Google+ Q Dot: 3 Music Career traps to avoid in 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

3 Music Career traps to avoid in 2013

It's 2013. Time to get with the "shift" that's going on in the world. This shift hasn't been eloquently described by anyone but I hope you read this and shift yo ass away from some of these traps that await you in the upcoming year. Here are the three biggest things to avoid in your career and why.

1. A&R Networking panels.

The hook: They all sell you the same thing: "Showcase your music for industry professionals." or "Have your chance to be discovered by major label A&Rs." Or whatever other snake oil they can conjure up to get you to plunk down some crazy entry fee. Like most of the companies selling products to indies with the promise of helping them get to the next level, they're simply playing on your desire to succeed which is pretty effed up if you ask me.

Real reasons why you should avoid them:

1. The A&Rs at these events were paid to be there. Not to sign talent. I know you may be thinking what?!?! Aint that their job though? To find talent!? Look, it sounds good on the outset but in reality there are a lot of polotics involved in anyone getting signed at a label and if you're going here expecting to "network" with these label people broken dreams await. On top of that, most if not all of these A&Rs when you approach them at these events you paid an astronomical amount to be at - just to hear them talk about basic industry topics you probably know the answers to anyway, mind you - will tell you something like this...

"I'm just researching."

That's their way of telling you that a) They're not looking for talent. b) They don't have the authority to sign talent at the label.  Or  c) they really are just out researching the market for opportunities the talent they've already signed and are working with can exploit.

2. Ask yourself this simple, practical question. When was the last time you heard of someone making a substantial career move by attending one of these events? I can only say one and that's India.Arie who obliterated the panel scene in the late 90s and early 2000s until she became a "seemingly out-of-nowhere" success. Other than that most A&Rs know where to find talent. By going to your show after hearing about your buzz or through a trusted source. Hands down period. It's been that way since the beginning and won't change.


2. Paying for social media fans and views. (The ego stroke)

The hook: Again, they're playing on your desire to be successful. For $20 bucks or so you can buy  5000 instagram followers. For $10 you can get 1000 youtube views. For $30 you can get 7500 twitter followers or Facebook followers. This will make you "look" like you made it. Like you're a big deal, you'll move up in the rankings and people will begin to follow you for real! Really all it's doing is giving you an ego stroke but it's the equivalent of being stroked in another way and finding out it was really a man stroking you. No beuno.

Real reasons why you should avoid them:

1. The obvious - these are fake numbers, fake views, fake fans, fake fake fake. As in NOT REAL. And while you may trick a few of your would-be fans in to believing your doing it much bigger than you actually are, it won't take much for anyone with some sense to notice that it doesn't make sense that you're a local MC who has has 10000 Facebook followers ... that are in India and Nepal. Your low budget video has 50,000 views on YouTube with 8 comments and 2 likes. It just doesn't make sense and it's obvious.

2. Ask yourself this question. Would you buy from a company who mislead you in their advertising?  If Viagra or Cialis stated that their product would not only make you harder for longer but it would also make you bigger and then you found out it wasn't true...you'd probably never use that product again. By urging people to become a fan of what you do and using fake numbers as a tactic to lure them in to joining a movement which is really just you and your homeboy they will promptly leave likely to never come back.

3. Pay-for-play shows: (Janky Promoters)

The hook: More like the okey doke. That same BS line they've been serving up for years: "This will give you exposure and it's good on the resume." Bullshit...You don't pay to play a show unless Jesus is headlining, Biggie and Pac are the openers and there's a special guest appearance from Michael Jackson. Or worse...you pay to play the show but they make you sell tickets on top of that. GTFOH!!

Real reasons why you avoid them:

1. That's not how the game goes ladies and gentleman it never has been that way. If a promoter wants you to play a show they either pay you or you agree to open up for free but you never pay. The reason why they do this is because the majority of artists simply don't know how to represent themselves and likely aren't part of any musician's work union and since they're playing on your desire to be successful they're able to sell you on the idea that it's worth you money to "invest" in paying to perform at this show.

2. Ask yourself this question. Would you show up to your day job if your boss made you pay to go to work? No. You'd quit, cuss him/her out and tell him/her how crazy that sounds. Don't do the same to your career.

3. The only way this works and is a common occurrence in the music industry is paying to get on a tour with a touring band. It's called a buy-in. You can buy-in X amount of shows for X amount of money and actually tour with a band which gives you the ability to sell merch at shows and reach fans in different cities night after night and while the best of these acts may only break even - it's still a much better look for your career than paying half the amount you would on 5-10 shows for one show and only performing for your friends.