This very enjoyable interview of Ed Sheeran’s manager makes the good point that successful artists like Ed are an easy target, just like Bono and Coldplay were before him. I sat in a cab the other night having to listen to a popular pop radio station. The best song I heard over the 20 minutes was Sheeran’s Shape Of You. Granted, the song isn’t the zenith of western popular culture, but the rest of the playlist was absolutely abhorrent, terrible to the extreme. It’s hard to understand why people like that kind of music so much and why it’s so successful. But they do and it is.
Unsuccessful artists in local venues know that Sheeran is shit, Bono’s a knob and Coldplay are a crime, and that they just need more exposure, bigger gigs and better contacts to get ahead.
They email people like us looking for advice so that they can get to the next level. What follows is a bit of management advice.
Exposure also exposes what an artist hasn’t got. If you are in the most SoCal sounding punk band from Leeds who wish it still was 2003 or Leicester’s third closest clone of what Foals did four years ago or the one from who cares where, who sound like a polite version of Bastille, chances are everyone’s heard a version of your record many times already. It’s fruitless to seek exposure for it. It isn’t new, edgy and exciting. No one will care.
Better songs and exciting, new sounding records is the answer.
Don’t follow the trail. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
When faced with management guidance and advice, it’s easy to go into denial about why it’s not happening. But it is always the music that isn’t resonating. A great record of a great song is the first thing that needs to be got right. Without it a good work ethic will just keep you banging your head against an impenetrable brick wall until you’re 28 and your t-shirt chafes your man tits, both of which wobble in indignation and anger at Ed Sheeran and the easiest, nearest excuse.
The solution is to do what presumably got you going in the first place: you love making music.
There are 12 notes in the chromatic scale and it’s up to you how you mix them up.
The 12 steps to musical success rest on your ability to do it imaginatively.