JUMPING DARKNESS PARADE WITH EYAL LEVI: TEN THINGS I’VE LEARNED, PARTS 1 & 2
Eyal Levi from Dååth, Levi/Werstler, and Audiohammer Studios has obviously been in this business for some time now, and he’s learned a thing or two about a thing or two. This week, he imparts ten lessons about the music biz — and life in general — to you, our beloved readers, once a day, two installments at a time. Enjoy the week’s first two lessons below!
#1: (C+P = R) BEING SUCCESSFUL TAKES TALENT, JUST NOT AT WHAT YOU THOUGHT
Someone just told me that Thomas Edison didn’t actually invent the light bulb. I was told that he just registered the patent to it. True or not, he definitely got the credit for it. And with that credit he certainly got the rewards as though it were true. It’s also well known that Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America first. However, what we’re taught in the early years of American education doesn’t exactly support that fact. Even though he wasn’t the first, he was the one that got the credit for being first. Just remember the following equation: C+P = R. That stands for Credit + Perception = Rewards.
In an ideal world, success in any field (I know music) would be based on skill, talent, and hard work. We don’t live in an ideal world. If we lived in an ideal world, lots of things we’re used to would be different.
In the world we live in, creative talent is second to marketing talent. When you have a product that is going to take money out of people’s pockets, that product, whatever it is, has to be worth them parting ways with their cash. And everybody has different reasons for being willing to part with that cash. If you can tap into people’s reason for spending their money, then you will sell more product. Being able to access that part of people’s hearts and minds is a completely different process than the creative one. Yes, marketing and promotion can be creative, but it’s a completely DIFFERENT type of skill set than the creativity required to actually create something out of thin air. And it’s arguably a more important skill set.
Think I’m wrong? Well, then why do we have artists like Rebecca Black blowing up way harder than a band like Opeth could ever imagine? All tastes are subjective, but the creative talent in this situation is definitely not subjective. How does a band like Three Doors Down outsell a band like Queens of the Stone Age any day of the week? It’s definitely not about musical talent.
Let’s get away from music and talk about cigarettes. How do most people start smoking? We all know that it typically starts as a social thing in a person’s teens. How exactly were kids convinced to put something in their lungs that makes them feel dizzy and cough their lungs out? Marketing. And the same applies to music. Marketing properly will sell any musical style at any quality level to the masses.
So when you’re wondering why so many great bands or movies don’t get the credit they deserve, just examine down to the detail how they are marketed compared to the not-so-great bands or movies that rake in the sales.
If you’re an aspiring anything creative, it would suit you well to develop your marketing skills along with your artistic abilities. Otherwise don’t be shocked when your work is ignored, while people who worked a fraction of the amount on their art are living it up.
#2: IT’S NOT WHO YOU KNOW…
Ever heard the cliché “It’s who you know?” Well I just don’t think it’s entirely accurate and I think it should be changed. I think it should read: “It’s who you know and what they think of you.”
Let me fill you on a little secret about the entertainment industry, specifically music. Everybody knows somebody whose cousin works at a major label. Everybody has a friend that’s good friends with a famous band because he partied on their bus once. Everybody knows that person who knows somebody who works at that big management company. So? Well, think about it… If everybody knows somebody somehow, well, where does this leave you? Nowhere is where it leaves you. Nowhere, because this leaves the playing field completely level. Imagining what this person and that person could do for you and what they said they would do and the great opportunity…. Save it…. It’s all delusional. You have nothing.
And say you’ve actually had a drink or two, or some lunch, or a meeting at NAMM with one of these contacts. Where are you? Still nowhere. Nowhere until someone decides they are going to help you because they feel they can make money off of what you have to offer. Knowing you is not enough. What if they know you and behind your back laugh that you think you’re in, but you missed the mark so hard that you just look like another desperate kid with a dream? True story. I’ve been in a room with some A&R dudes who were saying those types of things about an unsigned band that happens to know everyone. They KNOW everyone, but what good is that doing anybody if nobody is willing to work with them?
I can go through countless examples of this, but that’s not the point. The point is that WHOM you know is only half of the equation. It’s tough pill to swallow, but the other half of the equation isn’t about you. This is about them. You may know them. But until this magical “them” decides to do something with you, you’re just another person that may or may not be on their contact list. Until something is signed and the money is transferred, or the tour has been announced, take everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, with the grain of salt it deserves.
You can sign up for the new Jumping Darkness Parade mailing list here! You can also keep up with Eyal by visiting the Audiohammer Studios official website, Dååth on Facebook, or the official Levi/Werstler website.