10 Essential tips for a long and lucrative music career
Breaking into the music industry has always been a challenge for artists from all genres, but it doesn't have to be a struggle. Here are some fundamental tips to help you become the artist you want to be.
There are tens of thousands of artists looking for attention and gigs, and that's on top of the artistic challenge of getting inspiration for new songs or tracks, finding the right melody, beat, or sound, and dealing with band member personalities. The whole process can be overwhelming, especially considering the constant flux the music industry presents.
Despite the thousands of tips on joining the music industry readily available online, knowing where to start is something completely different. To help you, we are going to share essential tips on how to make a long-term career in the music industry that you can start implementing right now. Remember it all starts with you.
1. Create something your audience will love.
To truly have a lucrative career, you must create music an audience wants to hear. You must channel your passion to find the right sound, genre, topics, image, and target audience for the music you create. Your music brand is no different than any other, so you must do adequate market research to know:
- Where is your audience?
- How old is your audience?
- What music do they currently listen to?
- What do they want to hear more of?
- What do they hate?
- Where do they listen to music?
- Where do they buy their music?
2. Help them relate to your brand.
Despite your creative flare, your desire to be unique, and perhaps your lack of care for pleasing the masses, you are no different from any other brand, meaning you have to be likable. For your audience to take an interest in you, you need to first create good music, and second, portray yourself in a way that your audience can relate to. Be personable, show personality, and portray yourself as an authority figure in the industry by leading the curve.
3. Promote your music on the right online channels.
You need to promote yourself online, of course, but it's more important that you choose the right channels to do so. Having a website and maintaining an active presence on social media are both essential, but you also need to make sure you appear on channels or markets where people can buy your music. There is a whole new online music marketplace available for everyone and if play your cards right, you might end up gaining a new audience faster than you think. Be creative in how you sell your music or even give it away for free.
4. Promote your music offline, too.
Online is where you will reach your most significant audience and following, but the radio still plays a significant role in the music industry. Once you are established in your city, and you've played a lot of gigs and gotten to know people, ask local DJs if they will spin your record. Once local DJs are playing your songs, bigger market radio stations will likely follow suit.
Aside from having your songs on the radio, you should also aim to get some air time doing interviews and playing live sets. Ask for interviews on local radio stations that coincide with gigs, which will help you not only get the word out about your show but also get you more exposure on the radio. Interviews will help your audience relate to you as a person and show them that you are more than just another name.
5. Prepare for a bumpy road.
Remember, you need to earn a living while making your fortune from your music, it's feast or famine in the music industry so prepare for the worst while expecting the best. Consider keeping your day job while you write new songs, play live gigs, and establish yourself in the music community in your town. Once you start seeing an income solely from your music, you can dump everything else and invest yourself fully.
Nothing happens overnight, and that goes for making it in the music industry. You need to be prepared to stick with it for the long haul - sometimes 10 to 20 years, maybe more. You also need to know that financial times may be tough during your journey but that with one break, it could all be worth it.
6. Diversify to stay alive.
If you decide to quit your job to pursue your music professionally, you need to find ways to make money that will allow you to progress. Aside from getting your name out there and networking with the right people at relevant music industry events and gigs, you could also start giving music lessons, playing weddings and other events, running sound for gigs around town, or learning how to produce other local artists.
7. Be someone you are proud of.
All of us aim to be the best that we can be. Unfortunately, the media tends to focus on the negatives wherever they can, meaning that you need to make sure that there is nothing negative to discuss. Aside from always wearing a smile and being a genuinely nice person, keep yourself sane by acting in a way that you can look back on and be proud of. Also, the music industry can be difficult in your personal life. Maintain balance by having relationships outside of your industry.
8. Don't go it alone.
To succeed you can't do it alone; you need to meet the right people that can get you a foot in the door. Artists can be notoriously reclusive as you need downtime to create, but make it a point to hang out with like-minded creatives, support other artists, make friends in the industry, and form alliances. It seems like it's silly, but attending events and conferences and going to other people's gigs can catapult you to success.
9. Never complain.
The only time you can complain in the music industry is if you are fighting to protect what you believe in. Voice your opinions about artistic matters, tell people your vision and always share your music, but if you start complaining about venue management, not being given a shot, or streaming payouts, you won't get the respect you need to succeed.
Be ready to put in the hours. If you have a team that works long hours and pushes you to your limits, it's a good thing. It means that not only do they value you, but they believe in you. Say yes to every music-related opportunity that comes your way, and once you're a bit more established, you can start being a bit pickier.
10. Change the world.
If your songs are popular it means they are inevitably making an impact, and that impact you make could change people's lives; so try to create every piece of music with the aim of making the world better. Don't second guess yourself, ignore any hatred that comes your way, and make people connect to your music on a level that positively influences their lives. The music industry is a tough one to get into, but even more difficult to stay in. But don't get discouraged.