Do you remember growing up wanting to be the next big music icon, wailing away on your guitar in front of thousands of frenzied fans cheering, screaming, crying out your name? I sure do. Sadly, my own guitar talents stretched mostly from an endless shifting back and forth between G and D major, and if I tried to solo, well, I could probably make dead people cry – from horror, not from the overpowering emotion of my God-like playing. Becoming the next Joe Bonamassa wasn’t in the cards for me, but Joe’s recent comments about his journey to blues music stardom had me spinning back to my old childhood dreams of headlining stadiums.
But what if I had the talent? How could I have catapulted my innate abilities into a real music career? If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer or a plumber, pretty much everyone knows what to do: you go to school, you apprentice, maybe pass an exam or join a union, and voila! You’ve made it! With the music industry, finding a way in is not so simple or straightforward. Sure, every now and then a Kelly Clarkson or a Phillip Phillips gets lucky and strikes it big by auditioning with the newest hit television music contest, immediately being thrown from small-town anonymity to the world’s most celebrated venues.
But for most aspiring musicians, it’s not going to happen that way, and that’s why Joe’s music industry biography is so compelling. Joe is the quintessential self-made musician. Here’s a young kid who was given awe-inspiring, godly talent but needed a way to transmit his gifts to the audiences who would appreciate and love it. Under the philosophy Joe followed, making it in the music business is much more about the entrepreneurial spirit of launching a new business venture rather than going to an audition with small change in your pocket and big city dreams.
The amazing technology our era has provided for us allows an artist like Joe Bonamassa to get the word – and the music out – everywhere, to everyone, all of the time. Play it, record it, share it, make them love it, make them crave more, invite them to the live show, and then blow their minds. You start with a small but hopefully devoutly loyal fan base – here’s something we haven’t seen before, haven’t heard before. – and we just can’t get enough. The word spreads through the channels of music fandom everywhere and the fan base expands, and then – BOOM – the industry has to take notice. Who is this kid with thousands and thousands of fans, a stack of records, sold out concert halls? How did we miss this?
And this entrepreneurial method of making your own break is becoming less and less optional the more the industry changes in response to the technological upheaval we’ve seen over the last fifteen years. As musicindustryhowto.com points out, you can no longer expect to sign up with a record label and let them bring the fans to you. They expect you to have already build the core foundations of a fan base.
Getting your music out there involves multiple interconnecting channels. Mika Salmi explains on hypebot.com that you can create electronic music by yourself on your home computer and get it out their by uploading it to youtube or other social sites, or you can go out and grab your band and gig the hell out of your hometown, your city, state, country, as far as you can take it.
Talent is about being born with a gift, it’s luck. But what is it that you do with your talent is what’s going to help you get your foot in that slightly ajar music industry door. So go on. Pick up that guitar. Write those songs. Gather the band. Play your best and get everyone to hear it. Maybe it won’t catch on, but what do you have to lose, really? Maybe it’s you that could be the next great musical prodigy, the next big blues star, the next Joe Bonamassa.
— Brian R.