I’m Joe Taylor Jr., and I’ve been writing about the music business on spinme.com since 1997. It first launched as a home for record reviews, but evolved (via a detour into something I once called “Indie Music Club”) into something much broader: a place where we can explore what it really means to do creative work in a technology-driven culture.
Over the past twenty years, I’ve worked in radio, produced records, and booked bands all over the country. With help from my wife, Lori, and from my friends and colleagues in the recording industry, I’ve written a series of books about the ways artists can make a living by connecting directly with audiences. That work informs the stories we cover here, and our through line runs from “fans and patrons” to creative professionals in music, art, writing, theatre, and live performance.
We founded this site on five guiding principles:
1. There’s an audience for everything.
We’re beyond the era when it paid off to just chase big hit records. I’ve been to a gig where a musician played a single note for ten minutes, and the audience loved it. I’ve been to a gig where the band physically assaulted their fans, and got called out for encores. What you’re working on might not focus on niches as tight as these, but I believe you can earn a decent living by learning how to connect your work to the true fans waiting for it.
2. Life’s too short to keep your talent a secret.
My music teacher may have made the right call when he recommended I pursue my career on the other side of the studio glass. However, I totally understand the way creativity can seize control of your brain, your body, and your common sense. If you don’t find an outlet for your passion, it will wither and you’ll get bitter. What I write about in my books and on this website can help you earn the money you’ll need to justify the time you’re going to spend on your craft, one way or the other.
3. You can’t survive as an artist without an audience.
It’s so easy these days to surround yourself with a pile of gear, hit record, and tell yourself that you’re making music just for you. That’s fine, and plenty of folks pursue music as a hobby. I suspect that you found your way to this site because you want to share your work with an appreciative audience. Patrons have subsidized the arts for hundreds of years, and the presence of a professional recording industry has really turned into little more than a distraction for most serious musicians. This site can help you get past the fear of asking your audience for the support you need to pursue your passion.
4. The Internet’s not a magic wand.
It’s hard to tour. It’s even harder to get those first few gigs in your hometown. And if you think an Internet startup’s going to eliminate the friction between you and ticket buyers, think again. 30,000 Twitter followers, Facebook fans, or MySpace friends won’t translate into 30 sold seats at your neighborhood club unless you have a very clear plan to reward your fans for coming out.
5. You can’t grow an audience without support.
If you’re a musician, we’ll assume you know your craft. We’ll assume you’re committed to becoming the best songwriter and performer you can possibly be. And yet, even the most skilled musicians can’t get things done without the help of specialized success teams. Our site doesn’t just focus on performers. We support emerging music management professionals, talent buyers, booking agents, publicists, and other specialists who help musicians run their music businesses.
And we’ve got a few ground rules:
- We don’t make value judgments on the quality of anyone’s work. We don’t review songs or solicit demos. However, we may ask you some challenging questions about whether what you’re working on is the best possible work for the audience you say you want to attract.
- You don’t have to agree with me. After twenty years, I’ve got some pretty strong opinions, but I’m always open for debate. Be civil, and we’ll get along. Be rude, mean, or obnoxious, and you’re out. Like many of our contemporaries, we’ve abandoned public comments sections because they’re just magnets for abuse. However, supporters of our site can join me inside our private discussion group.
- I don’t know everything. I’ve tried lots of stuff that’s worked, and I’ve tried lots of stuff that’s failed. And I’ve probably failed more than I’ve succeeded. What I try to do on this site is share both sides of the struggle, so I can help you avoid some of the brutality I’ve witnessed in this business.
- I charge for stuff. I practice what I preach. Just as I think you need to be able to ask your audience for financial support, I will occasionally ask you for yours. Most of the time, this is in the form of paid books I sell here and in bookstores. Sometimes, that’s going to be paid workshops, classes, and videos. If that makes you mad, you probably wouldn’t enjoy what’s inside, anyway. But if you really want to grow an audience that supports you, I think you’ll find value in our books and services.
That’s what we’re about. We do this for fun, and we do this out of brazen self-interest. We love going to shows, and we want to preserve the culture of exciting live music around the world. I’m excited to see what we can create together.
-Joe Taylor Jr.