unknown part. That’s why these kids, and even adults, who get on the talent shows drive me crazy. They are all trying to get a label when they should be trying to get attention. That’s what these shows are good for, attention.

By attention I don’t mean gags or dressing in funny clothes to get noticed, unless that’s part of your hook. I mean the simple act of letting the audience know you are good and that they can get more of you. To my knowledge, not one mid-round contestant has leveraged their appearance on these shows to launch a career. The best they get are a few extra local gigs. But there could be so much more.

Think about it, when one of these artists goes on the show and knocks it out of the park, what will thousands of people do right then? They will go to Google and try to find out more about the artist. What will they find? A personal Facebook page and maybe a Twitter account? Or will they find an artist who is ready to provide more of what these new fans obviously want; more music.

Don’t waste an opportunity

Musicians who want to make a living doing what they love need two things: A free WordPress website, and an account with someone like Gumroad so people can easily pay for and download their songs. That’s it.

Once you have those two things in place, they simply need to let people know about the site so fans can visit or tell their friends about it. Maybe the artist can make some fun YouTube music videos. They don’t need to be anything fancy, just interesting and catchy with a link from the video to their website where people can directly buy the tracks. It would also be handy to have an emailing list that would let people know about new songs and albums releasing, but that’s just a nice to have.

Will this make them rich and famous over night? No, shockingly it still takes a lot of hard work and effort to make it in any creative industry. But the difference is this, they are in control. They control their music, their image, and their destiny. Artists make money from the start and their fans get an easy way to find more of the music they love.

Why are most artists not doing this?

I don’t why, but having a web store is certainly not the norm. Imagine if one of these kids on The Voice or American Idol had a website or even some songs uploaded to iTunes. With millions of people seeing their performances on TV, don’t you think at least a few thousand would go to their website? Of course, and they would buy everything available because they like the artist and the prices are reasonable.

Don’t be like the artists who miss out on the changing landscape of digital media. Don’t keep relying on the tired old ways of communicating with your customers or clients, expecting that those same methods will yield new results. Be bold, do something different and in line with how people consume media and content these days.

If you don’t wise up, you just may suffer the same fate as most reality show contestants; the reality of obscurity.