I just finished the final episode of Breaking Bad and man what a show. It could be one long movie! The writing and acting were incredible and I highly doubt we will ever see another television show quite like it. Truly revolutionary.
But it always wasn’t this way. I like most people got into the show after my wife’s friend recommended it to us at the start of the third season. I was totally blow away by the premise: a lilly white school teacher becomes a meth kingpin. It just sounded so ridiculous, I had to watch.
So what can an aspiring musician learn from the success of Breaking Bad?
(1) Long Haul
Breaking Bad only became popular after into its third season and reached its peak popularity during the final season. This tells me that most people were recommended the show after it had already been vetted. Basically once a friend whose opinion you trust gives it a glowing review, you are likely to give it a netflix binge.
The key thing to take away here is that it took time. It takes time for the public to get to know your music. If you’re a rapper, you’ll usually drop a few mixtapes to try and get a buzz. The main thing is don’t release just one album or one mixtape or one single and hope to blow up. It’s like Breaking Bad hoping the pilot episode blows up. It likely wont happen. Instead keep plugging away at it until you find something that works.
(2) Start with a ridiculous premise.
If I told you ten years ago the biggest rapper in 2013 would be a half-Jewish half-African American guy from Canada who played a cripple on a teen television show you would have laughed me out of the room. This is the same thing with Breaking Bad, the premise is so counterintuitive, it makes us question our assumptions and make us what to learn more. Or in Breaking Bad’s case watch more!
If you are a “me too” act you might as well give up now. The chances of another tv show where a good guy becomes bad becoming as big as Breaking Bad are slim to none. For sure, the networks are trying but they’ll fail. It’s been done!
The world doesn’t need another Drake or a Swedish House Mafia or a Bruce Springsteen. Find your own voice. Make songs about your world. And make us care. Heck, even if you are a deplorable human being like Walter White we will still watch.