The Hard Truth Music Artists Need To Hear - Music Made Pro

· By Will Harken

The Hard Truth Music Artists Need To Hear

Before I crush your hopes and dreams, I want to start by saying that I love listening to music. I love making music. And I actually love being in the music industry.


That being said...


If you’re trying to create new music and grow a fan base, this is something you need to hear:


Music Isn’t As Special As It Used To Be

Good music isn't that special anymore. Seriously - even a new groundbreaking track that’s produced flawlessly.


Here’s why…


It used to be that making an album was an ordeal by itself.


There wasn’t a way to bypass expensive equipment and expensive audio professionals.


But now, people can make a pretty solid album in 24 hours. In their home. By themselves.


It doesn’t help that AI music is becoming more prevalent and you can license a beat with few button clicks.


While this music tech revolution is awesome for artistic expression, the market is now flooded with an insane amount of good music.


In 2019, roughly 40,000 tracks were uploaded to the Spotify platform daily. 280,000 songs a week. 1.2 million tracks per month. 14.6 million per year.


So when your friends hear that you released a single, they won’t be as surprised or impressed as they would’ve been in the 1980s.


To quote Syndrome from the Incredibles...

“When everyone is special, no one is.”


I’m not saying you shouldn’t make music…


You just can't expect fame and riches from a great song or album anymore. Music is more like painting now.


Further, most music professionals would agree that the quality of a song has a fairly small impact on commercial success.


The real ”juice” is in the star power and the marketing spend.

Star Power Example - if Ed Sheeran recorded audio of himself defecating into a bucket, it would outperform a groundbreaking masterpiece from an artist with 100 Facebook followers.

Marketing Spend Example - Most of Billie Eilish’s early promotional content focused on “Wow, this girl and her brother just made this awesome album in their bedroom and she blew up.” In reality, tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars are behind that success. The underdog narrative is just what sells.

I have a theory this is also why Hollywood doesn’t include marketing expenses in their public movie budgets. People don’t like finding out they’ve been sold.




So Your Music’s Not Special. Here’s What To Do...

Don't give up. You just need to adjust your expectations and your strategies.

There won't be another Beatles. Or another Michael Jackson...

Some images… just don’t age well.
Some images… just don’t age well.


With the internet, fame will become more and more distributed. So, micro-influencers.


You can still grow an audience even though music is oversaturated. You just need to get creative.


Here are the ways to combat the fact that your music isn’t that special…


Watch Out For The Consistency Myth

Consistency is one of the greatest myths of modern music. And content marketing for that matter.


I hate to break it to you, but it’s possible to do something consistently that doesn't make money or attract fans.


Just because you wake up every day and record an Instagram video of you talking to yourself doesn't mean the crowds will flock to you.


Just because you upload a new EDM single each week doesn’t mean anyone will care a year from now.


Sure… consistency can help you learn what works and what doesn’t. But in order to learn, you have to experiment. Not make the same type of thing over and over.


You have to consistently create content that people care about.


Do Something New

Artists with a large audience and big marketing budgets are probably out of your league. So competing with them in similar products and marketing channels won’t turn out well for you.


If you make a new song, you should be proud of it. But that doesn’t grab anyone’s attention anymore. Unless you're 10/10 hot. Then, maybe.


So try to do something that hasn't really been done before.


When Michael Jackson's Thriller came out, no one had ever seen anything like it. This wasn't just a song. It was a whole experience.


One way you could accomplish this is by combining other skills with music to stand out.


Learn about things other than music so you can build a competitive advantage against other musicians. I learned about marketing, video production, programming, and a bunch of other stuff.




👉 Example Idea: You start a low-budget game show and promote your music by playing it in the background. Most musicians aren’t doing that.


👉 Another example: For me, I noticed that there's a lot of competition for selling backing tracks online. So I started writing content about AI music and selling AI-generated song melodies based on hit songs. Something that basically no one else was doing at the time. I’m not 100% sure about the demand for the product. But if it turns out to be a multi-million dollar industry, I will have a first-mover advantage.


Or, Repurpose Something Successful

The more star power you can incorporate into your songs or content, the better.


So if you got Drake to be on your song, that would put you into the stratosphere.


But that’s probably not an option.


So here’s the next best thing:


One of my past clients, The Trills, have over 3 million Tiktok followers at this point. Because they focus on acapella covers of hit songs.


Years ago, the group Pentatonix proved there is DEMAND for acapella groups.

So the Trills are leaning into that demand.


Could they have focused on original music? Absolutely. But you can bet they wouldn’t have an audience nearly as big.




This is like those teen “entrepreneurs” who copy viral videos from Tiktok, repost them to Pinterest, and make affiliate sales on other people’s hard work. High-five!


As an example, I grew the Woodwind & Brasswind Instagram page by over 500%. How? Reposting band memes from a band geek subreddit.


Remember That Music Isn’t The Product

Music is marketing. Not product.


You probably won’t make money on music. But you can make money selling tickets, merch, and other stuff.


Early in his career, the artist Skrillex encouraged torrenting his music.





Because he understood you don’t sell music. You use music to get leads who may eventually pay you money.


SIDE NOTE: if financial stability in the music industry is your goal, I would focus on selling to other music artists. Lessons, gear, etc.


In the gold rush, the people who usually made money were the ones selling the tools. Not the ones hunting for gold.


Perfect time for a shameless plug - shoot me an email if you need help with production or want music lessons.


Spend Money On Things That Work

In marketing, there are two broad categories. Direct response marketing and brand marketing.


Direct response allows you to say “for every one dollar I spent, I made two dollars.”


Brand marketing is like “we spent $100,000 and hopefully something happened.”


Most musicians fall victim to focusing on brand marketing.


And that becomes a bottomless pit. A never-ending promise of gold at the end of the rainbow.


Big companies can afford to do this, but most individual musicians CAN NOT. It’s really easy to spend thousands of dollars on Facebook and Instagram Ads without any tangible results.


Sure, you could say “Wow! 100,000 people watched my video for 3 seconds.


But does that matter if you can’t even come close to recovering the money you spent on the campaign?


So be careful with ad campaigns with the tech giants like Facebook + Google.


The other big thing to watch out for is B.S. marketing services.


Like… 90% of the music promotion and marketing tools you see are crap.


The CoUrse To GrOW Ur SpoTiFY STReAms WiTh nO EfFort probably isn’t going to work.


And the $10 promo to 1 million listeners on Fiveer isn’t going to fix your problem either.


But courses + services like these exist because music marketers know you have a dream. And people with dreams usually spend money irrationally. Hello wedding industry, amiright?!?


Also… even if only 1% of their customers succeed, they get to use those testimonials to sell you on the idea.


IN SUM: Most things don’t work. I’m not here to tell you what works. I’m here to tell you to test things. And if something doesn’t help you meet your goals, don’t do it.


What Now?

Don't give up! It is literally the best-time-ever-in-history-so-far to be a music person. Join my newsletter today to get updates on insane new music tech and occasional music deals.


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