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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Apologies in advance, but this is going to be a bit of a rant. I’ve just had one too many conversations with people, people of all types, be they rappers, singers, writers, or publishers, where I feel like they’re talking a good game, but they really have no idea what they’re doing. The problem is they don’t seem to understand what industry they’re actually in, which is why they’re having so many problems. Let me explain.

A lot of independent musicians pride themselves on having a DIY (do it yourself) work ethic. This is great when it’s actually true, but in most cases it isn’t. A lot of artists will put together an album, get it pressed up on CD, perform at shows, even travel, and talk about how they’re all doing it themselves. Guess what, if you’re not engaging in the acts of promotion, marketing, and everything else that a label puts into an artist’s career you may be DIYing in one aspect of things, but in the grand scheme of your career you’re slackin. Those who are truly DIY know it’s NOT all about the music. You also need to be studying marketing, distribution avenues, promotions, effective uses of social networking, burgeoning technologies, and a whole host of other things that make up a career in music. If you’re only reading Rolling Stone or your favorite music websites be prepared to fail. There are a myriad of business related sites you should be surfing or subscribed to if you’re an artist. The music sites should come second. Trends in music are ones you need to keep up with significantly less than the trends in the business that surrounds it. This line of thinking applies to writers and publishers, too.

I’m always disappointed when I hear a writer, or publisher, tell me what they read and things like Folio and Ad Age aren’t on the list. Let me break it down for you, if you work for XXL your industry isn’t Hip-Hop, it’s publishing. If you work for Glamour your industry isn’t fashion, it’s publishing. If you work for Sports Illustrated, your industry isn’t sports, it’s publishing. Catching my drift? As long as the publishing world is in tact, the Hip-Hop, fashion, or sports worlds could be doing terribly and you'd still have an outlet where you could write about the peril that they're in. If the publishing world falls apart you're out of a job. Obviously it's important to keep up with the trends of the topics that you're writing about, but it’s just as important to keep up to date with the ins and outs of the media world. What’s going on with other newspapers and magazines DOES affect you and your work. If you don’t know what’s going on, why things are happening, and who they’re happening to, chances are you’re going to be the industry’s next causality.

The reverse of all this is also true when it comes to people on the business side of things. Have you ever heard of a (good) publicist not being able to tell you about the music they represent? And if you’re in sales or marketing and work for a Hip-Hop publication it only makes sense to keep up with what’s going on in the Hip-Hop world.

Personally, some of my RSS subscriptions include three print media business sites, one advertising site, one entertainment industry news site and one technology news site. As an entertainment journalist I consider all of these items work related. Putting on blinders and only seeing your goal will only work to prevent you from getting there. There are tons of roadblocks in front of us, roadblocks that can easily be maneuvered around if we just look around a bit and notice the side streets. There is no shortage of information to help us get to where we want to go. There is, however, a shortage of people who understand how to read the map to success.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:49 AM  
  • At 10:34 AM, Blogger Chilly S said…

    great article! no RSS subscription to ChillyS.tv though...? After May 29th (the date of the NWSO rebroadcast - so Adam you can check out your super hosting powers from 3 different angles) that might possibly change ;-)


  • At 5:24 PM, Blogger Whitemist said…

    Of course this means that there are some really good artist out there who never get heard because they do not get this. Conversely, there is some really poor stuff out there cause they do get it!

  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger Shannon said…

    Love that article! I just had this conversation with a friend of mine who wants to introduce real hip-hop to his children. I told him to play all different kinds of music to show that all paths lead to A Tribe Called Quest! LOL!

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