In the words of Ed Sheeran, “Run the tap ’til the dirty water runs clean!”. This means you have to output a high quantity of music before the good stuff starts flowing. It’s like Malcolm Gladwell’s famous 10,000 hour rule, which states that is takes 10,000 hours of practise to become an expert at something. Whilst I think there are ways to cut down this amount of time (mentorship and course-taking being two of them), the general idea rings true.
Also, if you start and finish more music quickly (rather than obsessing over one song for 6 months), you’ll multiple the practise you have at creating each element in the song, e.g. 6 songs finished means 6 bass lines written, 6 drum patterns written, 6 melodies written, etc.)
2. Make music that you like – not what you think other people with like.
It’s an easy trap to fall into – chasing popularity and fame, rather than following your heart when it comes to the music you produce. But, if you always produce music that you like (or at least strive to), it’s a win / win situation. If no-one else likes it, yes that can be painful, but at least you’ve expressed what you wanted and enjoyed the process. If you just try and follow the latest trend, the chances are no-one else will like it AND neither will you!
Music production is a time-consuming endeavour, so it makes sense to enjoy the time you spend.
3. Be consistent – Consistency is key!
Gaining any traction in the music industry is a game of consistency. If you release a couple of tracks, then nothing for a year, you’ll lose all the momentum / following you may have gathered. It’s important to keep showing up, putting the work in, and it’s also a good idea to have 3 or so finished songs for a release schedule so you’ve always got a few months breathing space if needs be, where you can keep releasing music.
4. Set goals, but it’s essential to build systems that will help you form good writing habits.
I am a huge believer in the power of goal-setting, but goals without any system for fulfilling them can end up being a painful reminder of what you HAVEN’T done.
Goals are reached by developing good habits, and good habits are developed by systems that support those habits (I don’t recommend relying on will-power too much – it runs out!).
An example might be:
Goal: Finishing 2 tracks per month.
Habit: Producing for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week.
System: Setting a daily alarm for 5:45am, and letting anyone who needs to know that you are unavailable from 6 – 8am from Monday to Friday. Go into your studio for those 2 hours each morning, leaving your phone somewhere else so it doesn’t distract you. Reward yourself in the end.
5. Spend time producing rather than money on plugins.
Sometimes a new plugin will inspire us, but more often than not we buy them hoping it’ll “fix” our music. It won’t. If you learn the stock plugins than come with your DAW – inside and out – you’ll be amazed at the world-class sound you can achieve. What’s more, you’ll learn what the limitations of those stock plugins are, so when you do invest in a new 3rd party premium plugin, it’ll be for a specific reason.
6. Turn your social media followers into email subscribers.
If you collect your followers email addresses using a system like Mailchimp or Activecampaign, that list belongs to you. No one can take it away from you.
You can then use that email list to keep your fans updated on your music, sell merchandise, let them know of upcoming gigs, etc.
Even if you’re just starting out, I recommend starting to build an email list as soon as you can – you won’t regret it.
7. Contribute to the music production community
he music industry is all about relationships! Music production can be a lonely activity, so reaching out to like-minded people online is a great way to start making connections.
Rather than asking and taking, try contributing, too – someone might really appreciate your help. Sure…ask questions – people love to help – but remember to answer questions, too, or link to resources you think other producers will find useful.
8. Be bold!
Don’t let fear of criticism stop you from getting your music out there. You WILL get criticised from time to time…that’s essential, and it’s absolutely fine.
There are three types of criticism:
1. Constructive. When you get feedback on your music from people who know what they’re talking about. This is essential for improvement, and worth listening to.
2. Misleading. This is where you ask your Gran if she likes your filthy, X-rated, porn sampling industrial drum ‘n’ bass track. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t. Similarly, if you ask a friend who’s only into Norwegian Death Metal whether they like your Deep House track, chances are they won’t. Not because it’s not good – just because it’s not to their taste. So seek feedback from the right people.
3. Destructive. From trolls and haters. This hurts, but try to remember it really isn’t personal. Delete, block, move on. It’s from people who don’t know you – most likely lashing out because they’re a) jealous that you’re trying to do something with your life or b) frustrated with their own life.
