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Things I Wish I Knew When I Started
July 31, 2018
This post is going to be a little longer than normal - I've tried to cut it down as much as I can but there are lots of things I wish I knew when I started out in music! I hope some of these help you.
There are so many different ways of breaking into the industry
When I started out I was about fourteen so I didn't know how to research properly, I didn't have experience and I thought the only way of being successful in music was to get signed to a record label. And I thought that in order to do that I had to get scouted somehow.
The industry and evolved so much over the years and now this is far from the truth. Sure, one way of breaking into the industry is to approach a label, however in today's industry this is the least likely way of being successful since most labels won't sign a new artist like they used to - they want someone who has already got a fan base, already done the groundwork for them. It's a pretty smart business move to be honest, it means that their investments are hardly ever a high risk.
So, other ways of breaking into the industry that I found would be looking for a manager or gig promoters, building your online presence, creating a YouTube channel or a music blog...all these things put you out there and help you create more opportunities for yourself. It's no longer just about being signed to Sony.
The industry is a business
This kind of sad but it also makes sense and is the way of the world. People in the music industry don't care about music anymore - by that I mean it's not a priority. The priority is the business, the statistics, the sales...if you want to make it in the music industry you need to be good at business.
You've got to do the groundwork
This one is a good thing and a bad thing. On the down side, now that social media is so prominent and music is online now more than it is live, as the artist you have to do the groundwork and you have to build your fan base - the pros won't do it for you. Sure, they'll help you once you've got your foot firmly wedged in the door, but it's down to you to get there. This is slightly annoying to be honest because it means as an artist there is so much you need to think about, you can't focus just on your music and hope people will find you.
However, on the up side, it puts us in a much better position when approached by managers and labels and other industry officials. It means that we can have more of a say in our music and our marketing, since we've done it on our own and know it works. There is a lot more control for artists now than there used to be because you've already proved yourself. A lot of the time, artists will get to the point where a label will approach them and decline because they feel they don't need their assistance. And that's a pretty powerful position to be in.
You're music won't be for everyone
You can't assume that everyone who listens to will think you're the bee's knees. You should know as a consumer that your music won't be for everyone because can you honestly say that you like everyone's music and everyone's voice? My point is, don't let it get you down. Don't go in with the expectation that everyone will love you because you will be disappointed and you may start questioning yourself. Of course, you should always take feedback and better yourself as an artist, but don't let it get to you on a personal level.
Talent doesn't guarantee success
As I have said already in this blog, you need to do the groundwork as an artist. It's no good nowadays having a natural talent. Think about it, you could probably throw a rock and hit someone who can hold a tune. Now, it's about turning that talent into skill. Even then, there will be a million people more skilled than you. So, you need that talent, that skill and everything else. The business knowledge, the confidence, the social skills, the stage presence, the personality...it seems like a lot to handle and that's because it is, but it's necessary.
There are a lot of scams - even ones that are technically legit
There is an old and cynical saying that isn't very uplifting but it is definitely words to live by in the music industry - "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is". Sure, a few decades ago you probably could have someone scout you when you're singing to yourself in a shopping centre - but the probability of this happening has gone down enormously. Not all scams in the music industry are actually scams though, so it is very difficult to determine what you should involve yourself in and who you should trust. Unfortunately, I ha
ve been sucked into scams because they are actually legit. All I can say with this is if you have any doubt - absolutely any - it's not right. Don't ignore the bad feeling in your gut simply because you want it to be true, trust me I've done it. Be strong and objective when approached or approaching anything - be it gig offers, management, publishing, record labels...anything.
Don't wait for opportunity - find it
This one is kind of linked to the point that talent doesn't guarantee success. When you discover your talent and you decide to pursue the music industry, don't sit in your room like a log. Get out there, physically, figuratively, online...don't wait for someone to approach you - approach them. Be bold and create opportunities. A great quote to live by in this industry is; "if opportunity doesn't knock, build a door".
Connections are key
This is true for any industry and of course there will be people starting out in a better position than you when it comes to connections, but that doesn't mean you can't overtake them. You need to network, build relationship form scratch and most importantly - keep them. You never know when a connection will lead to an opportunity.