I Watched My Friends Quit Music

This 2009 – 2019 thing has really got me reflecting…

As some of you may already know, I studied music at JMC Academy in Sydney.  I had classes with some of the most talented and amazing people I’ve ever met and due to the intake being relatively small, we all became very close.

We attended each others gigs every night of the week, crawling into class the next day weary and clutching Red Bulls and memories we’d never speak of out loud again.  This community of people became my family and we would talk endlessly into the night about anything and everything, especially our musical dreams.

Those three years of my life were some of the best ever and after we graduated, to be honest, I felt a little lost.  I was in a punk/hardcore band at the time called No Peace For Charlie who were constantly playing shows. NP4C had a pretty solid following, but after a year in the band, I noticed that following simply wasn’t growing.  

NP4C at …can’t remember!

No matter how many shows we played, it just didn’t seem to attract a bigger audience.  Since every rehearsal was focused on preparing for the next gig and little to no focus was on writing new material, I wondered if audience was getting bored?

In the years following graduation, I started a new band, Vanity Riots, who faced a similar issue.  We had steady growth for the first few years, then seemed to plateau. If felt like an uphill battle and I wondered why other bands were being offered tour supports and headline gigs and my band wasn’t.  

I looked around at my peers and it seemed they were in the same boat.  They were constantly playing gigs and despite their bands being great musically, they weren’t moving forward and it was a struggle to get people through the door to shows.  

Eventually, I watched as one by one, amazing musos around me, playing all genres of music, fell off the bandwagon.  Their bands broke up and they left the scene to pursue ‘real’ careers, often outside the creative industries entirely.  

Out of a class of 70+ students, only myself and 3 others were still pursuing music by the time we reached our 5 year reunion.  ‘What happened?’ I thought. How could these people invest well over 40K for a private music college only to pursue a completely different path.  

The fact was, that despite a Bachelor Degree in music, they felt completely overwhelmed at the daunting task of entrepreneurship.  They lacked the confidence and knowledge required to successfully market themselves and their music and to be honest, they were frustrated, they felt invisible and that their bands would never go anywhere. As a result, they’d lost their passion.

Vanity Riots at a sold out Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

It was a feeling I could relate to and one that can make or break a band. Not everyone is cut out for the grind that can take years and years leaving you completely drained from investing so much time, money and energy into something that doesn’t appear to be moving forward.  Not everyone is cut out for the music industry. But many are quitting long before they should.

When Vanity Riots folded after 6 years, it forced me to reflect.  Before we broke up we’d managed to take the band to the point where we were getting those support slots, touring overseas and generally busting through the glass ceiling.  But it took a long time to get there.

The music industry was changing and with the rise of social media, I was also seeing bands who had been together less than a year doing basically the same thing.  If I was to start again, I couldn’t afford to waste 6 more years of my life to barely cross the starting line. I needed to learn the secrets of fast-tracking a music career.

Vanity Riots supporting Cherie Currie at Manning Bar, 2016

So how were these bands able to do this?  

They had their shit together and knew how to market themselves, is how.  They weren’t relying on playing live to cultivate an audience; they had good music, a good image and were using social media to not only reach new people, but form relationships and build a genuine following.

We’re in an incredible time where we now have the ability to take our music careers into our own hands.  The rise of social media means that a band can have the same success in one year, as another band who has been around five-times as long.  The way you market and portray yourself online is essential to an emerging band’s success. It’s often people’s first impression of you.

I have built an online course – Social Media Shredder – which teaches everything an emerging band needs to know about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter and how to use those platforms to get more fans and the attention of the music industry.  It will show you how to stand out from the crowd, promote your shows properly and essentially get to the next level in your career.

This course is the course I wish I had many years ago, before I was a professional digital marketer, before I started over yet again in my band (who I love) The Last Martyr.  It was the course I wish I could have taken with my bandmates in my old bands.  

I will never regret my past and can clearly see how all paths have led to where I am now.  I’m kinda philosophical like that. But maybe it’s no accident you’re reading this blog post right now and maybe this course will help your band feel more empowered to stay on track and stay in the game.  If I can impact just one musician to follow their dreams I’ve done my job.

If you have any questions at all about Social Media Shredder, don’t hesitate to hit me up at contact@monicastrut.com or in my FB or IG messages.

Love and rock.