Once you accept that you can’t achieve anything without criticism, it makes it a little easier to bear when it (inevitably) happens.
9. Enjoy yourself – it will shine through in your music
This is key! Try not to forget when striving for your idea of music success that you started this journey out of a love for music and production. Life’s too short not to enjoy making music.
10. Look after yourself
A bit of an obvious one, but easy to forget. Stay healthy, stay well, and don’t cane it too hard (too often!). It’s much easier to produce music if you’re not perpetually tired.
Feel free to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org
How sampling transformed music. Sampling isn’t about “hijacking nostalgia wholesale,” says Mark Ronson. It’s about inserting yourself into the narrative of a song while also pushing that story forward.
In this digital era, distractions can seem impossible to avoid. Just figuring out how to stay focused on your goals and ambitions in your music career can feel as difficult as actually achieving them. These days, constant distractions can lead to a massive loss in productivity.
Statistics show that employees, on average, waste 28% of their time dealing with and trying to recover from unnecessary interruptions. And that’s at work, where you’re paid to be productive, and where some of us are monitored too much or too closely for comfort.
So, one can only imagine how much time is lost or wasted when we are left to our own devices. Speaking of devices, how many times have you grabbed your cell phone at the very moment you hear a notification, wasting precious time scrolling through social media when you should be using that time working on your goals?
I can bet a lot. But we’ve all been there. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions and efforts to stay on task, we still find ourselves being chronically distracted. Chances are you’ll be interrupted before you can even finish reading this article.
The reality is as undeniable as it is unavoidable: we live in a world full of distractions! But how can you take back control of your time and attention to avoid these distractions and learn how to stay focused on your goals in your music career?
How to Stay Focused on Your Goals in Your Music Career: Designing Your Environment
“If you can design your life and behaviors well, you don’t need to rely on willpower.” – BJ Fogg, Social Science Research Associate, Stanford
Real progress occurs when we fully understand and align with what, whom, and where best support our goals. So, the next time you’re in your environment, whether at or outside of studio, try to pay attention to how you feel while you’re there. Note if that feeling changes when you leave that environment.
Examine your surroundings. Look at all the infrastructure and ask yourself these simple questions:
1. Am I in an environment that’s conducive to me achieving my music goals?
2. Is it detrimental to me maintaining my focus on my music goals?
3. Is it on par with people who have already achieved what I want to achieve?
Also, examine your lifestyle and habits. Are you placing yourself in environments and situations that spark personal growth?
If the answers to these questions are anything but a definite and resounding yes, then you should seriously consider modifying or completely changing your surroundings. The more you understand yourself, the more aware you’ll be of the environment that’s most likely to help you stay focused on your music goals.
Let Your Music Goals, Not Distractions, Distract You
If you constantly lose focus on your music goals, you pretty much render them useless. Distractions and interruptions are the biggest culprits of losing your focus. One of the most practical ways to maintain focus is to allow your music goals to constantly distract you. You’ll inevitably lose focus from time to time. But you can limit the number of times it happens and the duration by facilitating your goals to distract you back to your focus.
Now, how do you do that? It’s simple: make visual cues.
There’s a saying that if you don’t see it, you’ll probably forget it. Science agrees; the eyes hold the majority of sensory receptors in the human body. Therefore, the eye is a major component of focus.
The following cues are simply things that will trigger you to focus or refocus your attention back onto your goals.
What type to use will largely depend on what works for you, but below are a few common ones:
1. Tape your task list or habit tracker to your desk or onto your refrigerator at home.
2. Hang motivational posters at frequently visited sections of your house or music space.
3. Post-Its – write your goals in a one or two-word phrase on them and stick where you’re sure to see them.
4. Set cues to constantly remind you to stick with your productive habits.
5. Digital devices – alter the screensavers of your computer, smartphones, tablets, or any other digital device you use regularly to display something about your goal.
Modify Your Inner Circle
“You are the average of the five people you associate with most…” – Tim Ferriss
Multiple studies have proven that our mindset, behaviors, and motivations are largely influenced by our peer group. Therefore, the people in our lives have an enormous impact on our ability to reach our goals.
Since people have such a significant influence on the direction of your entire life, if you’re really serious about achieving your goals, you may have to adjust your inner circle. This is where designing or modifying your environment for success becomes tricky.
