Last year, funnyman Jimmy Kimmel sent a video crew to the Coachella, a two-weekend music festival held in the Southern California desert, in order to ask festival goers about their opinions in regards to various bands that would allegedly be playing during the famous event.
One after another, interviewees praised the bands in question, claiming how much they enjoyed their work and their eagerness to see them perform live. A few even claimed they has already seen them perform at the festival.
The only problem? The bands didn’t even exist. In fact, Kimmel and his team had completely made them up. Though this segment brought on boisterous laughter, it also highlighted a common impulse by fans of the music industry to prove that they are familiar with underground or up-and-coming artists that no one else has heard of.
However, this practical joke also painted a picture of changing dynamic of the music industry itself. In the past, making it in the music industry seemed fairly straightforward and followed a simple formula: release a record, constantly play it on the radio, sell millions of copies then stage a sold-out tour. Done and done.
The music industry has changed, and today that would be a great feat for even the most successful artists. What has changed? We’ve entered the digital, the age of near instant gratification. Download services and streaming allows fans to listen to whatever they want, wherever they want, and whenever they want. Anyone with a smart phone, and that’s most people, has access to free music. If the even fans do buy music, often times it’s invariably songs on a la carte basis as opposed to full albums.
In the wise words of Bob Dylan, the times, they are a changin’. In today’s digital world, the music industry can be difficult to break into, let alone earn a living and make financial gains.
So how do artists even make it in the modern music industry today? Location, location, location. In fact, this matters just as much as natural talent, musical ability, and the highly sought after “it” factor. In fact, Los Angeles tops all markets in average music job earnings with 175% of the country’s average salary. Nashville is second at 156%, and New York is third at 147%,” Billboard magazine writes. Other options include Portland, Oregon, heralded as the “Indie Rock Mecca’ according to Slate magazine, as well as the burgeoning R&B and hip hop scene of Atlanta.
Making it, and making money in the music industry requires more than talent. It may be as simple as packing a suit case and hopping in a car or plane that will lead you to success.