Did you hear Taylor Swift pulled all her music from Spotify? (Bet you never thought I’d start a post with a Taylor Swift reference…)
It turns out that, if the industry’s projections are correct, Swift’s new album, 1989, will be the only album to sell over 1 million copies this year. Compare that to over 100 albums that were released and certified platinum in 2004—just ten years ago.
For my own part, in my former life as a Borders Books & Music manager, I remember when music sales made up a solid part of our bottom line (also 2004 for anyone who’s keeping track). Then I remember music becoming a pretty low priority in terms of sales, marketing, and merchandising. Finally, I remember when we stopped. selling. music.
I can’t tell you when I bought my last CD but I’m sure it was while I was still working for Borders and probably well before I left the company in 2008. But the point of this post isn’t to bemoan that no one buys music anymore. I love watching giant industries evolve and adapt—even if the music industry is one that’s done it incredibly poorly.
The point of my post is this: big artists just aren’t as big as they used to be.
And yet, there are still plenty of successful people making an impact with their music, creating work for legions of loyal fans, and living the lifestyles they dreamed about as kids.
Taylor Swift might just be the last success story of the traditional “get big” machine. It’s just not how the industry works anymore. Bands who know what’s good for them don’t wait around to get picked by some A&R guy from a big name label. They make their success happen organically.
They play shows in people’s living rooms, they develop connections with promoters, they find fun new ways to engage with their budding fan base. And they do it all little bit by little bit, putting the emphasis on the work & the fans, not on the waiting.
The good news is that plenty of musicians are still making a living from music. They’re just doing it in different, more creative ways.
Now, what does this have to do with your business? I wonder how long you’ve waited to have your big idea picked up by someone with the clout, connections, and audience to help you make it big. I wonder how long you’ve sat on a great idea because you wanted to take it to the big time instead of starting small. I wonder how long you’ve told yourself that your business model would work when you got big instead of figuring out an abundant model for being successful at a smaller size.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “anti-big.” I’m very, very pro-big. But I have also seen time & time again how big starts much smaller than we want to believe. We want to believe that someone will pick us. We want to believe that our big break is just around the corner.
But more times than not, the brands that are big today were functioning at a much smaller size just a few years ago.
It’s not a matter of putting in your time, it’s a matter of putting your work in the hands of people who help you get better, bigger, and more abundant to facilitate your growth. And those people aren’t taste-makers, they’re customers.
If that sounds like the right strategy for your business, I want to invite you to join me for The Living Room Strategy. It’s a bootcamp on taking your idea to market in a creative way that starts making an impact and putting money in your pocket… now, not later.