Being a musician nowadays is not easy to get noticed, online sites like YouTube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and iTunes provides a platform for music and are flooded by enthusiasts and professional seasoned chart-toppers from all parts of the globe.
When starting out in music you are faced with a few dilemmas, getting your music out there, trying to book a gig or raising the money to pay for that killer track you just wrote. Now, some of you may be fluent with Pro Tools or other types of recording software. Either way you got that killer track and you want the world to hear it.
So let’s look at the fairytale world concept of music. You just wrote this fantastic tune and your family and friends love it. You decide to lay the track down and get it pressed or ready for one of the music platforms to upload it to. A top A&R rep from one of the biggest record labels contacts you and explains how they want to sign you up asap! Venue and festival promoters are flooding your inbox with invites to play headline slots alongside some of the biggest names in the industry, and bam! you’re the next biggest thing on the planet.
Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, that is all fairytale bullshit. There is no secret ingredient about getting your songs on the charts or to millions of people worldwide, but there are ways to make it happen. You need to ask yourself a very important question and put everything else aside, management, gigs, recordings all that. The first question is, do you want to be a musician with a one hit wonder? Or do you want to be a musician that works and plays tons of gigs and lives comfortably?
We have heard so many artists with superb songs that never even make it into the charts, there are a few factors in this why they don’t and it is nothing to do with the industry or luck. Let’s say you want to take the one hit wonder route, sounds tempting yes? OK, music is like fashion, in one day out the next and it takes a bit of a craft to know what is the new trend in music. You may not like the style or genre, but thinking like this is where you will fail. For example, Your music is rock, and the trending music in the charts is RnB or Hip Hop. What can you do to break into that? For one you might think, “I will write stuff like Rock with a Hip Hop element that may work?”, or even better, record your song with a featured Hip Hop artist? I think you are getting the idea by now.
There is no real formula into writing that one hit wonder, but if you look at most of the number 1 hits they are very simple cord structures and have over commercialised choruses to keep you humming or singing along to. A bit like radio jingles or ads off the telly or that ringtone everyone has on their phone. Craft this and you will write that hit and maybe the fairytale factor will knock on your door.
Or maybe you’re a musician who wouldn’t mind the odd hit now and again and would love to play and record music every day for the rest of your life. This route is the hardest and probably the more common route musicians take. It is all about the fanbase and contacts. Venues and festival bookers don’t reply to your emails? People are listening to your music but are not buying it? When you do get a gig and it may have cost you an arm and a leg just to put on the show, 3 people turn up and they are the sound crew and best mate? So this happened once, don’t let it happen again, learn by this and move on. It sounds daunting, but it’s not. They call this “The learning curve” Why? Because if you never experienced any of this, you may not be ready to take on the world or even your local bar.
Twitter, Facebook all the social networks are like the new way of telling people if the musician has lots of followers they must be good or famous. In some cases, they are famous in others it is false advertisement, very clever PR that is. But forget all that and stay focused on your sound, your stage craft, your image. All very important.
OK, so now you got 4 songs written, rehearsed and ready to go. You’re thinking this is not enough for a gig, well you’re right, so what do you do? Come on you are a musician, learn a few covers and throw them in the mix with your music. This is where the craft comes in. So you hook up with a band or singer-songwriter who is willing to give you a support slot, this is not easy, remember their crowd is for their music, but a great way to experiment your sound. Two things can happen at the gig, you play the show and their audience loved your covers but no response to your originals, this is priceless research, improve songs or dump them. Or their audience loved your originals and covers, this is the market researchers dream. Always observe what songs get the more reaction and ones that don’t, dump them or improve.
After a long haul of support slots, you should now know what tracks work and what tracks don’t. So don’t go recording and filling up Albums or EP’s with music that never seen the light or got the minimum reaction when you played them live, you are wasting your time. Use the tracks that get the biggest and warmest welcome every time you play them, you’re guaranteed to sell these. I know this sounds all too easy but it’s not and nobody say’s the music industry is easy. It’s an industry full of artists, but to gain the respect as an artist you must perfect your craft and start acting in the professional manner expected by the industry.
So if you want that number 1 hit or just to be the world’s hardest working musician. Remember, no matter what you do you’re doing it for the love and passion of music and if you fail at first get back up and try again.
Here is some media advise for musicians starting out! Make sure you have a good clear photo, no need to hire a professional photographer for this and with today’s hi-res camera phones you can ask a friend to take the picture. Have a bio wrote out about you and your music (The business part of show). Contact details and links to some music (Even if the music is live video or home recording). These 3 simple things will go a long way for you starting out and getting noticed. Happy music making!