The author taking a break from promotion.
From decades of dealing with bands and artists as a
producer, one thing that has struck me is that there seems to be *less*
aggressive promotion going on these days – and certainly less than all the
commentary about new-media tools for artists would have one believe.
Could this be an illusion? I’ve been playing a lot more
live shows and touring with my own band than I was in the 80’s, so that might
give me a different view. Here are some possible reasons, some of them
There is simply now, more clear evidence of an artist’s
lax promotion, than in the old days – ie: an official website that hasn’t been
updated in a year.
So nothing has really changed, and the proportion of artists that actually hustle, is, and
has always been a minority.
Record labels, small and large, used to do a lot of the
promotion – providing a division of labor.
Hence, even artists without a personality inclined to
promotion, or the social skills, would be promoted
There’s a generational difference in attitudes between
artists from my early era (the 80’s), and now
Hustling/promoting was viewed as “being serious”
and with the underdog status of independent music, had more social value. But
once there was a possible payoff with independent music, there was a taboo, and
suspicion of aggressive promotion.
All the new-media and networking tools are more difficult
to use, and use skillfully, and with more quality than it would seem
This is nothing new under the sun. Regardless of the tools,
promotion requires skill and instinct. We simply don’t all have that – see my
previous point about division of labor – but yet we all have to DIY it
Certain networking tools, like Facebook, work remarkably
So either the artist thinks a little promotion is doing as
much as can be hoped for, or they’re easily getting the desired results. And
either way they slack on the rest.
Not all artists LIKE the auxiliary expression at the core
of new-media promotion – ie: photos, graphics, blogging, designing on-line
flyers, maintaining a presence through frivolous postings.
So they quickly start slacking. And this is the stuff only
the artist can do. Even if someone else is helping promote, they can’t bring a
horse to water.
There is LESS of a sense that music could be a life-long
Therefore, less carrot-on-a-stick incentive.
It’s easier now to have a marginally functional band
partly because of the new tools, so there are more musicians in the stew who
wouldn’t have pursued a career before anyway.
They’re happy just to play, and aren’t going to get too
entangled with the endless job of promotion.