As with a lot of things surrounding the creative industries (of which music is just one of them), there is no definitive way to make it in the music industry. There are ways to increase your chances of making it happen though.
- Stand out from everyone else.
- Get a decent work ethic and work hard.
- Be motivated to achieve your goals.
- Learn from those who have achieved things.
- Get lucky (increase your odds by putting yourself out there).
- Be professional at all times.
- Utilise social media.
- Surround yourself with good people.
- Network all the time.
- Collaborate with other musicians.
- Have an image and great personal PR.
- Ask for feedback on your music.
- Cultivate a great live act for people.
- Promote your music as much offline.
- Grow your audience.
- Work with bloggers and the media.
- Distribute your music effectively.
Now here is a load of other info to help you with your music career:
#1 – Be motivated.
You unlikely to make it in the music industry if you don’t have any motivation or ambition. Assuming you’re going to make it isn’t going to be enough.
It would be foolish to believe everyone is going to want to sign you, but for everyone that rejects you, there are others who may want to give you opportunities. Start off small by promoting your music online and then take it to the next level.
It’s easy to get de-motivated when you’re starting out but always try to have a positive mental outlook – it’s just as important as being conscientious and pro-active in your career.
The road may seem long but enjoy the journey as well as when you achieve your long-term goals.
#2 – Benefit from social media – it’s free!
Promoting yourself with the use of digital media is one of the best tools you can use when starting out and the best way for getting your message ocross … Learn how to use it well!
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great contenders for artists to promote their music online because you can reach a large audience easily and it’s free. Use these platforms to engage your fan base. Be personal and give people a reason to interact with your content.
How much should you post on social media as an artist?
Post too little content and you’re in danger of getting lost in peoples’ news feeds. Post too much can irritate your fans unless it’s amazing, and the chances of you doing that much amazing content every time is rare, so aim to post daily but with a mixture of posts.
If you have loads of content, consider spreading it over all of your platforms – it’ll give people a reason to like and follow you everywhere.
No matter how far along you are in your journey through the music industry, social media seems to always be at the core of everything.
#3 – Promote yourself offline.
You need to learn to promote yourself as much offline as you do online.
Smaller community magazines are often the best to send your music to when you’re starting out. Larger industry magazines like NME are great, but you’ll struggle to successfully pitch your music to them without a big team behind you.
Instead, approach local magazines – they love to feature upcoming music that’s surrounded by a bit of hype. Some of these ‘smaller’ publications can actually have some significant reach. Also ensure you approach magazines who are music specific.
Get on the radio.
As an artist starting out, one of the best platforms for upcoming artists is radio, and stations who are helping to support up an coming artists like Decadance and the BBC.
You can upload your best tracks for free online through the Future Selection uploader. Get on the show and you’ll open up your audience by thousands of people.
If you have a song that’s good quality, there are plenty of other local community radio stations who may feature your music. Google your city’s name followed by ‘radio stations’ – send them over your music and see what they think.
#4 – Work with bloggers.
Online bloggers are great for musicians to start building connections within the music industry.
Some online blogs are run by people who have really dedicated music fans. They may even be run by musicians themselves.
These are definitely people who you’ll want to get to know and build connections with.
Proving to your audience that your music is worth talking about will give them faith that you’re a dedicated artist that has some hype behind you!
How to become known in the music industry?
#5 – Stand out from the crowd.
Being talented might not be enough to make it. Never get complacent about what you do, always look for ways to improve.
Being able to sing or play your instrument well is the main part of making it as an artist in the industry, but there is always room for improvement.
Many singers, for example, make the mistake of thinking they don’t need singing lessons because they can sing. Singing lessons can help a singer to develop their voice and teach them tricks on how to use it effectively. Even established singers will continue to have lessons to maintain their vocals and ensure bad techniques don’t creep in.
#6 – Have an image.
