Today is a day that changed the world of music forever. It changed how independent artists were able to create and distribute music giving them the ability to bypass the industry and forge their own path in music. What is today? It is the 22nd Anniversary of Steve Jobs unveiling the iPod. Sure, there were MP3 players on the market for a few years leading up to the iPod but the Apple creation had a missing component that its predecessors were lacking: desirability.
It was a sexy package, where the forerunners were clunky with little interface to see what the next track was going to be and they were notoriously flimsy. Plus, it had the backing of a company that was the king of creating fomo. The iPod began landing on everyone’s Christmas and Birthday lists and music became wildly portable. Gone were the days of tape cassette converters that were placed in your cars tape deck so you could play one cd on your Sony Discman. No longer were people loading 6 CDs into that disc changer in the middle console. Never again would people buy vinyl… er…well at least for a while. But the process by which people consumed music changed forever.
So here we are 22 years later and the iPod went through many iterations until being phased out and integrated into their phones. This made music a permanent and accessible part of our daily routine. So what does this have to do West Virginia musicians and this magazine?
One of our purposes in creating Born & Bred Magazine wasn’t just to put artists in front of an audience but also to help the artist grow their brand. We can all learn from these companies that have figured out how to get in front of a huge audience. Now we aren’t saying if you follow the path of Apple you’re going to make it huge. But what we are saying is that you can learn from them and maybe not have to bang your head off the wall trying to figure this thing out.
So what was one thing that Apple did? They evolved. They didn’t say “Hey, here’s this thing we created and we aren’t ever going to do things differently. This is it.” No, they were constantly figuring out what the consumer was doing and how to engage with them to make their product desirable. So how can we apply this to our business as musicians.
We understand it feels like these things can be overwhelming because there are so many options, but you need to expand your social media footprint. If Apple is there, you should be there too. The reason Apple is on every social media platform is they each reach a different audience. Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Snapchat, and Threads all serve a different audience and you should be on them. If you’re promoting a new project you should be promoting it on every platform possible. And we know some hate to play this game, but you need to have a budget, even if it’s only $5, to boost some of these posts.
Think about packaging. The thing that set the iPod apart from its competitors was the look. One of the things we see too often is amazing talent that doesn’t know how to package who they are. That same device that you now listen to your music on has a ton of tools to make this easier than ever before. There is no excuse for bands to not be putting out quality concert promos and artwork for your music.
And most importantly, be willing to change. Not your art. Never compromise what you feel you should be doing. But always be willing to evaluate it. Is this good? Could it be better? Do I need to be flexible in my approach to who I am as an artist? The answer to those last two I should always be yes.
So pull out the old iPod and plug it in and see if it sparks back to life. And while doing that compare it to what you hold in your hand today. Then do the same for your music business, because what you create has value and you need to give it a chance to be heard.