One of my oldest and strongest friendships in the music realm is with a guy named Andy Gruhin. He’s been an artist for the better part of a decade, and had the experiences of working independently as well as with major labels.
Here’s one of his tracks from a couple years ago:
Last night, he wrote a simple Facebook post. I read it and was floored by the honesty, transparency, power, and thought. In one fell swoop, Andy hits a slew of points I’ve been driving at for years, and he does it with brutal honesty. Some points I have a different opinion on, but a lot of the material provides a reality check for all our discussions of the music arena.
If you’re in the music or music/tech spaces, you need to read this with an open mind. Below is his entire text, edited only for minor grammar errors and basic formatting. All words and concepts are 100% his.
My Name is Andy Gruhin
Hello. My name is Andy Gruhin and I have a lot of things to say and you do not have to read them. I do not care if you do. You probably won’t care.
I have come to a point in my life and my career where I do not care about playing music industry games anymore. I have met a lot of people in my 7 years of trying to do this: instrumentalists, songwriters, producers, graphic designers, A&Rs, executives, lawyers, presidents of record companies, managers, etc. And in my experience, the majority of these people are absolutely full of shit and lack any integrity whatsoever. Please do not misunderstand me, for I have met and have had great experiences with wonderful people in this business whom I cherish and still cherish to this day, but that does not derogate the inherent issues of the industry I have chosen to dedicate many years of my life to. Some might question, “Who are you to talk about any of this? What are your credentials? Where is your gold record? Your label deal? Your team?” You know my name. If you know me personally than I do not need to explain myself. If you have no idea who I am, then I will let you make your own opinions of me. Some thoughts?
The New Heads and the Old Heads
Today’s music industry is a garbage can that started to overflow a few years ago. The new heads are trying to innovate while playing the games of the old heads that no longer work. You’ll find a couple of winners in there, but a couple winners doesn’t really mean anything when they are standing on top of a heaping pile of dog shit. A lot of music sounds exactly the same for a reason.
PR Is a Waste of Time
PR is a waste of your money if you are an independent artist. Especially boutique PR companies. It was cool at first when the boutique PR companies could manipulate Hype Machine, but that ship sailed a long time ago as soon as Hype Machine realized they were being taken advantage of. That’s why Hype Machine is no longer affiliated with a ton of blogs. Now you’re just paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars to kids your own age to send emails you can send yourself. They will argue this point with a lot of jargon and/or the importance of their connections, but trust me it’s a load of crap. Unless you’re paying thousands of dollars to a major PR company with real connections, you are wasting your money. If you want to save yourself some cash — I have a list of emails to every single music blog that I’d be happy to share with you (unless you’re a dick)
Exclusive streaming deals are nonsensical and are doing nothing but setting the industry backwards 20 years.
The Cycles of Music Regurgitation
Most artists do not write their own songs anymore. The ones that do or at least contribute to their music have my respect. Most view this as an issue of credibility, but I view this as an issue of artistry. I don’t care how many people it takes to write a song if that piece of music is truly moving. All music is subjective of course, but a regurgitation of something we’ve already heard a thousand times over is not music. It’s bullshit. The way music is made today (especially pop music) is a plague. Nobody gives a shit. Everyone is following a formula — until someone breaks the formula. Then everyone follows THAT formula. Music is cyclical. EDM went mainstream and now it’s going to shit. The same thing is going to happen with hip-hop (unfortunately). If someone tells you that your music is dated, or that it isn’t relevant enough — fuck what they have to say. It could be eventually. If you love it, keep at it.
Music TV Shows
Stop telling your talented friends or family members to try out for American Idol or The Voice. Those programs are evil and designed to take advantage of your talented loved ones. They will gain nothing from it. You will gain nothing from it. It is for the judges and the TV ratings. The Facebook likes will feel nice though.
Billboard charts DO NOT REALLY MATTER ANYMORE. Nobody is buying records anymore. Less people will buy records in the future. I guess it might seem impressive to an outsider that doesn’t understand the inner workings of the music industry, but let’s be real here: if you aren’t a major label baby (with a few exceptions) — you aren’t making enough to start a family. I’m not even going going to waste my breath on Spotify royalties.
To give you an example: The #1 song on the charts today — “Closer” by The Chainsmokers has sold 103,000 copies in it’s first month. (This is just a theory, but I don’t believe these current chart statistics to be true at all anymore). That is the #1 record in the entire world. In 1996 — “Hit Me Baby One More Time” sold 463,000 copies in its first week. Think about it.
SoundCloud Has Become a Joke
Getting a lot of plays on Soundcloud is great, though the current playing field is completely unfair to unknown artists. Tracks that get massive amounts of plays are getting them because of the repost network of the artist and not because of the music itself.
For example: one somewhat well-known artist is sure as shit going to repost a more well-known artist’s track. Why? Not because the track is good, but because the average artists wants that well-known artist to repost THEIR shitty track. And so on and so forth. Even worse, companies like Artist Intelligence Agency charge absurd amounts of money to literally do nothing but click “repost’ on your song. They charge anywhere between 200 dollars and 500 dollars to click a button. Don’t believe me? I’ll show you their sales emails. And they repost 4 tracks a day. On almost 10 different subsidiary Soundcloud channels. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. For clicking a fucking button. It’s a JOKE. They don’t care about music. They just want your money. However, there are always exceptions to this rule. If music is good, it will be played.
Social Media Followers
Facebook likes, Twitter followers, favorites, retweets, etc. — they can all be purchased from websites like Fiverr. It’s not hard to recognize this either. If an artist has 30k followers on twitter and their tweets get 0–3 favorites — they bought the followers. If a Facebook video has thousands of likes from people with names in foreign languages (mainly from Asia and the Middle East) — they bought them. Fake likes and followers do not make you more successful. They make you more desperate.
Photographers and Graphic Designers
If you hire a graphic artist or photographer to do work for you: PAY THEM. Exposure is not payment. They are artists too. So have some integrity and fucking pay them.
Cover songs will not make you famous anymore. There are always exceptions to the rule, but it’s been done before. It worked. A long time ago. That does not mean it still works. Because it doesn’t. You are wasting your time for likes and attention.
Start Being Honest
The funniest thing is is that most of the people in the music industry are failed artists. Failed artists with the egos of failed artists. Since when do managers and booking agents and PR people and “tastemakers” get the same recognition as the ones who actually make the music!?
I am just so sick of the bullshit. Artists sucking up to people for a repost. Artists talking down to lesser known artists because of nonsense credentials. They call this “playing the game.” All it does is make me sad. I know too many artists who feel the same way as I do, yet say nothing. They’re afraid they’ll get “blacklisted” or some bullshit for being honest. I’ve been fucked over way too many times by people in the industry that I have trusted and cared about to worry about being “blacklisted” anymore. We all need to start being honest with one another.
The only thing that truly matters is the music. The real music. The music that makes you feel something. The music that can change the world. If it’s anything other than that , it’s bullshit.
If you read this far — thanks. Maybe we can jam. Maybe we can write a song. Maybe we can be friends.
I am guilty of almost ALL of these things — that’s how I learned about them. The only way we succeed in life is through failure. So fail a lot. Just don’t be a dick about it.