By Cari Cole
I kinda hate the music business. Mostly for what it does to artists. Especially artists who have been in it for a bit. Surprising? Not really. Anyone who’s been in it for a bit, on the inside of the industry, knows that the companies don’t really care about artists and their focus is more on making money, not necessarily great music (except for the visionary few like Rick Rubin and others like him…)
Otherwise, people like Patty Griffin would be the new Bob Dylan and so on. The worst of the music business is corporate America at its worst. Hundreds of mouths to feed and luxurious lifestyles to keep up with, often at the expense of the artist. Although some companies like BMG and others have risen to change that. Every now and then a real artist makes it through the machine intact. Miraculously. Like Sza and her new record Cntrl. Nothing short of a masterpiece. They got that one right.
Music is about freedom of expression. It’s powerful and potent, it packs a punch and reverberates in our social conscience. It can change the narrative, and it can change lives.
As an artist, your focus needs to be on the music, full force ~ not social media. Socials have their place, but let’s put things in perspective. Is it not the reason you do music – #amiright? It’s great to reach people, but when it’s the focus of your career, you’re putting your art in jeopardy.
Because there is only so much time. And it takes time and focus to make great music, to write great songs. To dig down into yourself deep enough to incubate and find that fresh perspective. To stop the noise long enough to find you under the layers. To create music that will make an impact, you need your music to be the focus of your career – first. Your songs. Songs are everything. An artist, no matter how talented, is only as good as their songs. And songwriting takes time and skill.
Here’s my quick list for YOUR JOB in this crazy business:
1. Write songs you that you would fight for.
2. Put nothing but raw, unfiltered truth in your songs.
3. Make the music you want to hear, not what you think the industry wants to hear.
4. Sacrifice everything for that. Period.
5. Write a lot. No matter how much you write now, write more.
6. Write 1000 worthy songs. I just watched our head songwriter do just that, and his song “Brooklyn in the Summer” covered by rising star Aloe Blacc is climbing the charts like wildfire, 2 million streams in one week. The product of 1000 songs in the catalog. He talks about it in a recent online event we did for songwriters. You can listen in here.
7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Pursue an artist path and a songwriting path. Songwriting is the pulse of the industry.
8. Co-write with writers better than you to help raise your skills, open a creative dialogue (don’t only write solo), and get yourself in the business.
9. Be an artist, a real artist, all the way. No half-baked artist will reach their pinnacle.
10. Leave your ego at the door. Serve the song. Always.
11. Music is service. Write songs that serve. You and everyone else.
You got this!