There are certain realities about the music business that must be chewed and digested in order to rid ourselves of any naïve concepts and beliefs about breaking into the industry. With this in mind, the following observations should be taken as wake-up-calls about establishing your career.
#1: Make Music That Doesn’t SUCK!
95% of the independent music out there contains regurgitated ideas that were ripped off from some other more gifted musicians. Don’t copy! Borrow yes, but copy no. Challenge yourself. What is it about your music that makes it stand out from all the rest? From song writing to musicianship, music intended for the marketplace must be performed and recorded capably. Music that sucks is music that does not grab your listener. Music that sucks is music that takes only 10 seconds to dismiss because the production quality, or the vocals, or the lyrics are pedestrian at best, or mediocre for the most part. Music that sucks is music that sounds like you’ve heard it all before.
#2: Don’t Worry About Getting Paid For Every Gig.
You can always tell the difference between a musician who is in it for the money, and a musician who is in it for the music. The dedicated musician can’t not play music every chance they get. Money-focused musicians whine about the fact that they can’t get club gigs that pay anything. If you really think that you can make your living solely as a musician in the first three to four years of your career, you are headed for a breakdown and disappointment. Think about it…almost every legendary, gifted musician who has made a mark on our culture has been a musician who struggled long and hard at their craft, and never gave up.
#3: Be A Master Musician on Your Instrument.
Why settle for less. Whatever developing stage you are at, go beyond it, re-commit yourself to your instrument or voice. Challenge yourself to go beyond your limitations. Who knows, maybe you will fall into some new territory, wherein you will find yourself, your ‘sound’, and increase your chance to stand out from all the mediocrity that is your competition.
#4: Protect Your Investment…Copyright Your Songs.
If you really intend to work hard and develop your career as a musician who writes your own songs, don’t wait too long to take care of this simple, but essential task. If you really believe in your unique and original music then take the time to learn the basics of copyright protection.
#5: Design Simple, But Effective Promo Materials.
The topic of designing and writing effective promotional materials; bios, fact sheets, cover letters, quote sheets etc. is a lengthy one to say the least. Here are 3 tips to help you promote your careers, and enhance your chances of getting some deal offers. Do the following:
Take the time to inventory any accomplishments, positive reviews, training and awards, past sales, and live appearances, and organize them into bios and fact sheets.
Make your promo materials as compelling, and informative as possible. If you can’t write, hire a professional publicist.
#6: Know The Labels and Publishers You Hope To Be Signed To.
If you were applying for a job with a certain company of corporation, wouldn’t you take some time to ask questions about their stability as a business, their reputation in the industry, and the executive’s background and experience? The same is true when shopping for a record or publishing deal. Some musicians get so excited when a certain label or publisher approaches them with a contract offer. Being approached for a deal is a compliment and is a recognition that a musician’s music is attractive to them.
But, to rush ahead without taking the time to learn a few things about those companies is foolish indeed. Ask some questions:
How have they done with your particular genre of music?
What specific kinds of deals are available?
Who runs the label or publishing company?
What is their reputation in the music business?
What are their ideas for promoting your music?
How do you like them as people?
These and other questions can be crucial in making an unemotional decision about an arrangement that could make or break your career.
Black70 is an independent music business consultant based in Lagos . He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter/Instagram @iamblack70