So, you have finally decided to take that bold step into the music industry as an independent artist. That’s wonderful, but be ready for the long haul and the amount of diligence and hard work you have to put in.
10 Steps on How to Make It In the Music Industry as a Recording Artist (in no particular order!)
Being with a record label may have its advantages, such as the provision of recording studios and professional advice for your music, and of course promo strategies; nonetheless, you won’t own your music as the record label would have control over your songs.
By choosing to be an independent artist, you’re entitling yourself to full and sole ownership of your songs. You can do whatever you like with them without asking permission first. Naturally, you could also earn more, if you know how to manage your musical career. To make it easier for you to start your career as a singer or rapper, here are 10 tried and true steps you can follow:
- 1 – Establish realistic short and longterm goals
- 2 – Don’t quit your day job
- 3 – Evaluate yourself and establish your own brand name
- 4 – Broaden your network
- 5 – Establish your social media identity & presence
- 6 – Learn how to distribute your music and earn royalties
- 7 – Learn basic copyright laws
- 8 – Continue to develop your skills
- 9 – Build your discography
- 10 – Create high quality music
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#1 – Establish realistic short and longterm goals
You cannot just step into the music industry without any plans. At least establish a blueprint (map) that you could follow. What are your short-term and long-term plans? How would you get there? These are questions that have to be answered in your ‘map’.
Examples of short term goals:
At the end of the week, I should be able to:
- Write a few new songs
- Book studio time or purchase some inexpensive home studio gear
- Connect with a couple of artists that share common goals
- Post a song or 2 on sites like Soundcloud or Audiomack
- Uploaded a couple of new songs or vlog videos to YouTube
- Get feedback to make musical tweaks and goal adjustments
Example of long term goals:
- Record an EP
- Distribute an EP on online music streaming sites
- Gain and interact with new followers/friends from the community
- One song accepted for online release by a recording label
- Establish a dedicated fan base of more than “x” people
Your ultimate goal would be: to become a successful independent artist, songwriter and/or producer.
Put a check mark on each goal that you have achieved. Keep trying until you have reached your goals.
Be thorough with this first step and everything will flow smoothly onwards. Also, you would increase your chances of achieving whatever goals you have set for yourself.
Advantages of Having Goals
- It keeps you focused
- You can evaluate and re-set your goals according to your final goal
- You can monitor if you’re going towards the right direction
- You know exactly what to do, and not go whichever the wind blows
#2 – Don’t quit your day job (yet!)
No matter how promising your musical career appears to be, don’t quit your regular job – yet. Your regular job will pay your monthly bills for the period that you’re establishing yourself in the musical field. For sure, you won’t be earning sufficiently from your music career to put food on the table and to pay your bills. You would have to persevere in doing both simultaneously.
It may take months or years before you can establish solid and secure earnings from your career as a singer/composer – unless you strike gold by your music videos going viral and turning you into an overnight sensation.
As a solo artist, would you believe legendary pop artist Lady Gaga was rejected by over 20 record labels? True Story! But this didn’t stop her. She pushed forward regardless while working to make both ends meet.
Like Lady Gaga, you can also pursue your singing career, while working. Naturally, when you can make enough money from your singing career, you should give up your other job and concentrate on improving your singing skills further.
#3 – Evaluate yourself and establish your own brand name
You have to assess yourself before creating your brand name. This is because you cannot create trust, sincerity and a solid fan base if you’re not true to yourself. Your brand name should feature yourself as a genuine artist of top caliber.
An example is to select a catchy and memorable stage name. If your genre is country music, you shouldn’t go by a ‘rock’ stage name, such as “Jay Rocker”. It’s great to sing in all genres, but concentrating on one genre would, most likely, hasten your descent towards stardom. This is because people can identify with you and your music quickly. They would know who you are and your type of music.
The way you behave is also a contributory factor to your brand name. Hence, don’t be that obnoxious prima donna. No matter how talented you are, if you’re rude, few people would truly like you and your music.
#4 – Broaden your network
The broader your network is, the more exposure you get. Thus, you have to learn how to interact and socialize offline and online. Start with your immediate community – the place where you live in. Participate in community events. You can offer to sing for free in social events in your locality, but don’t push this down their throats as it may not be appreciated. Just inform them of your sincere desire to help them out.
Find other artists in your area and interact with them online and offline. Enrich each other by sharing your experiences.
There are various social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, where you can find a music group that you could join in or interact with.
On Facebook, you can join Music Launch Club, Music Biz Besties, Rock Star Collective, A Promoters Life, and many more. On Twitter, you can follow record labels, singers, or create your own group. All famous singers have Twitter accounts, and some are directly replying to their fans’ messages. The same goes true on Instagram.
