How To (REALLY) Make It In Music – Updated 2022
So how do you know you’ve become ‘successful’? Well, there’s an old (unfortunately relevant) joke that goes ‘how do you make a million dollars in the music business? By starting with 2 million!’ Lets come up with some better strategy. I strongly advise you to decide on the front end of any money/time/heart that you spend on training/writing/production/performing or anything else: What would ‘success’ look like to you for you to consider your investment in music to be worth it?
Some goals and pictures of music success you could go for:
- You want to sing better (write/play, whatever you want to be able to do better).
- You want to get good enough to compete
… or participate in a talent show of some kind and not embarrass yourself, maybe even place or win. Perhaps you want to audition for a college music program or for a part in a musical or other production.
- You want to do seriously good music on the side.
Perhaps you want to do a recording project that may never pay for itself but is a legacy for you. You want to do some special performances, to get a casual band together to do some part-time gigging. It’s important for your life-balance wholeness to be able to make some very good music and do it well.
- You have a professional reason to get better at singing (playing, writing, etc). Such as…
- You’re a side-musician that need to sing background better on live tours,
- you’re getting live show background vocal, jingle or studio session work and want to go a level up, etc.
- You’re a songwriter and need to sing and/or play better to write better melodies and perform or demo your work.
- You’re a public speaker, salesperson, teacher, coach, voice-over talent, minister, receptionist, reporter, waiter. etc. and you may need to get rid of some vocal strain or gain vocal ability that will make you a more effective communicator.
- Or perhaps you are potentially good enough to have a main career as a recording/performing artist, and decide to devote a certain amount of time to finding out if you can get the bandwagon rolling.
- For this, you need to understand that the odds are great you’ll never break even. It’s a gamble you must be willing to take, and like all gambles, you need to be as fully informed of your chances as possible.
- You will need to develop a network of industry insiders… and that takes time, patience and careful persistence. Your reputation with them will be based on things like your personality, ability, and usefulness to them and others.
- You’ll need money for training, recording at least a demo, and gigging costs (at first you will play for free). You’ll either have a backer, savings you’re willing to dip into, a day job or all three.
- You’ll need to develop a circle of accountability to keep you safe – an entertainment attorney, friends/family with good business instincts, other singers/writers/insiders who have gone down the road before you. A good circle will both caution you when you’re about to step off a cliff or be scammed, and encourage you when you’re almost there but losing heart. And you’ll reciprocate by doing the same for them.
- You’ll need a strong constitution for all the ‘no’s’ you will receive.
- You’ll need to get and stay informed about the current music business marketing and promotion strategies that are working. Here are some sources for current music business training I recommend, some free blogs and podcasts, some paid personalized career guidance:
PCG Artist Development
Bree Noble (and her Female Entrepreneur Podcast)
New Roots (for new female artists)
- And you’ll need to be satisfied if at the end of the day you can’t make your career pay, that at least you tried, and it’s important enough for you to do so.
Now that your goals are clear – Get Practical!
Too many people are depressed or defeated in their music aspirations because they don’t do what it takes to be successful at it. They worry, try, hope, gripe, give up or stay in a perpetual state of failing but they don’t get practical and…
1. They don’t research what it takes to be successful with their music goals.
2. They don’t assess the vocal, musical or business skills they have at this point in time.
3. They don’t get to work on acquiring those skills and assets they’re missing.
Take a Step!
I used to counsel people in women’s prisons and juvenile detention centers, in a trained volunteer program with 5 steps called “Better Decisions“. The funny thing is, I learned as much as my inmate students did about getting to better places in life. You and I can use these same 5 steps:
1. Know the situation ( assess where you are right now)
2. Know what you want (where you want to be)
3. Brainstorm the possibilities (and get other sources to help you do this)
4. Evaluate and decide (choose your strategies and tactics according to your life values)
5. ACT! (without this step, the others are useless) You may need to do something, face something about yourself, learn something, network with someone, make some calls, try some experiments. Wishing isn’t enough… schedule these into your calendar!
Make a Plan!
You can’t plan for every contingency, as the pandemic era has proven, but without a morphable plan, success is a pipedream – not a real one with legs and not just wings. I strongly advise long term and short term planning:
Create a 5 year plan, where do you want to be and what do you want to have accomplished by then?
Work back… what do you have to in year 1, 2, 3, 4 to reach your goals in year 5?
Work back further… what do you have to do in each month to work towards your 1 year goal?
Work back further still… what do you need to do for the next 4 weeks? for the next week? for the next 7 days? Today???
Create a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly agenda. Know that it will be a plan on rollerskates; revise as necessary but keep Moving towards your goals.
Do your due diligence
,,, on anyone you’re thinking about working with. Never sign anything without running it by a good entertainment attorney.
- I will kindly but honestly assess your commercial potential for the music business (though I never say ‘absolutely never’ because a lot depends on your persistence in developing your craft and learning the biz, along with some luck)
- I will make you the best singer you can be, helping you discover your uniqueness, conquer any vocal problems you have, max your ability and protect your voice.
- I am also a studio producer and/or vocal producer with other production teams, and offer the best of those services, too. Or you can check out my training course Singing In The Studio.
- You can use me as a wall to bounce off potential music business strategies your considering, but I do not promise any networking. That is up to you.