The system has changed. -a note by Val
The music industry is in disarray. So the players, their status, their power and their promise for success is rather broken. When this happens it's every man for himself. Music artists now have tools to deliver their music directly to us. Labels hope we'll still buy CD's. Promoters hope we'll choose to attend their concerts. Managers look for magic tricks to differentiate their artists from the others.
The one constant is they all want you to hear their music.
The traditional way was radio. There's controversy in the industry about radio and its power to reach us in the iPod world. That said, I myself still listen to radio, but I use it my way. Terrestrial radio has my favorite local DJ's, Chicago concert information, artist interviews & studio sessions. I can't live without DJ Lin Brehmer (just celebrated 20th anniversary of DJ-dom) of our triple A station WXRT and his gal pal Mary Dixon. I wake up to him every morning and he makes me laugh. His tag lines are "it's great to be alive" and "your best friend in the whole wide world..." and his Lin's Bin Series are the most clever montages of question/answer/music/stories you've ever heard. On the cloud side, XM/Sirius radio helps me discover the newest artists. The Loft and Spectrum's music tastes mesh with mine so when I'm in my car I'm tuned in. When I'm in a flashback mood I've got Classic Rewind, Classic Vinyl and Deep Tracks at my fingertips. As a music fan, I'm happy to listen as long as you don't waste my time with too many commercials and ridiculous banter.
TV is the new radio. Prime time and late night shows are onto something. I'm a night owl so I tune into those too. I can honestly say I'm ultra impressed with the musical guests on Fallon, Leno, Letterman, Kimmel... They host the newest of the new emerging artists. The ones I promote on Valslist. When the super bowl, awards shows, holiday shows, Obama parties, Rock Center, and the rest of 'em host the same artists over and over (don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about - uh hello, Springsteen, Beyonce, Crow, McCartney, Nicki, Katie, and so on) I stand at my TV and wonder who was in charge there. B.O.R.I.N.G. But late night - and SNL - and the smart ad agencies who use new music for their commercials - THIS is where the introduction to emerging artists is. So if you want to meet them, tune in. (related article)
Back to The System: The 3 artists listed above have broken through the coffee shops, small venues and back woods fests. They're now on a main stage with a mic and a spotlight - in front of a vast sea of viewers. They have to take it from here. Music analyst Bob Lefsetz says you can't make people like your music - they will decide on their own. So if the artists listed above have voices that sell themselves - and maybe they even win The Voice, what can their new label do for them? They can hope to sell CDs. But why not guarantee them a spot on television - ad or show - or a film soundtrack? This would spread their sound further, make it stick, and could be lucrative. Selling CDs in a world that downloads single tracks is tricky business. It's not the artist's fault. It's not the label's fault. The system has simply changed. So roll with the punches and put your artist's best track within earshot of the people...
I read somewhere that the most common question at Starbucks is "what song is that playing?" Let that be your artist they're asking about.