Getting far in the music industry can be a hard slog. But if you make the effort to do the research, make contacts and develop your craft you will be able to define what path you need. Usually one contact can lead you to another, and one gig booking can lead to another and so on. But this only happens if you really grasp the opportunities presented to you in your music career.
1. Develop your sound!
Define what kind of artist you are. A singer/songwriter? Band? Do you only perform covers? What genre would you place yourself in? Or perhaps you believe your sound is unique and can’t be defined by a traditional genre. In that case, how would you define your music?
Come up with a description for what you do. This will help you figure out what route to take in the development of your music career e.g. what venues are suitable to perform your music in? What blogs/social media pages post about your style of music and therefore may post about you? Etc.
2. Create some content!
Now that you know who you are, you are ready to set up social media pages to promote yourself. But, how do you expect to draw interest without any content to share?
Social media gives you a chance to share your music and your interests, so get creating! You don’t have to fork out to record in a professional studio (a lot of home recording equipment and software is very affordable nowadays) – you don’t even have to create tracks at all! Just recording yourself performing your songs at home will give potential audiences an idea of what your music is, and also what you would sound like performing live at a gig.
3. Book some gigs!
You don’t need a manager to book gigs, you can do this yourself. You can find venues in your local area that may be open to showcasing your music. Your social media sites give you something to show these venues to help them decide to ask you to perform. It is useful to search for any acoustic nights or other themed music nights that are going on so that you can experience other artists performing.
These artists and venue staff may have contacts at other venues that you haven’t thought of yet and help you book yourself gigs at these places. Make sure you network! Don’t forget to utilise these opportunities by getting yourself photographed and filmed at these gigs for added content online… Just don’t upload blurry videos with awful sound quality and heads bobbing in front of the camera as this won’t be a very accurate or professional representation of your music!
4. Search for other opportunities!
Don’t just limit yourself to small venues in your local area. How about venues in cities/towns further afield to develop your fanbase? Or perhaps a small festival? Festivals are a great way to perform alongside other, sometimes more well-known / developed, artists. A lot of festivals have unsigned artists perform, and some are even programmed by the venues in their local area – which is why building up these contacts first is important to open up other opportunities like this!
For example, Simon Says festival in Leicester is programmed by the venues Firebug, The Donkey and The Musician who take artists who have performed in their venues and put them on a stage at the festival which draws around 1500 people every year! Research what is available to you and potential ways to utilise these opportunities.
5. Keep on top of things!
It’s all well and good getting yourself gigs and festival slots but these opportunities can be wasted unless you really milk it! Use the opportunities as a talking point on your social media sites, upload videos of yourself performing at home or at previous gigs as a taster of what people can expect at the gig / festival you are now promoting, use the gigs / festivals as a chance to promote your sites (e.g. using business cards with your links on them).
Amongst all these steps there is always time to get your songs recorded either professionally or through your own at home equipment and software. Get them uploaded online and also burn them to disc and hand them out for free at gigs. No, you won’t make any money from this, but you’re more likely to get them handed out if they’re free, therefore providing people with a reminder of your music after they’ve seen you perform. It can be easy for people to forget you with the plethora of talent out there!
Use these tips and move ahead in your music career.