It might not be something you want to focus on when you’re starting out, but having an image is something which is really important and sometimes overlooked by those who are starting out.
Having an image identifies you as an artist and is something people who listen to you notice if they see you live or online and want to follow you.
You have to have the whole package, right down to your style choices and social media artwork, it needs to be uniform and consistent. Your image and music is core to you being successful as an act and they must, therefore, reflect your personality.
Your image should complement your music and hopefully make you stand out too. Try to develop something unique that stands out about yourself and market it to the target audience who will relate best to you.
Even bands and artists that don’t appear to have an ‘image’ in the traditional sense still have an identity, so try to find something special about you that people can appreciate but can also relate to.
#7 – Get lucky (by putting yourself out there).
This isn’t really a tip but it’s one way of making it. Being in the right place at the right time works but you need to make sure you are in those places as many times as is possible.
For example, Justin Bieber uploaded his videos to YouTube and was found by Usher.
You can’t rely on this as a way of making it, but putting yourself out there more will increase your chances of getting lucky in the industry.
How to become successful as an independent music artist.
#8 – Be professional.
When you’re looking to build relationships with people in the music industry always be professional.
This doesn’t mean wear a suit and tie, rather, do things like turn up on time, be respectful, be well-rehearsed if it’s a gig, and don’t be a hindrance.
Turning up late to a gig isn’t ‘cool’ it’s just a pain for the promoter and sound engineer! You’d be much better getting there early and talking through your set up – they’ll respect you much more in the long term if you do this.
#9 – Distribute your music effectively.
Being professional as a person is important for your music to look professional too.
In 2019, almost every artist who has ‘made it’ in the music industry has their music on platforms such as Spotify in some form.
Nowadays it’s crucial for allowing people to listen to your music for free so that you can grow your fan base and look professional.
If you’re signed to a record label they will be able to distribute your music for you, but if you’re an independent artist there are plenty of sites that you can use to upload your tracks.
Make sure to note that each of these services requires a small payment to upload music to Spotify – it’s definitely worth it though to make yourself look professional and Bandcamp is definitely important.
#10 – Play gigs and have a great live act.
If you’re looking to make it far in the music industry, you’ll need people to hear your music and have the opportunity to see you perform; this is where gigging comes in.
Having gigging experience not only helps to promote your music and you as an artist, but it also gives you real-life experience of performing on stage and in front of an audience.
Build relationships with real people in the music industry.
Gigging allows you to meet new people. Succeeding in the music industry is largely about building relationships with people and working with them – live gigs are often where you might find these people.
If you’re starting off, perhaps find some smaller gigs and Open Mic nights before embarking on larger gigs. Once you’ve got more of a fan base, promoters will want to book you up to support a bigger band.
How can I improve my music skills?
#11 – Work with other musicians.
It’s important to have good relationships with other musicians if you want to make it in music.
With musicians, it’s great to jam out together, you might also learn something new from them whilst you play, improving your skills as a musician.
It’s important to note that the musicians are always the core of the music industry so make sure to be friends with as many as you can. Note that if you get a bad name for yourself though, you’ll struggle to develop your career – word spreads in music communities (both positive and negative)!
How do you get rich from the music industry?
If you’re looking to just make money in music you’re probably not going into it for the right reasons. The money is out there, but in most cases, you’ll only succeed in the long term if you make a significant number of good decisions during your musical journey. Also, of course, you need to have great music if you’re an artist.
#12 – Work hard.
Most successful people in the industry have put in hours and hours of hard graft, working on their music, networking and building relationships with people who can help them achieve their long-term goals.
It will always take time unless of course, you win a singing competition. If you do win, don’t take it for granted! Even after you’ve won, you’ll have to work hard to maintain your career, so practicing, hard work and dedication now is good practice for when you are successful.
Time is money in this industry – put in the hours and the money will come.
How successful are independent music artists?
