The music industry has always been a complex web of talent, strategy, and money. But how does one truly break a musical artist in today’s digital age? And more importantly, how much does it cost? Wendy Day, a seasoned industry professional, sheds light on these questions in a recent interview.
1. The Investment: Wendy Day mentions, “It’s always been about 150k.” This figure, surprisingly consistent over the years, is the estimated cost to break an artist into the mainstream. While inflation might suggest this amount should have increased, the rise of content creation has kept it steady. The bulk of this budget is spent on content, emphasizing the importance of quality music videos, promotional materials, and other forms of content that resonate with audiences.
2. The Importance of Content: Wendy stresses, “Content is King right now.” In today’s digital age, songs and music videos are content. Everything an artist produces is content. It’s up to the artist to determine the quality and impact of this content. Wendy advises artists to test their content, see what resonates with their audience, and do more of what works. If a particular style or theme is successful, double down on it. If not, pivot and try something new.
3. Understanding Your Audience: One of the most critical aspects of breaking an artist is understanding the audience. Wendy points out that artists need to figure out who their fans are and target them specifically. It’s not about reaching everyone; it’s about connecting deeply with a specific group of fans. This connection can be fostered by understanding the moods and causes that resonate with fans. For instance, 64% of fans listen to music when they are happy, and mental health is a top concern across various genres.
4. The Evolution of Genres: The music industry is witnessing a shift from traditional genre categorizations to mood-based playlists. Wendy observes, “There is no more genre.” Today, a playlist might feature a rock song followed by a rap track and then an EDM hit, all curated based on a specific mood or theme. This genre-blending approach reflects the diverse tastes of modern listeners and the importance of curating content that resonates with a particular emotion or feeling.
5. The Business Side: The music industry is not just about creating great content; it’s also about understanding the business side of things. Wendy touches upon the recent class action lawsuit where Universal Music was sued over its Spotify equity ownership. Such instances highlight the complexities of the industry and the importance of artists understanding their rights and the intricacies of their contracts.
6. The Team: Behind every successful artist is a dedicated team. Wendy emphasizes the importance of having a solid team, from management to publicists to promoters. This team should be regenerating, with members continuously learning, growing, and moving to the next level.
Conclusion: Breaking a musical artist is a multifaceted endeavor that requires a blend of talent, strategy, and investment. While the cost remains relatively consistent at around $150k, the strategies and platforms have evolved with the digital age. Artists today need to focus on creating resonant content, understanding their audience, and navigating the complexities of the music business. With the right approach and a dedicated team, success is within reach.