How to Establish a Career In the Music Industry

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Apr 24, 2020

Apr 24, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

Realizing success in the music industry isn't something that just happens overnight. It requires a lot of patience, perseverance, willingness to accept criticism, and even some level of failure to get a clearer understanding of your goals and make them a reality.

The following are five crucial practices to consider as you lay a foundation for long-term success in the music industry.

Stay Up To Date

Considering that the music industry is always changing and evolving, you need to stay informed in order to keep up.

Staying in the loop is just as important for music business professionals as it is for artists. To get a job in product design, licensing, or marketing in companies like Apple or Spotify, you need to be able to address changes that are driving growth in the industry. Likewise, a successful artist manager should stay updated on industry trends and tastes, sprouting niche markets, and changing perception around the commercial viability of an artist.

The path followed by most of the leading executives and artists in the industry today wasn't narrow or linear. Same as with theirs, your path will involve continued learning, hustle, and investing in yourself. The industry is changing rapidly according to Tony M Fountain with knowledge of video, photography, SEO, SMM, web design and public relations increasingly necessary.

Music distribution has been completely overhauled in recent years, which means that artists don't have to rely on deals with major labels to be successful. Keeping up to date with platforms like Soundcloud, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook's Sound collection enables artists to promote their music and reach a wider audience.

Engage with Others in the Industry

Your success in establishing a career and building a personal brand in the music industry will depend on your ability to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships.

You are told time and again: "Networking and creative alliances matter." But why is this so? Same as with other people-based industries, the music industry depends on it. So, where does one start?

Don't spend all your time in the studio, or on your keyboard or microphone. Regularly take breaks to engage in face-to-face interactions with colleagues, peers, and established professionals. Festivals, trade shows, and industry conferences offer ideal settings to have fun and organic interactions, however, they aren't your only networking outlets. Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram have helped make networking easier than ever before. You are missing out on a lot of opportunities if you aren't already on these or other similar platforms. You need to create an account and start connecting. Be reasonably persistent when it comes to building new connections, whether digitally or in person. Keep track of those you engage with and why you both might benefit from staying in touch.

Learn to Talk to Strangers (Networking)

There is an old adage in the entertainment industry that claims that realizing success isn't about what you know as much as it is about who you know. Either way, this claim is valid. In the music industry, people who quickly achieve success normally do so by taking advantage of the connections they have with people that are already making waves in the industry. Remember, you’re in this industry because you’re lucky and as this post on Now Entertainment discusses one of the biggest joys is bringing happiness to people through your art.

Here are four ways in which you can meet people who can help you launch a successful career:

Music conferences/Industry events

Digital Outreach. While this option is the least likely to generate a response, it is possible to create connections through well-written and engaging messages considering that everyone in music is connected to their inbox at all times of the day.

Fraternize with Other Musicians

You can not underestimate the importance of artist-to-artist friendships. It is easy to focus so much on your personal practice that you fail to notice all the impressive creative energy occurring around you.

Friendships with other performers, producers, and writers are, in most cases, made in the early, crucial stages of a person's career, however they do pay dividends later on. Step out and also meet people in your adulthood - who doesn't love an excuse to have a cup of coffee and talk about their thoughts.

Of course, it is obvious that you should stay mindful of not burning any bridges in the process. Take the extra step to build and maintain your relationships as healthy as possible. Support each other and each other's work - purchase your friend's music...duh, compose together, and provide creative opportunities to collaborate, attend each other's shows, introduce yourself, and more importantly, make a pact to try and learn at least one thing from one another. Keep in mind that you are only as strong as who you know - and everything they know about you.

Learn About Everything, Master One

In most cases, budding industry professionals usually have an idea of what they want to do in business. However, what normally happens is that most of these aspiring industry professionals are asked to complete various tasks while cutting their teeth in the initial stages of their careers. With that being said, it is similarly important for budding professionals to master one skill set as it for them to have a firm grasp how the entire industry works. This way, individuals looking for employment will be able to apply their skills and knowledge to as many opportunities as they can while still working on the role they aspire to acquire.

Understand Your Competitive Advantage

You have a long skill-set. Evaluate your experience and note what differentiates you from others. Have a meticulously crafted pitch that showcases to the world who exactly you are and provides more information on your unique combination of skills, experience, and presence.

A successful musician or artist is one who is able to quickly improvise when the need arises. You'll need to be always prepared to pitch a song that you have been working on or pick up your guitar and head to the stage to cover for a friend at a gig. You'll also need to have impeccable project management skills. Whether it is organizing and rehearsing and members for a performance or handling event logistics or marketing for an upcoming campus program, you'll need to master the skill of time management, appreciate the need for paying attention to detail, and appreciating the significance of being both a team player and a team leader.

Always Be Agile

There is no set roadmap that you can specifically follow to get from point A to point Z in the music and entertainment industry. You aren't guaranteed that you'll earn a certain salary, secure a life-time gig, or sign a deal at your first try. It is important to understand that early enough. However, your commitment and dedication to realizing success in this industry has great potential in making an impact and being fulfilling.

Learning how to be agile and comfortable balancing one opportunity to another, at times, might require taking a non-music lifeline career to ensure that you are able to provide for yourself, your significant other, or family. As mentioned earlier the path that most top executives and artists followed wasn't linear or narrow. Just like theirs, your path will be filled with a lot of learning hustle and self-investment.