The Bureau of Labor Statistics has new figures that should send a chill down the spine of folks that want to start making more money as working musicians.
22% of Americans' "entertainment budget" now goes to cable and satellite TV, and another chunk of that budget goes to video games. Americans are having more fun at home and spending more time at home.
Guess where spending dropped? Movies. Clubs. Concerts.
If you still think that your "competition" is another local band playing across the street or even another band that's on the same bill as you, it's time to wake up.
Your competition is Grand Theft Auto. Your competition is Battlestar Galactica. Your competition is Netflix.
As a working musician, it's time for you to learn how to compete against physics. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, especially when there's a big plasma screen in front of it.
What will you do THIS WEEK to create an experience that's really worth going out for?
What will you do for your audience to make a show powerful enough to get out of the La-Z-Boy and into the car -- and bring friends?
Everything I've been writing about for the last five years is coming to a head. MySpace won't help you. Google won't help you. iTunes won't help you. Nothing "automated" will really help you until you've built that core audience of 1,000 people on your mailing list that have seen you live and agree you're worth spending time with.
What can you do this week to overcome the "cocooning" trend?
Connect with every band you share a bill with in the next month. What can you do TOGETHER to create unique, buzzworthy experiences for your shared audiences?
Slug it out with the Zone Strategy. Playing 12 times a month to audiences of 20-30 people will get you to that magic number of 1,000 fans faster than playing once a week to 50 people.
Understand your perfect audience. Don't wait for them to come to you -- get in front of them, even if that means you're the first band in your town to play an in-store at GameStop.
Our mission, as always, is to give you the tools and guidance to earn your living as a working musician. It's a hard road. Not everyone's cut out for it. With the right plan and the right world view, however, you can do it.
[P.S.: Before someone brings it up in the comments... are there ways you can make a living as a musician without playing live? Sure, but that path is at least 1,000 times harder. People build relationships with artists around experiences, not exposure. That's why it takes the average radio listener 90 spins to even form an opinion about a song, whereas people that stumble across subway buskers write to their friends about them.]