Starting a music career can be thought of as intimidating and confusing at times. Many people have a common belief that it is too late to begin pursuing a career in music after a certain age. I’m here to tell you that no matter your age, there is always room for creativity and growth in your artistry, and if you are dedicated and determined enough, you can achieve the goals you set for yourself.
People are always looking to live life to its fullest but sometimes we don’t realize that we can start living that life now. No matter what your age is, if you want to make music a career, there is no better time to start than now.
Here are some of the most important things that you need to know in order to start a successful music career at any age!
Keep Your Ego In Check
Every band I’ve ever been in has broken up, dissolved, or called it quits for one main reason: ego. It’s easy to get lost in your own sauce, no matter what level of success you’ve had as a band. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the “rock star” persona; which, if we’re being honest, is what being a “rock star” really is; an act.
The fastest way to burn bridges and ruin relationships is to let that rock star persona get to your head. Be nice, stay humble, work hard, and keep your ego in check. The music industry is full of people who are willing to help you succeed if you are willing to do the same for them.
If you want a career in music, start by doing what you love and sharing it with others. Don’t worry about making money or getting famous right away — just focus on the music. If you love what you do, then other people will too!
Treat Your Music Like A Business
If you take your music seriously, others will take you seriously as well. The problem is that many people don’t treat their music like a business because they don’t see it as one. They think that if they make great music, people will just come out of nowhere and support them. That’s not true at all. You have to put in the work and hustle!
Don’t wait for someone else to give you permission to pursue your dreams. Go after what you want with everything that you have, even if no one else believes in you or what you’re doing right now. The only way that anything great can happen is if YOU make it happen!
Be patient with yourself and your music career. It takes time to build an audience and earn money from your music career (assuming that’s what you want). Don’t expect instant success without putting in the work first! It takes time for people to recognize good quality content and when they do, then they will support it (hopefully).
Establish A Brand And Set Yourself Apart
Determining your brand, whether it’s for a band or a business, is one of the most important steps in the process of finding success.
By establishing a professional brand you’ll already be miles ahead of many other bands and artists like you. You’ll also be able to stand out from the crowd when it comes to booking shows, selling merchandise, and even getting radio play.
The world of music is a crowded place. To stand out, you need to be professional, polished, and consistent.
Your band’s identity should be consistent across all platforms. Make sure that the colors, fonts, and logos used on your website, social media profiles and merchandise match up with each other. You don’t want people seeing your Facebook page and then visiting your website only to be in for a shock when they see how different everything looks!
Keep Writing Great Songs
If you’re a songwriter and you’re not writing, you’re not going to get better.
Write the best song you can write, and then write a better one. Don’t stop writing. The more you write, the better you’ll get at writing and the more songs you’ll have in your arsenal.
You can’t be afraid of being bad at something if you want to become good at it. You have to fail over and over again until eventually — hopefully — one day, you don’t fail anymore.
When I was starting out as a songwriter, I would sit down for hours each day trying to write a good song. Sometimes I’d write something good; other times I’d just end up with an unfinished mess that was impossible to fix without starting from scratch again.
After years of doing this consistently (and failing over and over again), I eventually gained some confidence in my abilities as a writer — even though there are still plenty of things I need to work on when it comes to writing songs!
Get Involved In Your Local Music Scene
The local music scene is a great place to start building your network, as well as your fan base. Learn from other musicians and be supportive of their careers. The more connections you can have on your side, the better off you’ll be.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned from being involved in my local music scene, it’s that you should never expect anything in return. Being supportive of others doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically reciprocate. In fact, many times they won’t — but even if they don’t, you’ll still benefit from the experience because it will make you a stronger artist and performer.
When it comes to developing your network, make sure that everyone knows what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Don’t just assume people will know who you are or what your music sounds like. Make sure they know by sending out press releases, putting up posters and flyers around town (and on social media), and letting anyone who asks know where they can find out about your upcoming gigs!
Be Intentional On Social Media
Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for musicians. It allows you to connect with fans, promote your music and stay in touch with the latest news.
But there’s no debate – building a strong following on social media is an essential part of starting a successful music career. But engaging on social media can quickly take you away from more important aspects of your music career. Be present, but don’t get sucked into the treadmill.
It’s important to remember that social media should be fun and engaging, not stressful and overwhelming. So here are some tips for staying on track:
- Keep it real: Make sure that everything you post is something you would say in person or over the phone with someone else. If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, don’t say it online either!
- Stay positive: Don’t get sucked into arguments or negativity online. You never know who might be reading what you’re saying! And if someone says something negative about your music or band, don’t engage them – just block them instead! This will help keep the conversation positive and avoid any unnecessary drama!