Unlike upgrading your iPhone, changing the makeup of your inner circle can be a lot more complex. One of the most difficult things to do in life is to sever ties with friends, especially against their will, even if it’s for the betterment of the self.
It will likely foster resentment because it will require you to betray the very virtue that served as the keystone of the friendship in the first place: loyalty.
But we must remember that above all else, when we set important personal goals, we must be loyal to ourselves if we are to achieve them. Loyalty to friends, family, or even to your spouse that is detrimental to your success in life will only slow your growth.
By consciously deciding whom you want in your inner circle, you are taking control of the ultimate direction of your life.
Change Your Environment Completely
This method is the most extreme, but it can also be the most effective. While modifying your environment for it to become less distracting is ideal, sometimes it’s just not enough. Certain elements in your environment, such as your social circle, are harder than others to modify. In fact, some elements that are nearly impossible to adjust.
There are times when these elements are so out of your control that the only thing you can do to stay focused on your goals is to make more radical and thorough changes. This can mean changing your environment completely.
Here are some examples of changes you could try to make (only if necessary):
1. Change your physical possessions (ex.: get rid of your TV)
2. Create a new virtual set-up (online)
3. Change your physical music space (work, home, co-working, cafes, etc.)
4. Join a new social group
5. Change locations (home, co-working space, café, etc.)
6. Change jobs or switch branches
7. Drop distracting friends or family from your inner circle.
8. Change your spouse
9. Move to a different country
Of course, these are some extreme steps to take. So, only resort to these if you have tried everything else to stay focused on your goals but are still unsuccessful.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to stay focused on your music goals, it’s a lot harder to make a significant, lasting change without altering some elements of your environment. By taking control of the set-up of your environment, you can influence your levels of motivation, enthusiasm, drive, and desire towards the goals you have set.
Optimizing your environment creates powerful conscious and subconscious motivators that make staying focused on your goals easier. And for many of us, easier is always better.
“Action is a greater restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all”
-Norman Vincent Peale
What is the definition of confidence?
According to Merriam-Webster, confidence is “the quality or state of being certain.”
When it comes to confidence, it will start within you. You can’t possibly gain confidence from other outside influences. We all experience difficulties throughout the years. As Jim Rohn would say it, “The same wind blows on us all.” We all experience the same difficulties of life like paying for the bills, eating healthy and staying fit, reconnecting with our spouses and raising our children. What separates an insecure person from a confident person is how they handle each and every situation in their life. It’s the direction you take when a difficulty comes up. You can either travel backwards or travel forward towards the direction you want to go in. When you’re able to live in alignment with your deepest values and beliefs in life, your self confidence and inner being will be nourished.
I want to share with you 3 ways that you can be confident and get over any uncertainty in your life.
1. Know your purpose in life.
Why are you living right now? When you know your purpose and the reason why you do what you do, you will be more confident and know that whatever difficulty and uncertainty you are experiencing is only temporary. When you understand what your purpose is, you will see each and every obstacle as a way of making you into a stronger individual. You will know that no matter what you experience, you have a purpose and you will make sure that you live out your purpose. What are the reasons why you do what you do? Maybe it’s for your family or creating stability and security in your life. Reflect on and understand your purpose in life. You will gain so much more confidence if you know why you’re here, and you’ll be able to move away from uncertainty and into confidence.
2. Know who you are.
With so many distractions in this world, we can easily get off track. We can be pulled in every direction other than the direction we want to go in. We can become easily influenced by the media or by friends and family. Because obstacles and difficulties arise, we need to better handle each and every situation. It all starts with knowing who you are. When you know who you are, you will be able to look at an obstacle as a way of you developing yourself rather than having a pity party. It’s all about how you handle situations and staying true to yourself. What makes you, YOU?
You can have one of two perspectives about uncertainty. You can have a positive perspective or a negative perspective. The option of making this decision is all up to you. You can either allow uncertainty to take over your life and lack the inner strength and confidence to move forward, or you can learn from each and every situation you experience, and know that you’ll be a stronger person. You see, our mind can only hold one thought at a time. It can either be a negative thought or a positive thought. If you allow yourself to continue to think negative thoughts, ultimately, you will be negative and uncertainty will take over. When you are able to continue thinking positive thoughts and know that whatever you are currently experiencing is not permanent, you’ll be much more confident in your life.
