It's 2019 and making music as an independent artist has never been easier. It is now possible to get a very solid home studio for under a couple thousand dollars and social media has helped many musicians start profitable careers.
Yet, a lot of aspiring musicians find themselves overwhelmed when they are starting out and often forget to set up solid foundations that are going to help them grow organically.
So this is what we are going to cover in this blog post / youtube video today. And if you are reading this and aren't a musician, this can totally apply to you as well!
10 things to do to start your music career:
01 - Think About Branding
In order to start making money off of music you have to approach it the same way you would approach any other business and think about yourself as a brand. You are offering a product - music, merchandise, live performances, etc... - to clients - fans, booking agents, etc... - in an industry that is over saturated with content.
The only way to stand out is to be unique. If you are a new rapper coming in the game with the dream of becoming the next Drake, you are already approaching it wrong. You don't want to be the new Drake, you want to be the first you. If you think about all the artists that truly made an impact on the industry, you will notice that they have something in common: they all are unique in their own ways.
The same way that you shouldn't try and be somebody else, you shouldn't approach your branding by thinking about how you want to be perceived. You have to focus on how people already perceive you and build off that. Example: do you think Drake wanted to be perceived as the emotional can't-forget-his-ex type of guy? Probably not. But he played off of it and not only gave people what they wanted but took control over that narrative.
Advice? Ask your followers to describe you in a few words. Ask them what their first impression of you was. You might learn a few things you didn't know about yourself ;)
02 - Find Your Niche
Hype is built off of hype, kind of like a snowball effect. In order to get a million fans, you first need to get 10, then 100, then 1000, etc... So let's take those first 100 fans. We're talking about real fans here. Folks who not only will stream your music but will spend money to attend shows, buy your merch, share your content on their wall, tell your friends about you... You get it.
What do those 100 folks have in common?
What makes them want to interact with your music versus the thousands of other artists available out there? Once you've figured that out, you'll know where to promote your music for better results. And once you get those 100 fans, think about the next 1000 and expand that niche accordingly.
03 - Set Short Term Goals
Everybody has dreams. It's easy as an aspiring musician to think about winning Grammys and collaborating with the Greats. But in order to get to that level, you gotta set yourself some short term goals first.
It could be performing at a new venue, opening for a local artist you admire, just make sure to set up realistic goals that are achievable in the near future on top of those fancy Grammy goals.
04 - Focus On Your Real Fans
The real fans are the ones who are interacting with your work in ways that benefit your wallet. They buy your merch, stream your music, share your social media posts and do so on a regular basis. Those fans are the ones that truly matter and the ones you should be focusing on.
Example: I have 8k instagram followers. If 10% of these followers buy one of my shirts at 30$, I'm making 2,400$. Not bad!
But how do you make sure that these real fans are entertained and that the new ones turn into real fans as well?
05 - Become Your Fans' Friend.
You are more than a musician and your fans need to see that. They need to feel like they know you personally, like they're your friend, in order to invest time, energy and money into your career. Be yourself! Share behind the scenes moments and make sure to be consistent with the content you are releasing.
But don't hesitate to set boundaries. Your private life is your private life and being in control over what you share with the world and what you keep to yourself will help you keep your sanity. Trust me!
06 - Perform As Often As You Can
The only way to become a better performer is to perform. In the beginning of your career, it is normal to do free or low paying gigs. Don't automatically reject them! Because you will need to learn how to perform properly before being considered a professional: try out your banters, learn how to control a crowd, how to properly structure a setlist. All of these things will evolve through trial and error so put yourself on a stage as much as possible!
Once you feel comfortable with your performance style and see your fanbase grow that's when you can be more selective about which shows you will be playing. Once there is a demand for your live shows, your price tag will go up.
07 - Always Remain Professional
If you want to make money in the music industry you need to look at music like your job and behave as such. Respect the folks you work with, show up on time, do what you're expected to do in whatever situation you find yourself with in the same way you would accomplish tasks at another job.
If you are not somebody that people enjoy working with you will not get gigs.
If you trash the green room, invite all your homies backstage, skip soundchecks, constantly hit up producers for free beats or whatever else, nobody will want to book you. Keep in mind that everybody around you is also doing their job and try to not complicate that.
08 - Study The Industry
The music industry is always evolving. Social media algorithms change, new sounds come up in mainstream music, artists develop new marketing strategies. In order to stay relevant you need to keep up with the latest trends in your industry.
But don't just analyze the works of Beyonce and Rihanna, try and find artists on your level, who might have a few thousand followers more than you do, and look at what they are doing. The same way it's important to set short term goals, it's important to keep up with the work of artists in your niche / at your level.
09 - Keep Networking
Building relationships with other professionals in your industry is key to growing as an artist. Attending other artists' shows, going to conferences, open mics and whatever other event you find in your city that revolves around your community.
It's important to also break the screen and meet people in real life to establish even stronger connections.
People will always hire folks that they trust more and by building relationships with other artists, booking agents, journalists, producers, etc... Chances are you will be the person they think about whenever they need to hire somebody.
10 - Think Like A Rookie, Act Like A Vet
Think like a rookie: start with the idea that you don't know shit and that there is always more to learn. Utilize platforms like Google and Youtube to watch tutorials. Don't be shy to reach out to people to feed your brain with more knowledge! Always ask questions.
Act like a vet: When you walk in the room, whether it be for a show, a recording session or whatever else, be confident. Act like a vet who knows what they're doing at all times. And if you don't know what you're doing, ask questions! But try and carry that vet confidence with you wherever you go.
TLDR; Think about your music as a business. Be professional. Study the industry. And HUSSLE!
If you have any questions relating to any topic in the industry or outside, feel free to leave a comment. Trans Trenderz is full of very talented trans and gnc folks who are skilled in different areas so chances are, if you have a questions, one of us will be able to answer ;)
Until next time <3