Want to Be a Professional Musician? Here Are Eight Essential Tips
Making it in the music world isn’t exactly an easy task. Even those of you who haven’t tried it out probably know that already. But you shouldn’t be discouraged. Remember: if you don’t love making and sharing music, then you probably shouldn’t pursue this goal anyway! If you do want to up your musician game, then check this article out.
Remember: it’s up to you
A lot of musicians get into this thinking that potential listeners need to “meet them halfway”. That a bit of effort on the part of the music fan is to be expected. But when you’re introducing your music to the world, the burden is pretty much all on you.
People are overwhelmed by the amount of music available to them these days. If you want people to start investing time and money into your music, you have to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Don’t expect people to travel for miles in order to see your show. Understand that you’re going to have to make most of the effort, at least at first!
Practice, practice, practice
There’s this idea that professional musicians, especially the popular ones, no longer need practice. This is simply not true. You can always improve on your skills. The problem that a lot of people face here is that they think they’ve run out of ways to practice.
The key here is to try something new. Explore all the possibilities of your instrument playing or your singing. There’s probably something you can’t do as well as other things. Improve your skills in this area – after all, trying new things can result in finding great material!
Don’t be afraid of bad material
This suggestion reminds me of something very recent that illustrates this point. When it comes to great musicians, it can be difficult to imagine that they’d ever write anything bad. But the problem is that you don’t actually hear most of the stuff that a given musician writes. Recently, someone unearthed some very early, unreleased material from the singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. This is someone who, over a career spanning two decades, hasn’t released an album that wasn’t critically acclaimed.
Yet a representative of his recently said that 99% of his songs aren’t released, and for good reason. This was their way of saying “don’t expect that unreleased material to be any good!”. This is true for most artists – the majority of the stuff they produce at home doesn’t get released because they don’t like it. My point here is that even the people who can’t seem to write bad songs actually do write bad songs. You just don’t hear them. So don’t be too discouraged if you’ve decided you don’t like a lot of your own stuff!
Up your equipment game
For some people, a guitar and their voice is all they need. They like to keep it really minimalist that way. That’s fine, obviously. But even those artists have usually experimented with a bunch of equipment before deciding to keep it simple.
The ability to experiment with your sound is often limited to the equipment you have. Keyboards and synthesizers usually have an amazing array of in-built sounds. But electric guitars need a bunch of peripheral equipment if you want to fully explore their capabilities. And even the keyboards with thousands of settings can be boosted if you buy some add-ons! Before you buy any new equipment, it’s best that you do some thorough research. Check out some detailed reviews for aspiring musicians to make sure you get the quality you need.
Harness the power of the Internet (part one)
You may be wondering why I’ve split this into two parts. It’s because you should make your presence known online as early as you can. But you shouldn’t pour too much energy or material online until you’ve played some shows!
Once you’ve decided you’re serious about this and you’ve got some material, start setting up some social media pages. You may even want to consider building a proper website. It’s good to have these things so people who enjoy your shows can start following you. But you’ll probably want to play your songs live before you record and upload them…
Don’t underestimate the importance of playing live
For many people, the main reason they want to be a musician is so that they can play live. They go to music concerts all the time and wish they could be on that stage, eliciting a big response from the crowds. For others, being on stage sounds like a nightmare. They may even want to avoid playing live altogether.
But live shows are where you’re going to find most of your fans, at first! That’s what’s going to get the power of word-of-mouth doing what it needs to do. While an Internet presence can be important for getting people to come to your shows, you may want to hold off on sharing music until you play it live. Most musicians find that they prefer to play songs for people before spending time and money recording them. When you see live reactions, it gives you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Harness the power of the Internet (part two)
So, you’ve played some songs live and have found out what gets the best response. You’ve made the tweaks to your material that you need. You’ve recorded your material. You now have a bunch of mp3s featuring music created by you. Weird, right? Well, now it’s time to upload them.
While Facebook and Twitter are great for maintaining a social hub for your music, you can’t actually do much with your music files there. You’ll need another service. Soundcloud and Bandcamp are great for hosting music. Remember: you should upload your songs to several platforms, not one or the other! So get your music on both Soundcloud and Bandcamp, at least.
Know the legal rights protecting you
If you want to start making money from your music, then it’s best that your know the law surrounding it. Research the six important music rights that will directly affect you!