10 Essentials To Start Your Music Career
Have you recently decided that you want to pursue a career in music as an artist but have no idea where to start your music career? Pursuing music as a career is not easy, and it takes a lot of work. Not only are you responsible for the creative, but you also need to run the business side. We hope this blog will be a good starting point for you and serve as a road map for laying the foundation of your path towards a career in music.
1. Position Yourself
Do the work necessary to excel in your niche, whether it’s writing a chart, engineering a session, providing backup vocals, or teaching kids the basics of music. Your goal, to use marketing lingo, is to “position” yourself in your market as the go-to person for that particular skill or talent. Don’t worry too much about industry rejection. The key is believing in yourself and persevering beyond others’ opinions (even those of “the industry”). Hone your talent and realize there is a place for you!
2. Set Goals & Make Plans
Do you have a good idea of where you want to go with your career? Not everyone will have the same goals or aspirations. It may take some time to realize what your long term goal is, and it may even change as you gain more experience. But once you have your end goal, you gotta reverse engineer it.
Some people may want to just make music to get sync licensing deals for commercials or movies. Others want to be a performing artist who tours the world as an independent. Maybe you just want to produce tracks for other artists. Maybe you want to be signed to a major label. Or do you want to create your own label, band or collective?
3. Keep Making Music
It sounds obvious, but it can be quite challenging in today’s music climate. Your success in the music industry ultimately starts with how good your music is. A good song can help jump start your career, but you need to keep pushing out music to build off that momentum. Promoting your music is arguably as important as making the music itself. Your priority is to make quality music, marketing it is second. Keep refining your talents and skills. Whether it’s singing, rapping or producing, keep practicing and learning.
Your network is your net worth. More often than not, it’s all about who you know in life, and the music industry is no exception. Connect with as many people as you can because relationships drive music careers more than anything else, even talent. Music is a “who-you-know/who-knows-you” kind of business. The quality and quantity of your relationships will be the primary engines of your progress.
Remember, relationships are key to success in this business, so start developing them locally. You can network in your neighborhood, city and school by knowing the different music venues and establishing relationships with other local artists and people involved in music. This way you can meet other artists to collaborate with and possible industry connections that may help you in the future.
5. Online Presence
There’s a difference between making music as a hobby and making music as a profession. Just like in business, presentation is important. If you come off as amateurish, people can subconsciously associate you with lower quality and someone not worthy of attention.
Part of treating your music career like a business involves presenting yourself as an artist to take seriously. In addition to setting up your social media accounts and optimizing them, you should also have a clean and professional website. Start by registering for a domain name, ideally something that is the same as your social media usernames for consistency.
6. Establish Your Brand
You need to establish who you are as a brand to make it easier for people to identify and distinguish you from other artists. You need to know this to market your music to the right audience. Establishing your brand and identity helps potential fans decide if your music resonates with them. Remember that your music is not for everyone.
All this boils down to communication and clearly stating who you are through your brand, so that you can hook the fans who resonate with your story and music. Identify and communicate that one ‘thing’ that someone can latch on to and reflects a part of your fan’s identity.
7. Get Exposure
Sometimes it can take that one popular tastemaker, blogger, playlister or influencer to get you the publicity and exposure you need to get your career going. These are basically people who have a large audience of followers and can get your name out there to accelerate the growth of your fan base. The media entities have an audience as well that they need to engage, so if your story is unique enough, it can fill that need.
8. Perform Live
Unless you want to be someone who produces music behind the scenes for other artists or for licensing, you need to find opportunities to perform. Live performances are more important than ever as an income source while record sales continue to decline.The idea is to get practice performing for others live, be comfortable in these live environments and improve.
9. Build Your Team
If you really want to take your music career seriously, you will need a team. You will need to find competent people you can trust and hand over control to in order for your music career to flourish. Of course, there are other things you may want to consider before working with someone, but ultimately you want people who are willing to grow with you, grind it out with you and not just trying to take advantage of you.
Here are some people you will need on your team as your career grows:
- Manager / Tour Manager
- Booking Agent
- Marketing Strategists
- Graphic Designer
- Entertainment Attorney
- Photographer and Videographer
Looking to make a career out of your songs? Music publishing should be at the top of your list. If you’re not actively managing your music publishing, you’re leaving money on the table. Publishing income is the cornerstone of a musician’s income.
A music publisher assists songwriters and composers in the business exploitation of their copyright protected work. They ensure that the musicians they represent are getting paid for the commercial use of their material by creating a lot of opportunities and revenue streams with the music. In exchange for this effort, the artist assigns ownership and control of the rights to the music publishing company.