The Rolling Stones are an act that has remained successful from the early 1960s up through to the present.
The route they have taken has extended past 50 years, perhaps longer than any other active entertainer in the market today. In terms of a music business perspective, that’s amazing. They moved from records to CDs, iTunes downloads to Spotify streams, and poorly-lit live concerts to stadium shows with massive video screens and detailed sets.
Living in an age where many artists peak with a single album or a single song and then fade into their own niche, there is a lot that the Rolling Stones can teach a musician, no matter if you are a rapper, singer, band, or a multi-genre artist.
This list is important. The same strategies used by the Rolling Stones to gain and sustain their popularity have been applied by countless artists. They continue to be used by some of music’s biggest names including The Weeknd, Beyonce, Lizzo, Drake, Harry Styles, Adele, Kanye West, Rihanna, and many more.
Make Your Recordings Raw & With A Little Bit Of An Edge
The Rolling Stones’ biggest artistic and commercial successes were when the band played honest, raw, and dirty, i.e. “Beggars Banquet”, “Exile On Main Street”, and “Voodoo Lounge”.
Many artists today are tempted to sanitize and generalize their music in order to achieve a bigger audience.
If you are trying to break into the general audience and the consciousness of the people, the most effective way to do that is by being yourself. By being your honest, raw self. Don’t be afraid to be vulgar, shy, or emotional if that is who you are.
When you try to commercialize your music, the audience will see right through it, and more importantly, listening back to your tracks, you will realize that this wasn’t you.
Keep Eyes On Current Trends In Music, Culture, Art, & Fashion
Though the Rolling Stones are, in a nutshell, a four-piece blues band, they have always shown an ability to adapt to trends in music.
This approach has brought them some of their biggest hits, including the 1970s disco-influenced “Miss You”, the 1980s stadium rock of “Rock And A Hard Place”, the 1990s roots rock of “Love Is Strong”, and others.
Being aware of trends in music is not about sacrificing who you are as an artist but simply being aware of modern sounds, and finding a way to blend these modern sounds – either adopting them, reacting to them, or purposefully refusing them.
If you are not in some way reacting to what is going on in the world today, you are at risk of struggling to be relevant and make sales.
Know Who You Are And Don’t Try To Be Anyone Else
The Rolling Stones released the album “Blue & Lonesome” in 2016 to critical acclaim and strong sales.
This album does not contain a single original composition but is simply the Stones playing blues in the same way that the Stones have played the blues since they began in the early 1960s.
Even though the Stones have explored – and while that exploration is very important to any artist – they’ve always come back to who they fundamentally are.
This is a band that knows what it is, what its audience expects, and that is willing and capable of delivering that to them. It is okay to experiment but it is another thing to abandon your identity altogether in favor of what’s new. This is where the awareness of trends should be held up against the identity you have already asserted for yourself.
Don’t Be Stupid About Money, Recording Contracts, Or Songwriting Credits
There was a lot of money that was taken from the Rolling Stones throughout the 1960s and early 1970s due to bad management, not paying attention to the types of contracts that they were signing, and due to bad accounting.
Today, the music industry is very competitive for artists as there are a lot more of them in competition and there is a lot less money to be made by artists.
Retain as much value as you can. Always get someone you trust and an authority figure to look over any contracts, to supervise money changing hands, and maximize your legal rights as much as possible.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate and do not put your future into the hands of someone you do not trust.
Put The Music First And Do Right By It – Everything Else Can Be Figured Out
No matter if you are an independent artist or in a band, always put the music first.
If there are disputes surrounding the music or if something is awry with your record label management, sort it out in a mature way and try not to let it influence the product you are creating. Always do what is best for the brand, for the music, and for the song.
Imagine everything the Rolling Stones have encountered over the last 50+ years. Fights within the band. Pressure from their record label. Bad management, good management. Drug problems. Sometimes the music was impacted and, unfortunately, compromised their work.
Always put the music first. Don’t let anyone take your music away from you. Make it honest and unique yours at all times.
Looking To The Past To Learn Tips About The Music Business Today
Even though so much about music has changed and continues to change, regarding being creative, making music, and certain fundamental aspects of the music business, there is a lot to learn from the past.
Positive and negative, there are examples all over the music world of what to do and what not to do.
The Rolling Stones are a unique breed. Even if their music does not necessarily resonate with you, no one can deny them the respect that they’ve earned for navigating so much unfamiliar terrain and becoming industry leaders in music.