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The Music Industry -- How To Lose Money And Ruin Your Career With A Number One Hit Song?

Aug 17, 2007
Any career development person worth his salt, wants you to have a career that is constantly rising. Hence, that is why you should have three CDs worth of material already written when you approach your career development person or music industry executive. (For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, see my last article entitled "The Music Industry- Here is what a young artist needs to know to be a star.")

A good career development person will survey your material, ask you to throw away the songs that didn't survey well, then ask you to write some more songs, survey again, etc. until he can finally place your songs in an order that results in your first CD being good, your second CD better, and your third CD best of the three. He will do all of this by surveying your material. Some survey techniques are so accurate that they can even tell you where your song will place in the top 40--number 15 or number 35.

Why does your career development person do this? Because you can actually lose money and ruin your career with a poorly planned number one hit.

Now remember, rankings in the top 40 are determined by air play, not sales. So, here is how it works.

If you are an unknown artist, and you release your best song first, and your agents and managers and executives at the music companies are good salesmen, you might start getting airplay. If you get enough airplay you might break into the charts at say number 35. Music stores and major download services, however, probably won't carry it right away, because 1) there are lots of people vying for "shelf" space, so to speak and the music stores are going to wait and see how this new artist does before they commit to giving you any space. (After all you might break in at number 35 and be gone from the charts the very next week.) So let us just say there is not necessarily a mad dash to get your number 35 hit into the stores and onto the shelves; and 2) even if there is a huge demand (maybe you broke into the charts at number 15 your very first week, it is still going to take awhile for the music company to press the CDs and ship them to the stores. (often weeks).

It has happened numerous times in the past that a song will zoom from say the number 35 to the top number 1 spot BEFORE any CDs can be shipped to the music stores. By the time the stores do get the CDs, the song has fallen down the charts and is no longer getting the airplay on its way out (at say number 38) that it got on its way up to number 1. Let's say the music executives representing you zealously pressed 500,000 CDs when your song was number one, but now that it has finally arrived at the stores it is not getting airplay anymore. People start forgetting about it and the actual sales only amount to say 50,000 units.

The music company loses money on this scenario because the cost to manufacture and ship the 500,000 CDs exceeds what they made on the 50,000 actual unit sales. Now, internet distribution and sales have made it a lot easier to counter this kind of scenario, but it still can happen with inexperienced, and inept music executive making the wrong decisions.

Now here is what an experience career development executive would do. Again he would survey your material and your first release would be a song that he knows will break into the top 40 at about 39, rise to number 30 than fizzle out after that. No one worries very much about getting CDs into stores or anything like that. What this accomplishes, however, is everyone becomes aware of you. The stores are aware of you, the internet downloading services are aware of you, and fans in general are aware of you. After all, a number 30 hit on your first release is not too shabby.

Now your second release is going to be a surveyed song that your career development person knows will place in the low 20s or high teens on the charts. So now all the people that were made aware of you by your first release realize that this is even a better song, that there really is something to you, and the mad dash to get you on the shelf DOES begin. Everyone knows you are not a one hit wonder and that this second release is going to make every one money.

Now imagine what happens when your third release does even better and makes it to number 10 on the charts. Then imagine what happens when your second album comes out. Well the people are lined up to buy it sight unseen, and when they hear it and it is even a better album, when you have three top ten and one number one hits off of it, you career is well on its way to being established forever.

When your third album comes out with your three number one hits. You are pretty much guaranteed to be in the music business as long as you want.

Now imagine the opposite. Suppose you released your best song first and every thing got progressively worse from there. Does a "one hit wonder" ring a bell. Does anyone even remember the names of the numerous groups who have done just that? NO.

So a word to the wise: Use experienced career development people. Survey your material. Do it smart. Do it right. Be successful.

(c) 2007 Stan Medley
About the Author
Stan Medley is the CEO of Viscount Productions, Inc. which specializes in career development. Additional information on this topic is at http://www.viscountproductions.com
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