Making a career out of music can bring years of fun and enjoyment. If you love making or creating music and you’re thinking about pursuing a professional career in this area, there are many things to consider beforehand. We’ve gathered some of the best tips from around the music industry to see what other musicians wished they knew sooner.
1. Marketing Yourself and Your Music is Essential
You can be a fantastic musician, but without reaching the right audience you will struggle to build your networks and profile. Investing time and effort in marketing yourself and your music is essential if you are to make a career in this field.
While it’s true that some people get their ‘lucky break’ even when they never intended to, most musicians who are trying to make it big will spend years honing their skills and building their supporter base. Utilize social media, build a website, and engage with those who enjoy your music. Work on building confidence so that you can talk comfortably about yourself and your music, and give people all the reasons why they should be investing their time and money in you.
2. Go Part Time at the Beginning
While giving up your day job and focusing on music might sound like heaven at the moment, it’s not always the most practical or sensible solution for a lot of people. Like any form of self-employment, it can take several months before you start to see profits, which brings financial challenges especially for those with home and family commitments.
If you have rent to pay and other necessary commitments, consider holding on to your job in the early stages while you build up a more solid and stable income. This might involve reducing your hours to free up some of your time to work on your musical career, while still retaining an income that supports you and any dependents.
Continuing with your current job while spending time each week building your musical profile also gives you the chance to see whether a professional musical career might work for you. While you won’t be able to experience life as a full-time musician, you will be able to get an insight into what is involved.
3. Find a Mentor
Many people working in the music industry report that they received invaluable help from teachers and mentors. In fact, many musicians continue to work with mentors throughout their careers. Working with a mentor can help you to build confidence and gain insights into the music industry which would be difficult to get elsewhere.
If you don’t have a large budget at first, finding a mentor can prove to be more challenging. But you don’t necessarily need to work with a mentor in a formal capacity. Connect with other musicians, particularly those with more professional experience, and build relationships where you can seek and share advice.
Social media can be a great place to meet other professional musicians and people who are passionate about music. As well as connecting and gaining advice from more experienced musicians, you can also find out more about what non-musicians want to hear. This can be a low-cost and effective way of doing some of your own market research when starting out in the music industry, as well as meeting new people and potential mentors.
4. Find Your Own Space
As an aspiring musician, you will need to spend a large chunk of your time practicing and developing your skills. The journey of learning as a musician will never stop, so finding a great space to work is important.
Some musicians choose to set up a home studio, while others prefer to get out and mix with other people in a shared studio. Studios like PIRATE allow you to work in spaces which are tailor made for musicians, whether you’re looking to practice or record some music. With many locations available too, PIRATE can be a great option for musicians who are often on the move travelling between states or to other countries.
5. Keep Up with the Industry
Like many other sectors, finding success in the music industry requires you to stay up to date with what is going on. For example, you might want to stay on top of the latest news in the world of licensing, or check out other artists who are debuting their work on popular music channels.
Sign up to relevant music newsletters and other subscriptions, join social media groups, and subscribe to relevant news alerts. Speak to other musicians and share information with each other.
6. Don’t Go Too Hard
Like most jobs, going too hard and fast too quickly can create burnout, stress, and a plethora of other problems. While you might feel extremely enthusiastic about your goals and ambitions in the music world, it’s important to look after your health too.
For example, many musicians start out taking as many gigs as possible and working as much as possible. Striking a balance is critical if you want to maintain your health and wellbeing and make steady progress as a professional musician. Finding a schedule which is sustainable for you as an individual is hugely important, and one of the things many musicians wish they had realized sooner.
7. Teaching Can Bring in Extra Income
When performance opportunities seem few and far between, consider offering teaching lessons. Many musicians do this from the beginning, since it can help to generate income while you’re getting started. While teaching might not be your ultimate career goal, it can help in practical ways in the early stages.
If you’re hiring a studio for performance purposes too, you could potentially use this space as a base for music lessons. Alternatively, many musicians teach from home – a great option in the beginning for keeping costs low too.
Getting started as a professional musician can come with a whole new range of challenges, but speaking to other musicians, creating a sustainable schedule, and finding an inspiring place to make music can help you to achieve your goals.