It all varies on who you look at. Local artist Arrdee who co-presents ‘The Brighton Cypher’ show here on Decadance, is renowned for being a very successful artist and known for his self-promotion. Being successful as an unsigned artist almost entirely depends on how well you grow your audience.
#13 - Grow your audience.
If you’re looking to make money in the industry as an artist you need to have a dedicated audience. A common misconception is that you need to have a massive audience to achieve success.
Of course, it’s great to have millions of people who know you, but it’s easy to make a very substantial income with just a few hundred really dedicated fans.
Bring people value.
If you had 500 people who absolutely love you and would buy all of your music and merch no matter what it was, you could easily make thousands of pounds every month by bringing out regular content that holds value (such as merch or tickets for your live tour).
It’s now so important to really bring value to your audience as an artist. People who love music want to invest in, not only your music but also you as a person.
Work hard to form personal relationships with your fans – treat them like human beings, because they are! If they like you they’ll be much more likely to buy your music (and everything associated with it).
How can I become the best musician?
#14 – Learn from other people.
There are plenty of people who make it and others who have tried and failed. To become a great musician, you need to learn what’s good what’s bad to do, both inside and outside your creative process.
To know what to expect in the music industry, it’s important to first try and get advice from successful people – ask someone successful the individual steps that they took to get where they are in their careers.
Just as importantly though, it’s important to talk to people who have tried and failed. Music isn’t for everyone, but see if you can find out what someone who was less successful did when they tried.
Compare these two different people and notice the difference between their approaches to the industry. It’ll allow seeing the good things to do as well as the pitfalls to avoid.
Even when you’re talking to the successful people though, ask what they feel like would have done differently in their careers to achieve even more success!
Most importantly, learn from your own mistakes and you’ll become a better artist.
#15 – Ask for feedback.
Asking for peoples honest opinions on your music will always allow you to improve as a musician and make it more likely for you to succeed in the music industry.
If you’re an artist and you have a track that you have written and want to release, start off by showing it to friends and family. If you want to improve make sure to ask them to be critical about it – what do they like? What don’t they like?
Also, send your music to relevant industry people (such as producers, recording engineers and most importantly, established artists) to get their opinions on it.
Dealing with criticism.
At first, criticism will be hard, but it will be great in the long term because you will be able to make music that people are more likely to respond positively to.
It’s important to note that you may get contradicting opinions, which just shows you that music is all subjective. Try and get a wide range of opinions on your production, arrangement, songwriting, vocals and recording quality overall. You’ll be able to draw some conclusions based on what most people are saying to work on.
How can I be successful in a music career?
#16 – Have a good team and network.
Surrounding yourself with good people is a good thing to do in general, but it’s absolutely paramount for musicians to find a network of people who believe in them.
The way that successful artists promote their music is by having a dedicated manager, booking agent, label, and P.R team to name just a few jobs. This covers all of your bases allowing you to, not only promote your music successfully but have a successful artist career.
If you’re an independent artist you might just want to have just one or two additional people to help you with these important jobs. It could be a friend, family member, or even another band member.
If you have one person who really believes in you (for example, a manager), they will take a lot of weight off your shoulders by focusing on the music industry side of your project so that you can focus on the creative side of your music career.
If someone truly wants you to do well as a musician, they’ll do everything they can to help you succeed in the music industry.
#17 – Stay humble.
No matter what stage you’re at in your music career, it’s important to stay humble. Never take what you have for granted.
Even successful musicians can have their livelihoods taken away in the blink of an eye.
Always be aware of the pitfalls, especially when it comes to signing record deals. Always read the small print!
Do make sure to be nice to everyone below you as well as everyone above you. It’s easy to want to hang out with people who are more successful and, of course, it’s great when you want to learn about their success, but always be good to people who are behind you. If they become successful, they may have something to offer you in the future.
#18 – Look after yourself.
Make sure you look after your mental health and your physical health, that way you will be in best shape to deal with the challenges which come your way, and there will be lots.
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