Confidence is all about being certain in your life no matter what you experience.
Feel like you lack imagination? Know this: Everyone can be more original, it just takes practice.
You might think of creativity as something clever marketers or copywriters whip out when they need to come up with a compelling ad, or a personal trait only certain people, such as successful serial entrepreneurs or brilliant improv actors, naturally possess. But according to Keith Sawyer, research psychologist and author of “Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity,” everyone can be more creative just by taking eight incremental steps, but not necessarily in linear order. His path to creativity is more back and forth, a process in which the steps to greater imagination and originality build on and feed off each other.
The book is a gem, chock full of fascinating findings from research studies and a deep well of tactics that will get you thinking differently. In fact, Sawyer advocates what is likely a radical shift in mindset for most people. Coming up with good ideas isn’t something we leave until there’s a pressing need. Rather, it’s is a skill that can be practiced daily to solve life’s problems as well as discover its opportunities.
Here are his steps for cultivating creativity, along with a sampling of tips that can help you along the way.
1. Ask the right question.
Sawyer tells the stories of the beginnings of Starbucks and Instagram. Neither company would be what it is today if its founders had continued to try to solve the original questions they sought to answer. Instead of asking “How can I recreate the Italian espresso bar in the United States?” Howard Shultz eventually looked at what wasn’t working with that idea to instead ask “How can I create a comfortable, relaxing environment to enjoy great coffee?” And while Kevin Systrom originally pondered how he could create a great location-sharing app, a better question turned out to be “How can we create a simple photo-sharing app?”
Sawyer offers plentiful techniques for generating lots of questions.
Quickly, without overthinking it, write 10 variations of the same question. For example, for the classic question “How can I build a better mousetrap,” you might ask questions such as “How do I get the mice out of my house?” and “What does a mouse want?” or “How can I make my backyard more attractive to a mouse than my house?” One of your new questions will likely be a better one than your original.
Debug your life. Brutally criticize an imperfect product or situation you come in contact with every day. Once you have a list, think of ways to eliminate the annoyances. This can amp creativity because little problems are often symptoms of bigger ones. Steve Jobs, a genius innovator, excelled at finding bugs that distracted from a user’s experience of a product. Make something then reinterpret it. Sometimes before you get at the right question, you have to make something. Once you do, think of your creation being used for purposes other than your original intent. This process throws away your first assumptions, forcing you to consider new perspectives.
2. Become an expert.
The secret to exceptional success doesn’t lie in natural ability, but in deliberate practice. In fact, research suggest that being world class at anything requires 10,000 hours of practice (https://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/why-practice-doesnt-always-make-perfect.html). It’s not just doing the same thing over and over again, however. It should involve pushing yourself to master tasks just slightly beyond your capabilities.
You have to become an expert in an area before you can be creative in it. “Successful creators don’t just like knowledge, they thirst for it. They can’t stop asking questions, and they always go beyond what they’ve learned from teachers and books,” Sawyer writes. There are a plethora of methods to do this.
Listen to TED talks. They’re free videos of inspiring, funny, or fascinating speeches made by brilliant people. To get started, check out 6 TED Talks Every Entrepreneur Should Watch (https://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/6-ted-talks-every-entrepreneur-should-watch.html). Use all your senses to thoroughly delve into a subject. Let’s say you want to learn about the town of Mystras, Greece. You could learn some of the Greek language, search for photos of the Peloponnese online, cook some of its traditional food, watch videos of its traditional festivals, stream its local radio, and email an innkeeper there to get insider information about what the town is really like. Get a mentor. Nearly all Nobel Prize winners have them.
3. Be open and aware.
Creative people are always on the lookout for possible solutions. You can do this by becoming more aware and practicing mindfulness, which involves intentionally noticing things and not pegging people you meet based on your expectations or the categories you have established in your minds. Instead, try to be open and curious and resist stereotyping people.
