How to Make it as a Musician
Start making music now.
Nobody is going to care about your music if it doesn’t exist in some form already. You would be suprised how many people say, I have a song written and I just need all the music arranged and parts worked out, or I am ready to make music, but I dont have the proper studio beat creation tools to make my stuff sound alright. While having good instruemtns and tools is good, it doenst make music out of nothing. Sure with enough money you can buy the rights to some really awesome sounds, but if you’re not utilizing what you have to make your music, your “song” is really just an idea for a song, that you want someone to write some really good parts around. Theres no magic studio button to make good music. Good music comes from the heart and a lot of practice. There is no magic studio plugin to “put autotunes on your voice” and make you a good singer. You will suck if you’re sucky and suck less if you practice.
Get your sounds out there, and promote yourself.
No label in their right mind is going to sign you without something already happening when they google you. How do you get a lot of buzz about yourself on the internet going? You do. Promoting yourself as a musician and artist should become second nature. Sharing your work and talking about what your latest projects are should become second nature. You need to be a 1 person marketing storm with facebook, twitter, instagram , youtube, snapchat etc all the time to get a constant stream of your brand and you out there for free. Yeah, there might be haters, but there will be people who appreciate you and what you do, especially if they see you are doing a lot of work developing your own personal style and brand as an artist.
Nobody at a label is going to cut you a huge check when you aren’t making money already. The labels want to see merchandising and music sales already set up, and you should be taking in money on the regular by at least 3 of the following 4 things. Live performances, merchandising, online sales, physical sales (CD, Vinyl and Cassette). These are all things you can realistically do without a manager or “signing a deal”.
The first steps are going to be awkward. Imagine yourself as a tiny Kanye trying to grow up in to a gigantic monster Kanye. But for real, its personal. Your art is something that comes as the ultimate freedom to do whatever you want, and is a reflection of your unique and valuable combination of skills and influence. Who cares if people laugh, and you should laugh about it too. Have fun being yourself and don’t try to copy celebrities or worship any false Kanyes. The music industry sees a lot of false Kanyes bumbling around at the bottom and you’re not fooling anyone. Likewise, just copying popular culture has little use in the music industry, and in some cases is illegal.
I once heard a successful musician say: “I hate about 1/2 of everything I do but its lucky the other 1/2 is listenable”. You cant have a negative attitude all the time, but practice makes perfect, and practice makes confident too. You need to be comfortable playing your songs or performing them somehow, so the sooner you start playing out the better. You can play almost anywhere for free, and some places will give you money! This links back into #2 (Self-Promotion). The club or your “manager” isnt any more in charge of promoting than you are yourself, and you want to retain creative freedoms anyways, so tell people about your and basically over-promote it.
Ease into it.
You aren’t going to be a star overnight. Face it. You’re going to need at least a part time job or some savings to get by while you’re busy making music and playing shows. You might as well tell your work friends and family about your shows too, and your music should be readily available, for free, and for purchase on youtube, bandcamp, itunes, amazon, Spotify, Rdio, etc. These aren’t going to pay well. In fact pennies on the dollar, but its basically a few clicks to set most of them up. This, paired with your physical sales (CDs T-Shirts etc) and money from performances and shows will be your main source of income at this point. Money from shows happens slowly, but don’t get trapped by doing free performances all the time or giving all your music away for free. You have to have something for someone who likes your stuff and has a few free bucks in their pocket to throw your way.
Make Quality Stuff.
You really cant get around making quality stuff. You cant sell a turd very easily, and even if you package it up nice and tell everyone nobodies gonna buy that crap. We make quality recordings and if you are able to perform it on stage, and at home, you can perform it in the studio into a nice microphone. We can listen back to the recordings together and pick the best takes. Best out of 3 is always better than the first time and by this point you should be well rehearsed from all the practicing and playing shows, so get a good engineer and decent recording gear (even home recording gear is cheap and good enough in the beginning if you have a computer) and make quality stuff.
Keep Making quality stuff.
You made your first album or song . Didn’t get signed and make a million. Well your second album or song will be even better. You need to get in the cycle of creating, rehearsing, and then recording and performing. Some of the musicians at the top were one hit wonders, but mostly that wont last. You need to keep the social media going and keep performing your old stuff while making new stuff and producing consistent quality engaging content for your listeners. This would be a good time to get a website and make a video for at least one of your songs.