Starting out in the music industry can be difficult- there’s a lot of competition and it seems impossible to get in front of the right people. There’s no hard and true manual to being a successful musician but there are definitely some practices and misconceptions to avoid.
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Now that your band is trying to make a name for itself, what pitfalls should you avoid on your way to the top? We’ve listed the most common mistakes young bands and musicians make when trying to break into the music industry. It’s a delicate juggle of artistic skills, people skills and business savvy that makes a star, so don’t feel bad if you’ve committed any of these sins.
- Not Supporting Fans
If you’re one of the bands making this sadly common error, you may be asking why you should be supporting fans, when fans are supposed to support their artists. That is a flawed way of thinking if you ever want monster crowds of people feverishly devoted to your art.
Good ways to engage with your fans include frequent social media posts, free content, responding to requests, fan contests etc. Play to your fans and they will treat you well; ignore them, and they will ignore you.
- Taking Every Gig
Taking every opportunity is good for bands who are just starting out and need experience playing live and with one another. After that bond has been established, however, you need to set a list of standards that your band will have for future work, whether it be pay rate or venue type. Don’t make your standards too high or you’ll be out of work, but don’t sell yourself for $20 and a burger anymore unless it’s a favor.
- Not Promoting Enough
To that point, once you’ve made a list of decent standards to hold of your shows, don’t do yourself a disservice by neglecting promotion. Do everything in your power from social media posts to fliers on college campuses to ads in the local paper if you have the budget.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming people will show up to a venue just because it’s a popular spot. Similarly, don’t write off a show just because it’s at a hole-in-the-wall no one knows about.
- Neglecting Technology
It may seem like there’s a new “must-have” gadget or software for musicians every week, and that’s because there is. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep on top of trends and the future of music technology.
Some digital tools are universally useful, like DAWs. These will help you stay independent longer and bring a professional touch to your recordings and live performances. Beginners should use a program like Pro Tools which is designed for easy learning. Just take a Pro Tools tutorial and you’ll be mixing, mastering and publishing in no time.
- Neglecting Merchandise
Your fans want a momento and you want a way for them promote you to others. Merchandise is the perfect solution, but too many bands today neglect this staple of the past. When it comes to merch, keep these points in mind
- Who’s selling your stuff,
- Don’t over or under stock, and
- Give them what they want and make it recognizable as yours.
- Take Criticism Personally
Everyone’s a critic, literally. You can’t expect everyone to love your music and every band, no matter how genius, unique or universal will hear or read a bad word about themselves. It’s the nature of the business and the goal is to shake it off and take criticism constructively. Also, don’t fall for trolling and never engage in negative behavior toward “haters.”
It’s tough, but you’ve got what it takes
If you’ve gotten this far, chances are you’ve got what it takes to succeed. Successful musicians are always looking for ways to expand their horizons, gain new inspiration and learn knew things along the way. It won’t always be easy or fun, but when it comes to your music, you believe it’s well worth the sacrifice.
Article in collaboration with Luke Peters