Create your own luck. Researchers have found people who describe themselves as lucky tend to notice things more than self-described unlucky people. They also act on unexpected opportunities and network well with others because they’re curious. Unlucky people tend to be tense and so focused on narrow goals that they miss opportunities.
Don’t let accidents annoy you. Plenty of inventions–such as Penicillin, The Slinky and chewing gum–came into being because someone didn’t brush past an accident, but studied it instead.
Play with children’s toys. Playing children are really good at making new connections. “I’m not the least bit self-conscious about my toy collection,” Sawyer writes. “If you walk into just about any supercreative company, you’ll find toys all over the place.”
4. Play and pretend.
When you play, your mind can wander and your subconscious has time to work. This is why time off from work is necessary for creativity to bloom.
Explore the future. Imagine yourself being wildly successful five years from now. Write down as many details about what this success looks like. Then write the history of how you got there asking yourself questions such as, “What was the first step you took to move toward your goal?” or “What was one early obstacle and how did you move past it?”
Leave something undone. If at the end of the day you leave a task slightly unfinished it may be easier to start on the next day. That’s because cognitive threads are left hanging in your mind and as you go about your non-work activities your subconscious might hook onto them and give you a sudden insight.
Become a beginner. Learn how to do something new, such as Hula-Hooping, juggling, carving wood, or archery.
5. Generate lots of ideas.
This is the part where you come up with ideas, and lots of them.
List unusual uses for common household objects. What are lots of different ways you could use a paper clip, brick, or knife? Give yourself five minutes to come up with a long list. Don’t worry about whether your ideas are stupid or not.
Try toppling. This is where you use free association to keep generating new words. The trick, though, is to use a different kind of connection between each one. For example, if you start with “carrot” you can’t free associate another vegetable; instead, you might pick “stick,” as in the phrase “carrot and a stick,” then “glue” because you’re thinking of a glue stick. Another example: “Rock” might lead to “Scotch” because you drink it on the rocks.
Set an idea time. Block out a regular time when you’re sharp, relaxed, and undistracted. Julia Cameron, author of popular self-help book “The Artist’s Way” suggests taking 30 minutes each morning to freewrite in a journal. As you do, you’ll notice new ideas creeping in.
6. Fuse ideas.
This involves combining things that don’t normally go together. In a recent study British neuroscientist Paul Howard-Jones asked people to create stories by giving them only three words. To one set of people the words were related, such as “brush,” “teeth,” and “shine.” Another set of people received unrelated words such as “cow,” “zip,” and “star.” The people who received the unrelated words made up more creative stories.
Make remote associations. Go to page 56 in two different books and find the fifth sentence on each. Now create a story that tells the connection between the two. Use analogy. Find similarity between two things that on the surface seem different. Find something that’s removed from your problem, then define five structural properties of it. Instead of listing “sharp” or “metal” for a knife, for example, you’d want to identify things like “requires downward pressure to cut.” How can these characteristics apply to whatever you’re trying solve?
Engage with people who are different from you. We hang out with people who are like us, and while doing so may be comforting, it’s not stretching. Also try imagining yourself as someone else–such as a chef, a foreign student, a building inspector. How would such people see the world?
7. Choose the best ideas.
If you’ve followed the first six steps, you should have plenty of ideas. Now the trick is picking the best ones.
Know what you’re looking for. To do that, you need to trust your intuition–the sense that an idea has beauty. Sawyer also recommends going with ideas that are simple, elegant, and robust (the latter referring to a design that will keep working under adversity or if used improperly).
Make ideas compete against each other. Select two of them and define how they’re different, even in the most subtle ways. Or if you have more than 50 ideas write each one on a sticky note or index cards. Move ideas that seem related close together. You’ll arrive at idea clusters and can look at interesting differences between ideas; perhaps they all vary along the same dimension.
Look past the good. Once you’ve decided an idea is a good one, identify its pros and cons, assign each one a number between one and 10 according to how important it is. The pro total should be significantly higher than your tally for cons. You should also think of the worst-case scenario. What terrible things might happen to foil the success of your idea?
Never stop editing. Everything can always be made better. Find a devil’s advocate to come up with a bunch of reasons why your idea is a bad one. Or, ask people you trust will be honest with you to look critically at your idea. And even failed ideas can be repurposed. The Post It, Sawyer points out, was the result of an adhesive that didn’t work very well.
