The music industry is one of the most challenging fields to break into. No matter how talented, hardworking, or well-connected, so many musicians have difficulty getting their names out there, let alone finding and maintaining lasting success. This is because loving music is not the same as understanding the music industry. So much of making it in the industry goes beyond well-crafted lyrics, hooks, and production. It’s not about just giving electrifying performances and connecting with fans. Making it in the industry requires having the foresight to work on the foundational steps and build a professional business and marketing reputation. Musicians need to establish these things early on in their careers to succeed today.
Before your band becomes another lesson of what-not-to-do, sit down, and look at what musicians need to learn to achieve and maintain musical stardom.
Understand your band
So many of the world’s favorite bands tarnish their reputations or break up because of internal disagreements. In-fighting is the number one reason bands break up. To protect your musical partnership, create a band agreement. Look at your band agreement to invest in the future of the band as a business. Every business needs a plan to make money, find success, and create a lasting impact. When ready to propel your brand forward, make sure the band agrees on the following concepts: time commitment, band responsibilities, finances and royalties, creative direction, and future vision. This is not a comprehensive list, but it does mark the bare minimum of what a band should engage in to start on the path to success. Revisit your agreement as needed, and don’t let fame and excess cloud your artistic and professional judgments.
Find the right music manager
Being a successful musician today also means having smart, professional business sense. Artists lucky enough to have a passionate, dedicated, well-connected, and loyal music manager will go far. A competent manager will be able to provide quality and innovative advice with the musician’s business, brand, and legacy in mind. They can help connect the artist to accounts, lawyers, agents, publicists, collaborators, brand endorsements, and more. Managers can also help a musician search for the right recording label and contract. So many careers have been elevated to legendary status because of an excellent manager, while so many careers have plummeted due to incompetent or dirty-dealing managers. Find someone who has the experience, is business-minded, and will always have your back.
Hire excellent attorneys
So much of the beautiful side of music is about artistic expression and connecting with others who feel and think and celebrate life in the way that you do. The uglier side of music can come from label disputes, disagreements over recording contracts and rights, trademark problems, and more. Musicians need to hire competent and experienced attorneys to help protect their business rights and intellectual property. Attorneys can be an excellent asset in understanding recording and publishing contracts, an area in which musicians have historically and consistently exploited. Attorneys can also help artists navigate insurance plans, trademark and copyright infringements, slander and libel, and litigation stemming from these issues. Having an attorney on retainer is another advantage that will help protect a musician’s artistry, livelihood, and business.
Hire an SEO expert
Being a musician is not just about having the right sound and style. So much of finding success in this industry requires a high level of marketing. Bands should consider hiring an SEO expert for their website to gain visibility. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing practice that grows the quality and quantity of traffic and brand exposure through search engine results. An SEO expert can help bands build a social media presence, build brand awareness and credibility, improve search engine results, create a positive experience for fans, improve quality traffic results, track digital growth, control PR strategies, lower advertising costs, and help bands stand apart from the competition. When bands hire an SEO expert and understand SEO practices, they can learn the benefits of knowing how to reach, better appeal, and hold on to their audiences and fan bases. Having a competently optimized website with SEO will go a long way in growing a band’s career. Fun fact: Did you know that SEO expert witnesses are used in court cases?
Understand that there’s no shortcut to making it
Some musicians seem like they found success overnight. It is also easy to assume some musicians have succeeded on their looks, connections, or status as a viral hit. Unfortunately, the chances are that musicians only appear this way because overnight sensations rarely happen. The most successful musicians in the industry have worked for years to perfect their instrument playing and vocal abilities, toured extensively in the tiniest venues for minimal pay, and struggled to find their unique style. They have played gig after gig, recorded numerous demos, and have probably failed more often than not before making it. Without the basics of hard work and talent, none of the rest of these tips will matter if you are a musician looking to make a lasting impression through your art. Prioritize the hard work and business drive behind making music to enhance your legacy and help ensure your success.
Whether your goal is to build a musical legacy or find some moderate success playing with your bandmates, these tips will help you start your music career on a high note. With patience, hard work, and talent, your band can rise above the rest to make it. Fulfilling these steps along with what we have listed in terms of establishing a band agreement, finding the right music manager, attorneys, SEO expert, and understanding the hard work it will take for you to succeed are foundational steps that every band needs to consider.