I was helping a friend clean some things out of the office the other day. He is a talent scout for musicians and had boxes of old demo tapes from the 70’s and 80’s. Just for fun I played a few of them to see what kind of musicians he turned down.
As the music played, he cringed and said it was some of the worst music he had ever heard. He never signed any of the artists and said to throw the tapes in the trash. Well, I hated to admit it, but I thought some of it was pretty good. What was I missing? I mean, I know I’m not an American Idol judge and really don’t know anything about the music industry, but I am a consumer and I did used to buy music.
I started wondering, if I liked it, I wondered how many other people in the world would have liked it too. Okay, so maybe the industry never released that music and it never made it on the radio or top 10, but surely there had to be a market for it somewhere.
I have to believe that for every seller there is a buyer, somewhere that would buy that product if they knew it existed. I might not have swiggies on the shelf at Walmart, but I’ve sold tons of them around the world. They may not be on TV in an infomercial, but I just 75,000 to a marathon in Ireland.
The good news about the Internet is that you don’t need the same seal of approval that you used to have to have. There was a time when brick and mortar chain retailers were the only option. There was a time when talent scouts like my friend were the only option. If a major record label turned you down, that was the end of your career. Now stars are made overnight on YouTube and artists retain the rights to their songs and make all of the profit from them.
I have no doubt that if Dylan was just starting out and was turned down by someone like my friend, he still would have found an audience somewhere. With over 7 billion people in the world, there has to be a buyer out there, even if it’s a small niche. Let’s see, if you only sold a fraction of a percent to the world, that’s still a good payday.