Becoming a Musician Today
Wouldn’t it be amazing if all you had to do was learn your instrument, practice your craft, write, record, and perform music? Many successful musicians tell of how they were “found” playing at this or that show, or how this or that record was played for this guy, or they signed this deal or that contract. Tens of millions more, however, had to take a different path, to find some level of success in music. Although many in the past were found, today it’s crucial to be out there searching for opportunities.
Expecting to just be discovered, found, or invested in from the start can lead to serious problems or letdowns from overambitious expectations. For every success story like this, there are millions — not kidding . . . millions — of others that were taken advantage of, ruined, destroyed, or never even got out of the gate. Take the route of educating and empowering yourself by looking before you leap and keeping a close eye and a red flag nearby when someone is claiming they are laying out the yellow brick road to success for you.
Learn about the business side of music, as well as about business itself, by taking courses helps give you a jump start on exactly what you’re jumping into. It’s also imperative to hire an attorney when looking over contracts as well as when creating contracts to protect you and your music. That empowering attention to detail and due diligence enables you to create the best and most successful path.
Musicians have to practice, and although practice doesn’t actually make perfect, it brings your abilities to a much higher level. Along with practicing your instrument, here are five other things to practice on a daily basis.
Practice humility. Being humble in an industry of insane egos, arrogance and foolish people that think they have all the answers, will set you apart from many. Don’t assume that everyone will like your music, your shows, or you.
Practice honor. Follow through with your commitments and when you are not able to do what you promised, communicate the changes that have happened and what you are going to do to fix the issue. Again, it might seem simple and obvious, but so many do not practice honor in an industry that is severely lacking in it.
Practice patience. Working on not jumping the gun and having the patience to wait until you have the budget for a release or wait until that song is ready before going in to the studio, as well as practicing the patience to choose the best paths instead of the fastest ones is a key factor in this business.
Practice listening. Listen to everything you can. Even for a few minutes a day. Stretch out your ears to the array of different styles, sounds, textures and genres, to give yourself that much better of a palette to work and create from.
Practice your business craft. Apply the aspects of basic business you already know from other businesses, and work to learn and educate yourself in the business of music.
In many ways, becoming a musician today is easier than it was years back. Yes, you need to include a lot of the business aspects, social media aspects, marketing, and promotion that many didn’t have to years back. Still, with the new opportunities, the technology and the advances of the past few decades, a truly dedicated person who wants to become a musician today has so many more tools and options than ever before.
From access to online databases, more affordable options for promotion and publicity, as well as the option to have a studio in your bedroom — these are just a few of the tools and options that are available today. You can also create digital merchandise for next to nothing and sell it online on sites like iTunes and Bandcamp. Small runs of T-shirts, hats, and other promotional items have allowed artists to create a stronger presence as they create more revenue options.