The music industry is constantly changing with new platforms to take advantage of appearing all of the time. Fortunately, this means that there are a whole host of things you can do to create a sustainable career in the music industry.
Knowing how to get into the music industry is essential for you to understand before you have a successful career in it. We have the 17 best ways that will help you learn how to make it in music.
Understanding the music industry is vital for your success as an artist, and if you don’t know the best ways to get noticed, you’re going to struggle to have a sustainable career. Below are 17 easy ways that you can make it in the music industry.
Tips on how to be successful in the music industry
There is no definite way to make it in the music industry, but there are a few ways to increase your chances of making it happen.
Following these tips below may help you get a few steps closer to making it in the music industry:
- Stand out from the crowd
- Work hard
- Be motivated
- Learn from other people
- Get lucky (by putting yourself out there)
- Be professional
- Utilise social media
- Have a good team and network
- Work with other musicians
- Stay humble
As an artist:
- Have an image
- Ask people for feedback on your music
- lay gigs and have a great live act
- Promote your music offline
- Grow your audience
- Work with bloggers
- Distribute your music effectively
How to make it in the music industry
#1 Be motivated
You aren’t going to get very far in the music industry if you don’t have any motivation or ambition. Assuming you’re going to make it isn’t going to be enough to be successful in the music industry.
It’d be foolish to believe everyone is going to want to sign you, but for everyone that rejects you, there are hundreds of others who might want to give you opportunities. Start off small by promoting your music online and then start thinking about taking it to the next level.
Find more on how to promote your music here.
It’s easy to get de-motivated when you’re starting out but always try to have a positive mental outlook – it’s just as important as being conscientious and pro-active in your career. The road ahead for any musician when they’re getting started always seems long, but enjoy the journey as well as when you achieve your long-term goals.
How to start a music career with no money?
#2 Utilise social media – it’s free!
When it comes to starting out as an artist in the music industry, you need to promote your music in some way. Social media is one of the best ways to get your message across.
If you don’t have much money to start out with, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great contenders for artists to promote their music online because you can reach a large audience easily and it’s free.
Make sure you use these platforms to engaging your fan base – be personal and give people a reason to interact with your content.
How much should you post on social media as an artist?
If you post too little you are in danger of getting lost in peoples’ news feeds and forgotten, aim to have at least two or three posts per week up to a max of one per day. Posting too much can irritate your fans unless it’s amazing, brand new content every time.
If you have loads of content, consider spreading it out over all of your platforms – it’ll give people a reason to like and follow you everywhere.
No matter how far along you are in your journey through the music industry, social media seems to always be at the core of everything. Learn how to use it well!
#3 Promote yourself offline
When you’re getting started in the music industry, you’ll need to work on promoting yourself offline as well as promoting yourself online.
Here are some things you might want to consider:
Get featured in magazines
Smaller community magazines are often the best to send your music to when you’re starting out.
Magazines like NME are great, but you’ll struggle to successfully pitch your music to them without a big team behind you.
Instead, approach local magazines – they love to feature upcoming music that’s surrounded by a bit of hype. Some of these ‘smaller’ publications can actually have some significant reach.
A magazine specifically dedicated to music is often the best though for musicians. The people who read these types of publications are often more likely to be music fans, so they would potentially be much more inclined to check out your musical project.
Get on the radio
As an artist starting out, one of the best platforms for upcoming artists is BBC Introducing.
You can upload your best tracks online through the BBC Introducing uploader for free, and if the hosts enjoy your song they’ll play it to an audience of people who want to discover new bands and artists.
Many influential people (both locally and regionally) listen to BBC Introducing – you never know who might want to get in contact with you.
If you have a song that’s good quality, there are plenty of local community radio stations would love to feature your music. See what comes up if you Google your city’s name followed by ‘radio stations’ – send them over your music and see what they think.
#4 Work with bloggers
Online bloggers are often great people for musicians to start building connections within the music industry.
Some online blogs are run by people who have really dedicated music fans. They may even be run by musicians themselves. These are definitely people who you’ll want to get to know and build connections with.
If you’re an artist you could also ask these bloggers to feature you on their blogs. It really builds up your ‘social proof,’ which means proving that you are a legitimate musician to your audience (by having your content featured on someone else’s blog).
Proving to your audience that your music is worth talking about will give them faith that you’re a dedicated artist that has some hype behind you!
There’s so much more info on specifically how to get featured on blogs here.
How to become known in the music industry?
