Thursday, June 23, 2011
Make Your Own Luck
I've never been a lucky person. Games of chance? Forget it. Slots? No. Prize drawings at work? I've stopped even entering. "Buy a raffle ticket for just one dollar!" Here, I'll just GIVE you a dollar. Go out and have yourself a good time.
I guess that's why I prefer games of skill. You know, I'd rather play video poker than slot machines. That way, at least, if I lose, I can blame my poor decision-making, as opposed to that arbitrary LUCK, which apparently shuns me and is ashamed to be seen in my company. Yes, I'd rather be known as a poor decider than an unlucky person. Being unlucky somehow makes people glance sideways at you, with a look of pity in their eyes. "Oh, such a shame about Gertie. She's UNLUCKY, you know."
So, what does all this have to do with music?
As an independent artist, striking gold is, in essence, impossible. For one thing, there are approximately (and I'm just making up this number) 45,000,000 independent artists out there hawking their wares.
Music licensing (you know, for TV and movies and commercials and I don't know, bathroom Muzak) once seemed like the savior of independent artists. I'm unfortunately, or fortunately, skeptical. We're hooked up with a multitude of licensing companies, from YouLicense to Music Supervisor to License Me For God's Sake. The companies run the gamut.
I get the emails. Sometimes I open them; sometimes they sit in my in-box, unopened for a week or two. The emails don't really care, mind you. They could just as well be titled, "Here Are Some Opportunities. You Don't Have a Chance in Hell of Qualifying For Them, So Read Them If You Feel Like It. If Not, Eh. We Just Send Them Out Because We're Obligated".
Sometimes, these companies send "Success Stories" emails. I bet they think these are "inspirational". They're not. All they do is make people like me feel like losers. I could just have a bad attitude; I don't know. I suppose it's great that the Shadow Sisters from Albuquerque, New Mexico got their latest quirky song picked up for an episode of "Fringe" (I hope that's an actual show).
And now, let's read an interview with the Shadow Sisters!
Q: How does it feel to have your song included in Fringe?
A: I don't know; all right, I guess.
Q: Have you had success with your music prior to this whole Fringe business?
A: Oh, this is our only song, to be honest. We just did it as sort of a joke.
Q: So, you've not been out there, pounding the pavement?
A: What does that mean?
Q: You know, promoting your music; trying to get heard.
A: Um, my boyfriend just told us, put on these short dresses and stand against that wall over there, and I'll take your picture. Oh, and take off your shoes. He said, try to look bored, and we said, hey, no problem. I guess that's what did it.
Q: Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?
A: I really was just humming.
Q: That's it?
Q: What advice would you have for aspiring artists who want to get their music licensed for television?
A: Take off your shoes? I don't know. Ask my boyfriend. I'm bored. Can I go home now?
So, you see? Luck. And a bad attitude, apparently.
Oh, don't get me wrong. The Shadow Sisters notwithstanding, there are (again, making this up) 43,000,000 great musicians and/or songwriters floating around out there in Cyberland (that leaves two million bad musicians and/or songwriters, if you're keeping score).
Those are bad odds. And don't even get me started on demographics.
So, what does an independent artist do?
Play a game of skill; not a game of luck.
Look for hidden opportunities. Be more clever than the other guy. Think local, for one. What's available out there in your stratosphere; something that will lower those 43,000,000 to 1 odds considerably? A television station? A local website looking for a theme song? A business needing a jingle? How about a local or regional contest that wants you to submit your best song about _______? How about trying to win a free vacation? (Okay, rather obscure, but more about that in a future post.)
Google is your friend. Use it. Explore the local and regional options that are available.
Think of the occasions that your song would fit. Did you write a song that would be appropriate for a wedding? Did you write something topical; something that's happenin' now? Take one of your songs; examine it; turn it upside down. Think about what its uses could be. If you don't find a matching opportunity, approach an entity and make an offer!
Honestly, you have to do it yourself. Uploading music to a licensing site is such a loooong longshot. Unless you're the Shadow Sisters.
Make your own luck.