A BAND SHARES THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE MUSIC BUSINESS, CHANGES & HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM
I’m in a band. It’s called Mothlight and for the better part of the last year we’ve spent our time and money writing & recording a new EP. It is finally in post production and we’re getting close, but living in LA can be costly, difficult and make you feel like nothing is ever going you’re way. I’ve always felt like the music industry is a funny thing. Musicians are these incredibly talented and creative individuals but the majority of us accept this very mundane flow – “I need to record a single, play some shows, release an album, find a manager, get signed…etc.” I wanted to express some thoughts and ideas as an unsigned musician.
1) There Is No Path To Follow
This interview is interesting because I think a lot of artists have this attitude that there is “a way to do it” that everyone else is doing. That there is an objective way of going about being a musician and getting paid for your music and that there’s a point during their progression where they’ve “made it.” As if there’s a clear path to a specific place that everyone takes and ends up at, that somewhere, there is a book or manual or guide to how everything works. The reality is there are countless and countless ways to manifest your own destiny as a musician. The marketplace web is convoluted and it’s up to the artist to navigate that web, to participate in some or all aspects.
2) What is the “Industry”?
In my opinion there is no such thing as “the music industry” anymore. It has taken on a more specific and less all-encompassing role for the actual composer. Perhaps “the music industry” refers to the label & management industry, but there is a sync industry for film & tv, an entertainment industry with live shows & companies like Ticketmaster, which is ALL very different from the streaming industry. They can all still work together, but it’s a tricky web, and it’s up to us to get them to work how we want them to. Sort of like one of those connect-the-dots puzzles, except without any order and without any specific image or specific end.
3) It Won’t Be Easy
I sometimes get frustrated watching the music industry. I wish I knew more about what goes on inside and how everything works. I just saw a band release their first song ever and before the released that song they had signed with Columbia, CAA and a great manager. How does that happen? How do you get all those signings without any music in the world? And… although, I do like the song, in my eyes, it’s not mind-blowing. I think, “What did these A&R people hear in that song that grabbed them? What am I missing? What do they know that I don’t?”
This straddle of finding patience in the process of creating something that feels truly fulfilling and real while simultaneously looking at the state of the industry and bands that are blowing up and wondering how that happens is challenging. Yet, understanding and analyzing this dynamic will help shape the way you handle future struggles and obstacles and, hopefully, give you opportunities to grow.
4) You Can Do What You Want
Since their is no specific path to take, it’s important to remember that you get to do it however you wish. Sometimes you won’t play as many shows or sometimes writing and recording will slow you down, and it will feel as if music isn’t as “fun”. Sometimes it can be the pressure of the city or personal expectations, but try and remember that it’s not a failure to not constantly be progressing and moving up and up. It’s easy to get bogged down, but if you push through the lulls and accept that there will be setbacks, you will be able to have fun and do it how you want… and yes… eventually get paid for it.
5) Work Hard
Realize and understand that being an artist is tough and takes a ton of work. Be ready to work your ass off for the rest of your career to make wonderful music and to make money doing it. Be passionate and honest and someone will believe in you as much as you do. Once you get signed or managed or all of the above you won’t have “made it”. Theres still going to be lots of work, but hopefully it is work that you are more equipped with the tools and knowledge to do.
Mothlight is a dream-pop outfit from Los Angeles. Featuring shimmering harmonies and sweeping synth and guitar lines, the 3 piece writes pop music filtered through a technicolor haze. Initially a solo bedroom project, Matt Billings released 3 EPs under the Mothlight moniker between 2008 – 2012. Longtime friend and keyboardist / synthesist, Grant Stevens, formally joined and they released the Calico LP in 2014. After a year of writing new material, the duo found and wooed the prolific drummer, Andrew Smith, into official membership, and introduced percussion pulled from an array of musical styles.