#5 Stand out from the crowd
Yes, it’s obvious that you need to have the talent to do well in the music industry, but being talented may not be enough. Being able to sing or play your instrument well is, of course, is the main part of making it as a singer artist in the industry, but there is always room for improvement.
Many singers, for example, make the mistake of thinking they don’t need singing lessons because they can sing. Singing lessons can help a singer to develop their voice and teach them tricks on how to use it effectively. Even established singers will continue to have lessons to maintain their vocals and ensure bad techniques don’t creep in.
There are millions of great musicians out there, so it’s your job to take it one step further and be amazing.
#6 Have an image
Having your own ‘image’ is often overlooked by many smaller artists in the industry. It might not be something you want to focus on when you’re starting out, but it’s something people who listen to you notice if they see you live or online and want to follow you as an artist.
As an artist, you have to have the whole package, right down to your style choices and social media artwork, it needs to be uniform and consistent.
Your image and music is core to you being successful as an act and they must, therefore, reflect your personality.
Your image should complement your music and hopefully make you stand out too.
Try to develop something unique that stands out about yourself and market it to the target audience who will relate best to you.
Even bands and artists that don’t appear to have an ‘image’ in the traditional sense still have an identity, so try to find something special about you that people can appreciate but can also relate to.
#7 Get lucky (by putting yourself out there)
This isn’t really a tip but it’s one way of making it. Being in the right place at the right time has worked for some singers. For example, Justin Bieber uploaded his videos to YouTube and was found by Usher.
You can’t rely on this as a way of making it, but putting yourself out there more will increase your chances of getting lucky in the industry. One thing is for sure though, the harder you work the luckier you will become, but of course, work hard but work smart!
How to become successful as an independent music artist
#8 Be professional
When you’re looking to build relationships with people in the music industry always be professional.
This doesn’t mean wear a suit and tie, rather, do things like turn up on time, be respectful, be well-rehearsed if it’s a gig, and don’t be a hindrance.
Turning up late to a gig isn’t ‘cool’ it’s just a pain for the promoter and sound engineer! You’d be much better getting there early and talking through your set up – they’ll respect you much more in the long term if you do this.
#9 Distribute your music effectively
Continuing on from the previous point, being professional as a person, it’s important for your music to look professional too.
In 2019, almost every artist who has ‘made it’ in the music industry has their music on platforms such as Spotify in some form. Nowadays it’s crucial for allowing people to listen to your music for free so that you can grow your fan base and look professional.
If you’re signed to a record label they will be able to distribute your music for you, but if you’re an independent artist there are plenty of sites that you can use to upload your tracks.
If you have a small portfolio of music, sites such as DistroKid and CD Baby are a great option for you. If you have more music that you’ll be uploading on a regular basis as albums perhaps, TuneCore might be a better option for you.
Make sure to note that each of these services requires a small payment to upload music to Spotify – it’s definitely worth it though to make yourself look professional.
Find more info on how to make money from selling your music through distributors here.
Best place to start a music career
#10 Play gigs and have a great live act
If you’re looking to make it far in the music industry, you’ll need to be proficient in your instrument.
If you’re an artist you’ll also need people to hear your music and have the opportunity to see you perform as well; this is where gigging comes in.
Having gigging experience not only helps to promote your music and you as an artist, but it also gives you real-life experience of performing on stage and in front of an audience.
Build relationships with real people in the music industry
Gigging allows you to meet new people as well. Succeeding in the music industry is largely about building relationships with people and working with them – live gigs are often where you might find these people.
If you’re starting off, perhaps find some smaller gigs and Open Mic nights before embarking on larger gigs.
Once you’ve got more of a fan base, promoters will want to book you up to support a bigger band. This allows you to play your brilliant songs and hopefully win over the fans of the headline band!
More on how to get gigs here.
How can I improve my music skills?
#11 Work with other musicians
Leading on from the previous point, it’s so important to have good relationships with other musicians if you want to make it in the music industry.
With musicians, it’s great to jam out together, you might also learn something new from them whilst you play, improving your skills as a musician.
It’s important to note that the musicians are always the core of the music industry so make sure to be friends with as many as you can. Note that if you get a bad name for yourself though, you’ll struggle to develop your career – word spreads in music communities (both positive and negative)!
How do you get rich from the music industry?
If you’re looking to just make money in music you’re probably going about it the wrong way. The money is there, but in most cases, you’ll only succeed in the long term if you make a significant number of good decisions during your journey through the industry. Also, of course, you need to have great music if you’re an artist.
