14 thoughts on “15 Things You Must Do to Make it in the Music Industry

  1. Really sound advice, truly essential to cover these bases that Nick lists. Nice job. Here’s something similar regarding songwriting and carving out a niche in the industry.

    Don’t Dream It, DO It!

    What is it you are actually trying to do? Be the world’s best writer? Become a megastar performer? Lead the church choir? Own a record label that records other acts?

    You would not believe how many writer/artists come to me, saying they just want to do “something” in the Music Industry. Sorry, you have to specialize a bit more than that!

    Sit down with paper and pen. Define EXACTLY what it is in your heart that you dream of. (Hint, the bigger the dream, the harder to achieve…but as long as you are prepared to give what it takes, you’ll find a place in the scheme of things.)

    By the way, I have to do this, because I get sidetracked by wanting to do too many things. I constantly have to reassess projects and schedules…just part of business in a busy, busy world.

    Let’s say you decide that you want to be a great writer, who is successfully cut on the charts, and makes a lot of money. Do you know what the real charts are? Who’s on them currently? What labels are consistently charted? The styles of the top ten successes in the last two years?

    Do you know what the actual elements of a great standard song are? Can you name the top sellers of all time in your genre? The top sellers of the current year? And do you know why they attained success? Do you hone your skills and knowledge whenever you have a chance?

    Can you make the presentation of your art a commercial reality? Not just WILL you, CAN you?

    Go do 150 sit ups without practice. Go write a great song without practice. You have to practice (i.e., actually write) everyday, just like you would with any improvement program. If the newest song you are showing is old, you are not competing as a writer.

    If something doesn’t go the exact direction you thought it should have, rewrite the situation. If it’s the song that has flaws, rewrite it until they are gone. If it’s the voice, get some training.

    If it’s the gig, create one that works for you. When I was playing gigs in KCMO, I went to the Plaza, to nice places that didn’t have entertainment. I’d offer the owner a free evening of music, if he liked it, I’d work X amount of weekends for X amount per night. I almost always got the gig, partly because I was prepared, partly because few can resist something for nothing and not sense some obligatory return. Most wanted entertainment, but had no idea they could afford it. For me, it was a way to go.

    If you find that you thought you wanted the big dream, but then you realize that your dream didn’t include all the nonsense that goes along with one of those in exchange for your “other dream(s),” (perhaps your family or job), it is totally all right to adapt your dreams to accommodate each other. Unfortunately, some dreams require 24 hour dedication to maintain. (Ask any professional who is a megastar in their field.)

    Don’t give up. That’s the first thing anyone successful who is giving advice says, so it must be true. (OK, it’s pretty logical that if you do give up, your odds will go way down…) What I’m really saying is leave no stone unturned. Take advantage of all opportunities, work, work, work at it.

    Remember that each time you sing, play, write, perform, discuss, pitch, etc., you are creating a reality that supports your dream. Don’t forget to applaud the little steps, as well as the big. You write a birthday song for your sister-in-law, and it makes her cry with your kindness. Your song is used in a campaign for adoption, and though it didn’t earn a dime, it was perfect, and said so much to so many. A peer complimented your writing at a recent song pitch. You were the hit of the community musical. GOOD FOR YOU! It all matters.

    All these things make us more professional, and give us the reasons for doing the work. They are as important as the royalties, and enrich our life of music. Don’t overlook them.

    Did you know that most of your little steps are someone else’s big dream? Some people would give a great deal to have the opportunity to perform one karaoke song in front of an audience…or have anyone use a song for any reason….or play a great guitar lick…or own a computer…or you name it. Appreciate the skills and opportunities God has blessed you with that you might even have a dream.

    Just my opinion.

    1. Thanks for this thoughtful response! Love what you said about practicing the dream. Songwriting really is like a muscle. Cheers!

  2. Can african artist register his/her work with american music company like soundexchange, ASCAP or BMI? If yes, how can it be done? And how can I get my song on shazam, itunes, spotify and pandora?

  3. Marion, thanks for sharing your story. I’m so happy the ASCAP emails brought you here to our blog. You have a beautiful voice and an inspirational story. Keep on singing and know that you’re not alone on your journey!

  4. LOL! Megan you made my day! I will be singing, praising and doing more videos until God calls me home. I will go the extra 9 miles to help another person who wants to do their thing in exploring their musical journey. When I taught after school classes, I would have a one on one with each of my students. See what they like best to do Dance, sing, recite poetry. I also brought in my camera, take their picture, then videoed them doing their thing. Then during the weekend I prepared them a CD or DVD with their picture on it. That’s why I was attracted to leave a reply, after reading 15 Things You Must Do to Make it in the Music Industry

  5. Oh let me clear a statement that I made. My 2013 fall back was, I was told I had 2 degenerative disc’s in my lower back. So I had to come out from working. So I plan to read and do my research about song writing as well.

  6. I was also brought here from my ASCAP daily emails. This was a very useful article, especially the points regarding optimism and staying the course.

    I run a small operation now (we only have one artist, Hansel Thorn, on our roster currently), but he has found a decent amount of success thus far (around 30,000 followers and well over 7 million views/plays). However, with the paltry sums most streaming services pay those numbers don’t generate a ton of revenue.

    Thus, our next challenge now is getting him on the road. We’re getting ready to launch a crowd funding campaign geared towards funding a tour. I would love some tips and advice on other ways to raise money for financing touring, e.g., how to approach possible sponsors, etc.

    Thanks again for the tips. I’m excited for my copy of The Business of Music to arrive. 🙂

  7. real sound advice everything is true i am interested more in how british music deals work. i have so far 4 A V S music demos to 11 countries air play and as ascap know papers for writer done getting ready for publishing next please advise. thank you. NICK GUNN

  8. also 1 single on its way to disc makers cd baby at the first of the year 2016 which is jazz instramentals solo bassist.

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