We, as musicians, have literally made bounding leaps of progress in technology, and many leaps in the concept of reaching out to people. It used to be that only the major record labels had access to the “right” connections. Or access to the people who know more people, people who have influence. Some of those people were like a man dangling a spider over a fire, and it was up to them if you should be dropped or continued.
The good thing is now you don’t have to become famous to become wealthy with your music. Another good thing is we have access to all the tools we need, very similar to the tools that the major labels have used to help create countless success stories of major artists who have made it to the top. As man has evolved these tools have become faster, more reliable, more efficient, and easily accessible to anyone with a computer and internet.
Do you want to make money doing what you love to do? Of course you do. I think it is important to begin by creating both long-term and short-term goals. Goals will show us the direction in which to face. Next, ask yourself “why?; why do I want to be successful in the music industry?” When I asked myself this question, these were the answers I got:
Popularity – It’s a comforting thought; it feels good to feel validated, but I can dig deeper. We are deeper creatures than that.
Wealth – Money is not the only motive, if you work hard enough, money will come to you regardless of what you do.
Self Expression – An artist often has a fire burning within to create, and music is an excellent outlet.
“Well, Amber”, I asked myself, “what else is there?” We, as human beings, have a desire, a true innate desire to make the world better place to live. A lot of musicians write music in order to connect with humanity, to share experiences in love, joy, hate, sorrow, invalidity. Maybe the sounds that your heart and soul create are meant for others who have had similar life experiences. If you can reach out to these people, maybe they won’t feel alone in regard to these circumstances. You want to connect with them, and you want them to connect with you on a level far deeper than a normal conversation. If more people communicated in this manner, this world might be a better place.
So now what? When you resonate with the feelings that are inside you, when you find your truth and motive, you can begin your steps. You begin to know which direction to take. The next step is: which genre of music do you want to communicate in? It doesn’t really matter which style of music you choose. There are multitudes of human beings out there who are looking for your particular music, your particular experiences. And if you reach them, there will be a solid connection.
Once you decide on your genre, let your creative juices flow. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! Keep a notebook handy for lyric ideas. Invest in a small hand-held recorder for music ideas. Most cel phones have some type of voice recorder app built-in; these are great for recording musical bits and pieces. There are very affordable home recording programs available, and these can be an invaluable tool for song creation. If you need inspiration, choose an artist who has a similar style, and study his or her technique. Listen to their first release, and then their most recent, paying close attention to the evolution of their writing.
Record all of your ideas and get feedback from anyone and everyone. Don’t just seek validation from your friends; they are not going to be objective. If you can, get advice from people in the music business, and be prepared for honest responses; don’t let your feelings get hurt.
Once you have a tangible product (be it a complete CD, or only one song), put it on your Facebook page (if you don’t have a Facebook page, where the heck have you been for the last ten years?). Post it and re-post it once a week. Look into other music sites like Reverbnation or CD Baby. The more exposure your music has, the closer you get to acquiring “Superfans”.
What’s a Superfan? A Superfan is someone who really likes what you have to offer, and often times will feel a kindred connection to your music. A Superfan will support your career regardless of what critics may say. If you decide to pursue a major label contract, a showcase in a room full of your Superfans will really tip the scales in your favor. Keep in mind that once you sign a contract with a major, they basically own you.
If you should launch a funding campaign, for example on gofundme.com or kickstarter.com, a Superfan might contribute way more than the minimum requirement, which is definitely going to help you achieve your goal. Let’s do some math: if one Superfan contributes $100 a year, and you have 1000 Superfans, that’s $100,000 a year! Does that sound like a plan for comfortable living? You tell me.
The most important step is to have a solid strategy, and stick to it. Don’t listen to the “nay-sayers”. If you are part of a band, make sure all members share the same vision. A band dragging the “dead weight” of a reluctant partner will go nowhere. The best advice I can give you is never stop chasing YOUR dream. In the immortal words of The Doors: “Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel”.