If music has been your hobby up until this point, but you’re looking to turn it into more of a full-time thing, then you’re in the right place. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about it for a while but weren’t sure where to start. Or maybe you just want to take your love for music to a new level. Whatever it is, we’re here to help you get started with your music career.
Here’s some advice for all of you making the leap from music being a side thing to music being the thing. Feel free to use the bits you need and leave the rest. Everyone starts at different stages in their life and music talents. You might have only recently mastered an instrument, or you might have been playing since before you could walk. This guide is for everyone, and we hope it helps as many of you as possible.
What is your end goal?
This is an important starting point because we all have different goals. We’re all looking to get different things out of our music passion. You might want to turn music into your full time job, singing and performing on the road, selling your music online and having your own fanbase. Or perhaps you want to get your releases up on music stores, but the touring life isn’t for you. Everyone is different and that’s perfectly fine.
It’s important you decide what you want out of it before jumping into it with no plan. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself being moulded by other people in the industry and will get lost. If you end up doing it for other people and what they want, then you’re not going to enjoy it. Some people have the goal to be signed to a label and have someone else deal with the paperwork as such. You might not want this. It might be that your goal is to do everything solo. Either way is great, and it’s completely your choice.
Do you want to join a band? If playing the guitar is what you’re about, maybe you want to join up with a team to put on a performance. You may even want to start your own label eventually. Think about this first though, so you know the end point you’re working towards. Unfortunately there are thousands of other artists out there with the same idea as you, so you need to figure out a route to get yourself up and running. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting swept out of your depth. It’s unlikely you’ll post a track on social media and be discovered overnight, so these things will take time.
Don’t quit your day job
Now, by saying this we aren’t suggesting that music won’t eventually become your only job. That is of course what you’re aiming for, and we’re fully supportive of this. But, quitting your day job and running off to make music might not be the best solution. Once you’ve built a bit of a name for yourself and have some backing, you can look at shutting down other commitments you have in your life. For now though, we’d suggest keeping your job going and ploughing the rest of your time into your music.
You’re going to need a steady income. Not only to survive in your own personal life but also to keep making music. We all know just how many expenses come from creating music. It isn’t a case of heading into the city and hoping to be discovered. Or, rocking up at a label’s office and expecting to be signed. You might get lucky this way, but it’s unlikely you’ll even be let through the doors.
We get life is about taking risks, and you’ll never reach certain goals without taking the leap. But, be careful. Keep yourself afloat in the meantime. Your bills aren’t going to pay themselves while you focus on your music. So, start off by keeping your normal job going and spending your free time focused on creating sounds. Even if this does mean your friends and family might not see as much of you for a while.
Create as much as you can. Some of it will be better than other pieces and that’s ok. You can’t expect everything you create to be the best because these things take time. Especially when you’re starting out. It’s all a learning curve. Eventually you’ll find the right equipment that works for you and your style. The more you put into it, the more you will progress and learn within the industry.
Unfortunately you can be as talented as possible, but you need the content to be regular. When you’re first starting your music career, you don’t have the support system just yet. Therefore, you can’t really post one track and then go off the grid because you need to drive the momentum. Think, why should people follow you and your work?
It’s a huge step going from creating music for yourself, friends and family, to creating music with the purpose to sell. If music is only ever going to be a hobby then you don’t have to worry as much about the quality being to a professional standard. However, if you want to sell your work, you need to keep practising.
Establish friendships within the industry
This is a huge one. They say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and this applies within the music industry to a certain extent. We’re not saying you need to know the best music producers and record labels out there to make it in the music scene. However, the more relationships you build, the more you will adapt and grow. You can learn so much from people who are doing the exact same thing as you. Everyone started somewhere, use their experiences to improve your own work. They’ll have tried and failed at certain avenues long before you were creating music. Knowing what worked and didn’t for them could really benefit you.
One of the best ways to get your name known is through word of mouth and people sharing your content. This is more likely to happen if you share the love to others. Interact with other artists, share their music and in return they might do the same for you. The more people sharing your releases, the further it will spread. Their audience might like it and decide to follow your work. You could also end up finding links to other areas of the industry. Perhaps you become friends with someone who knows a guy, who knows a guy, if you get what we’re saying…
Opportunities are everywhere, but you can’t sit at home and expect them to come knocking. Networking is a great way to expand your career. You might end up collaborating with other artists. This could set you up with other creatives, and before you know it, you might have a friend who’s a photographer, another who’s a videographer and perhaps one who is already with an agent that could set you up. We get the world of the arts can sometimes be a little scary, people aren’t always the nicest as it’s described as a dog-eat-dog world right. This doesn’t mean everyone is out to get you. There are far more artists willing to help than there are ones who aren’t.
Ensure your brand identity is strong
If you don’t know who you are, how will anyone else? To make it in the world of music you can’t be dipping in and out of different looks. Yes, you can try things out. We aren’t suggesting you have to finalise your artist image before ever starting out and then stick with it. It’s good to adapt and change things up every now and again. However, if you go by one name one day and then change it multiple times, it’s going to get confusing. If you saw a name you’d never heard of posting album art on your timeline, you’d possibly unfollow them. That’s what could happen to you with your followers if you keep changing things around.
Think of the giant yellow M, you know exactly what company that is don’t you? Obviously they’ve had years of branding and promotion behind them to get to the point they’re at, but remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Gaining a strong brand identity is something you must focus on right from the start. It will help you stand out and be authentic. Your fans will start to recognise you from your choice of colours and fonts, which believe us is really important.
Decide what you want to stand for. What is it you want people to think of when they see your artist branding? How do you want them to feel? It’s a good place to start by thinking about what your message is. You might not have one and that’s ok, you don’t have to. Remember, above all, the choice is yours. If you’re going to have a message then you need it to be powerful and shine through with your work. Maybe it’s a cause you feel strongly about, or you’re passionate about seeing a change in an aspect of life. Whatever it is, apply it to your brand identity.
It’s 2021, sorry, but you’re going to struggle to make it big time if everything is pen and paper still. You need to be internet savvy. If you’re not, then you need to dedicate your time to learning the ins and outs of social media. Otherwise, you will get left behind. This is also where your artist branding comes into play. It needs to be consistent across your social media platforms, and we recommend having every platform possible. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, even TikTok. You’ve got to be in it to win it and while these platforms are so popular you need to ensure you’re present. They’re the best place to get seen because your chances of going viral are much higher if you put the work in.
People take to social media to find the next best thing. Figure out a schedule that works for you and over time you can alter it. Make sure you’re checking on your insights and statistics, so you can see the best times to post. It’s important to post content at a time when most of your followers are active. The best chance you have of people sharing your music is through social media. It can act as a snowball effect. Once one person shares it, someone else does and so on.
Ensure you get on social media straight away. If you’re starting to think about a career in music, then now is the time to set up a social media page across all platforms. Keep on top of it as well because people will lose interest quickly when you’re fresh to the scene. You need to engage with your followers as this will encourage them to support you further. The more they get back, the more they will then give. Social media is a place where you can promote your Fan Links, Content Unlocks and Pre-saves. So it really is a must-have tool.
Enjoy every minute of it!
Wrapping this advice up with the most important part. Enjoy everything you do! If you’re not loving it, then why are you doing it? When it becomes a chore and no longer enjoyable, it’s time to take a break. Hopefully this guide will give you some advice when starting out in your music career. Being an independent artist is challenging. There will be many obstacles you have to face, but it’s rewarding above all. Seeing people go crazy for your latest track, knowing it was all down to you. Well, what more could you ask for?