Top 10 Music Myths Debunked



Top 10 Music Myths Debunked

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
These music myths need to go. For this list, we'll be focusing on things musicians and artists tend to misunderstand about getting into and working in the music business. Our countdown includes The Industry Is Dead, Album Sales Are All That Matter, Natural Talent Is Essential, and more!

Top 10 Music Myths Debunked

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Music Myths Debunked.

For this list, we’ll be focusing on things musicians and artists tend to misunderstand about getting into and working in the music business.

Have you ever played in a band, or even an instrument? Let us know in the comments.

#10: The Industry Is Dead

It seems the media is always trying to push this idea that the music industry is either dead or dying. For decades, the tried-and-true methods of getting music to the masses were king. Labels would sign an artist, give them a deal, get their music on the radio, and boom, they became successful. So once the MP3 was introduced, everything changed. The industry is not dead. It’s merely in the middle of a transformation we haven’t seen finish. There’s been no slowdown on the demand for new music, just a shift in the way fans discover and consume it.

#9: Music Theory Hampers Creativity

When it comes to the creative process, it can often be thought of as something coming from within that you should follow. Those instincts drive creativity and one shouldn’t be held back by conventional rules to create great art. It’s therefore easy to think that learning the theory or practicality of an art form may interfere in unadulterated, creative expression. The truth is, learning the core fundamentals - and sometimes even the history of art like music - can be used as a guide to take your inspiration and improve upon it. Painters, authors and musicians can all take from the lessons learned by their predecessors.

#8: You Need a Publicist

For any aspiring musician, the most common desire among them is to have their songs heard. In order for that to happen, people need to know your material even exists. Enter: the publicist. Traditionally, a publicist is responsible for promoting your work on radio, newspapers, and maybe even television. But much like other aspects of this industry, the Internet changed everything. Whether it be with a website or social media, the web has given independent artists a means by which to promote their own work. Sometimes a single tweet or video can be enough for the whole world to learn about your new song.

#7: Windowing Is Key

There used to be a time where a movie wouldn’t hit home video until half a year after playing in theaters. This “window” of time allowed studios to maximize the profits at the box office versus DVD sales. A similar tactic was used by musicians who held off releasing their music to streaming services in favor of more CD/record sales. That may have worked when physical media was the end-all-be-all, but now if your songs aren’t on Spotify or Apple Music, listeners are largely moving on. We’ve shifted to an on-demand generation that isn’t interested in waiting. When your music is ready, release it any way you can.

#6: Album Sales Are All That Matter

You’ve undoubtedly heard of an album going gold or platinum, which used to be the biggest measure of success for an artist. Today however, album purchases are few and far between in comparison to their performance on a streaming platform. Musicians are no longer earning buckets of money through album sales. Instead, diversification into things like merchandise, specialty subscriptions, and other lines of business help contribute to a band’s bottom line. A highly active presence on social media keeps fans coming back for more, and helps promote another major contributor of success: touring. Fans still want to see their favorite artists in person, so an active tour schedule is also key.

#5: One Hit Can Change Everything

Countless musicians have hit the airwaves with a song that caught the attention of millions. But as quickly as fans embraced that one tune, the artist can quickly fade into oblivion never to be heard of again. Up-and-coming bands might think they too can catch the wave with a big hit and ride it into success. But if there’s nothing worthwhile to follow, they too will succumb to the fate of all one-hit wonders. A single song is not necessarily a path to success; it can also be a path to notoriety. You still need to have a plan for what comes later after you’ve made an impression.

#4: Reality TV Is the Answer

Talent shows have always been a thing, but the introduction of “American Idol” gave millions of would-be singers a chance at superstardom. However, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. For every Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, there’s countless Caleb Johnsons or Nick Fradianis who never struck gold even after winning. The allure of these shows is how it portrays the possibilities for anyone out there. But much like virtually all other reality programming, once their season is over, people move on to something else. Those record deals often come with big “gotchas,” and if the artist can’t spark major interest right away, they’re left out in the cold. Remember, those shows are about providing entertainment first and foremost.

#3: Natural Talent Is Essential

No one would argue that someone who seems to have an aptitude for music may have an easier career. That doesn’t mean however that practice doesn’t play an equal or even greater role. Furthermore, despite how it may seem on the surface, the music industry is not all about those who perform. Many find success in the business through other means. Even tone deaf musicians find ways to contribute to the art they love. A fantastic songwriter may not be able to play an instrument, but they can still collaborate with those who do and find great success at it. Producers, sound engineers, and countless other careers can be found in the industry without ever having to play an instrument or sing a tune.

#2: You’re Either Striving or Thriving

One major misconception about the music industry is the idea that you’re either a huge success or a starving artist. In every profession there’s always somewhere to land in the middle of those two extremes, and the music industry is no different. For all the Taylor Swifts and Metallicas in the world, there are countless indie musicians who earn a reasonable living doing what they love without the international fame. Recurring local performances, music lessons to others, session recording, and smaller tours can often be just as fulfilling. For many, it’s a lot more about making music and enjoying it than becoming a massive superstar. If the music is truly what you love, follow it and not the fame and fortune.

#1: Record Labels Are the Answer

Admittedly, this entry was true of the industry at one time. For more than 100 years, record labels were the key to finding success in the music industry. They signed you, recorded and put out your album, paid for your tour, and made you a star. It worked for so long because musicians had virtually no other way to get their music heard except through labels. That is until the digital era emerged. Yes, record labels are still a huge part of the industry today. But they no longer have a grasp on musicians like they used to. Indie artists now have the Internet and streaming services to push their work to the masses, all from the comfort of their home.