#12 Work hard
Most successful people in the industry have put in hours and hours of hard graft, working on their music, networking and building relationships with people who can help them achieve their long-term goals.
It will always take time unless of course, you win a singing competition. If you do win, don’t take it for granted! Even after you’ve won, you’ll have to work hard to maintain your career, so practicing, hard work and dedication now is good practice for when you are successful in the industry.
Time is money in this industry – put in the hours and the money will come.
How successful are independent music artists?
It all varies on who you look at. Chance the rapper, for example, is renowned for being a very successful artist. Being successful as an unsigned artist almost entirely depends on how well you grow your audience…
#13 Grow your audience
If you’re looking to make money in the industry as an artist you need to have a dedicated audience.
A common misconception is that you need to have a massive audience to achieve success. Of course, it’s great to have millions of people who know you, but it’s easy to make a very substantial income with just a few hundred really dedicated fans.
Bring people value
Think of it like this, if you had 500 people who absolutely love you and would buy all of your music and merch no matter what it was, you could easily make thousands of pounds every month by just bringing out regular content that holds value (such as merch or tickets for your live tour).
It’s now so important to really bring value to your audience as an artist. People who love music want to invest in, not only your music but also you as a person.
Most importantly, work hard to form personal relationships with your fans – treat them like human beings, because they are! If they like you they’ll be much more likely to buy your music (and everything associated with it) down the line.
More on how musicians can make money here.
How can I become the best musician?
#14 Learn from other people
In the music industry, there are plenty of people who make a success out of their careers, but there are plenty more who have tried and failed.
To become a great musician, you need to learn what’s good what’s bad to do, both inside and outside your creative process.
To know what to expect in the music industry, it’s important to first try and get advice from successful people – ask someone successful the individual steps that they took to get where they are in their careers.
Just as importantly though, it’s important to talk to people who have tried and failed. Music isn’t for everyone, but see if you can find out what someone who was less successful did when they tried to be successful in the music industry.
Compare these two different people and notice the difference between their approaches to the industry. It’ll allow seeing the good things to do as well as the pitfalls to avoid.
Even when you’re talking to the successful people though, ask what they feel like would have done differently in their careers to achieve even more success!
Most importantly though, learn from your own mistakes and you’ll become a better musician.
#15 Ask people for feedback on your music
Asking for peoples honest opinions on your music will always allow you to improve as a musician and make it more likely for you to succeed in the music industry.
If you’re an artist and you have a track that you have written and want to release, start off by showing it to friends and family. If you want to improve make sure to ask them to be critical about it – what do they like? What don’t they like?
Also, send your music to relevant industry people (such as producers, recording engineers and most importantly, established artists) to get their opinions on it.
Dealing with criticism
At first, criticism will be hard to hear, but it will be great in the long term because you will be able to make music that people are more likely to respond positively to.
It’s important to note that you may get contradicting opinions, which just shows you that music is all subjective. Try and get a wide range of opinions on your song recording’s production, arrangement, songwriting, vocals and recording quality overall. You’ll be able to draw some conclusions based on what most people are saying to work on.
How can I be successful in a music career?
#16 Have a good team and network
Surrounding yourself with good people is a good thing to do in general, but it’s absolutely paramount for musicians to find a network of people who believe in them.
The way that successful artists promote their music is by having a dedicated manager, booking agent, label, and P.R team to name just a few jobs. This covers all of your bases allowing you to, not only promote your music successfully but have a successful artist career.
How to be successful as an independent artist
If you’re an independent artist you might just want to have just one or two additional people to help you with these important jobs. It could be a friend, family member, or even another band member.
If you have one person who really believes in you (for example, a manager), they will take a lot of weight off your shoulders by focusing on the music industry side of your project so that you can focus on the creative side of your music career.
If someone truly wants you to do well as a musician, they’ll do everything they can to help you succeed in the music industry.
#17 Stay humble
No matter where you’re at in your music industry career, it’s always so important to stay humble.
Never take what you have for granted. Even successful musicians can have their livelihoods taken away in the blink of an eye. Always be aware of the pitfalls, especially when it comes to signing record deals. Always read the small print!
Do make sure to be nice to everyone below you as well as everyone above you. It’s easy to want to hang out with people who are more successful and, of course, it’s great when you want to learn about their success, but always be good to people who are behind you in their music careers – if they become successful, they may have something to offer you in the future.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful and let us know if you’ve got any additional ways to make it in the music industry in the comments below!