Promo tapes and CDs cut at home to be passed on the streets. Flyers for small bar gigs that only a few may attend. Busting butt doing the full-time thing while working out of the garage or in the lab. These are days of yesteryear. These are the days that gave artists their hardest struggle.

Then a blip of opportunity happens and it comes from the sound of a modem. Fast forward a few years after the Net started to take off and you could already find P2P websites filled with tunes (many of them pirated but a good deal from artists hoping to get found). Then we had music distribution sites come up, burning CDs became extremely affordable, new venues started to cater to this shift in musical taste.

Now we're living in the age of the modern hustle.

It's no longer standing at the street corner handing out your demos. It's now about building a following on social sites. It's about creating and uploading your music videos to YouTube. It's about performing live gigs via streaming sites. It's selling your music through the marketplaces.

In a lot of ways ... it's just as hard (if not harder) as the old days.

The channels were limited to those willing to do the grind and hustle to make a name for themselves. Today you can cut up a track, get it posted, and start sending it all within one long hard day. This means the competition has really come up. Your music is good ... but how you going get it through the thousands and thousands of others just like you try to make it big? How you gonna get paid?

This, ladies and gents, is the modern hustle that is sync licensing.

To get an idea of what you'd expect when cutting up contracts on your own then take a look at this synchronization license agreement.

For someone that just wants to work on their art but also wants to make sure they're getting paid (and not screwed over by labels clamping down on copyright) it can be a challenging legal avenue to wander.

That's where companies come into the mix. Services like TuneCore offer up the ability to distribute your music across tons of channels like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Slacker, and all those others while keeping 100% of the sales and without giving up on the master recordings, copyrights, and merchandise rights.

In basic: a company like this becomes a middleman (the good kind) that has the services to distribute the music on the quick rather than trying to find and negotiate with the people on each of those channels (which can be quite tedious).

Need an example? Derek Vincent Smith of the Pretty Lights fame has been up-and-coming like crazy over the last few years. And actually four albums, three EPs, and four singles was done through TuneCore.

Let's look at it this way ...

A few years ago you would have done:

  • · Setup a site (if you knew how) to put together stuff about your work
  • · Setup your social profiles so you can start connecting with fans
  • · Burn off a ton of CDs you could hand out at gigs
  • · Sign up for every account you could find on music streaming sites
  • · Make a list and hope you get in touch with the people that can pay

This is good and all for someone that can really bootstrap or even crowdsourcing their way onto the charts but it's basically a full-time job on its own which doesn't give you a lot of time to focus on the music. What makes matters worse is that you still probably won't make a good amount from doing these solo adventures unless you're really keen on the advertising, marketing, and sales aspect of the business (which is a whole other set of skills to learn).

Now it's basically become:

  • · Put out some good music
  • · Build yourself some buzz and fans
  • · Distribute the music through music distribution services
  • · Check the reports and collect the payments

Once you can take your hands off the nitty-gritty you can start really doing a number of good things like having the time to interact with the fans, put on more gigs, do interviews with music blogs, and experiment with your promotion. It's like taking the business side out of the art so it remains fun.

This is the modern hustle we live in now.

Each day we're seeing more and more artists starting to make a come up. It's only going to get harder and harder for you to make a break. You've gotta push it hard and push it fast. Keep doing the good stuff you're doing but also immerse yourself in technology because it's technology that will be the tool to reaching stardom.