- Don’t rush it: Don’t try to post so much that people get sick of seeing your updates. Always be intentional on social media. Before you post, ask yourself, “Why am I posting this now?” If you don’t have an answer, don’t post anything until you do.
Set High But Reasonable Goals
If you’re going to start a music career, you need to start by setting smart and reasonable goals. This means that you should set goals that are challenging, but achievable in a reasonable amount of time given your current financial situation and skill level.
Make Your Goals Specific
If your goal is not specific, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to achieve it. For example, if your goal is simply “to become wealthy,” then how will you know when you’ve reached that point?
Instead of making a vague statement like this, try making an actionable statement like “I want to earn $100,000 per year as an independent musician.” This way you’ll know when you’ve reached your goal because there will be an amount attached to it!
Plan Your Next Steps In Advance
It’s easy to get excited about achieving a particular goal and then forget about it until the moment comes (or doesn’t). To avoid this mistake, make sure that whenever one of your goals is achieved, write down what steps you need to make next. That way, when the time comes and your goal is achieved, you’ll be ready to tackle the next phase of your music career.
Give Yourself Time
You’re not going to get famous overnight. Be prepared mentally for the long haul. Building a successful music career takes time and patience.
You may be tempted to start uploading your work on Spotify as soon as you can, but don’t be in a rush. Wait until you feel like your music is ready and polished enough to show it to the world.
Don’t underestimate the value of networking with other musicians and music industry professionals. You can learn a lot from them — not just about your craft, but also about how the industry works and what you need in order to succeed.
Be patient with yourself and others when it comes to feedback on your work. It’s easy to get defensive or emotional when someone doesn’t like something you’ve created, but try not to take it personally; they may have had valid reasons for saying what they did — even if those reasons aren’t always easy to hear!
Build A Solid Team
If you’re serious about pursuing a music career, it’s time to build a strong team. It’s not just about having friends who can help you out with gigs and other opportunities. It’s about building a team that will support you every step of the way.
Having a strong team will ensure you have enough support, but also allow you to delegate important tasks so you don’t get overwhelmed trying to start your music career all on your own.
But what happens when things don’t go according to plan? What happens when your drummer quits and you need someone new? Or when your bassist moves to North Carolina and can’t make that important gig? Or when your label says they want to sign your band, but only if you drop the lead singer?
If you can’t depend on other people, then how are you supposed to get anything done in the music industry?
Make no mistake: it’s hard to build a strong team of people who will support you through thick and thin. It takes time, patience, dedication, and luck. But if you want to succeed as a professional musician — or even just as someone who makes music for fun — it’s essential that you find some people who will stick with you through the good times, and the bad.
Don’t Stop Learning Your Craft
Remember why you started. If you’re a guitarist, continue to practice the guitar. If you’re a singer, continue to train and improve your voice. If you’re a songwriter, continue writing new material and learning about music theory. If you’re an engineer or producer, continue learning about the technical side of recording.
The more time and energy you put into improving your craft, the better it will get – especially if you’re willing to put in the work and make time for it in your daily schedule (which is why so many musicians don’t have “real jobs”).
Don’t stop making music just because someone tells you they don’t like it or they don’t understand it – keep practicing until they do!
Practice And Perfect Your Live Show
Your live show is your chance to shine. It’s the moment when your hard work, creativity, and passion can be showcased in front of an audience.
If you want your live show to be memorable, it’s essential to make sure that every aspect of it is well thought out and executed flawlessly. Here are some tips to help you perfect your live show:
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Also, remember to think about how your live show looks and feels, as well as how it sounds. Do you want to coordinate outfits? Do you want to bring your own lights, projectors, or imagery? Do you want to choreograph different aspects of your movements as a band?
Create an engaging set list that includes both old favorites and new songs. You don’t have to play every song that people request at every show — there are only so many hours in the day — but it’s good practice to play something from every album at least once during a tour cycle.
Don’t Rush Your Recordings
The recording process can be daunting for a lot of musicians. It’s easy to get caught up in the details and lose sight of the big picture.
Too often musicians rush their recordings because they want their music out there as quickly as possible. They cut corners on mixing and mastering, and end up with a mediocre recording of a great song.
I think it’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily about being perfect — it’s about making something you’re proud of! Don’t let fear stop you from putting out new music.
Here are some things I’ve learned:
Don’t overthink it — just do it! Make sure you record versions of every song you want to release so that if one doesn’t work out, another will be ready to go. Once you have a few versions recorded, pick your favorite one and move forward with mixing and mastering. If you’re unsure what version will work best for your audience, ask them!
