Here are some tips to follow if you are starting your music career off in 2020.
Have you just made the best song of your life in your bedroom? Want to share it with the world? This article will help you plan the next steps you need to follow in order to get your newly composed masterpiece listened to.
The process of becoming a musician these days is an ever-changing dynamic. We live in a totally digital age and it’s important to adapt to this. Everything music related seems to revolve around Spotify streams and numbers nowadays.
Here are some tips for you to use as you start off on your musical journey. I will go through some do’s and do not’s, I have observed in my short career in the industry so far. There are a lot of misconceptions and scams you must not get caught out by. Work smart and don’t spend all of your savings in the process.
Things You Must Do Starting off
FIRST, CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN!
Set up your social pages
If you are going to take your music career seriously, you are going to want to have some sort of social media presence. Without this – nobody will actually find your music and won’t believe you are taking it seriously. Building social numbers in this modern world is crucial to your credibility. Music is no different to any other industry if you want to be successful. You MUST put in the hard graft and spend time building up your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Spotify profiles. This is your CV – This is what will give your music the chance it needs. A lot of musicians put out their music on Spotify with no social pages to back it up. That’s a common mistake that will cost you in the long run. Give your art a chance.
Create Engaging Content
When you have set up your social network business pages, make sure to build some sort of a following on them. Start with friends, friends of friends and music forums. The key is to have engaging content for people to see if you are a real musician – Share homemade performances, demo songs and engaging conversational videos. You are building a music portfolio, not a modelling career. Cut down on posting pictures of yourself, selfies and images with no music. If you make music, make sure people know you make music. Socials are your portfolio. Show the world your talent. Don’t be shy.
Identify a genre your music fits into
Identifying what niche genre your music fits into is crucial. Once again, any business must do a target audience assessment before starting up. You should do this too – find similar artists, find the niche you are in. Do some research and see what blogs like their music, the demographic of their fans and follow all avenues that lead people to their music. These are your avenues – learn how to break in – don’t be afraid to reach out (but only when you have built you social numbers and have some music to show them) — This is your audience, utilize the information available.
Sort out your Live Act
If you think you have nailed it with your new creation. Work on building up a really impressive live act. Start gradually, perfecting one song – then the next, until you have a suitable live show performance up your sleeve. Performing live is the bread and butter. This is the main way you will make money in music, you have to make sure your performances are going to stand out. Perform, perform, perform and perform, around your city. Practice makes perfect and don’t be shy to do open-mics to build relationships. You are looking to get your brand on the ground. Gigging is so important. Look for bookers and promoters that are booking shows in reputable venues in your genre.
Save money by DIY
Doing everything yourself is key if you are starting off. You need to learn the ropes, do your own socials, photography, recording (if possible for demos), PR and research. If you learn how to manage every aspect of your brand early – you will understand when a shark is swooping in to rip you off (there are loads of them, sadly). PR companies often charge mega money and actually offer you nothing solid in return. You want a press kit done? Take an hour and write one. You want Blog Coverage? Research and trial sites like SubmitHub and submit to blogs there. If the music is good enough – you will get your coverage. Giving a PR company 300/400/500 pounds per single for things you can do yourself for as little as £5 is just a HUGE mistake.
Try to source collaborations
Partaking in Collaborations with other artists is a super way of getting your music and name out there. Find musicians that operate in you own genre. Make sure they have a following and are getting a good amount of Spotify plays. See if they have collaborated with others before and reach out if so. If you can release a collaboration with them and be registered as an artist on the track – you will be well on your way in terms of building the numbers on your Spotify profile. You need numbers for credibility remember (Do not reach out until you have your social pages and good content to show) – You may only get one pitch here so make sure your brand looks strong before reaching out.
Don’t Give up
A lot of people get despondent after receiving a load of rejections from blogs, radio stations, playlisters and labels. Do not worry! These outlets are inundated with new music submissions and most of them haven’t even listened to your music. You need to find ways to put music right in front of them, in the right ways for them to listen. Don’t cold email, make sure you are personal and do your research – you will get better feedback then. Rejections are a part of the process and never stop trying.
Ensure you respect and keep your fans
If you are lucky enough to build a small following of fans, make sure to keep them. If you take them for granted and don’t ensure your content is tailored for them, they will move on. Respect your fans and remember that they will be the ones paying for those tickets at your first show. Build friendships and make a community out of your brand.
