Never Too Early: How The Music Industry Breeds Its Own
By Richard J Nardo for Linkedin Pulse
As a young entrepreneur, a little more than a year into running my own music industry-based company, I find it a tremendous asset to share an office with the founder and managing partner of one of the fastest growing booking agencies in our industry. Eight years into running his own shop, Ryan Soroka has built the Soroka Agency from an outlet for putting together shows for his friend’s bands in New Jersey to an organization that books national tours and public appearances for some of the most popular musical acts and performance artists around. An impressive start to a career, especially considering Ryan has accomplished all of this by the age of 22.
While the trajectory of Ryan’s career may ring out as a benchmark of success for people trying to make it in the music industry, the fact that he first embarked on his career as a 15-year-old music fan is not, by any means, uncommon. The music business has always been a world whose inhabitants have dreamt of being a part of it from an early age. In the past this took the form of the musically obsessed fan counting down the days until college graduation so they could take a job in the mailroom of a major label. From there, they would make sure they were the hardest working person in the room until they reached the level of success that awarded them access to their favorite artists and all the glamorous events associated with working in the music industry.
Today, thanks in large part to the role the Internet has played in the music business over the past decade, people are building their own resume/professional network from outside of the mailroom. In 2015, 17 year-old booking agents cut their teeth navigating the chaos of booking ‘8 local band’ bills at VFW Halls, organized and promoted almost exclusively through social media. So when they are in a position to work on a larger tour at a bigger agency they’re in a much better mindset to take on the day-to-day obstacles that come with booking a tour. Meanwhile, the high school kid on Long Island blogging about local bands has already amassed 40,000 Twitter followers by the time they will apply to write for Billboard or Rolling Stone five years later. As a result, when she starts to assert herself as a credible journalist, she’s already overcome the most important first two steps of becoming known as a tastemaker and establishing an audience.
This is the reality of today’s music industry: self-made, passionate individuals that have built a tremendous professional network by their early 20s. Most of which are not only early adaptors to how to use the Internet to their professional advantage, but are innovators on the matter. After all, when you’re a determined self-starter with no access to a budget you’re going to find a way to maximize the tools you have access to.
While a lot of people lament over the ‘glory days’ of the music industry being over, I’d say we’re at the dawning of an exciting new time to work in music. The excess of the 80s and 90s may be gone, but in trimming the fat we’re left with the people who truly believe in what they’re doing and can’t picture dedicating their life to anything else. These are the people that will figure out how we’re going to keep the music industry alive for the next 50 years. As record sales continue to shrink, this is going to rely more and more on thinking outside the box in terms of marketing and delivery. As the music industry continues to adjust in order to survive, it will likely also continue to inspire other fields on how to make the most effective use of the Internet as well.