7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry

7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry

7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry


There is no easy road to success in the music industry. Whether you’re an artist, promoter, manager or booker, there are many misconceptions that could hurt your business.

The scene has changed a lot over the past 30 years.

What we usually see is either a shiny package or a series of blunders. We rarely see the actual truth of the scene. I’ve worked in the industry for years. I think it’s time to smash some of the common misconceptions out there.


1. Artist “Likes” = Ticket Sales

Social media followers: you just can’t live without them. But, as it turns out, they’re not as important as you think they are.

An artist might have a lot of followers, but have you thought how? Have they bought followers? Are they posting funny memes every day? Are they trying to get into industry beefs online?

They may have gathered a large following for reasons other than great music – leaving their actual shows empty. You need to look deeper into their online presence. Analyze where their likes are coming from. Look at their fan interaction. Look at their music output. Don’t be fooled by the counter beside their name.

7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry

2. Big Cities Have all the Good Talent

A lot of people think good music all comes from cities like London, Berlin, Austin, Texas and New York. I’ll admit, these cities all provide an extremely rich music scene. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t see an up-and-comer bursting out of Adelaide – or your home town, for that matter.

Every city in the world has the potential to produce world class talent. Yours is no different. The people who complain about poor music scenes are lazy. They don’t want to look. Be different. Take charge of your music scene. Be the promoter who is known for consistently finding good talent locally.

7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry - big city talent

3. Major Labels Hold all the Good Artists

Although it is true that artists on major record labels often shine bright, this is not all their doing. They have a huge financial backing, for one.

But it is possible to reach success at an independent level too. Big names like MF Doom, Flying Lotus, Tech N9ne and Mac Miller are all artists who’ve achieved huge success without the backing of a major label.

The rise of internet music culture is propelling this further. The necessity for record labels is fading. Physical music is no longer needed, and the world can find anyone’s music at the push of a button.

7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry - big talent

4. Overnight Sensations

Overnight sensations are mainly a myth in the music industry. There are times when it may appear like someone just materialized over night. But look a little deeper and you will find that most artists have been plugging away for years on a smaller scale productions. Remember when Macklemore blew up? Yeah, that “overnight success” on Thriftshop was only 15 odd years in the making.

5. Great Music Will Always Come Out on Top

It’s sad to say, but sometimes trash wins. It’s easy to think that an amazing talent will always shine through. However, this is not always the case.

Have you ever seen a live local band that blew your mind? How many of those bands have gone on to great success? Maybe one? Maybe none?

There is a lot more to the music business than just talent. A wise business sense, or business partners, make excellent bedfellows for bands.

6. It’s all About the Music

It’s actually all about the PR. Even a mediocre artist can be jettisoned to the top of the charts with a catchy beat and killer PR campaign.

Take for example an X Factor winner. They have a huge PR machine working for them throughout the course of the program. This continues right up to the release of their first album. If they don’t gain enough traction, the PR machine drops them like a bad habit. Soon enough, everyone else forgets, too.

7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry - all about the music

7. Streaming Music Services Have Killed all the Profits

Record labels would have you thinking that streaming services have all but killed the music industry. However, how can this be true?

The scene is still flourishing. There’s always plenty of acts touring, and Beyoncé still has several holiday yachts.

The answer is this: the model for music consumption changed and the record labels aren’t happy about it. Instead of huge profits off the top of cassettes and CDs, artists now need to look to touring and advertising deals to increase their incomes. People are spending more money on iTunes than they used to spend on CDs in a year. The only difference is that more artists have a slice of the pie.

Make sure that you verse yourself in the realities behind the music industry before making any assumptions about any of the people in it. Wherever you are in the scene, it is likely that everyone around you has put in a lot of hard work. So don’t just write someone off as a jerk, and only assume that anyone at the top has got there from a combination of talent, effort, and luck.

7 Common Misconceptions About The Music Industry - streaming music

Colm shares his years of experience marketing events on our blog, writing about successful strategies to bring more people to your events. Colm is a product manager at Crowdflow, responsible for client success.