Social media and the internet have turned the music industry on its ear. These days, you don’t necessarily need to sign a fat contract with a major label in order to succeed. If you want your music career to take off in the modern milieu, your best bet is to use technology and other tools to establish and grow direct relationships with your fan base. The following suggestions should help you to kick-start your budding career.
DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB
Unless you are independently wealthy, you need to sustain yourself while you are cultivating your fan base and growing your career. Of course, you should try to find work that doesn’t rob you of all your time and energy since you will need to simultaneously focus on your career as a musician. Make a conscious effort to reserve a specific block of time each day for practicing, song-writing, social media, building your brand and learning the skills involved in running your own business. This is, after all, what you will ultimately be doing.
MAKE A BUSINESS PLAN
Like it or not, you need to think of music as your own small business, with one of your goals being brand promotion. To that end, focus on determining your target audience, coming up with a marketing strategy, hiring an accountant, protecting your intellectual property, team-building, finding an attorney and drawing up any necessary contracts for items such as song ownership, paying band members, rules, decision-making processes, etc.
KEEP GETTING BETTER
Amid all of the administrative tasks of starting and running your business, never forget that you are a musician and performer first. To that end, make it a priority to constantly work on improving your techniques and practicing the technical skills involved in your craft. This delicate balance between work and play is a challenge, but it can be done. Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Nick Gross of Gross Labs, for instance, is also a working musician. As drummer for the alternative band Half the Animal, he has learned to successfully divide his time between practicing and playing for his gigs and running his entertainment and music studio.
NETWORK AND COLLABORATE
Making contacts in the music business is essential, and you can start locally. Get in touch with area venues and musicians with the goal of both receiving and giving support. In addition, use the internet not just to cultivate fans but also to find peers and mentors for constructive criticism, tips and guidance. In the beginning, you might be mostly on the receiving end of this help, but you will find that you can soon provide feedback and support to other aspiring artists both locally and over the internet.
HARNESS THE POWER OF ONLINE INFLUENCERS
There is an ever-growing community of internet celebrities who make their living from their Youtube vlogs and the product ads that are an integral part of their content. Getting the attention of these people can be a challenge as most of them have millions of subscribers. One way is to give away your music to them for free. If they like it and post it on your site, you have immediate access to their followers, who are motivated to like you because of your connection to the Youtube star to whom they already feel loyalty.
Once you have laid this foundation, your job is to put your music out there as much as possible, both online and live. Throughout all of the many tasks involved in running your business, promoting your art and performing, never forget the most important thing: You need to be in this for the long haul. With planning, determination, talent, practice and luck, you can get your music career off the ground.