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#5 – Establish your social media identity & presence
Expand farther your reach by establishing your online identity as a singer and a songwriter. You can do this by signing up for music streaming sites, such as Soundcloud and iTunes. You may want to create your own website too. Having your own website can benefit you in the long run, as it could serve as your venue for the release of your music and songs, and of updates on your career.
People would also take you more seriously when they notice that you leave a good impression and a good brand trademark on your website.
The crucial thing to remember is to establish your network and loyal fan base. Help other people in the process of building your own network. Helping others is also helping yourself, as they will surely say a good word for you to their friends and family.
Your integrity online and offline is crucial in establishing your identity. Show your sincerity, honesty and good work ethics to people around you and they would appreciate it.
#6 – Learn how to distribute your music and earn royalties
You could start with DistroKid, Soundcloud, iTunes, TuneCore, CD Baby and YouTube. DistroKid, TuneCore and CD Baby are general distribution sites that can help you distribute your music to streaming sites such as Apple Music, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Music and Spotify.
Each of these sites varies in their charges and artists’ percentages, so browse the details first in their websites before signing up.
As for royalties, you can collect royalties for synchronization, mechanical, and performance. You may allow a collecting company to collect your royalties, or you can do it by yourself. You can also sign up with Performing Rights Organization (PRO), so they can collect your royalties for your live performances.
In addition you could sign up with a Perfromance Rights Organization like ASCAP, BMI and similar sites to help you collect your royalties.
Royalty percentages vary from one company to another. The average royalty of an artist with the traditional recording agreement is from 10% to 25% of the suggested retail price of the album. The more popular the album is, the higher the royalty percentage of the artist.
#7 – Learn basic copyright laws
Protect your music from piracy and theft. Have it legally copyrighted immediately by registering your song in the appropriate copyright office applicable to your intellectual property. It’s a rule of thumb that your creative works online once published are copyrighted to your name. However, you must provide tangible proof of ownership by registering it properly.
Make sure your label helps you with this process. If you’re an independent artist who went through the process all by yourself, ascertain that you have complied with all the copyright requirements required in your State or country.
Remember to register your work online with the US copyright Office’s website, or its equivalent agency in your own country – right after you have created it. This is to play safe and be protected because within that span of time, someone might claim the copyright to your musical piece – without you knowing about it. It had happened and it can happen again. When this happens to you, don’t worry. You have your copyright certification to prove that you own the song.
#8 – Continue to develop your skills
As an artist, you should not stagnate. You must hone your skills daily and develop your personality as whole. Invest your time and money on yourself to advance your musical career. You can hire a vocal coach or sign up for training programs. There’s always room for improvement.
You can take advantage of these lessons, while practicing properly to improve your musical skills.
You could also learn how to play musical instruments, while honing your voice. You can never tell when someone would request you to sing with a guitar or a piano.
You should have at least one or more hours every day, spend in practicing your vocals. Many singers didn’t start with a perfect voice but gradually developed their power and stamina in singing by daily practice and rigorous training.
#9 – Build up your discography
You can do this by creating great music and displaying your special skills as an artist. When your skill is fully established, you can use this as leverage with well-known people in the industry, so they would voluntarily promote your music. This is more professional than going around ‘begging’ that influencers feature your song when you haven’t proven anything yet.
Your discography must include your best songs, as your sample album, an EP, or demo tape. It should be ready at all times, so when someone asks for it you can quickly hand it over.
It’s better to group songs based on their genre, or you could also combine your songs of different genres – if they’re good enough to capture the interest of listeners.
If you follow these 10 concrete and effective steps, you would increase your chances of getting your name out there to millions of music enthusiasts.
#10 – Create high quality music
It should go without saying that the quality of your songs is of the highest priority! This comes before everything!
If you are a singer or rapper who has fallen into the trap of using tagged beats from Youtube…STOP NOW!
While Youtube producers will say their beats are FREE to use, that is a tactic to get you to subscribe to their channel in the hopes it it will raise their channel’s popularity.
Unfortunately when you use “free beats” you have NO protection of your songs recorded to those beats plus your music quality is suffering with beats that have voice tags scattered throughout and low quality audio from mp3’s being converted online.
There are many ways to save money but your music shouldn’t be the the thing that suffers. After all, it’s the music that you are building your career’s entire foundation on!
The good news is that these days, there are many affordable and easy to use websites that sell beats online that are affordable and are operated by reputable and honest producers including…
MaxxBeats.com which has a large, diverse catalog of beats for sale in all popular genres including Hip Hop Beats , Rap Instrumentals , Pop Beats and more starting at just $24.95 for a lease.
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Now go ahead and put these 10 steps into action and I guarantee you will make amazing progress in your music career!
Have a story or something you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!