Musicians: This is what you need to know in order to make it

Trying to make it in the music industry can be a trial in itself. You’re happy with the music you’ve created, but what do you do next?

There are untold ways to make it as an artist, and many are overlooked. Here are some simple things you can do to improve your chances.

Get a website with accessible media

If you want to be found, you will need to make your music accessible to all, and publishing it to Spotify or Apple won’t move the metre for you alone. You need a website to host downloadable media (photos, press releases etc) for publications to employ within their content. Without this, you will most likely be overlooked.

There are plenty of affordable options to create such a space, and doing so will open more doors than just a revolving one. You don’t even need to host content on your site - just offer a space for journalists and bloggers to be redirected to a G-Drive or WeTransfer folder. Journalists need high-resolution images, biographies and more. They won’t leave it to chance to try and figure out the meaning of your song, if they find out later they were way off the mark.

Create ‘clean’ versions of your songs for a greater reach

People with kids are not playing your music, nor will commercial properties. If you’re looking to be played in more than one place, your work needs to be published with a clean version to complement it. If all you’ve done is release a single/album full of cursing and swear words then I guarantee you will not be included in any playlists curated by retail stores, radio or podcasts. Mums and Dads can’t play your work for their own leisure if their kids are nearby either, and all the aforesaid will lead to missed opportunities in revenue and/or exposure.

Your PR strategy must be original and tailored to each publication

If you want to be noticed by a publication, what you pitch them must be like that of a resume. Every pitch must be tailored to each magazine and/or news outlet you want to appear in. They will mostly differ in style and the psychology of their readerships will vary. Magazines get hundreds of submissions every day, so you have to make yours stand out.

If you hire a PR company, you must ensure they write original copy based on what you provide them. Copying and pasting it (which many do), will result in your submission being skipped as magazines need original content to be indexed properly by search engines.

Your social media must be different from other musicians

If you’re one of those artists who creates videos with text just to point at them with a cheesy smile - don’t. Not only is it cringe, but millions of others are doing the same plus a myriad of other strategies. You may feel you’re making waves, but there will come a point where this method will only get you so far. Don’t employ what others are doing as this will only evoke a scroll past. Be original, creative and think outside the box. If you’re a visionary, copying what others are doing (as that is essentially what a trend is) is not creative at all. In fact, it’s far from it. The most successful artists get to where they are by gleaning their room and then walking out of it.

On social media, post what you feel but keep it relevant

Audiences are good at sussing out inauthentic conversations and/or performances, so don’t post something based on trends. Be authentic, but stick to what it is you do. If you’re a musician, talk about your work, create live streams, and shout out those who join in as they’re most likely to stay for the rest of the video.

Take a picture of yourself with your release. It makes for an engaging experience as the audience can relate if they invested in your story from the beginning. Engage with them, don’t try and be the person at a party who doesn’t dance, you need to talk to them, thank them and show gratitude because if you don’t, you will come across like a bot.

Focus on what you love and don’t try to do everything. Unless you love what you do

There have been too many times I’ve witnessed a rapper/singer/producer want to give it a go at PR, videography, graphic design, photography, marketing, starting their own clothing brand etc. If music is what you love, stick to it, as everything else will serve as a distraction. This is unless you enjoy what you do. Even then, work in increments and focus on one step at a time as part of the bigger picture.

Pay your videographer/photographer/writer. They don’t live on love

Artists often complain of not being paid enough, only to not pay the visual artists and writers they employ. Don’t be stingy and don’t be a hypocrite, these guys also find their industry to be competitive and deserve the same courtesy as you. Furthermore, you will likely find you will get good feedback from them regarding the visual/content side of your marketing as they’ve been there and done it before.

Make sure your campaign is centred around your cover art

If you commission artwork for your album and then decide to use photos of yourself all the time, that’s not an ideal strategy. In order to ensure your work is discoverable, you need to nourish your audience to identify with the cover image you’re putting out.

Let’s say you decide the cover art is a smiley face but then decide 70% of what you use to promote it is a picture of a microphone; you can’t expect fans to decipher miscellaneous campaign signals. Listeners don’t have time to start a puzzle, they want to be entertained and listen to music, not indulge in a messy visualiser. People are visual, and if you’re sending mixed messages, your work will be lost to a mass of potential listeners and fans.

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