Platform? I Don’t Need No Stinking Platform!

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Imagine you’re a producer for a hit TV show. You’re looking for the perfect piece of music for a scene in an upcoming episode. Finally, after listening to dozens of tracks you find it. It’s perfect. You love it.

So that’s all you need to know, right?


Turns out the first question a music supervisor asks about a potential track is the same question a publisher asks about an author, and a label asks about an artist:

“How big is their platform?”

(Meaning, how many followers do they have on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc?)

This was a surprise to me, I think because it didn’t used to be that way.

In the old days, publishers, labels, networks, radio, and even clubs saw their job as finding new talent and then helping them build an audience. That’s the world I grew up in. But now it’s the opposite. Now they’re only interested in you if you’ve built your own audience first.

I knew this was true with publishers and labels, and it actually makes sense to me there. A built-in audience guarantees sales. (Otherwise they would have to, you know, market you.)

But with licensing, they already have the audience. Why would they care about an artist’s platform? 

I really thought this was one area where the quality of the work was all that mattered. But an old music-biz friend of mine rid me of that fantasy for good this week. According to him (and he does a lot of work in licensing), even with a hit show, producers still need all the promotion help they can get. So they look for artists who can post to their list and help with ratings.

Of course it makes sense. It just never occurred to me.

So there it is. It’s official – or at least I finally understand that it’s official. It’s all about platform now. I surrender.

I’ve actually been working on this for a while already, but there was still a small part of me that was resisting. But I’m all in now. Time to make it part of my everyday work.

And if you’re a creative who’s looking to make something happen, it should be part of yours, too.

Here are the favorite books I’ve read on the subject so far:

Any one of these would be great for getting started or taking things to the next level.

Then you should let me know what you’re doing, because I’ll be doing the same thing.

One final thought. Does a big platform guarantee success? No. You still have to do great work. ( Big Platform + Crap = Reality Television ) You don’t want that.

But great work with no platform doesn’t get you anywhere either – and I have many friends who are evidence of that.

The truth is, neither one works on its own anymore. From now on, you need both. Might as well get over it and get to work.

So let’s get to it, shall we? I look forward to hearing what you’re doing.

On we go!


  • Mohammad Reza

    July 4, 2013

    what do you mean? You mean we should have a big platform? What is platform here? friends? What can we do to have it?

  • David Levin

    July 8, 2013

    Hi Mohammad,

    This applies to people who are trying to build a business in some sort of writing area – books, music, speaking, etc. Platform means how many fans do you have? Fans could mean people on your email list, or Facebook friends or Twitter followers, and so on. Basically, they’re people who are interested in what you’re doing. And the way to get them is to give them stuff they like, especially if they like it enough to share it with others. And then, of course, you have to have a way to capture their email address.

    It can be a slow process, but it’s the only way to be successful with your expertise anymore.

    Hope that helps.



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