Thoughts to all musicmakers:
We’re all struggling (if you’re trying to get heard, that is). It’s not easy for anyone. Today’s world is so oversaturated, thanks to the internet.
As my distributor put it this week (and they’ve seen the music game since the very beginning):
“Getting heard used to be hard due to the gatekeepers (DJ’s/labels), but that, on reflection, was a good thing, as it restricted the flow at the same time. Now the floodgates are open and the channels of communication numerous, so it’s become a self-branding exercise as much as anything and the competition virtually limitless.”
So just understand we’re all in the same boat and you’re not alone. Do your best work, pay no mind to the “competition” or rush your work just because you feel others are releasing music all the time and that you need to keep up.
Also, don’t be discouraged if a certain project does not reward you immediately in the way you thought it would be. Staying coherent and active on the release front and keeping the quality high will get you heard with time, even if it won’t look apparent to you.
Make sure to offer your followers ALL ways of finding and supporting you: digital sales, streaming, merchandise, subscription, etc…because the ways people want to support you vary a lot these days.
Thoughts to music fans:
If you like an artist, support them. It means a lot to them. The very least you can do is share the music you like and let its maker know you like it. Also, do not forget to support them by buying their music or merchandise. Artists get to hear, “I’d like to support you, but I only stream music and don’t play vinyl”, for example. Or “I love your music but have only downloaded your pay-what-you-want releases for zero bucks”. Just buy something they sell, even if it’s no use to you. Every little contribution counts.
There’s a lot of artists now offering pay-what-you-want releases, which does not mean you have to get it for free: no, you determine the worth of the music to you. Many seem to be offering annual/monthly Bandcamp subscriptions (I finally do), which can be seen as a one-time donation and a gesture, “Hey, I think you’re doing a good thing, so keep it up, here’s my contribution”. And some use Patreon etc.
Just understand that the music you love listening to has taken a lot of time, effort, and investements to make, and it’s up to us all as music consumers to determine what its real worth is. Just because streaming services (which are great in so many ways) make it all look like free doesn’t mean you should take the luxury that is music as a free thing. Just like you pay for the pint that gives you pleasure, remember to reward the great artists that give you pleasure, too.