Questions & Answers with Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien

I recently attended an event put on by our friends at Success Express Music which featured a Q&A session with Radiohead’s wonderful Ed O’Brien. During the Q&A one of the most common questions being asked by artists was how are they supposed to have the time to write and focus on music when they are also expected to run a small brand.

The modern artist is expected to Tweet, Facebook, webdesign, plan photoshoots, video shoots, edit all of the above, create logos, book shows, tour manage and much more. At the same time unless they are extremely lucky they are also going to be in some kind of employment to pay the rent. So what can you do?  Below are some of the thoughts from the Q&A and a bit more.

Social media
It is no mystery that social media plays a big part in an artists career. However, if you are spending all your time doing social media and not having any time to write music as seemed to be common from artists in attendance then something is wrong.

A comparison from many artists was that they were expected to run a company alongside making music. It’s true, the modern artist is expected to do SO many things single handed. For the average artists there is no getting away from this, so treat it like a business. Firstly, if you don’t have any music, you don’t have a product, so you can spend all the hours of the day on social media but you’re essentially not really promoting anything. Don’t be afraid to take time off these channels and focus on the music. If your followers are your fans they will appreciate it. If you are trying to make it on a big scale, your few thousand fans are worth engaging with but the bigger picture is that there are a few more billion potential fans out there who haven’t heard of you and if you concentrate on your craft in the first instance, it will go further than tactical tweeting.

Job
Ed O’Brian was saying in the early days of Radiohead he had a bar job which allowed the band to focus on music during the days. Chances are if you work 9-6 each day you will not have that much time for music. So perhaps a part time job would solve it.

Practise makes perfect
Do a bit each day. Try and find an hour or two minimum each day where you are undistracted by phones, internet or people to write or play your music. The human mind likes routine and you will find that a rhythm starts to develop and ideas flow better.

Outsource
If you have very little time due to a full time job for example and are finding that you are spending hours learning how to use Photoshop rather than write music, find someone who is really good at photoshop and offer them some cash to do it for you. It will free you up to be creative and chances are they will do a better job!

If you are being your PR company and that is exhausting your time, there are PR companies out there who will do deals with bands they like and believe in. Some great PR companies are featured on our Resources page. There are more out there…go hunting!

Many hands make light work
4 members in the band? Delegate the work so everyone does their bit.

The resounding sentiment from Ed O’Brien’s talk was that that the music has to be right and has to be the first priority. Without this, your journey will be a short one.