I’ve recently become intrigued with DIY, Youtube sensation Alex Day. Coverage of his ongoing artistic success has been popping up here and there for the last year and I finally sat down to review and digest the different possible factors that have led to his success in hopes of revealing a path I may be able to co opt for my own musical efforts.
Day had an online following before he started making music, which is part of the key to his success. Most to all bands start out having very little to no fans which by having some kind of audience is where he got the initial boost. Some musicians can substitute their friends and family for an initial fan base, but it can still be difficult to obtain the same momentum doing so. You can advertise, but nothing replaces true fans in this regard.
Day distributed his music primarily on iTunes and YouTube (at first) and by doing so he kept his music from being on every Tom, Dick, and Harry music website out there which helped legitimize him. If he had just dumped his music on any and every music site it would have lumped him into a crowd of other artists who (quite possibly) sound unprofessional or not polished which might have swayed potential fans about thinking the same about his music. He also focused on where his revenue streams were coming from by only using iTunes and YouTube. They pay higher percentages than a lot of other download and streaming sites while also maintaining higher traffic than others, too. He chose where and how he was going to receive payment for his work, limiting the time and money spent uploading it elsewhere while ensuring he’d maximize his potential profits by not offering his music through sites that pay lower percentages.
I believe that Day’s greatest strength is his charisma. He’s down to earth, driven, and positive about what he’s doing. Even if you don’t necessarily like the product he is selling, the way he presents himself and communicates with his audience makes you want to support him. This all comes down to his persona. Day has a type A+ personality. I’ve run across only a handful of these types of people, but they all have the following traits:
- They are not only smart, but tend to think outside the box where others do not.
- They are competitive and aren’t afraid of challenges.
- They are extremely focused on their goals and know what they are trying to achieve inside and out.
- They know how to get people to do what they want and hold a certain kind of sway over them.
- They are winners and are able to succeed in whatever they do because of these factors.
Day has admitted to taking a long look at the rules of established way of doing things and finding a way around them without breaking them. When he decided to make 11 covers of his first song that he entered into the Christmas Day #1 contest in Britain, he focused on what he was trying to achieve and maximized every angle to reach that goal when others did not. This led his song coming in 4th in that competition beating Coldplay! All without the help of traditional advertising or press and no label support.
Let’s think about this for a second. Day isn’t the best looking or most well spoken or wealthiest or even the most skilled musician in the world (I’m not saying he’s the worst, either). I can come up with an endless list of people who are far greater at each of those things, but by being optimistic, creative, communicative, down to earth, and focused he has been able to obtain what most musicians want, a career that supports him comfortably, the ability to keep on creating, and recognition.
Maybe other musicians can use these examples to help further their own dreams and goals. If they cannot emulate what he is doing or how he carries himself, maybe try and find someone who does to help fit that role or guide you toward what you are striving for artistically.