The Truth Is Anything But Simple

Building a career in music is tough. And anything but simple. It always was and it is even more so now. In the pre-digital days, there was a system - a crappy, bloated, intentionally complex system - but a system nonetheless. It was still gambling, but there were winners and everyone played by the same rules. But now, we still have the vestiges of that system and we aren't sure what is necessary or valuable and what is just desperately hanging on to the past. There are fewer and fewer winners and the rules are all but gone. So you have to find your own way. Create your own path. There isn't a book or a website or a person who can wrap it up in 100 pages or a lunch meeting and tell you what will work for you. But find good people and good sources that give you insights and principles and guidelines that you can then apply to your career and your life. There is no "new model" and there are no pre-fab answers for how to make it in music. So know what you want. Read, listen, learn, and work your ass off. Look for opportunities and jump on them when you see them. And tweak it as you go, focusing on the things that do work and throwing out the things that don't. I'm sorry. I know you want something short, sweet and concrete, but sometimes the truth just doesn't fit into 160 characters.

Doing A Whole Lot Of Nothing

Twitter, Facebook and all these other outlets are great ways to reach your audience. But there are limitations. And without a smart strategy, they can become black holes, sucking up all your time and energy. I know people who seem to spend hours a day on Twitter and Facebook, responding to followers, trying to be witty and desperately trying to hit 1,000 or 10,000 or even 100,000 followers. Bless their hearts, they think they're working. And, in a sense, they are. But, in most cases, they are just treading water -- working their asses off and getting nowhere. Like good press, a Twitter or Facebook or email following is not an end in itself. It's a means, an opportunity. And if you don't have a plan for how to activate those followers in some way, then you are just wasting your time. That's why you need a healthy balance of content and promotions.

It's easy to get wrapped up in all the crap. To feel like you're doing something when you aren't actually getting anything accomplished. But eventually that futility will end up killing your good intentions because you can only do something for so long with nothing to show for it. You give up. I understand that not everything has a direct, obvious and measurable return. Ultimately, however, it is a business. And that means that - AT SOME POINT - you need to sell records or tickets or something. With that in mind, here five guidelines for smarter use of your time online:

1. Have reasonable expectations, but ALWAYS have expectations and goals. 2. Create a balance of content and promotions. 3. Set guidelines for what and how often you post. 4. Keep perspective. Don't become a slave to the numbers. 5. Don't ever forget that making music/art is the first priority.