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As a music promoter, working in a music venue, a musician, and an avid lover of music, it is fair to say that music and the music industry is a rather large and important part of my life. Something that I have noticed and that has been brought to my attention over the years of being a part of my local, and outside my local, music community is that a lot of people, musicians, and non-musicians alike have noticed and understood that the music industry is one of the hardest and most challenging industries to become successful in. But why is this? This article will be broken down into three main subjects, all considered from a local and non-local point of view: the music industry from a promoters point of view, the industry from a musician's point of view, and the industry from a fan's point of view. Also, before we get started, I would like to point out that this will contain none or very little fact apart from what I have witnessed or been told and this will simply be my opinion (I know, opinions on the internet are very scary things).
Since this article will be mostly my own opinions on the subject, I think it is best that I introduce myself a little bit to you in order for you to have a greater understanding of where I am coming from and you can start to see things from my perspective. Of course, if you don't want to read about me then feel free to skip this paragraph. I am currently 20-years-old, and ever since the age of eight, music has been one of the main influences in my life, from bonding with my dad in the car on the way to school over old 80's classics on the radio to the first ever album I owned, which was "Busted" the debut album by Busted, given to me by my grandad. At the age of 18, I started my job as a bartender in the local music venue just outside of London, England and still work there now as the assistant manager. I used to be the frontman and lead vocalist for a heavy rock/metal band about a year ago that was more of a hobby than a career and am now the joint owner of the biggest music promotion company in my town. Having put on multiple shows in my town, surrounding towns, and London, I have connected with hundreds of music fans and hundreds of bands and know a lot of their thoughts and feelings on the music industry.
The music industry, from a promoters point of view, is the subject that is the most important to me since that is the career that I am looking to pursue and become full time in. I believe that the hardest part of succeeding as a music promoter is that everything is about trust and knowing the right people. I mean, yes you have to put in a lot of effort behind the scenes and if you have bad organisational skills then there is no way to succeed in the industry but if you are able to learn that, or it comes naturally, then that is half the battle. I mentioned the trust aspect of the job earlier, what I mean by this is that the only way to get started in this line of work is to have a venue owner who trusts that you're able to put on a good show because, at the end of the day, that is how they make their money. A good show equals more people at the venue which equals more money for the venue owner. The other people that have to trust you are the bands. If they don't trust that they are going to get paid by you or they aren't going to be looked after or that you can bring people down, then they aren't going to play for you and no bands means no show. It is somewhat of a catch 22 situation. If people don't trust you, then you aren't able to be in that situation where you are able to earn their trust. The other main part of being a promoter is down to luck. It's all about knowing the right people. Obviously, knowing the right people isn't the be all and end all of promoting, but it can certainly make the difference between progressing and making it in the industry and staying at an extremely amateur level and never going anywhere. If you know the right people then you get information early and are aware of and are able to capitalise on possibilities that you may not have even known existed without those contacts. Unfortunately, the main way to make those contacts is completely through luck. It's all about being in the right place at the right time. Much like a lot of the rest of the music industry, becoming a successful music promoter seems to be down to a lot of luck. With that luck, it is a lot more possible to do well and succeed and without it, even though it is still possible, it is a lot more difficult and will require a lot more hard work over a lot more years.
As a musician, it is very difficult to make it in the music industry the way it is at the moment. For musicians, it is all about passion. If you don't have a passion for music, then it is highly unlikely that you would ever try and make a career out of it, however, saying that it is also one of the most expensive passions that you can have. Practice rooms are expensive, if you want to use them for the amount of time it takes to become at a good level. Music gear can be thousands of pounds, if not more. Travel to shows is expensive. All the while you have to take time off work to play your shows, otherwise you would never make it to your sound check. Recording studio prices are through the roof, so good luck getting a decent copy of your music out there. Getting merchandise made is expensive, so good luck getting your image out there and seeing your monetary investment returned in less than a couple months. The financial requirements of being a musician are so great that some of my friends who have been close to making it big have had to stop entirely because they simply can't afford it anymore. Not only is it the monetary requirement that makes it so difficult to be successful in this industry, but it also requires a great deal of time and effort and even after all the time and effort you could possibly put into what you want to be your career, you could still not make it simply because you weren't lucky enough to have 'your big break.' My band was lucky, because I had contact with a lot of promoters who I was already friends with, who were willing to put us on a show without even hearing us play before, but I can't imagine how difficult it must be for someone or a group of people who just want to play their music to people, but have no idea where to go or who to talk to. Again, we see that one word recurring over and over again, luck. If you don't get lucky, then no matter how talented you are, it is so so difficult to make it in the music industry.
I believe that one of the worst things about the music industry from the point of view of a fan is watching a band who you really enjoy struggling to make it when people have become worldwide and internationally famous simply because they are pretty and have someone behind them who knows how to modify recordings to a good standard. Another thing I find extremely difficult is when I hear people complaining that there is nothing to do in the evenings and yet the local music venue is putting on gigs for upcoming bands or new bands, but nobody is going down to support them. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BANDS AND VENUES. If you love music, but don't have the time to put in to become a musician yourself, then go down the road and support people who have put in a lot of time and effort doing what they love.
In conclusion, the music industry is a very hard industry to be successful in, probably one of the hardest, because a lot of it is based on luck and it requires a lot of money, time, and effort. However, I still believe that someone with enough talent, determination and heart will always succeed, as long as music lovers like ourselves go and support them, buy a CD or a t-shirt once in a while and let them know that we love what they're doing, because trust me, they do too.