8. Make something out of your great ideas.
Sawyer holds up the Silicon Valley design firm IDEO for its use of “design thinking,” which seeks to get simple versions of an idea into the world as early as possible–maybe in an hour or a day–by using simple materials such as clay or cardboard to give shape to a new concept. It’s a way of thinking through making, a process that often leads to more ideas.
Draw a picture. Even if you think you can’t draw, you can at least doodle and no one ever has to see what you put to paper. Abstract problems–such as your relationship with someone or a crushing workload–benefit most from turning them into sketches. Cartooning with exaggerated shapes or using simple symbols helps.
Make a collage. Grab a stack of magazines and look for photos and ads. Clip any that relate to your problem in any way and glue them to a large piece of poster board. Keep this art near your desk where you can ponder it. You may get a new perspective on your problem.
Build something. Legos, Tinkertoys, an Erector Set, modeling clay, Silly Putty, and Play-Doh are all good materials you can use to build your idea. Sawyer himself keeps a bag of Legos in his briefcase for times when he has nothing to do.
Check out Sawyer’s book if you want to know more–he claims it offers more than 100 tips on how to be more creative.
When the Instagram account @howdoyousleep appeared last month, fans immediately linked it to pop singer Sam Smith. The account, which teased out short sets of lyrics, given tips on combating insomnia and promoted a cryptic website, only followed Smith. Now, fans have finally found out why.
Smith revealed the release date of “How Do You Sleep,” his newest single, on Wednesday (July 10). Sending out the song’s album art and a message revealing the project as his latest single, Smith revealed that the song will be available everywhere Friday, July 19.
The clip also contains what appears to be a short teaser of the song, as a series of distorted xylophones play an entrancing, lullaby-esque melody. The music had been used in a few of @howdoyousleep’s posts, sometimes slowed down and other times warped beyond recognition.
The album art follows the same theme as Smith’s other 2019 single, “Dancing with a Stranger” with Normani, depicting a bottle of cologne bearing the title of the song on its face.
Sure, we may be living in a digital era. Streaming platforms are dominant, and CDs are useful only to anthropologists. But, there will always be music lovers who appreciate all things vintage. Plus, over the past 12 years, annual sales of vinyl records in the U.S. have surged by 15 times! Go to record stores and advertise your band however you like—posters, stickers, buttons, etc. You can also ask an employee if they’re willing to play your latest music.
So, is social media an important part of your strategy? Is Radiohead’s In Rainbows criminally overlooked because people think it’s edgy to say Kid A is their favorite album?
Facebook is terrific for organizing and promoting upcoming concerts. Each month, hundreds of millions of consumers use Facebook Events to find stuff to do in their cities and neighborhoods. In fact, Facebook Local, a standalone app, is designed to direct users to nearby Events based on their locations.
3. Create an awesome cross-platform community.
People often generalize hashtags as spam. But, did you know that your band can use them to bring fans together and create a super fun online community?
The amazing thing about your fans is that they want to spread your music to new listeners. If you create a hashtag for the release of your newest single, EP, or album, you can rest assured that your loyal followers are going to use that hashtag as well. And each time one of your fans shares it with their social media circles, tons of people you’ve yet to reach are getting exposed to your band.
Hashtags also allow you to find the people who are talking about you online and interact with them. Every music fan fantasizes about getting the chance to have a conversation with their favorite artists. Be the artist who thanks fans for listening and answers their random questions! This does wonders for your public images.
4. Use contests to get more people to your shows.
Music—particularly live music—is all about community. One of the best parts of seeing your favorite band live is reliving the experience with your friends immediately afterwards.
Your band can tap into the social aspect of concerts by launching a contest! When you create a Facebook Event for your upcoming show, let your fans know how it works. Whoever invites the most new people to the Event gets a prize of your (or her) choice—a backstage pass, a free item of merch, and so on. Running a contest like this is a fun, engaging way to get more people at your shows. Plus, you can do it for as many or as few shows as you want!
