Imagine you’re an established music industry veteran. It’s not everyday that you get a kid that comes up to you and says “I want to help you grow your business”. The most common thing that happens in the music industry is some singer-songwriter passes you a CD and tells you that they’re the next big thing. To be honest, most of of those CDs end up in the trash. Artists can be very selfish sometimes. They often only think about what they want. Most people don’t take the time to think about “What does this record label need?” “What does this publisher want?” “How can I help these businesses grow?” This all boils down to one thing really, entrepreneurship.
There is a popular saying in the tech community, don’t build something that nobody wants. You might enjoy the songs you write, but maybe not many people other than you or your family enjoy it! An entrepreneur spends most of his time figuring out what his clients need, and songwriters need to do the same thing. When I first started my songwriting career in Taiwan at Touch Music Publishing, one of the staff there (who is now an incredibly good friend of mine) dumped a bunch of CDs on my desk and said “Here are all the hit songs Touch Music wrote, you should listen to them to understand our market more.” I took that advice to heart and spent an entire week just listening and analyzing the music! I had a publishing deal in place, but it doesn’t ensure that your songs would sell. None of my songs sold when I first signed on to Touch. However, the week after I listened to all those hits that Touch writers wrote, I started writing new songs. That was when I wrote my first song that sold in Taiwan! It was also for a TV drama called “Hayate The Combat Butler” which was a live action version of a famous Japanese manga. I finally began to understand the kind of music my publisher and the Taiwan market wanted. I realized music is entrepreneurship.
It was an important lesson in my career because it developed the learning technique I would use for the rest of my life. I spend more time listening to music and understanding it than actually writing music. This year I’ve finally broken into the Japanese market and have been writing for artists such as KAT-TUN, Girls Generation, ARASHI, May J, and more. You don’t have to be the most talented person in the world. Sometimes you just need to listen = )