The potential for a career as a musician may have never been better. After all, the world of music has never been more dynamic and the prospects for getting your work out there have never been better. Yet, it still requires hard work if you’re to get somewhere in the vast ocean of talent that is surging all over the world. Which is why if you feel like flotsam lately, here’re a few things you can do:
Set objectives: Goal-setting may seem like the most obvious thing but you’d be surprised how few people actually have their objectives figured out in practical, actionable ways. And for each one of you, these may be different.
Where are you in your music career? What ways have you got your music out there? If you haven’t played a show yet (or recently), it’s time to get one. If it’s your first, look at getting an opening slot at a venue that you would like to play at before a band that aligns with your music and target audience. Coming back on the gig circuit after a hiatus? Think of something new that you can bring to the table. New songs, an exciting collaboration, or combining with another art form are all ways to get the venues and promoters thinking of you all over again.
Most of all, setting small goals for yourself and achieving them will give you the fuel you need to keep going and never get stuck in a rut. Don’t spread yourself too thin – focus and get it done before you move on to the next goal.
Professional or bust: Get something straight – if you want to be a professional musician, be professional at every step.
Understand contracts and always insist on getting into one. It’s the only way to protecting your rights as an artist and protecting your relationship. Why would there be a need to squabble over something that’s already been written out, understood and signed on, right?
Always keep your communication professional. As cool as it might seem to you, the ‘bro’, ‘dude’ and ‘homie’ lingo is tardy and puts many people off, especially other professionals. So get with the program.
Showing up is half the battle won. Don’t be a flake unless you want your career not to show up for you.
Turn up on time for all your appointments. You want to be known for your music, not a slacker attitude.
Set deadlines for yourself and others and always, always meet yours.
Eye to eye: It may seem like you can conquer the world from your computer screen but that’s just a convenient fantasy. Online life is, sadly, all about easy come, easy go, and it’s hard to build recall about you, your brand and your music.
There’s still no replacement for getting out there, identifying and meeting people, building connections, and most of all, taking chances. Talk to people who can get you the next show, make your EP release bigger, help it reach wider, add some masala to your gig or video, help you get some funds or getting a mentor. It doesn’t matter if you live in a small town or a big city, certain things remain the same – get yourself out there, make the right connections, and most of all, don’t get distraught if you get a ‘no’. That is just the part of any creative endeavour. Keep at it.
Online presence: Meeting people is great. Yet we all also need our online strategies figured out. In simple terms:
Control your online identity, build a base and keep learning.
Being on social media isn’t enough. You need to have complete control over your identity by having your own website.
Know what social media can and cannot do for you. It isn’t about being everywhere and not being able to build a fan following on any of the social media platforms. Pick one or two and be consistent and regular there. Don’t always take the word of others on which site is now ‘the thing’. Stick to whichever one works for you and stick to it.
Reach out to industry people and get your work heard (without pestering them constantly if you don’t want to be shut out). A tweet or an Instagram post targeted well can go a long way in getting noticed.
Team up: Unless you truly believe that you’re good at everything, find your team. There’re people out there who are truly great at online marketing, others who can help with PR, others still who can help you build collaborations – find them and keep them. Many people will invest in your career if they see talent, conviction and a great attitude. They’ll understand that you’re a struggling musician – so don’t be afraid to be upfront about it.
And always remember that one, there’s no replacement for keeping your attitude right, and two, there will always be ups and downs in every career. Someone’s rightly said that the people you meet while going up are the same people you meet while coming down.
Be smart – both in knowing that nothing works well without a team and that like-minded and people who are respectful of each other are what make up great teams.
Did we get it right? Did we miss something? Tell us in the comments if you have suggestions on the essentials one needs to make it or jumpstart one’s music career.