5. Play a free show.
If there’s one thing that beats live music, it’s free live music. Of course, from an opportunity cost perspective, it’s expensive to give up a night that you could be using to make money from a regular concert. However, if you have the flexibility to occasionally play free shows in parks, town commons, and coffee houses, it can be a fantastic way to get your music out there and find new fans.
Plus, in an era when ticket vendors charge exorbitant fees for no apparent reason other than turning a profit, putting your music out for free is a surefire way to brand yourself as a cool, down-to-earth artist.
6. Play your new stuff on a radio show.
Much like vinyl, great radio is never going to die. Maybe I’m just in denial, but I truly believe that music consumers will always find value in the local radio stations that play stuff you wouldn’t otherwise hear over the airwaves.
If there’s an awesome indie station in your hometown, or if you have a show booked in a city with such a station, reach out and try to organize an album release appearance. Ideally, they’ll have a set-up that allows you to play live in the studio. But, if you’re limited to simply spinning a few tracks and providing commentary, that’s perfectly good, too.
Either way, local radio stations offer a way for your band to generate buzz and reach a captive audience that can (most likely) get something out of your music.
7. Go on tour with other artists.
What better way to get new listeners to hear your awesome music than to play a show for an entirely different fanbase? Opening up for a more popular band—ideally one with a sound similar to yours—guarantees that you’re reaching audiences who want to listen. One amazing set is all it takes to get hundreds, if not thousands, of Spotify users to look up your profile before the headliner comes on stage. If you can get new fans out of every show, your band will be the one looking for openers some day soon.
8. Play at genre-specific festivals.
When you think of music festivals, the ones that come to mind are the major players: Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, and so on. While it’s no small achievement for a small indie outfit to get on the bill at one (or more) of these festivals, playing them may not generate as much buzz as you would hope. Your band may be superb, but if the majority of attendees are there to get wasted and bop to Travis Scott, they’re probably not going to pay much attention to your dream pop songs.
Alternatively, you can focus your festival energies on the festivals reserved for artists within your genre. By opting for more niche festivals, you’re playing your music for audiences that truly want to hear it. You know the attendees are there for more than the food and the booze; they’re there because they love the genre and want to discover more artists within it.
9. Document your existence.
For whatever reason, we’re a little obsessed with the personal lives of the artists we admire. We hate to break it to you, but your most dedicated fans probably wonder what you eat for breakfast and which Netflix shows you love. A little creepy? Sure. Something you can build on? Absolutely!
You can use a blog as a platform for tons of different stuff. Provide inside looks into your songwriting process. Tell funny stories from the road. Recommend other artists that you love. Publishing content like this makes you a more likable persona and creates opportunities for people who have never heard of you to find your website while poking around Google.
If you’re not a wordsmith, vlogging is another great option. It allows you to give fans the behind-the-scenes content they want and opens the door for finding new listeners through popular video platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
10. Incorporate your fans into the process.
Yes, they’re interested in weird stuff like your dietary habits and entertainment preferences. But, the connections your fans feel with your band and with your music go a lot deeper than that. Like we said under tip #3—they want to help you succeed. An email newsletter is an excellent way to incorporate them into certain processes: naming songs, creating album covers, writing liner notes, etc.
You have to give them an incentive. Maybe you reward the first 100 people who download your newest single by adding them to the newsletter. Or maybe you want to emphasize your live performances, and the newsletter recipients are the first 100 people to buy tickets to your next hometown show. Whichever way you slice it, this is a great tactic to drive downloads and ticket sales. Building your fans into the album release process is certain to keep them engaged.
11. Make awesome music videos.
I know, I know. We may as well advise you to make good music while you’re at it. But, hear us out.
Nearly one-third of all Internet users watch videos on YouTube. Over half a billionpeople watch Facebook videos every day. Between the two platforms, 45% of people watch at least an hour of video content every week. More and more every day, video is the form of content people want the most.
Creating super compelling music videos is a stellar way to grab Internet users’ attention and introduce them to your music. Plus, people love to share videos with followers, friends, and family members.
The best part: you don’t need a huge budget to make a great music video.
12. Reach out to critics and music writers.
As much as people like to poke fun at music critics for being too self-serious, a lot of them exert serious influence over which artists and albums get the time of day. For example, Anthony Fantano publishes tons of album reviews on his YouTube channel, theneedledrop. Earlier this year, he eclipsed 1.5 million subscribers. The visibility an artist gets following one of Fantano’s reviews is immense.
