Lady Gaga may have a “Bad Romance,” but it’s no secret she also has a exceptional bank account. Forbes recently named her the top-earning female in the music industry, leading the list with earnings of over $90 million in the past year in album sales, touring and endorsements. Sure beats being a starving musician, right?
Fortunately, you don’t have to sell out to be successful – here are 5 tips that will help you get on your way to making money as a musician, courtesy of Keith Hatschek at Artists House Music:
Rule #1: Always Bring Your “A” Game
Making the decision to spend your life as a professional musician is a big commitment. Once you’ve made that decision, you need to focus on bringing your “A” game to every interaction that impacts your music studies, performances, networking and other points of contact with what we loosely call the music industry.
Never put a half-hearted effort into anything musical. First, the competition to get work and keep working is fierce in every city and town in the world. Second, since so much of the music industry is based on personal relationships and reputations, if word gets out that you gave a weak effort at a gig or rehearsal, chances are you may not be getting a call back in the future.
Rule #2: Get Out of Your Practice Room
Isn’t practicing supposed to be the road to musical success, more gigs and maybe even superstardom? Well, no, it’s not. Actually, your musical chops, whether you are a shred guitarist or a composer of madrigals, is only one part of your overall career skill set. Not to say that playing, singing, of composing extremely well is not absolutely essential. It is. But there are thousands of talented guitarists who can play every lick by whoever the hot guitarist of the month is but seldom play a gig. Why?
They spend their lives studying music, perfecting their skills, however they are unfortunately violating one of the most important rules of music career building. You must develop connections to people and institutions (think clubs, radio stations, booking agents, other bands, etc.) that are like-minded and can help you. Ask around your local music store or music school about meeting up with some people who are interested in similar types of music, careers, etc. Find a club that hires bands like yours to play, go to a show, get the phone number of the booker and get your promo kit into their hands.
Rule #3: Nurture Your Network
All of us have a network of friends, family, and most of us have various professional connections. This is your current network. To fast track your career you need to continually work to expand your network, adding persons who can help you grow your career and you need to keep in touch with your network.
Start today by making a list of everyone who you would consider supporting your music career goals and ambitions. Then, set a goal of adding a few people each month to your network, as well as giving support and aid to the members of your network.
Rule #4: Get a Music Industry Day Gig
This is counterintuitive to many talented young artists. Why should I get a day gig when I could/should be practicing my brains out, much less a music industry day gig? Aside from keeping home and hearth together, using your love, knowledge and passion for music to help a music industry company meet some of their goals is a fantastic way to expand your network, and learn more about an area of the industry that you will be involved in when your career takes off.
For example, a rock musician may learn quite a bit about record distribution or radio airplay by working at a well-managed record store or a radio station that features the types of music you perform. An aspiring opera singer can learn a tremendous amount about how opera companies or other non-profit arts organizations are managed by working for an opera, theater company or orchestra. An aspiring jazz drummer may forge many useful connections by teaching beginning drummers at a well-managed music store, opening up the opportunities to meet drum manufacturers, clinicians and other drum and percussion professionals.
Remember, flipping burgers is not likely to help your career onto the fast track we all want to be on!
Rule #5: Keep Your Sense of Humor
Did anyone tell you the music industry is a pretty crazy way to make a living? One minute your life can be filled with the rapture of a musical triumph, and the next day you’ll be wallowing in agonizing doubt because you didn’t get a call back for a crucial audition. In order to cope with the stress and struggle of a career in music it is absolutely essential that you maintain a sense of humor, as well as a few non-musical outlets to allow you to keep on an even keel.
Take charge of your career and good things will start to happen. Really!
Any additional tips you’d like to share? How do you keep your sanity if the money isn’t rolling in? Let us know – leave a comment and join the discussion!
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