Common Issues Musicians Face in the Industry


Working in a creative or artistic field requires a tough skin, and the music industry is no exception. Musician, manager, agent or promoter—they all experience setbacks. The trick is learning how to deal with disappointment and continuing to move toward your goals without getting sidetracked. Knowing how to manage these common occurrences can help you stay focused on your career.

of 09

No Response to Music Demo

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If you have not yet received a response to your music demo, do not get discouraged. It can take a while for your demo to reach the right person. However, you can improve your chances of getting a response by making sure you follow some basic rules:

  • Keep building your profile by playing shows.
  • Pursue press coverage of your shows.
  • Keep your promo package updated and labels informed about you're current activities.
  • Stay on top of your social media presence, posting early and often to social sites and your own blog.

Also, note that many bands have experienced demo disappointment and have gone on to become very successful. 

of 09

Review Not Published

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Being told that a review of your album or band that was supposed to appear in print or online has been dropped is frustrating. This often occurs and isn't personal. Although a writer may say that a review will appear, they do not have the final say, as it may be dropped by an editor. 

Having your review replaced by a bigger story is common, so be prepared to be proactive and follow up. Call your contact at the publication to find out what happened and ask if they can run your review in the next issue. If your upcoming review was announced on your website or by your distributor to promote your album, touch base with everyone to let them know what happened and when the review will resurface.

In most instances, there's no guarantee a review will be published, but you can perfect your press skills and build a personal relationship with the writers who are fans of your music.

of 09

Low Turnout

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Few things are as disheartening as playing to an empty room on the night of a gig. There may be reasons to account for the low turnout, but the bottom line is you can't force people to come to your show.

Do your best to turn a negative into a positive. Be gracious to everyone involved with the show so you will be welcomed back to the venue in the future. There's no guarantee that the crowds will pound down the door next time, but you can take steps to build buzz for that next show. 

of 09

Canceled Show

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When starting out, bands are often working with promoters who may be inexperienced and just put on shows for fun. When dealing with promoters who don't put on shows professionally, there is always a chance that they will have to cancel your gig and may not let you know until the last minute.

Prepare for the inevitable canceled show, and move forward.  Even if things don't go as planned, remember to be polite and gracious with everyone, as you may need their help in the future.

of 09

Low Funds

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Forget about lavish lifestyles. Simply getting to the point where you can support yourself through your music requires a lot of hard work and patience. As long as the sacrifice is worth it to you, your best option is to make peace with your bank balance and manage your costs wisely 

of 09

Royalty Collection Company

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As an artist, you want to get paid for your work, but royalty collection companies can negatively affect fans, as well as your image.

From trying to collect additional fees on music for which you've already been compensated, such as with ringtones, to demanding that fans pay for a public performance license when listening to your music on the radio, the actions of these companies seem more geared to fixing their own financial problems than making sure you get your due.

The problem—aside from the fact that you pay a fee for a royalty collection company's service—is that the public doesn't realize that you have little control over what the company does in your name. To them, you're the greedy one, and that's not an impression you want to foster with your fans.

of 09

Internet Copyright and Royalty Issues

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The internet provides many opportunities for music promotion, and fair licensing regulations and royalties should be in place. Music rights holders should hammer out a realistic plan for licensing and compensation with websites that host and promote music.

of 09

RIAA File-Sharing Lawsuits

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The Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA's) file-sharing lawsuits are not universally supported by musicians and labels, and many have spoken out against them, claiming that they damage the relationship between musicians and fans.

Unfortunately, fans are not informed as to who is suing them for sharing music and may easily assume it is their favorite musician. The RIAA's actions do little to curtail downloading but create a bad impression of the music industry in the public's mind.

of 09

No Radio Royalties

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The United States is one of the only countries in the world that does not require terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to performers. The "Fair Play Fair Pay Act" (H.R. 1733) that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2015 would have changed this, but it never went through.

Stay Positive

Although breaking into the music industry can be discouraging, know that the disappointments are common stumbling blocks that many musicians have experienced on their way to success. With the right knowledge and persistence, you can become a successful musician.