For anyone wanting to start a music career, be prepared for success and failure, as getting into the business requires effort and dedication. Music careers are what most would love to do in their lifetime. However, many don’t know exactly where or how to get started.
To start a music career, develop performance skills, perform in public, and be consistent. These basic steps will allow new musicians to attract the notice of potential fans, market the music, and get noticed by music agencies. Music careers take time to develop.
In this article, we will explore more about starting a music career. If one is passionate about a music career, continue exploring what this article offers.
1. Skills and Talents
Perhaps the most obvious step in starting a music career is having musical talent or abilities. This could include singing, piano, guitar, or another musical ability that could allow you to start a musical career. In most cases, a person seeking a musical career must play at least one instrument to have a successful career.
The question is, what instrument should they play? Knowing what instrument one needs to learn or incorporate will depend on the music genre one would like to be involved in.
Another option is the electric guitar. The electric guitar is involved in many genres, such as heavy metal, rock, and alternative rock. Many famous singers also play the piano, widely considered one of the most useful and popular instruments.
Regardless of your chosen instrument, competency in this area will provide a basic knowledge of musical composition that will be crucial in developing your musical career. Playing multiple instruments will increase the amount and type of positions you could take or fill, consequently increasing your odds of making it all the way.
Just make sure that the instrument you choose is something you love doing.
2. Going Solo or in a Band
When building a band, the primary question should be what instruments we want in the group and whether or not the members who play these instruments are serious.
Building a band easily relates to the previously mentioned section about what genre the band will specialize in.
And though we have listed this section as “Going Solo or in a Band,” most aspiring artists begin in a band before going solo.
How Many Members Does Your Band Need?
Some bands can successfully incorporate three members, while others need to utilize five or more.
Here are some real-world examples:
- The popular band Green Day specializes in punk rock, pop punk, and alternative rock with only three members: vocals and guitar, drums and percussion, and bass and vocals.
- Good Charlotte, on the other hand, is another alternative rock-based band that utilizes five members: lead vocals, guitar and vocals, bass, guitar and keyboard, and drums and percussion.
- Slipknot is a popular band with up to nine members, above average for bands in heavier genres.
- DAKah Hip-Hop Orchestra has 70 members, so things can get pretty ridiculous fast.
Some of these members operate on two instruments (singing included). These member counts also do not include technical support or background crew, as these people are primarily venue employers.
These and many other bands are great to reference when deciding who and what should be included in a band. It all comes down to personal preference and what would work best for starting a music career.
Going From Band To Solo Career
If you are shifting to a solo music career, it’s arguably harder to get noticed than a traditional band for a couple of reasons.
First, the solo artist must conduct all musical business by themselves. In other words, it means they have to do more of the work themselves. Second, being a solo artist can be lonely sometimes.
It’s possible to ease the workload with managers, staff members, and advisors. These people help organize, support, and delegate the workload. It’s incredibly hard to do this work yourself, so get some help.
Despite some of these setbacks, many artists today are going solo once they’ve been part of a band for a while and have seen immense success. Some solo artists over the years that excelled in their music careers are John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Joe Jonas, and Harry Styles.
3. Marketing Methods
In today’s world, marketing methods have never been easier. With the internet and popular trends, a band can market itself on many platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Traditional marketing, such as posters, flyers, and billboards, remain common despite the convenience of online.
But remember that every other band has access to these same tools. So if you think it will be easy, think again.
The primary goal of marketing is to flesh out the band’s identity and what they’re all about. In other words, what does the band’s brand mean to themselves and the audience they’re targeting?
Some marketing strategies involve having a consistent content schedule on whatever platform(s) they choose and publishing content that reflects their branding. Watch your favorite artist’s social media to get an idea of this schedule.
In general, the marketing for a band is crucial for getting a band’s name out there and to begin participating in live performances.
4. Perform in Public Settings
Once marketing techniques and strategies are implemented, the next best thing to do is to find venues that would allow small-named bands to perform.
Mostly, these are local venues where the band’s talents can be displayed. It may not pay them much (or at all), but it is better to perform somewhere publicly than not to perform at all.
Here are a couple of reasons why performing in a small venue is beneficial:
- The locals may already know of the band’s existence and its members.
- It’s a great way to get your name out there if nobody knows you.
- Playing a show is a great experience, so you give yourself the chance to get better.
- It’s fun to perform in front of a live audience.
- A big-name music producer or venue organizer might show up.
If you don’t have a way to perform in front of people, put a video of you performing.
With video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, the band can perform to thousands of people online. This is not a formal live public performance, but it can reach many in an online public setting.
The performance can be re-recorded and perfected before publishing. This way, you won’t make the same mistakes you will with live performances.
