This morning, my friend Scott Perry put up a post talking about how much money is out there these days. Instagram sold for 1 Billion dollars. The Avengers made over $200 million in a weekend. Amanda Palmer raised over $500,000 in about a week. Deeper in his post, however, is the truth.

While these projects may have made a lot of money, they had years of making no money to get there. Instagram had no revenues for several years before getting purchased. The Avengers was a comic book 50 years ago and was set up with many years of Super Hero movies with varying degrees of success. Amanda Palmer has been pushing hard for nearly a decade to activate an audience of 10,000 people to respond in this manner.

This new climate is producing a new kind of artist: the Marathon Musician.

The artist that will persevere is the one that’s willing to stick it out thru every sort of hardship to get to a career. That career may have a huge hit. That huge hit may never spawn another. However, the quick fix hit is something that every artist has to accept is unlikely.

Data abounds showing that most artists need to be a Marathon Musician to succeed. Around 2005, the music critic world was salivating over acts like Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand and how they would change the musical landscape. Each of those acts put out 3 albums and have had several years since they’ve released anything. They’re still active, but since the buzz has died down they need to run a marathon to continue to win.

The hip cognoscenti have proclaimed many musicians over the last decade to be the “next great thing”. One Marathon Musician who was able to avoid being a flash in the pan: Jack White. Jack ran a marathon, albeit one on his own terms. The end result for him became creative control, a diversity of artistic endeavors, and finally receiving a #1 album last week after a decade of slogging away. This from a guy that most people on the street would vaguely remember is the one that made the “dum da dum dum da dahhh dum” sports anthem in their arena. While the other mentioned musicians have released 3 albums since 2005, Jack has released 3 White Stripes records, 2 Raconteurs records, 2 Dead Weather records, a solo album, and produced countless singles.

My new label, DigSin, hasn’t scored a runaway hit yet. However, I expected to run the label like a Marathon Musician. I’m working with artists that want to work hard long term and I hopefully will give them the support to do so.

An artist I publish, Jenn Bostic, is reaching some milestones this week. She crossed 500,000 views on her YouTube channel, with a second video, “Snowstorm” crossing the 100,000 view mark. She’s sold over 10,000 downloads and is embarking on an East Coast tour with another one of my artists, Connie Lim. She didn’t achieve this overnight. I first met Jenn 2 ½ years ago. She is a Marathon Musician. Knowing what she’s got next gives me confident she’ll keep going the distance.

The success of the music business is chiseling away day after day for tiny successes that bring you a step forward. Most people can’t handle it. Those with the drive and work ethic will get to the top 10% just by the desire to persevere. Being a Marathon Musician isn’t easy. Few can do it. But those that can will cross the finish line with more pride and success than anyone else.

Are you a Marathon Musician?

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  1. J Urquiza May 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm # Reply

    This is sort of in reference but also expands a little. Let’s say you are a marathon musician. You’ve been at it for 10 years building up a pretty solid, loyal fanbase. And then it happens, you finally write and record that “hit” you’ve been wanting for so long. What is the best way to approach a label to take advantage of that hit, along with potential others after that one?

    • Jay Frank May 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm # Reply

      If you’ve been running that marathon well for the past ten years, you’ve built up an industry contact list. You also should have assembled some key team members (management, agent, etc.) who will be keeping industry folks aware of your hit. The training of a marathon also means being keenly aware of what to do in various situations. Hopefully you’ve made great relationships and can then strike at that moment to leverage them effectively.

  2. Jeremiah Jacobs May 9, 2012 at 4:28 am # Reply

    This is a really good post Jay.

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