If you are lucky enough to go touring, don’t be caught up in worry. This is the most rewarding part of your career and enjoy every second. Sure, it may not always be as financially rewarding as a normal nine to five – but you are a musician, on tour… I would give my left arm for that experience. A music career can end as quick as it begins – tastes change, money is hard to get and making it financially worthwhile is ridiculously difficult, especially if you have bandmates. But just enjoy every second. Talk to the people who see your shows, interact and build a relationship with people. These are your true fans.
Don’t sign anything away without seeking advice
A lot of musicians believe that signing for a label is a great thing. Do your research! Sometimes it’s better to trust yourself and your own network. It is your music, the more you do yourself and less you give away – the better. If you are offered a contract, read it, get advice and be careful. Everything you have worked for can be sharked in the blink of an eye. Learn the business in fine detail before committing to anything. Don’t trust anyone you didn’t know personally before you broke that 1 million stream barrier. Sharks swim around the musical shore. Unless you are becoming the next Billie Eilish – really assess the need for a label and see if it fits into your business plan.
Online platforms that can potentially help you in promoting music effectively and affordably in 2020
(These are just the platforms I’ve come across myself, as a curator)
I’ve been curating music through SubmitHub for a year now. I have found loads and loads of superb artists on this platform. It is a super site if you think you are ready to promote your music. From a bloggers perspective, SubmitHub is great – I get to hear all sorts of new music that I can share on my site. As a submitter, you may find it difficult to find the correct blogs to submit to and even if you do, it can be difficult to make your music stick. The curators receive around 40/50 submission per day so don’t be offended if you don’t see results. What I do know is, there are a few really good taste-makers in there. They won’t get you hundreds of thousands of streams but they will write something. If the music is good enough, it will be given a fair chance. Use this site in moderation and do not pour loads of money into your campaigns.
A lot of people get really pissed off with SubmitHub – it does have it’s faults. Don’t expect loads in terms of traffic towards your brand if you get featured anywhere. Use the coverage as positive press for your brand.
Another site dedicated in cutting out the PR companies. You can submit your music here for a small fee and the blogs will hear it. These type of sites enable blogs to actually manage submission numbers and really listen to the music. If you don’t get accepted here – don’t take it personally and get disheartened. Use any coverage as press for building your own brand. It’s a new site and doesn’t have a huge base of worthwhile blogs just yet. It is based in London though and plenty of the blogs that do use it book shows in London (Lost In The Manor, Turtle Tempo). That’s where the value may lie.
A copycat concept of SubmitHub in many aspects – This site is focused on the French music scene and is trying to broaden it’s reach. If you are a French musician – give it a go – a lot of influential music people in France are involved. Again, don’t think a feature will give you a mega following. Use it as press for developing your brand if you do get featured.
Playlist Push (Expensive)
If you are looking for playlisting on Spotify – this is an option. It’s expensive and you really need to look into how much you will earn from Spotify per stream to see if it’s worthwhile. I would advise a brief paddle on the aforementioned platforms before committing money to something like Playlist Push. They are looking for a big lump sum – you got to question if it’s worth it. Be careful and don’t do anything silly.
Facebook Ads (Marketing Strategy essential)
In the early days of The Sound Sniffer, I spent like £350 pounds in 2018 on Facebook Ads. I have absolutely no idea what I got out of them? A few post likes? a couple of spam followers? I think I was doing it all wrong – I saw no results and vowed never to boost a post again. The Facebook rabbit hole is an easy way to see your hard earned money evaporate quickly. Make sure you know what you are doing. Boosting Instagram posts is an effective way of building an audience and growing numbers though. Do it in moderation and do it better than me back in 2018. Do Facebook Ad likes really turn into fans though?
Pitching to Radio Stations
If you manage to get some press under your belt – start pitching to music stations and bigger outlets. BBC Introducing are the best form of press in the UK. Send in loads of applications to them – Enter good old fashioned competitions and sign up for showcase festivals. Glastonbury‘s Introducing stage is a good one and Groningen’s Eurosonic Festival is a superb showcase weekend.
Avoid spending huge money on PR Campaigns
Don’t fall into the trap of using a PR company early on. They cost loads and just don’t warrant the investment. Spend time improving your own brand yourself for free – You can do cut the need for a PR by building your own little networks instead. You are paying for something before seeing the results. Thread carefully and do your research. Reputable PR Companies now use submission sites to pitch to blogs and labels!!
Make sure you give yourself a chance – Draw up a business plan that suits you – follow it and be patient.
If the music is good and you stay focused, it will be heard. Work smart and enjoy yourselves.
Keep everything in-house as much as you can. Work with trusted friends who believe in you and your art.
About ‘The Sound Sniffer’
The Sound Sniffer is a music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists we find in our submissions inbox.