Response to a recent essay by Abundant Living / Zachary Lipez and the questions asked within
I don’t understand how anyone is signed, how anyone gets coverage, or how anyone succeeds.
TikTok dominates label marketing conversations, but some digitally savvy acts are having more success seeding their music through Instagram memes – Rolling Stone
The most likely way to get signed/get coverage/succeed nowadays is to memetize your creation (better yet have someone else memetize it). Music business (just like any other business) largely moved away from actual people (aka A&R) being involved in the process and letting the algorithms decide (cough cough Spotify). Yes, there is a handful of great indie labels where people still make decisions, but we’re definitely not talking anyone the critical size/weight of 4AD here – think someone like Washington’s Verses Records or LA’s Doom Trip instead.
I more just want to express, and re-express ad infinity, my genuine and earnest lack of comprehension why some bands get signed by mega-indie labels and covered by all the same sites, while other acts like Slum of Legs or Nuha Ruby Ra or Chronophage or Ganser or Desperate Journalist or Big Joanie or any number of bands that, to my ears, work the same territory just as well, get barely any coverage or signings (at least in comparison)?
Keyword seem to be randomness – yes, a lot more of it these days and, again, I’m looking at the influence of algorithms/memes here. Counterpoint – “its not longer the 90s and you can have a career in music by working hard”.
Why, yes – no one is denying the importance of hard work, but hard work by itself can only get you so far. While its true that music business was always super competitive (as evident from Decline of Western Civilization, Part 2), by now the competitiveness also seem to go hand in hand with increased randomness as to who goes into the next round/gets a glowing Pitchfork/Needle Drop review and who remains underground for eternity (lauded as they might be). There’s only so much space at the top and the said space seem to be shrinking constantly thanks to increasing automation of modern business/world at large.