Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: 7 Lessons I’ve Learnt in the Music Business

“Putting out a dud track isn’t going to ruin anything; every great artist does it.”

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, alias of the U.K.-born, L.A.-based producer Orlando Higginbottom, released his sophomore album When The Lights Go Out on September via his own Ice Age label. Here, in his own words, Higginbottom shares the seven key lessons he’s learned during his long career in the music business. 

Understand the Value of Your Music 

In 2021 the global music market was worth $26 billion, according to the BBC. The scale varies so much, and it’s dizzying and beautiful to contribute to it. A song will outlast social media platforms, formats, and trends. It will sound long after the executive golf courses have dried up and the ticketing companies have gone bust. Melodies will outlast everyone alive today.

There could be a time in our future where copyright law, technology, and ideas around intellectual property come together to make a healthy system. In the meantime, busy bee, protect your creations and creative spirit, own your work wherever possible, and understand that your art has a multitude of values in our world, some measurable, many not.

Be Aware of Wealth, Comparison & The Truth About Private Island Posts

This is an industry where every artist’s business is set up differently, there’s not much transparency, and there’s a damaging myth that you’re rich once a few people know your name. The family mega-wealth kids (bless and protect them) are everywhere — and there’s no stopping them. Even with comparison being the death of joy, you’re still going to do it, so be aware that a lot of people in music aren’t reliant on income from music. Add to that we are chest-deep in the era of financial success as a marketing aesthetic, the private jet photos won’t seem to stop, and fancy clothes are pretty nice to look at. The vast majority aren’t participating in lifestyle one-upmanship, yet somehow it seems to be such a loud voice.

Everything Is Negotiable

There is no “industry standard” – when you hear that phrase in any negotiation, consider it a red flag. Absolutely everything is negotiable, and probably should be negotiated: deal terms of course, also what and how you pay agents, PR, pluggers, management, tour managers, designers, stylists, directors, and collaborators. Having an idea of what your ideal agreement is is important, as is knowing what your deal breakers are. What lines will you never cross? Musicians learn about rejection fast — so give a little back; say no. By not being so easy to compromise, you might not need to.


Putting out a dud track isn’t going to ruin anything; every great artist does it. And if you really want to do this for 40 years, you should get into the idea of failing gloriously. Focus on your imagination; chasing exposure and attention will mess with you.

Spread Your Bets

The pandemic nearly ruined me, because I wasn’t set up to survive without touring. There is a sense that the inverse may be upon us, that touring becomes restrictively expensive and people start saying “musicians make their money from streaming.” And you absolutely can make a living from streaming royalties, but you’ll need to own your masters.

On top of that, write songs for other artists, produce the drums for someone, build your publishing and production credits. There is no required qualification — just ideas and execution. 

Metrics or Data or Gold Rings

Algorithms dance to the tune of greed, and we’ve been fools to sing along so willingly. Some metrics are useful, some of them are poison. For example, seeing something grow on Shazam is beautiful, a Spotify play count is a live audit of how much money your music is generating, a radio play tracker can show you where the support is. But Instagram likes are practically meaningless, and your social media following is a small portion of your audience that is already overwhelmed by content on screens every day. So don’t sweat it.


Every conversation with a colleague leaves me a little less alone and a little more prepared, empowered, and educated. Despite the perceived and perpetuated competition, musicians are on the same team, and through transparent compassionate conversation, we take care of each other and the musical ecosystem.

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