Advice// Know the Gatekeepers

Musicians will find the reality of media pandering is not as it seems.

Do music journalists and radio presenters rule new musicians, or vice versa?

The lion’s share of the struggle that independent musicians face can often be summed up by one question: how do you reach more people? We’ve struggled for years with this seemingly simple problem, and expend a lot of energy plotting ways to solve it. Indeed, a lot of our activities are a direct attempt at reaching more people, from social media engagement all the way through to booking tours.

We can be so single-minded in this pursuit that we elevate certain individuals to almost godlike status; the radio show producers, the booking agents, the journalists. They are the perceived ‘Gatekeepers’ in our fantasy and alone hold the key to the masses of fans for whom we’ve been searching for so long! Things would be a lot simpler if this was the case. I read an article a good while ago that highlighted the fallacy that this view is. You should too. It’s a great read on why radio doesn’t automatically mean musical success.

So… radio show producers are looking for us to bring the people to them?! Shit. Surely that’s what THEY are there for? It sort of turns it on its head, doesn’t it? But it makes sense – everyone in the music industry needs to make money, and the only way we can get money is with the interest of people. It could be argued that the only true currency in the music industry is the interest of people.

Does it help a great deal to know this? It might not seem to, but it’s important that you take a step back from the daily slog of your usual game plan and reinvest your time and attention into more useful tactics. Can you prove how many people are interested in your music? Do you keep tallies of how many tickets you sell to your shows? Do you know how many people are on your mailing list, and where they are? What kind of reach do your social media posts have? These are hard statistics, and they’re things that, at some point, can be the tipping point between whether someone will take a chance on you or not. If you don’t keep records like this, I’d strongly suggest you start – there’s no time like the present, and you’ll thank yourself in the future.

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