Music has… changed. Not in a “back when IIIII was a kid” sense (I’m also 24 so that wouldn’t even be that far back) but in the way we consume it. In many cases, it seems to be getting absorbed into the bigger window of being an entertainment/media company.
Music is no longer reserved for the artist who is taking their most painful and personal experiences and turning them into music. As attention becomes the main metric that matters, entertainers of all facets are coming out with music because it’s a quick cash grab, with much of the work being outsource-able to other people, such as the beat-making, lyric writing, and mixing process. So it has become a way to capture an existing following that is quick and easy to execute, with very little effort on behalf of the entertainer.
It has certainly created a massive wave of dumpster fire music, there’s no doubt about that. Being worse almost seems to be an incentive. Historically, the worst and most meme-worthy songs get the most shares and conversation compared to authentic songs, so why try harder for less views?
While I personally don’t like the way music is getting tossed around as this cheap commodity for clicks, the moral isn’t lost on me. If I peel the specifics back, I see it as:
Creators are making entertaining content that gets a reaction out of a listener. This reaction causes more likes, comments, and shares, and builds more attention.
Okay, if that is our thesis to learn from, how can you and I apply this to our worlds?
1. Try as many forms and formats of content as possible.
It may surprise you what you enjoy making. Personally, I would have NEVER thought making video essays would be super fun, but I wouldn’t have discovered that I love it without trying SO many different kinds of videos. If you go back into my YouTube channel, everything I made was SUPER different, and it probably took 6 to 10 formats of video to finally find what I enjoy. But for myself and you, it’s impossible to find that one format without getting started.
2. Finding the intersection of content you enjoy with what they enjoy
This is the internet, and if your end goal is to get more attention on yourself (as most peoples end goal is) then it’s important to make sure that people want what you are creating. You may love a specific kind of video, but if people are not enjoying it, or it isn’t growing even slightly after 2 to 3 months, it’s probably a good idea to try something new.
Great examples of this in my world are cover videos. I LOVE reworking a song and making a super unique cover and collaborating with other musicians to do so. It was by far the most labor-intensive video format I’ve ever done, as I’m essentially producing a track, recording all the parts, sending parts to others, mixing, THEN filming, and it was SO much effort for a mixed bag of responses. After it wasn’t really taking off I decided to drop it and it has been one of the BEST decisions I’ve made so far.
3. You have to play “the game”.
In a world where everyone, including me, is vying for attention, creators have to put some effort into making clickable titles, thumbnails, and teaser content to attract people into their world. I hear people talking down about creators who make those (honest) click-baiting titles, but I know how important it is to present your music, videos, or statuses overall in a way that is enticing to the potential viewer. If you don’t make that effort to catch their attention, someone else has, and you will most certainly lose out on that person’s time.
So in a world of massive creators using music as a commodity to throw around for clicks, look at the macro. Yea, a lot of the music is straight poo poo, but the methods are what matters.
I actually made a 12-minute video diving into the way massive YouTubers have caused this shift in this video below, and go into a ton more detail on a few crucial examples. Also, the production quality of many of the music videos is laughable, but it’s a massive testament to the focus they have on being shareable and entertaining, and not nitpicking the details. Enjoy!
John McLucas is a full-time pop/rock music producer, mixing engineer, and content creator in Los Angeles California. He’s worked with professionals from all corners of the music industry, including Grammy Winning Engineer Dennis MacKay (Judas Priest, George Martin, David Bowie), Joey Sturgis Tones, Unstoppable Recording Machine, and Oculus VR. His strength is in coming up with unique creative concepts in both audio and visual mediums for his clients, corporate and personal.
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