So, you want to make it in the music industry. That’s a noble goal, but to say the least, it’s a bit ill defined. Getting there requires a path. And on that path, we’ve got to put one foot in front of the other, slowly and steadily. But during our journey, it is sometimes necessary to pause and ask ourselves “what could I be doing better?” Here are 4 things you may be doing that are ultimately working against you and your success.
Lack of Consistency
It’s not something that you ever want to hear. Part of starting from the bottom means that you have to have a consistent output over time. If you are really chasing your dream, you can’t really afford to have an “off” year. Whether it’s the music itself or the promotion behind it, you need to make sure that you’re active every step of the way. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that consistency does not equal frequency. If you’re putting out mixtape after mixtape day in and day out, but the quality is rapidly decreasing with each release, you may be doing yourself more harm than good. Instead, set reachable goals throughout the calendar year, and work to hit at least one of them on schedule.This shows that you have a vision and are willing to patiently work towards it. Furthermore, you’re demonstrating that even after you reach a goal, you aren’t floundering trying to figure out where to go next. You have a gameplan, you follow it, and once you reach it… it’s on to the next one. If you have a few great months but then go dark for several years, what kind of messages does that send to management and A&R? Can you be dependable on a contract to at least work towards completion on any given project? Show your own initiative and consistent output, and that answer will be “yes”.
Unwilling to Grind
When asked about his inspiration for his character of Hakeem, Empire actor Bryshere Gray responded by saying, “He doesn’t want to grind as hard for the things he really wants… he wants to be Jay Z and Kanye, but he doesn’t want to work as hard for it. So that’s his main flaw.” That’s some seriously good insight for anyone regardless of profession, but especially for those looking to make it big. You can be as talented (or even better!) than your musical idol, but one thing sets you apart: they’ve got credibility and have shown that they can create quality music time and again. You still have to prove it. The music industry is a two way street. As an artist, you can be in control of your sound and writing, but recording is a job. Think of the studio as your office, and your producer as the boss. The label depends on you to actually go in there and get your work done, to meet deadlines, and to work with a team… just as if you were working a 9 to 5. Part of starting from the bottom means that you have to put in more work than a veteran. In many office settings, part of getting promoted means that you get more pay and more vacation days. You just can’t walk in and expect the same treatment as someone who has stuck with the company for 10 years. It’s no different with music. You’ve got to show management what you’re made of, and that often means going the extra mile even when you’re not asked.
Under-using Social Media
All of today’s biggest names were once starting small, just like you. But with the newer generation, they had a tool that gave them an edge over the old school: social media. With platforms like Twitter, Soundcloud, and Tumblr readily available and free to use, there is no reason you shouldn’t be taking advantage of all they have to offer. Use these to share your music across the web, and even to build a small fan base. Interact with followers, and actually listen to what they have to say. Critics are fine, but feedback from the common listener is even better!
Starting Too Big
Setting Goals is awesome, no doubt about that. But one of the first principles of goal setting is to make them small and achievable. Submitting demos to people in a position to expose it to a wider listening base is as old as the industry itself. But with so many outlets and competitors, it’s a long shot to send your material to the top blogs or publications in the industry. Instead start small online, and gradually build your way up in the local circuit. Yes, this means that you’re biggest listeners will probably be in the indie/hipster crowd for a while. With each tiny victory, consider aiming slightly higher the next time around. Patience is a virtue, and remembering that is key to your success.