This post needs a warning label.
The following post is intended as a true look at the unfortunate state of “celebrity” with a satirical point of view.  If you’re keeping up, that means this is a seemingly fake – yet entirely factual – how-to list for building your music career.  If anything, I hope you surf away from this post with your eyes widened at the nonsense around you. 
- Brandon



Get to the top through hard work and determination.  I guess that’s one way.  But what if you didn’t have to?

What if you could just be at the top?

Be Beautiful

Beyonce.  Rhianna.  Adam Lavigne.  You don’t think being outrageously beautiful increased their odds of “making it”?

Studies show that better-than-average looking people are believed to be a) good people b) more intelligent c) better conversationalists d) more independent and e) better in bed.  In what is known as the “Halo Effect,” we perceive that – because someone is good looking – we attribute those positive characteristics onto other parts of their lives such as personality, character, etc.

In another study it’s believed that not only are hot people perceived as being better, they actually are.  This includes better than average persuasion skills, getting away with less desirable behavior, and being over all more intelligent.  Forget the downside.

What does it mean for music sales?  Well there aren’t any official stats I can get access to, but there are some correlations in related niches.  In sales, it’s proven that better looking people sell more in business-to-customer and business-to-business scenarios.  In marketing, more ads are clicked on that contain pictures of beautiful people than of others with ugly people.  It doesn’t take a genius to realize that we buy with our animal instincts more than we buy with our logic.

Arouse your fans and you’ll sell more music.

Be Male

Year after year men trounce women in album sales.  According to Jim Farber of the NY Daily News only 1 woman cracked the Top Ten list of album sales in 2013 and she barely squeaked in.  In 2013 Justin Timberlake, Eminem and Luke Bryant held the top 3 spots.

Interesting enough however is that women dominate media sources because of their propensity to be masters of brands.  Their faces are plastered in advertisements, magazines and commercials for sideshow projects like fragrances, clothing or makeup lines.  Men just aren’t faces of the same media.

While women are more likely to “make it” in realms adjacent to music – fashion, modeling, etc. – they just aren’t as strong as men in actual music sales.  (Even in single song sales only Lorde made it into the top 5 last year).  Being male however, can help you attract female fans who spend more than male ones.

Be Gregarious

If you aren’t outgoing, act like you are.  Ignore the fact that 4 of the top 5 artists on the Billboard 100 this week consider themselves introverts – that’s not important (sarcasm).  The important thing is to sell more music and sell-out concert venues.  And what do concert-goers expect?  An in-your-face sound-gasm of cosmic proportions.  Complete with a strutting, overconfident superstar onstage.

In Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking she discusses Western society’s Culture of Personality, where those with extroverted traits (big personality, non-sensitive, woo-ing nature) are deemed better than their introverted counterparts by society at large.  Big extroverted personalities are “go-getters” and determined as more liked and trustworthy than introverted counterparts.

Want sell more music?  Elevate your status by being the most uber-confident, outgoing, stylistically relevant version of yourself… regardless of your true temperament.

Be Controversial

Article writers for magazines and newspapers are no stranger to the sensationalist headline.  Why do you think Buzzfeed piles up nearly 13 million hits a day?  It’s not the content that drives people to it’s pages, it’s the headlines.  The outrageous, click-bait headlines.

Tina Brown, editor of the New Yorker magazine, increased sales 100% with some pretty outlandishly controversial actions.  She’s doing it again right now with Newsweek, seeing an increase of 30% in sales over the past year alone.

From the days of Elvis Presley shaking his ass for Ed Sullivan in 1956 to the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at Superbowl 38, controversy has sold albums.  Janet’s albums doubled in sales while Justin Timberlake (the one exposing Janet’s booby) saw a 160% increase in his album.

Let’s be honest here though.  Independent artists aren’t regularly gracing the Superbowl stage at this time so they of course won’t benefit from grandiose controversy on a public scale.   Maybe that’s why indie artists are creating controversy where it actually matters.  Think Blake Morgan and the Pandora controversy or Jonathan Coulton accusing Glee of ripping off his cover of ‘Baby Got Back.’

Time will tell how controversy benefits indie musicians, but at this stage making a scene will at least get you more attention.  As they say, “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right.”



Founder of Apparatus as well as a musician, songwriter, “musicpreneur” and consultant. After receiving my BA in Music back in 2011 I began working with independent artists, songwriters, producers and engineers to empower and educate them in their quest to retain creative control.  Join my free email list here.