Indie Music Artist Spotlight – Jason Rylan
1.) What elements and/or characteristics made you say to yourself that you wanted to do music for a living? Who are your influences/heroes/role models?
I would have to say that my family made me want to pursue music. I used to watch my Father and Uncles play guitar and jam regularly as a kid. I was also fascinated with writing, experimentation with instrumentation, and the overall diversity with music. I have many heroes, influences, and role models. I think we can all find one everyday if we just look around.
2.) If you could compare yourself to an already established artist, who would that be and why? If you don’t like to compare yourself, then music-wise, what separates you from other musicians?
Because I tend to cross genres and experiment, it’s difficult to compare myself to another established artist. I also think that can really trip an artist up by continuously striving to compare themselves to others. Many listeners in the past have compared my sound to be very reminiscent of Depeche Mode. I think what separates me from other artists is the experimentation factor and songs that are designed with purpose and positivity, yet also coincide with the times we have been facing.
3.) Everyone in life goes through adversity of some sort. Is there anything in your life that has any influence on the kind of songs you write? What is the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure on your path to becoming a musician?
Like many, I’ve definitely had my struggles and challenges which definitely inspires the music that I produce. I would say the most difficult obstacle in my path is that many music promoters want simply a specific genre and/or Top 40 artist. There are also many music promoters that over promise and under deliver or are simply a scam. There are many fake music marketing companies out there that promise the moon with millions of organic listeners and followers.
4.) How do you prepare yourself to write certain songs? What is your song-writing and recording process?
I tend to think of songwriting as a veil being lifted, a calling of sorts. Typically, a concept, tune, or little melody will first kind of pop into my head. I’ll take notes, toy with instrumentation, and then go into the studio to expand on that.
5.) Unfortunately the music industry is full of talented individuals who just don’t get any recognition for their talent and/or hard work. What do you plan to do to make sure you stand out and get noticed? Would you rather be on a major label or would you rather stay independent? Why or why not? In regards to the music industry itself, do you think that the traditional music industry model as we know it is dead?
Yes, it’s very difficult to stand out in the crowd as a musician or any artist really. There are a gazillion artists trying to “make it.” I have a much different interpretation of what “making it” it means. I think it’s important to take the small wins when we can get them just as we do in life. Unfortunately, we also have to take the hits as well.
My overall intention on standing out is to continue to produce music, refine as best I can, and continue to market. Just as with any obstacle, we have to keep pushing through the struggles. At the end of the day, if my music has some impact on one person or a million people, if it’s resonated with someone on the edge or helped them cope, then I’ve done my job as an artist. I think it’s cool when I get the occasional fan email or post or see that my music has reached people in Europe, Canada, UK, etc..
I would much rather be with a major label as all of my projects have been self produced with very limited resources. It would be nice to have someone take the reigns that knows the industry, elevate the songs, and be able to market to a wider audience.
Regarding your last question… Yes, the music industry has been changing for better or worse ever since the introduction of digital music. It’s forced musicians to heavily rely on touring and ticketing. I don’t think the traditional industry model will die out anytime soon. People will always love live music. There will always be a market for new music and new genres.
6.) Are you able to make a living with your music? If so, how were you able to attain a career doing what you love? If not, what do you do in order to fund your music career? What advice would give to someone who’s interested in pursuing a career in music?
Unfortunately, I do not make a living with music. To date, everything I’ve published has been self produced and a labor of love (with some assistance from Talbot Snow co-producing). I do it more for the love of the song and to hopefully lift others up to inspire them; similar to various charitable organizations that I’ve volunteered with. However, it would be nice for the music to be at least financially self-sustaining. I fund my music career through planning and budgeting. For example, it takes me about five years to put together an album – mainly due to spreading out recording.
I work in Las Vegas as a Director for a Ticket Broker which has unfortunately been closed since March. Due to the heavy restrictions on theater occupancy, many Las Vegas shows are still closed. I love my job and have had the pleasure to work with just about every top show in Las Vegas. My advise to anyone interested in pursuing a career in music is to keep your expectations realistic, within your means, be happy with yourself, and do what you love. Not everyone is going to light it up like Britney Spears or win over Simon Cowell and judges on America’s Got Talent.
7.) How do you think the internet and social media affected the music industry and how musicians are able to market themselves? Social media is obviously an extremely important element in today’s world, especially when it comes to business, branding, marketing, etc. With that being said, do you think an artist will be able to survive in today’s music industry if they’re not social media savvy?
There is no doubt that internet and social media are valuable tools for any business. These days, I don’t think a musician can go to market or have any success without having at least some knowledge of these platforms and being at least a little savvy, or at least have someone in their camp that is knowledgeable. I’ve had some meetings with industry marketing folks here in Vegas off and on over the years and find it all very fascinating: Social Media marketing, SEO, ad campaigns, etc.
8.) Artists who try to make music for the general public and make more money are usually seen as “sell-outs.” Do you see it that way and if so, what do you plan to do to make sure your music stays true to your brand and make a good living at the same time without having to “sell out”?
If the opportunity was presented to make more commercial music for the general public by working with a major label or higher end producer, I would certainly take it. Who wouldn’t? I don’t think that is selling out at all. At the end of the day, music is also a business. Sometimes your business needs to change or go elsewhere in order to grow and thrive. That’s not selling out. That’s just making better business decisions. As an artist, I see that as growing and evolving as well. I’ve had the luxury and consequence of doing on my own for many years now.
9.) Professionally, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
This is a very difficult question to answer at the moment, but I’m sure that I will always be working on new music to some degree.