It’s difficult to make it in the music industry especially as a Recording Artist. 99% of the artists will never be able to become fully professional. It’s a fact. But it was probably more difficult to make it 10 years ago, so take solace in the fact that you’re in an era where at least you have a lot of control over where your career as an artist/ musician is headed. I’m Amit btw – I write/ compose/ perform and produce music under the moniker Sifar and also run a band with the same name. I have been fortunate to have met a lot of great people from whom I have learned a thing or two. Today, I’ll try to share some of it with you with the intention that if you’re a musician or an artist struggling to make it in this industry, some of my advice might be useful. Do note that I haven’t exactly made it big as an artist either, so take this advice but figure out your own plan. And if you make it big, let me know – I would like to learn a few things from you as well!
Easier said than done! But think hard about the kind of person you are. Because your music is going to be a reflection of who you are. If you understand yourself to some degree, it will help you project your image and brand and you will get some sort of consistency between the kind of music you make and the kind of image and brand you have. This is important because ideally EVERYTHING you do should reflect this persona. People who are like you, or believe in the same things as you, will start to get attracted to your music and brand if you keep this up.
Hint: Stay honest, and this should take care of itself!
Know Your Fans
Again, easier said than done. But if you have a Facebook page or an email list, ask your fans what they like and what they don’t. Look at the insights and analytics to see what demographic they are. Where they are from and so on. The more you understand your fans, the better you will be able to connect with them. I’m not suggesting to make music to suit certain segment of fans, in fact, you should only make music that resonates with you (see point 1 above). But understand who the fans are, and it will let you focus your marketing efforts to reach out to a segment which you know has a tendency to like you and your music. With lesser effort, you will be able to reach out more people and get more fans.
Hint: Use Google Analytics on your website.
Respect Your Fans
Think twice, or maybe three times before you send out an email to your fans. It’s one thing to post status updates on Facebook or Twitter, but it’s an entirely different thing sending your mailing list an email update. You abuse this, and you have lost genuine fans who might, at some point, become your hardcore fans. Nothing gives a bad name like spam. Make sure you put an unsubscribe link to all your emails and strictly follow that. I once used an email service that didn’t unsubscribe people even when they requested. Needless to say, it was extremely embarrassing when I found out about this. So, stay away from cheap email services and use the best ones.
Yes, give away free downloads. It’s far more important to have some fan base as opposed to start getting paid right away. Point is, I do understand that one would rather be heard than get paid. But if you want to continue doing what you love to do (making music, I presume!), then you need to find enough time to be able to do this! How will you make your next eponymous album if you’re stuck in a 9-6 job working 6 days a week just so that you can take care of your bills? So, my advice is that give away free stuff (in exchange for a like or an email) to build your audience but also have options for fans to be able to pay if they want to have more stuff from you. This might not make you rich, but as a struggling artist, every buck will count. I have been guilty of starting monetization very late, but hopefully you will learn from my experience 🙂
Cut Your Costs
Related to the point above – but keep your costs low whenever possible. Do whatever you need to do to. Learn Music Production so that you record and produce on your own. Have as low inventory as possible of physical goods. Do your own PR until you can manage. Do your own customer service, shipping, and everything else until you have a regular stream of income happening as a recording artist. This is not to say that you should charge less, but don’t let your costs bring you down.
Hint: Create an Excel sheet to keep track of your monthly income vs expenses.
Deliver The Goods
You can’t keep your fans waiting. Because if you do, they will find someone else to replace you with. So deliver the goods! This is true for any marketing or advertising you do as well. Instead of splurging out on one big Ad, do it small and steady but consistently. If you get into a creative rut – try some creative exercise or collaboration but still try to deliver. Of course, Quality is still more important than Quantity! So if your quality gets substandard, you need to stop and refresh until you’re happy with your music again. But if you’re working on your music regularly (every day or every other day), chances are that you will not encounter a very long creative block.
Hint: While finding time to make music, we often stop listening to it. Keep some time aside to listen to some music that you love.
Do you have any advice you’d like to add?
– Amit Yadav