It may not be realistic for your band to get featured on such a popular channel. Regardless, you should email bloggers and magazine writers and ask them to review your latest material. In the same vein as opening for bigger artists, getting reviewed on a reputable website will undoubtedly direct music fans to your streaming profiles. Plus, if the writers are kind enough to link to your website, those blog posts you’ve been writing will inch higher and higher up the Google search results.
13. Or write your own freelance reviews.
Now, assuming that your efforts to take your band to the next level are rather time-consuming, you probably don’t have the time to hold down a full-time staff writer gig.
But, making the time to write occasional guest reviews for music magazines could give you some great exposure. If there’s an EP or album you feel qualified to review, reach out to the editors at music publications like Pitchfork, The Wire, HipHopDX, and XXL. Put together an author bio and mention that, when you’re not writing reviews, you’re single-handedly keeping the indie rock genre alive.
Directing music publications’ readers to your streaming profiles is the obvious benefit. Plus, working as a freelance writer enables you to develop relationships with the editors who decide what gets reviewed. This boosts your chances of getting your music reviewed and generating serious buzz around new releases.
14. Feature your music prominently on your website.
Under tip #2, we mentioned that Facebook is now encouraging artists and businesses to sell tickets directly through their Events. This is huge because it makes it a lot easier for consumers to purchase tickets to your shows. Nobody wants to catch wind of an exciting concert and then dig around a bunch of different websites for a ticket. The underlying principle is that you want to make consumers exert minimal effort.
This principle applies to your website design. If you bury your songs under a “Music” tab, you’re forcing the people who visit your site to click at least once to find your material. That sounds like nothing, but it makes a difference. Regardless of which streaming platforms you’re on—Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Spotify—make sure to embed your newest music prominently on your homepage. This way, when someone visits your site, they don’t have to lift a finger in order to hear your music.
15. Get interviewed.
Generally speaking, people will listen to anything that sounds good. Unfortunately, we, as a society, have a nasty habit of supporting artists who do bad things in their personal lives simply because their songs are catchy.
That being said, music listeners really love artists who make great music and demonstrate some kind of moral compass. Getting interviewed—whether it’s on camera at a festival or in print on a website—is your best chance to show people how awesome and likable you are.
Even if someone has never heard of your band before, one fantastic interview could be all it takes to convince them to give your new single a spin.
16. Take your time.
Justin Mares and Gabriel Weinberg are two dudes who wrote a book titled Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth. Their principal argument is that most startups fail because they dedicate all their time and resources to product development, neglecting to develop their core distribution channels. These companies go to market with a shiny new product and have no mechanisms for building a customer base.
The music industry equivalent is a band that drops an album before anyone has ever heard of them. It’s understandable, of course. The creative energy is high and you’re cranking out the best material of your life—that’s awesome. But, unless you generate a healthy amount of buzz with some killer lead singles (and perhaps an EP), your debut album release is going to be a disappointment.
Take your time and build up a library of stellar songs that could fill three albums. Keep the momentum going while you gradually release songs and let the hype build.
The first thing you have to think about when putting together your marketing plan is this:
What is your core goal?
It’s essential that the most successful and long-lasting campaigns start locally and build globally, and that no matter how grand the overall goal is, it makes sense for all artists to attack this goal on a per-project basis. A typical music marketing plan looks at the lifecycle of one record (which could end up being more than a year of well-performing release).
For traditional record labels, the goal was easy: sell records. Labels have the infrastructure in place (distribution and marketing, mostly) to replicate past marketing plans with slight adjustments based on the individual characteristics and existing fan base of the particular band they are working with.
Independent artists that do not have a label’s built-in promotion and distribution mechanisms must be more detailed with their plans. For example, the core goal of using their new release to expand their fan base. A band that was formerly signed to a label might be interested in tapping into the national or international marketing inroads that their former label made.
This plan might have the goal of connecting with past supporters of the band to sell an independent release. It’s essential to have a long-term vision in terms of creating a working marketing plan, you need to consider the stage you are at in your career and be realistic about what is possible for you.