It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you are looking to do something big in the music business. It takes so much effort to make things happen and it’s easy to get discouraged. My way of dealing with the tough reality of the biz is to develop a slogan or mantra that fires me up and keeps my mind from wandering or feeling hopeless. Around our office and website we call it F*ck the Gatekeepers! FTGK should be the mantra for all indie artists and people that want to have a career in the music business.
FTGK is an acknowledgement of all the obstacles you will face as you try to build a career in the music business. Whether it’s finding the right creative partners to make great music, trying to get a record or publishing deal, finding a great manager and agent or just trying to pay the rent while you make things happen.
In the past, working around some of the music industry gatekeepers was a lot tougher. Today, technology is making it easier to work around some of the old gatekeepers when it comes to making, distributing marketing and promoting your music. Artist have the means today to make successful music and eye-catching visuals while spending a fraction of what it costs in the past. If you make a song or video these days you can guarantee that it’s available for someone to see and hear—if you can get their attention.
Getting attention in the music business is not as easy as making a check-list. It takes appealing music, thrilling performances, a FTGK attitude and relentless persistence. So, while you’re writing hits, instead of waiting for that song to take off on it’s own and fly away to an A&R scout, find out who the players in the biz are, do your homework, and reach out in a professional manner. Find out who manages your favorite band or a band you think has done it right. Use trade publications to identify who the established players are. Talk to other musicians and trade notes on who the best managers are.
And instead of sending emails or leaving calls for the boss, start at the bottom and work your way up. Are there people in entry level positions working at that label? Find one! Google a name you come across and find his or her Twitter or Facebook account. Research the type of music that person is interested in. Compose a short, specific, professional tweet or message and sent it off. Is there a song on a new album from this label you dig? Who were the lawyers, producers, A&R scouts on that record? Check the credits, look at social media history. Do you think an unknown producer on a big record isn’t promoting and constantly looking at their Twitter while his record is out? Send a well-thought-out tweet congratulating him or her and attach your Soundcloud link or message. Make it short, professional and to the point.
DIY means Do It Yourself. It’s hard. It’s dirty. It’s frustrating. It’s nerve-wracking. But getting things done on your own is the first step toward doing something great and getting people on board that can really help you get noticed.
After working in the music industry for more than 35 years as an artist manager, concert promoter, record executive and more, Steve “Renman” Rennie now spends his time mentoring the next generation of the music biz. His Renman U “insider’s guide to today’s music business” is an interactive course designed to teach aspiring artists and business professionals what it takes to succeed in today’s music business and get started NOW. He also runs Renman Music & Business an online educational portal for the music industry featuring a YouTube channel with over 500 video clips with tips from industry pros, a web show, ‘RenmanLive,’ which has livestreamed over 100 episodes so far, and more. Keep up with Steve on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.