20 Reasons Your Music Doesn’t Sell [Loren Israel]

2While many artists may feel as though their music is worth buying (and they may be right) there are a number of reasons why it might just not be selling. Here Loren Israel looks at twenty different potential reasons.


Guest post by Loren Israel

  1. Unclear goals. Successful artists have clearly defined goals. They know where they are and where they’re trying to head. Find the small steps that get you to your big goal.
  1. Different goals among band members. Being in constant conflict with your bandmates is unsustainable. If you have different goals, it’s not necessary to go your separate ways, but it is necessary to at least try to find a common ground so you’re all on the same professional page.
  1. Too many styles, no clear voice. Being creative is one of the joys of being a musician. But trying too many styles just to be “edgy” or “unique” is a sure way to get passed on by producers. Each genre has its own network of business contacts that take significant time and effort to build. Consistency is key to being heard by the right people. You have to be reliable to them in one way. If you think you’re special for being able to cross genres in the same set, you’re not. We see this all the time. Only artists who have a large following and a history of success can pull off changing their expected sound.
  1. You’re not working hard enough. There’s no way around a lack of work ethic. You absolutely need to work hard to get ahead in this industry.
  1. Arrogance. Artists who think they’re so good they don’t need to market themselves will be sadly mistaken. The only artists who get “discovered” are the ones working to make that happen.
  1. Your management is unproductive, or it is productive and you don’t care. Your management can open doors for you. If they’re not, then try something else. If they are doing what they’re supposed to, but you’re not listening to them, then you’re needlessly holding your own growth back.
  1. You’re not building your contacts. You should constantly being growing your network in the industry, and everyone you’re working with should be doing the same. If not, don’t hesitate to start a conversation on how everyone can improve on this.
  1. You took the easiest deal, not the best one. Your goal shouldn’t be just to have any record deal, but should be to have the deal that most likely leads to long-term success for you and your band.
  1. Not enough fans at live shows. This is especially critical in rock and country. If you’re not steadily growing your fan base at your shows, then you’ll be passed by artists who are.
  1. You settle when you should fight. This is true for artwork, studio recording quality, your on-stage performance, demo packaging, photography, and really anything related to your overall presentation. Neither you, nor your manager, should settle for merely average.
  1. Not improving networking skills. You are a brand, and if you want your brand to succeed, then you have to do the sometimes not-fun stuff (like getting better at networking and communication).

12 Not parting ways with band members holding you back. The friendships likely won’t last if your business fails anyways, so it’s best to cut ties before your career is cut short.

  1. Outdated sound. Trying to be the next Nirvana or Backstreet Boys will likely not improve your chances of making it.
  1. Outdated look. Believe it or not, your appearance does matter in music. If you dress like you did ten years ago, then investors are going to think twice before putting their money into your behind-the-times band.
  1. Your music isn’t radio quality. If your music doesn’t have a chance to be a hit, if it doesn’t have a chance to be heard by a large number of people, then you’re not getting a record deal.
  1. Listening to those who tell you not to change.  If you have professionals giving you advice on changing a few things about your sound, and you ignore them out of fear from “selling out,” then you’re doing a disservice to your career as a musician. Don’t be the band that remains the same for the sake of never changing, be the band that sells out a venue. Be the band that people can’t wait to hear.
  1. 3_FW-141_AMDrug and alcohol problems. Having easy access to drugs and alcohol, and giving in to an excessive use of them, is a quick way to limit the potential of your career. You’ll feel as if you made it, but all you’ve really made is another failed musician cliche.
  1. Time is spent on other obligations. Working in the music industry is expensive and time consuming. The same is true for starting a family. It might not be impossible, but it makes an incredibly difficult journey even harder.
  1. You’re too hard to work with. This might be something other people will have to admit for you. But if you’re impossible to work with, and you’re going through too many members of your team because of it, then you’re not likely giving that team enough time to connect and better build your band profile.
  1. Ignorance over the business of music. Saying you just want to focus on your sound is fine. That is, if you want to play in your basement for your friends and have no dreams of making a career as a musician. This industry is tough. But there are a lot of resources out there to learn how you can get ahead.


1Loren Israel is a Songwriting Teacher, Record Producer, and A&R Consultant, specializing in finding and developing new talent. For over 15 years, Loren was an Executive in the Artist and Repertoire department at Capitol Records. He worked with bands such as Coldplay, Less Than Jake, and was the A&R representative for Jimmy Eat World’s multi-platinum Dreamworks album, Bleed American.

Lately, Loren has been maintaining his focus on developing artists through his 6-month Songwriting Course, while also recently becoming an A&R Consultant for Sony Music. Bands he’s mentored through his Course include: Plain White T’s, Neon Trees, and the growing recent success, The Unlikely Candidates. His songwriting mentoring has helped his bands earn over $60 million in contracts, promotions, and merchandise.

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