Alan Mcgee is right. Finally someone has said what I have thought for sometime. Music magazine reviews are redundant.
So much stock is put on getting a review in Q or Mojo or the NME, but who really cares and in times of ridiculously low magazine circulations, (I heard NME's true print run is more like 6,000 rather than its somewhat inflated latest ABC figure) who even reads them?
The modern music artist should only really be bothered about online reviews, because a) they're global and b) this is how people are really discovering and digesting new music. In a couple of years time Album posters on tubes and billboards wont feature quotes from Uncut and the NME, it will all be endorsements from credible online portals that will sell to the mainstream. The other thing they should be bothered about is, T-Shirts.
So how do you make it as a band or an act in the modern music business. The efernal question.
Here's my five tips for making it in 2014.
Being in a band takes commitment, it means determination like no other and it takes being skint for several years. Much like the lot of an aspiring actor, trying to make it in the music industry is a hard slog trying to get that elusive break. So how do you make the right moves to end up in the shiny mansion driving the car down Melrose with the roof down? At some point, you've got to give something away and in the music industry this means your interlectual property stored up in the copyright and publishing value of the songs you write, the performance you give and the recordings that you make.
First stop has got to be finding a great manager. Now of course you will say, I would say that, being an artist manager. But its true.Behind every great man is a great woman (which I can attest to) and behind every great act is a doggedly determined manager, believing wheN no-one else did, pushing when no-one else cares and putting life itself before everything to make the breaks required to make it big. As an appendage to this, get a good music lawyer to look over your contracts, decisions now can affect your life and livelihood for the next 10 or 15 years, so definitely don't short cut on the legals.
Once you've found the right manager (and lawyer), its a matter of attracting attention so that you get in a position to realise the value in your copyrights, live shows and songs. Now this is the hardest bit.
These days labels are reluctant to sign as many acts as they used to, despite continued comments in Music Week, the major record labels arent signing as many acts as they once did and the acts they are signing are conforming to fit in with risk-less radio formats. So to get noticed its a matter of going it alone, stumping up some money or finding some funding from somewhere to support those early releases.
These days thankfully the kids are creative and can produce the most amazing music, videos and artwork in their bedrooms and amongst friends for little or no money.
The route to market has never been simpler, record a track, do some artwork and make a video and put it on youtube and make it available through itunes and you have almost as much chance of making it as anyone. Look at Lorde, one great song, a couple of tracks on youtube, picked up on radio in Australia and now a worldwide hit. Although the hype belies the figures, she's still only sold less than 100,000 albums in the UK and when I downloaded Pure Heroine this week, I was shocked to find it was only £4.99!
Thirdly, you've got to be bloody amazing live. You've got to come out of the box as if you're made for Wembley Stadium and you've got to have the attitude, energy and stage presence to take people's breathe away. There's no hiding these days, especially as on the back end, looking at record sales, its not about shifting music anymore its about selling yourself. One tip I would give to any act right now would be to make friends with someone who can do T-Shirt designs and get them on your pay-roll quick smart. T-Shirts are the mainstay of the modern music industry and I know hundreds of bands, whose whole existence stacks up on the number of t-shirts they sell on tour.
Fourth, scrape together some money and get yourself an online plugger who can get your music on to some blogs, like I said at the top of this article, its not the traditional music mags who have the influence any more, its The Line of Best Fit, There Goes the Fear, clashmusic, The 405 and The Quietus. There's a few good online PR companies around its for a reasonable small amount of money, you can reach out to the coolest and most respected blogs that really do have influence over the producers and tastemakers who put music on the radio, into films and tv and will bring you to a wider audience.
Finally, take every opportunity that is presented to you, work really hard and be nice to people along the way and they'll stick with you throughout your career. The music industry is tiny and everyone knows each other in the industry and the media, not just in the UK, but globally now. If you're an arsehole the word will go around and things will become even harder. Touring is everything, get out there and do gigs, this will get you an agent and before you know it the world will be waking up to your brand of music.