There are some very cool and systematic ways to go from being a DIY artist to a professional musician. The most important information that I can share is that a lot of success comes from an artist’s “mindset” or mentality.
If you want to get signed, think like a label. If you want to be a successful artist, think like a successful musician. Follow patterns, pathways, and resources that others have shared so that you can avoid making major mistakes.
Here are some simple and solid steps to help you work on how you see yourself in regards to the professional music industry.
1. Stop worrying about money!
There’s a good chance you’re not making much money with your music NOW, so why be insulted about major labels “screwing you over” about money before you have a deal? If you’re about the money, then maybe you should find another career. Prepare yourself to keep your day job for a while, even if you get signed. Be smart and don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
2. Educate yourself
Read websites and blogs like Thinklikealabel.com. Follow music industry news in publications like Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone. (I’ll provide a list of professional music resources next week)
3. Research the lifestyles and back stories of popular musicians
Listen to and watch interviews with artists like Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, ect. Find out how they got their start and how they made it to where they are now.
4. Find a MENTOR!
Be open to listening to people with more experience. It will be very enlightening, and will help you succeed in an effective and mature manner.
5. Work on Your Image and Beliefs
Before you begin to network, make sure you have your style, image, and belief structure mapped out. If an industry person asks you why you make music, what you plan to do with a professional career, or where you see yourself in 5 years, PLEASE, have something to say! Don’t stammer; have your ideas memorized, then stick with them.
6. Go to Conferences
Attend music conferences like SXSW and join BMI or ASCAP and indulge in their industry events. Network, get advice, and share your music with people who can help you further your career. Know your stuff about music marketing and album sales. It’s great to be able to talk about the latest music apps and top 200 charts.
7. Know Your Genre
Telling an industry professional that your music is “acousmatic electro pop, tape music” is not going to attract further conversation.Know your genre. R&B/Soul, Indie Rock, Country, Pop are simple terms everyone can understand. Decide where you fit in (even if it feels uncomfortable), it’s important to be able to communicate with people who don’t have a lot of time to chat.
8. New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville, London….
It’s pretty unlikely to find resources or major label professionals in Wichita, Kansas or Bloomington, Indiana. Although they have great music scenes, it’s important to move to cities that are teeming with major record labels, agents, and booking agencies.
9. Make your own decisions
Your friends ARE going to call you a sell out if you mention that you want to enter a contest to write a jingle for a commercial. They are going to abuse you if you say you want to sign with a major label. Be your own person. Don’t listen to your friend’s criticism if it isn’t going to help you follow your dreams. Work hard, even if you have to keep your goals to yourself for a while.
10.Take a risk
Be brave. Believe in yourself, and don’t let the large amount of rejection you will face stop you from achieving your dreams.
The music industry is one of the most difficult industries to succeed in, but it’s NOT impossible. Learn and THINK LIKE A LABEL. Ask questions, follow this blog, make plans, and work on your mindset. You can become a professional musician and share your music with the world. Knowing that you can do it is the most important step.