The music business is a cycle of hope and disappointment. One minute you’re on the verge of glory, staying up all night to finish the song that is going to be THE ONE that makes it happen for you, then the door gets slammed in your face. Just like that, dead in the water. All the hard work and sacrifices you made to finish the project you were led to believe would be your big break was all for nothing. It happens time and time again. There are so many false dawns that you become immune to it. Only the strongest survive. If you’re serious about it and have the talent, you brush yourself off and keep grinding- on to the next one. It’s true what they say, there’s not much traffic on that extra mile, don’t take an earlier exit.
It’s hard for those around you to stomach, your family and friends ride the waves with you but aren’t always as resilient as you are. They get excited when you tell them you have the next single on artist X’s new album only for the label to go in a different direction and put your song to one side. You have countless meetings with labels and publishers that lead to no more than adding a new contact to your address book. It gets frustrating. The repetition can wear them down and the support and understanding they give you can waiver at times, especially when you’ve skipped out on family time to finish projects only for it to amount to nothing. They’re the real heroes in this, the ones that stick by you through the constant ups and downs. They believe in you, sometimes when you stop believing in yourself, it takes a strong partner to do that for you. Music isn’t like a regular job with a clear career progression, you just keep working until you make it. You follow the breadcrumbs and alot of the time it leads to dead end. That’s hard to understand for a lot of people, there’s a lot of risk involved and often not much reward. You just can’t lose sight of the big picture, it only takes one song, one person to hear it that can make the difference and change your life. You may not have written that song yet, you’ll never know if you stop.
Time is hugely undervalued and taken for granted in the music business. Label execs or artists think nothing of creating tight deadlines that require you to drop everything to meet and then don’t get back to you for sometimes weeks after you’ve submitted the song. A common response is the “can you send the mp3 again, I can’t find it?” email. Usually meaning that after all that time you put in they just deleted the email that had the song in it. You can’t be mad at it though, they’re just doing their job, it’s just an unfortunate consequence of the game.
From beginning to end a song can take about 20-30 hours to record and mix, if you do it properly (there are plenty songs on the radio that have sloppy vocal edits and half-assed production) and that’s not taking into account the writing. That’s nearly a week’s work for one song that 9 times out of 10 you’re not going to get paid for. You really have to love what you’re doing, we definitely do, otherwise that shit is hard to take.
The message here isn’t to be negative or complain, a lot of sacrifices have to be made in many industries but music has a glamorous vibe to it when in reality it’s a lot of grinding that people never get to see. For every act that makes it, many more have been working just as hard and have just as much talent but didn’t get the break. But that act did make it, which means you can too. That’s the hope you have to hold on to. Even when that deal falls through or your song gets rejected, the next one could be it. Don’t give up.