It’s hard enough to get people to click play, or Like, or Favorite, or whatever else, but to get someone to pay money for any album in 2015? Who does that? Ask any number of mid-level bands who are still managing to sell 5,000+ in first week sales. Great numbers compared for 2003? Of course not, but I’ll take 1,250 in sales than 72,000 “Likes” any day.
In a fantastic bit from ’Why Your Music Is Worthless (And How To Sell It Anyway),‘ as pointed out by Sophie Benjamin in her latest newsletter Simon Indelicate lays it out pretty well:
“You can’t transform the record buying public into a million clones of your mum, sadly, but you can still apply this lesson: People value music that they are personally connected to and such music is scarce – therefore it is not worthless … People who have no reason at all to pay anything for 45 minutes of generic recorded music have a host of reasons to pay for 45 minutes of music that they know will explore the happy side of a depression that they recognise in themselves recorded by that nice girl who played in their local, chats to them about Geordie Shore on twitter, wrote that great blog post about economics and such; and who seems like a nice person who you could approach if your download didn’t work properly.”
Can you know all 1,000 people who bought your album in the first week? No, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to have a few hundred of those emails. Probably a few of your followers on Twitter bought your album, and some even came to your show.
There’s no shortage of jerk-asses that get press everyday for stupid shit. But there are probably so many albums out there that people are crying to in their bedrooms at night, or screaming along to in their cars at night. Bands that aren’t just “music,” but they mean the world to some folks. Strive to make that sort of music first and foremost. Count your successes in the number of people who thank you after the show, or shoot you an email, not in magazine covers or music blog mentions.
Maybe “nobody” buys music in 2015, but if only one person buys your album this month make them feel like they’re somebody.
Seth Werkheiser is the quiz master of metal trivia at Skulltoaster. He’s also the founder of some music sites you may have heard of, including Noise Creep (2009) + Buzzgrinder (2001). He’s anti-Facebook, anti-clickbait, and anti-growth hacking. You should most definitely follow him on Twitter. Yes, right now.