Get used to wearing many hats, because being an artist in 2015 will be challenging. Thanks to the internet, artists will have more control of their careers than ever before. Simultaneously, people have more choice. It’s because of the internet that the music industry is evolving. On that note, I wanted to put together a small list to help artists get the most out of their careers.
1. Practice your craft and become a master songwriter
It’s important to remember you’re in the business of selling entertainment. People will buy into your music only if they get something from it. So you have read every industry blog out there. Unless you have something unique and clever to offer the public, it doesn’t matter. Don’t forget you are an art creator. People want to see talent, not a brilliant marketing plan. Creating a mailing list and a t-shirt might get you a few fans, but strong material will get you respect and recognition.
Therefore, try writing dozens of songs before putting out your debut album. Try writing with experienced songwriters. Try reverse engineering popular songs and find out what makes them so successful. Even take a course on how to write a good hook or take a vocal lesson or two. The message to hit home is don’t rush your career. You only get one shot. Make it count.
2. Learn the art of graphic design and photoshop
This should be pretty straightforward, but more often it’s not. Each and every time you present yourself to the public either online or in person, you’re presenting them with a glimpse into who you are both artistically and creatively. Therefore design can be viewed as a sonic transducer.
An excellent logo or poster is like a writing an excellent song. The better it is, the more likely it will stand out. Let’s face it, we live in busy times and most of us are visual individuals. If you continuously associate your brand with ugly posters to any potential audience, they are going to ignore you and move on with their lives.
To summarize, graphic design presents your potential audience with a first impression. Does your logo visually describe your sound? Does it summarize what you stand for and what you’re about? Does your show’s poster offer your fans a glimpse into next week’s show? It should. Because each time it doesn’t, you’re missing out on potential fans and are missing opportunities.
3. Become an audio engineer and buy a microphone
How many times have you entered a studio environment and exited as a stronger artist? When faced with a timeline, anxiety and the thought of recording your own material, it hits an artistic switch which focuses the spotlight on every negative musical detail of your music. Therefore on that note, imagine how quickly you’d improve as an artist if you were recording yourself on a weekly basis?
Audio engineering is a complicated science. However there are plenty of tutorials online which can assist you with the bare bones. Beyond that, reach out to local experts who can help you out. Simultaneously, the cost of recording gear is at an all time low. Realistically, you can record your band for under $100 these days.
Knowing the science of sound can help you dial in that unique sound. At your next show, you might be the only band that knows how to work the board. Also, the next time you hit the studio to record, you’ll have a stronger fundamental knowledge of engineering and can help direct the engineer in the right direction.
4. Learn the business and know when to break the rules
So you’ve put your 1000 hours into songwriting, become a better artist as a result of your audio knowledge and have designed your own logo with the aid of photoshop and online video tutorials. Now what?
Learning the “ins and outs” of the music industry can be like facing a 500ft cliff and being forced to climb it. It’s important to not get overwhelmed. Most artists didn’t climb the proverbial musical wall overnight. Instead, they seeked out help and learn the ropes over time with help from the professionals.
Therefore, there’s no time like the present. Search out local music seminars and attend each and every one of them. Attend as many networking events as possible. Travel to them if you have to. Simultaneously, there are thousands of music industry books and hundreds of online industry blogs (like this one) that will move you in the right direction. A simple google search can help you pick out the best ones. Check out Coursera and study the business of marketing or advertising. Intern at a record label or a PR firm and study how they do their job.
The important thing to take out of this is to not strain a muscle to early on. Start off slow and grow at a steady pace. When the time is right, you will know it. For now, just keep growing and don’t look back. Never stop learning and see it as a challenge. It is!
5. The music industry is a service industry
Ignorance and ego not only blinds us from the real purpose of music, but it also limits our ability to grow as artists and creators. Music has a message. More often than not, this is what people resonate with. Not everyone is an artist. They are looking for ways to supplement their lives with a bit of fun. Music is their way of unwinding and reminding themselves what life is really about.
Whether they’re attending a show or streaming your music online, they’re looking to you for ways of letting loose and forgetting about their struggles. So don’t let your ego get in the way of this. Give them what they want and remember that the music industry is a service industry. You are providing an incredible service for a price. Therefore, when you do this properly and professionally, you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to invest in your career and help make it a success.