A guest post by Tushar Apte (@harpt)
One of my mentors, a Grammy-winner no less, once told me “music is a game of pennies”. Nowadays the pennies are turning into shrapnel, and you need lots of shrapnel to make the pennies they used to be. Simply put, the entertainment industry has been blown wide apart by all factors linked to the Internet (which we are already aware), and now more than ever in history, artists must look beyond the skill of their craft itself to be successful.
The music industry is (and always has been) what’s called a ‘winner takes all game’. In comparison to other industries, there’s not a sizeable ‘middle class’ of musicians, but there is a disproportionate amount of struggling musicians, most of whom are aiming to be amongst the smallest percentage that earn most of the money. For musicians in 2013 success, and by that I mean living entirely off money from music, is a tough prospect. The field is wider than ever, and the barriers to entry are much lower than they’ve ever been in history.
Production workstations (DAWs), whose equivalent only 20 years ago would’ve been multimillion-dollar analog studio racks, are now available for less than $1000. Presets and sequenced VST’s have all but seen the end of any need to actually play an instrument, and as for singing – well, Antares and Celemony are staples of the producer’s lab and if you don’t know what that means check this out. Quite simply, all you need to produce releasable, radio-quality music is $10k (at the low end) and a room – with a fridge is a luxury, with a shower is optional.
In the current state of the biz, it’s never been more critical for musicians to expand their skills. Of course, some musical virtuosity is required but take a moment and put down that guitar, take your fingers off those keys and stop practicing those scales. These are few things that I believe separate the great musicians from the great musicians who get noticed.