This is especially helpful for newer bands who aren’t familiar with the tone of the other member’s performance and the band, and more practice is required.
Either way, performances on a public website can easily interest those who tune in. You can even live stream your performances on sites like Kick or Twitch.
People always talk about networking in the music industry, but who do you do it with? Here’s a quick list of options:
- Music Producers: They can help you refine your sound and guide you in the right direction musically.
- Music Publishers: They can help place your music in TV, movies, commercials, and more.
- Record Label Executives: These are the decision-makers when signing artists to a label.
- Booking Agents: They’re responsible for arranging live performances, a significant income source for musicians.
- Event and Festival Organizers: Networking with these individuals can provide opportunities to play at various events, increasing your exposure.
- Radio DJs/Hosts and Program Directors: They can get your music played on the radio, helping you reach a wider audience.
- Music Journalists and Bloggers: They can help amplify your music through reviews, interviews, and features.
- Fellow Musicians and Bands: Collaborating and networking with other artists can lead to opportunities like joint tours, collaborations, and helpful advice.
- Music Video Directors and Photographers: High-quality visuals can greatly enhance music promotion efforts.
- Social Media Influencers: Partnering with influencers can expose your music to their audience.
- Music Managers: A good manager can help guide your career, negotiate contracts, and connect you with other industry professionals.
- Music Lawyers: They ensure you understand contracts, and copyright laws, and can help with legal issues that might arise.
- Music Retailers: Networking with owners of music stores (both physical and online) can help get your music in front of potential fans.
- Music Educators: They can offer you training and workshops to enhance your skills. They can also provide opportunities for you to teach and mentor.
- Fanbase: Last but not least, your fans are your biggest asset. Engaging with and treating them right can turn casual listeners into die-hard fans who’ll support you throughout your career.
Networking in the music industry is like networking in any other field. It’s all about building genuine, mutually beneficial relationships.
6. Copyright and Monetize the Music
Even before big music organizations sign up-and-coming bands or solo artists, there are other ways to start making money other than performing in venues, and that is monetizing their music.
For any published music performed by the band, it should be copyrighted immediately to avoid potential plagiarism. Because the music becomes copyrighted, it means that anyone else without authorization to use their music will not earn money for whatever production they use it for.
The band, instead, will receive royalties whenever their music is played. Royalty is simply a way to protect intellectual property and to give credit where credit is due via payments for assets used by anyone else.
Monetization can be used for music videos and audio files.
Assuming the music can gain attraction, platforms such as YouTube will grant payment for every thousandth viewer per video, which will greatly fund the band for future projects.
7. Maintaining Consistency
Starting and maintaining a music career requires consistency. No music career can survive with a “one and done” mindset. If the goal is to succeed and find future success, one must upkeep all of what this article has addressed. Keeping up with networking, experimenting with new band members if necessary, promotion via online platforms, and monetization will be some of the most important aspects of keeping a music career alive.
As you may see, we only scratch the surface of starting a music career. That’s the point. We don’t make mention of modes of transportation for the band or how the band members will contribute to the workload equally. We are only concerned with how to start and hopefully maintain this upward momentum.
8. Develop as a Career or Side Job
To conclude this article, we should note whether or not a person is willing to make music their full-fledged career or as a side hustle. A music career is no short-term commitment, usually. So deciding what to do with music soon will determine whether a music career is worthwhile.
If one remains undecisive, we implore them to compare the pros and cons of starting a music career and know if it will hinder their current occupation or family life. In addition to this, many bands have shared their two cents about the idea of starting a music career.
Here are three different bands that share excellent insights into starting a music career:
Insights From Famous Bands
- Arteries: When this band performed attended the Meltdown Festival, after recording a session for Marc Riley’s BBC 6 music show, they stated that “Having band members that can regularly hang out with each other for 48 hours is optimal.” If any one band member cannot deal with each other anytime before, this may not be a great fit for the band. They may be talented in their chosen instrument, but if they cannot get along with each other, the band will ultimately fail.
- River Jumpers: According to the River Jumpers Biography on last.fm the River Jumpers state that, “With music, no one should compare their level of success to others.” Regardless of the current level of success of any band, no one should feel that they are far ahead of the crowd or getting left behind in life, defeating the band’s motivation or purpose. This applies to everything else rather than music. It is a common skill to learn and maintain.
- A War Within: Coming from a heavy metal background, A War Within Band member Spencer states on their website, “I’m tired of listening to industry leaders tell me that you have to do things a certain way to make a living. I decided I was going to produce my own everything.” Spencer talks about how important it is to listen to your own voice and to be true to yourself.
We hope this article has informed anyone wanting to look towards a music career and know some of the key methods needed to start and maintain.