Make Unique Merch
Merch is a great way to make some money as a musician and simultaneously promote your music. But if you’re not careful, it can also be an enormous waste of money.
The first mistake is thinking that your fans are going to buy anything with your name on it. That’s not always the case.
The second mistake is assuming that all merch is created equal. It’s not — and that’s why the smartest artists only use high-quality products.
As a musician, I’ve been selling merch for over 10 years now. In that time I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to making custom apparel for bands.
Here are seven tips that will help you make branded clothing without breaking the bank:
- Make sure there’s demand for the product before ordering anything
- Use simple designs that can be printed on any shirt color or design
- Don’t spend too much on your first order
- Find quality printers who offer wholesale pricing
- Check out local printing companies instead of going with one big company like CafePress or Spreadshirt
- Offer multiple products in different price ranges so people can find something they like without breaking the bank (like pre-order bundles or limited edition items)
- Invest in good quality shirts so people will want to wear them again and again
Always Be Learning
It’s easy to get comfortable with your role in the music industry. You’ve spent years learning how to write a song, produce it and mix it. You’ve mastered the art of recording vocals and can even play a few instruments. But there’s always something new to learn.
Don’t let yourself get too comfortable. Learn about royalties and copyright laws. Stay up to date on social media trends and best practices. Educate yourself on becoming a better songwriter, producer, artist, etc.
One way to stay motivated to keep learning is by setting goals for yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone once in a while. If you’re a drummer who wants to learn how to play guitar, go for it! If you’re a guitarist who wants to learn how to produce records, do it! And if you’re an engineer who wants to produce records full time, give it a shot! Just don’t forget the basics along the way.
Distribute Your Music Online
There are many different ways to get your music out into the world. But which is right for you?
The best way to distribute your music depends on a number of factors, but primarily:
- How much money do you have to spend?
- The type of music you’re releasing (is it indie rock or EDM?)
- The legal requirements in your country/region (does it have to be on Spotify?)
For an artist with limited resources and a DIY approach, there are plenty of options. Here are two popular ways to get your music out there:
DistroKid — This is a great option for distributing your songs on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms. You can also sell your music on iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play Music.
Ditto Music — Ditto is a great option if you want to email your music to radio stations and labels. It’s also good for musicians who want to sell their music directly to fans via Bandcamp or CD Baby.
Ripple — If you’re looking for a place to upload your music and share it with other musicians in the industry, this is a great option.
CDBaby — This service lets you distribute through Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms. It also allows you to sell your music on iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Play Music.
If you’re looking for a more DIY solution, there are plenty of sites that let artists upload their own songs for free. These sites are often used for promotional purposes only and don’t generate much revenue for artists who use them regularly. The main advantage of these sites is that they’re simple and easy to use.
Understand How To Earn Royalties
Royalties are one of the best ways to start making money from your music.
The basic idea behind royalties is simple: when you write a song, record it, and distribute it in some form, you earn a royalty every time someone listens to it. The more times they listen to the song, the more money you earn.
There are two types of royalties: mechanical and performance.
Performance royalties come from songwriting and publishing income, not from selling CDs. You can earn these royalties if someone performs your song on the radio or television, in a public venue such as a bar or restaurant, or even at private events like weddings and birthdays. Performance royalties are calculated based on the number of hours played multiplied by a rate set by law (federal copyright laws).
Mechanical royalties are paid by record labels when they sell physical copies of your album.
For example, let’s say you wrote a song for an artist who is signed to a major record label. If that artist sells 10,000 copies of their album (which contains your song), the label will pay you 10% of the retail price of each copy sold.
In this case, you would receive $1 per album sold ($10,000 x .10 = $1,000).
If the artist sells 1 million copies of their album (which contains your song), you would receive $100,000!
Learn About Music Copyright Laws
Music copyright laws are what protect the rights and interests of musicians and songwriters. They ensure that artists receive compensation for their work and that they can make money from their songs.
If you’re an aspiring musician, it’s important to know these laws and understand how they affect your band.
A copyright is a form of protection provided by the government for original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. These include literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works such as songs, books, movies, software programs, and more.
Copyright law protects two things:
- The actual work itself (e.g., the words and music)
- One’s right to control its use (e.g., who can reproduce it or perform it publicly)
Remember To Have Fun
It’s easy to get discouraged or to take things too seriously when starting a music career. Remember why you fell in love with writing and playing music in the first place. Enjoy the process – it’s the best part.
The more you learn about your craft, the more you’ll fall in love with it. The more you put into it, the more comes back out. The more fun you have, the better your music will be!
So go ahead, pick up that guitar and strum out some chords while singing along at the top of your lungs…it’ll make all those notes come out even better!