Artist Development is no Longer a Linear Process

I work with all sorts of acts, managers, producers, parents, and artists and they all have different challenges.  However, almost everyone that comes to us is ill-prepared for one major fact.  You have to be patient and work diligently to allow a record or campaign to get its legs.  Everyone sees “virality’ as something you can just plan and achieve.  Nonsense!

Artist development and the record industry, on the whole, used to be a very linear process.  You do step A to get to Step B and so on.  In the modern music industry, you have to break out of that thinking.  It almost becomes a reverse pyramid.  You start from the single point of development and grow from there.  The difference is that you have to understand and establish the foundation of the campaign much earlier and work it much longer.  By the time a record is really broken on to the scene/charts, it has a dozen simultaneous campaigns happening.

The idea that record or act can be properly promoted in a 6-month window is just ridiculous.  There is too much ground to cover.  Then you factor in the silly amount of value that is put into the social media numbers and we go down the rabbit hole.  Each platform has unique elements, audiences, effective strategies, and benchmarks for results.  In general, no one actually cares how many people are following or liking your stuff.  What they are really asking is how engaged are your fans, and that is a totally different question than how many followers you have.

Let’s look at a record that recently made it to the radio like Marian Hill’s ‘Down’.  I came across this song almost 2 years ago online and have had numerous playlists ever since.  But I would ask people about it and they would look at me sideways like my dog when he’s curious or confused.  Then about a year into them working this record and the act they hit a major milestone, they landed a sync licenses in an Apple TV Commercial.  Now just to be clear I don’t work with these guys, they’re just a good example of an act and a team working records to their fullest.  Fast forward to almost 2 years later, the record has a remix with Big Sean and was recently in rotation everywhere.

The point of all of this is that once you start working records on an act you have to pace yourself to be able to work all fronts for an extended amount of time.  From the moment you start releasing music, you need to be identifying and engaging with fans with intent and purpose.  Growth, much like success, will never happen by accident.  It requires a sustained, focused effort and it happens over time.  I have said it a million times but here’s once more.  The most overnight success I’ve ever seen actually took years of work and 18 months of contracts, strategy, and execution.