The gatekeepers have changed.
The gatekeepers used to be everywhere– the record labels who decide who will become the next breakout star, the institutions that hire educators, the concert promoters and contractors that determine who gets onstage, the performers that choose the composers and pieces to play, the colleges/conservatories that choose who gets to study music, journals that choose who gets published. If you didn’t catch the attention of the Old Guard, you had a hard time making a full-time career doing what you want musically. However, the traditional gatekeepers are exponentially losing their power with each new day.
With the uncertainty of the future of music in our schools and traditional music houses, students are turning to freelancing as a primary goal and aren’t viewing as a fall back. They’re also combining multiple skills and interests to create their own success. This is made possible by leveraging the power of the internet.
Educators can now teach online. Performers can now perform online. Composers can share their compositions online. Orchestral conductors can build personal brand online. Writers can now distribute reviews and books online. Theorists and musicologists can publish their content online. WE ARE LIVING IN THE GREATEST MOMENT IN HISTORY FOR MUSICIANS.
And it’s not just the onstage personnel that can utilize the internet to build a career.
Stage hands, lighting designers, contractors, prop builders, software designers, and everyone else involved with musical events can use the internet to build a personal brand and turn it into a career.
No one gets left out now. The internet provides unlimited opportunity for musicians to get themselves out there without anyone standing in the way.
The audience is now the gatekeeper.
With the massive cultural shift toward everything mobile and the adoption of the internet as the middleman, the gatekeepers are now the audience. This isn’t to say traditional gatekeepers don’t still exist– they do. College professors still hold video and on-campus auditions. Radio exes still use 30-year-old targeting to determine who gets on the radio. But if those traditional gatekeepers don’t adjust, they’re going to disappear.
Side note: I’d be interested to see a college audition process that involved looking at a prospect’s social media presence and savvy as a factor of the admission process. It would make sense to me to have an admission process that included actual marketing strategies since most college graduates go on to become freelance musicians at some level.
The users of social media platforms are the only people that determine what’s great and what’s terrible now. They’ll either love your stuff, Follow you, and engage– or they’ll hate it and won’t.
And since the gatekeepers are now the audience, musicians don’t have to keep following the career paths of yesteryear:
- College teacher
- K-12 music teacher
- Orchestral performer
- Institutional director
- Reviewer at the local newspaper
Go do whatever you want. If you can think of it, someone out “there” wants to consume it. Build your personal brand and provide your audience value. Uncover your skills and be the best at the intersection of those skills. I’ll post more content on how to grow your personal brand.
Going direct-to-consumer is unbelievably easy using the internet. It doesn’t matter what music you’re involved in, you’ll easily find your audience using social media with the right strategies and by deploying a ton of patience.
The smartphone is everything.
Your smartphone is your #1 tool for creating content and getting it to your audience.
Your phone is all you need to start creating valuable content today and position yourself as an expert. It used to take years of grinding and establishing position before landing a spot on a platform where you could be heard. Now, every school-aged student can publish content across the internet and get their career moving without road blocks. It still takes a lot of patience, perseverance, and true ambition to become the “go-to”, however, you don’t have to wait until you’re 45-years-old for the music community to experience you.
So many people hedge, waiting to do stuff because they don’t think “it’s” ready. I’ll tell you this: the people that wait are the people that lose– every time. They’re concerned their photos don’t have they perfect lighting. They worry their videos don’t have perfect audio quality. Those are the people that lose because they’re caught up on production vanity and not substantive content. You don’t need perfect content. You don’t even need money. You just need to start.
Use your phone and get started– FOR FREE! Download all the social media apps. Download these apps to create and edit your photo and video content.
Need help starting? Go click around your social. Look at other musicians. Look at people outside of music. Look for influencers online and reverse engineer their success. If you can’t pinpoint why they’re successful, start by paying attention to your own reaction to people’s social. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like. Ask yourself what you’d do differently. What would you do the same. Do you wish your page looked like that? Wish it didn’t?
Just start posting. The best way to know what you like and don’t like is to start. Stay flexible and make adjustments as you go.
Create your content about whatever it is you want to share with your audience. Take that picture. Shoot that video. Edit it using one of the apps. Then SHARE it on each platform. It’s literally that simple.
Thanks so much for your attention. I respect and appreciate it. Let me know your reactions to this. Feel free to PM with questions.
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