The music industry is not for the faint of heart. You need to be tough and determined to make your passion a career. With all the competition out there, it’s no wonder why making a living can be so difficult. Becoming a professional musician means that you want it more than anything else in the world. And even though luck does play some role in the journey to success, there are many aspects to take into consideration when you want to launch your music career. Your success relies on a delicate balance between dreaming big and setting realistic standards.
Here are 10 very important tips to help guide you toward becoming a professional musician:
Study the Music Industry
One of the biggest mistakes you could be making is to not invest enough time in building your music career.
Many musicians spend most of their time on music but put very little effort into getting to know the ins and outs of the music industry.
The success of the music industry depends on the latest trends and ideas. If you’re already a skilled musician, you should spend at least 50% of your time on researching how your talent will fit into the industry and how you can advance in your career.
If you're still working on your music skills, invest around 25% of your time into how you can build your career later on in the future.
Find a Good Mentor
Taking on the music industry alone can be difficult, and by finding a mentor you can make the journey a little more worthwhile. Even though the internet and books can be helpful, nothing beats one-on-one guidance from someone that has witnessed the ups and downs of the industry.
A mentor can show you the way or just give the necessary advice when needed. Surrounding yourself with like-minded musicians or a positive support group can make a huge difference in building a great career.
Develop Your Own Style
Developing your own style in music is vital for any musician. How else are you going to stand out from the rest? Just like a writer has to read a variety of books and articles to learn how to write something great, a musician needs to listen to different types of music.
When you listen to a wide variety of music, you learn to appreciate various styles as artwork. Try listening to what is popular and what is not, form your own opinions and preferences. It’s worth finding something you can relate to.
That one song might just give you the needed inspiration for your own style.
Be Open to Other Facets of The Music Industry
Don’t limit your skills to only singing or playing an instrument. Keep an open mind for exploring all dimensions of the music industry. Ever thought about producing or sound engineering? Trying new things like these are the best way to learn your strengths, as well as to develop your own knowledge and style.
Be Creative With Your Income
Truth be told, you may never have a stable income as a musician. Even if you do, it can take years before you're living the life. In the end, it comes down to living a modest life and setting your priorities straight.
The ideal way to stay afloat with your music is to focus on multiple streams of income. Here are a few ideas you can try:
- License your music out to be used in ads or television shows.
- Teach private music lessons or present workshops.
- Manage a more established artist in your area.
Trying ideas like these are great for growing and learning more as a musician, as well as providing you with possible networking opportunities. Don’t forget about the extra green in your pocket!
Know Your Worth
Remember, you are the musical product you want to sell in the music industry. Take a look at the value you have to offer. This includes the variety and flexibility of your skills. Do you have something that other musicians don’t? What can help you stand out?
Knowing your value in the music industry also refers to any possible areas like habits, personality, actions, or situations that can be a liability in the eyes of record companies. You might feel being fashionably late adds to your rocker image, but they probably won’t agree.
Work On Your Songwriting
Continuously work on your songwriting. Grow as a musician and improve your skills. It will be great when you are able to write your own songs. Songwriting helps you see music with new eyes and to understand the difference between playing notes and actually making music.
Understand The Need Of Record Companies
Record companies are like banks. Deciding to sign you as an artist is like lending money to a person or small business.
Before the record company will invest in you, you need to do your research on what they are looking for and whether you can give it to them.
It’s important to understand that the record company is taking a risk on you and your dreams. So knowing what you can bring to the table will only be to your advantage.
You need to show them what your music is about, who you are, and what makes it a good investment for them.
Here are three questions to get your research going and to prove to them you are worth it:
- How much value do you bring to the deal at this moment?
- How much risk do you bring with at this moment?
- How much potential value and risk might you bring them in the future?
Know Why You Want to Be a Musician
This might seem like a pointless piece of advice, but it’s vital to know exactly why you want to become a professional musician. It can take a long time before you begin picking the fruits of your labor. Knowing why you’re doing this will help you focus on your goal when the going gets tough.
Work Hard Every Day
Working in the music industry is not an escape from “real” work. You have to be willing to work hard and learn every single day. If you are able to educate yourself about the music industry, continuously improve your skills, and work extremely hard, you’re half way there.
About the Author: Julie Adams
I am a mom, a music lover and teacher from Tampa, FL. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Performance Arts, I traveled for several years before returning home where I started offering private piano and singing lessons as extra income. I met my husband in 2009 and 2 years later moved to Dallas where we settled down and I started focusing on vocal training to aspiring singers and performance artists of all age groups. I still enjoy playing the piano very much, and in my spare time you will catch doing some horse riding, drawing, doing some light reading, or just spending quality time with my family.