The music industry is changing, FAST! And, as such, there will always be new and different methods for getting yourself seen and out there.
Unsurprisingly, most artists just want to go viral. Understandable... but how many "artists" do you know who went viral and then quickly fizzled out?
I'm not knocking going viral at all. Especially as the smart artist can make that work for them and craft a long-standing career. Take a look at Rebecca Black, for example. "Friday" was humor for us all, but off the back of it, she built a full on music career.
Nobody's laughing now 😏
But there are a million other sound bytes that never quite changed the lives of the originator, and, one thing's for certain, building a long-lasting career in the music industry take a lot more than chance.
Think about somebody timeless like Erykah Badu; her position in this industry is solidified. You only get there with the following combination.
So, here they are–10 expert tips for becoming and staying relevant:
1. Develop Those Musical Skills and Talent
Success in the music industry starts with having legitimate musical talent and skills.
An artist needs to put in the time to become proficient with their instrument and develop their vocal abilities if they want to make it.
Again, we've all heard stories of artists who lack serious musical skills but still find success. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.
For most artists, strong musical chops provide the foundation on which everything else is built.
If you want to increase your chances for music industry success, be sure to consistently practice and expand your musical skills and abilities. Stay dedicated to improving your craft.
2. Create Unique, Original Music
Simply having technical musical abilities isn't enough to cut through the noise.
To stand out and connect with listeners, an artist needs to develop their own unique sound and style.
Their music should feel fresh and original, not just derivative of what's already popular. This means boldly bringing your own influences and inspirations into your songwriting and production.
Don't just follow trends - create music that genuinely reflects your artistic identity. When you develop your own unique voice and style as an artist, you're much more likely to attract a dedicated fan base.
This is a tricky thing to get right, for sure. As if you are hoping to get signed by a label, while they are looking for something unique, they are also looking for something that aligns with whats already poppin'
Every era has a sound of sorts. So you need to find a way to uniquely tap into that recognized sound. Study the successful outliers and see how they do it.
3. Build a Strong Stage Presence
Live performance is more important than ever when it comes to gaining fans and momentum as an artist. And a huge part of succeeding on stage is having a compelling presence in front of the audience.
Are you confident and charismatic when performing live?
Or do you fade into the background?
Here are some tips for captivating ANY audience:
- Bring the confidence. Believe in yourself and your talents. Know your material backwards and forwards. It projects assurance to the crowd.
- Use your body language. Stand tall, make eye contact, use gestures. Your physicality on stage tells a story.
- Project your voice. Breath control is key. Practice projection so everyone can hear you clearly.
- Bring high energy. Perform with gusto and passion. Engage the audience, get them involved. Show your enthusiasm.
- Craft your unique stage persona. Experiment with movements and expressions that feel authentic to you.
- Rehearse extensively. Practice your songs, choreography, stage blocking until they feel natural. It allows you to focus on the audience connection.
- Keep growing your skills. Seek feedback, learn from shows, refine over time. Becoming a great live performer takes dedication.
Key take away- confidence, physicality, vocals, energy, authenticity and preparation are the ingredients for developing magnetism on stage.
4. Network and Build Relationships
They say "it's not what you know, it's who you know" for a reason.
Making connections with industry professionals and influencers can provide opportunities that turbocharge an artist's career.
Attend industry events, conferences, and award shows to connect with producers, publishers, managers, journalists, playlist curators, and other industry insiders.
Try your best to make genuine connections - don't just hand out business cards or tell people to follow you; they won't even remember you.
Once you build relationships, nurture them by checking in and offering to collaborate or assist others in your network. Think about giving and what value you can bring to them rather than what they can do for you.
You never know which encounter or new connection might lead to your next big break. Dedicate some time to work on consistently expanding your network.
5. Promote and Market Your Music
In this competitive landscape, even the most talented artists need to actively promote their music to stand out!
You HAVE to build an online presence and brand across all major social/streaming platforms, there's no question about it.
- Pitch your releases to blogs, playlists and channels that fit your style.
- Learn best practices for social media marketing.
- Run ads to grow your audience.
- Partner creatively with brands that align with your vision.
- Share your music within your local scene and fan communities.
Effective self-promotion helps drive streams, sales and fans. It demonstrates that you understand the business side of being an artist along with the creative side. Promotion and marketing will always be necessary to sustain a music career.
6. Master Digital Platforms
Video killed the radio star, and streaming platforms Trojan horse'd into video and ate its way out! Okay... a bit much, but you get the reference.
Post high-quality content consistently, grow your follower count, engage meaningfully with fans in comments and messages.
But, share not just music, but also videos, behind-the-scenes footage, Q&As, etc to allow followers to get to know the real you. Collaborate with fellow artists digitally for cross-promotion.
7. Constantly Evolve and Improve
Great artists keep growing, changing, evolving over time.
If you want to sustain a long-term career, you can't just keep making the same kind of music and relying on what worked early on.
Challenge yourself to experiment with new sounds, collaborators, producers, and musical directions over time.
Always remain a music student, studying the craft and learning new techniques.
Immerse yourself in the work of artists you admire. Never get complacent. Some of an artist's best work comes later in their evolution.
8. Understand the Music Business
Success in music requires both artistic ability and business savvy. Learn how the industry works so you can navigate it strategically.
Educate yourself on publishing, licensing, royalties, contracts and legal considerations. Build a team to help handle marketing, management, booking, merchandising, touring logistics, accounting and more.
Study how other successful artists have built careers. Gain financial literacy and understand profits, margins and investing.
Having business knowledge empowers artists to make smart moves and maximize opportunities.
So don't neglect the business side.
9. Build a Fan Base
At the end of the day, a loyal fan base is everything for an artist. These are the fans who passionately support you through album releases, tours, highs and lows.
They drive your streams and sales, share your content, attend multiple shows, and help spread the word about you.
Build your fan base by delivering value and cultivating community around your music. Prioritize meaningful engagement and connection with supporters.
Put fans first, not just charts and numbers. When you have fans who feel invested in your art, they become part of your success story.
10. Be Persistent
Breaking through in music is an uphill climb that requires tenacity. Overnight success is extremely rare - it often takes years or even decades of persistence.
Keep writing, recording, and releasing music consistently even when traction is slow at first. Stay patient and keep fighting to gain momentum over time. Withstand rejection and criticism. Find motivation in your true love of music, not external validation.
Maintain self-belief even in the face of industry gatekeepers saying “no.” Your favorite artists likely faced huge obstacles too before their big break came.
Persistence in pursuing their vision is a trait all successful musicians share.
Bonus Tip: Love the Process
And a bonus: it’s essential to love the creative process, not just the end goal of fame and success. This probably goes without saying, though.
As an artist, we do it for the love of the craft anyway, but it is easy to become short-sighted in pursuit of getting big.
Believe me, that's a dangerous game. As things like writer's block and loss of passion start to creep in.
You've gotta appreciate every seemingly small victory and milestone as an artist - your first live show, recording your debut single, releasing an album, hearing your song on the radio, those first 100 streams, etc.
Enjoy the journey of bringing your musical ideas to life.
Have fun developing your skills and experimenting artistically. Stay grateful for the opportunity to do what you love. If music feels like a chore, success will be short-lived. But if you find joy in your craft each day, your passion will sustain you for the long run.
Choosing to love the process is the most important ingredient for a meaningful music career.