The music industry is one of the most congested industries there is today.
This means that there is a greater competition among music acts. And even if you are talented, this does not guarantee you the big success that you are hoping to reach.
There have been a lot of undiscovered gems in the music industry and that is not entirely anyone’s fault because it all depends on the effort, the trend, and of course, marketing!
That’s why it’s not enough to just have talent, you gotta have the smarts.
In this article, I will be giving you eight tips that would help you improve your music career dramatically.
#1. OPEN FOR A FAMOUS BAND
Opening for a famous band will guarantee you an audience.
However, don’t just open for any famous band. Open for a band that’s similar to your music so your chance of getting new followers would increase.
If they are a rock band, then most probably fans would love a rock genre song rather than a ballad.
Good examples of acts that improved their music career from doing this tip are Van Halen and the legendary band The Beatles.
Van Halen opened for the famous English rock band Black Sabbath.
Due to that, they got to establish a good reputation for their performance. It helped the band gain more audience and thus led to their popularity in the 1980’s.
The Beatles were just months old in the industry when they were chosen as the opening act for Roy Orbison’s U.K. tour.
Due to the positive reactions to their performance, they co-headlined with Orbison during his tour and in the end gained great popularity that can be felt up to this day.
So if you are being contacted to open for an act, you better prepare and do your best. It’s worth it.
#2. COLLABORATE WITH MUSICIANS AND BRANDS
Next tip is to have a collaboration, whether that would be with a musician or a brand.
This is a great way to reach audiences you will never reach alone.
The best thing to do is to collaborate with a more famous artist, this way you get an exposure to their fans.
You have to still pick among them, though, because not every collaboration is an opportunity.
You might just become background noise for their fans and that’s not very good.
Make sure to pick those that would let you shine in unexpected ways—a true collab instead of just them exploiting your talents.
There are a lot of music collaborations that really surprised fans and helped spread the name of featuring artists, so choose wisely and do your best, always.
The easiest to do would be to collaborate with a fellow musician. Collaborating with a brand will be harder due to the fact that they would want to do it with someone that’s already pretty popular.
If you think that you are, though, then you can definitely go for it.
A great example would be Jackson Wang, a Chinese K-pop idol who collaborated and became the Chinese ambassador of the luxury brand, Fendi.
He released the song FendiMan for the brand which reached success in the US iTunes, something that is a hard feat for many Asian musicians.
Because of this, he made a name for himself in the country and has set the stage for his debut album Mirrors.
Aside from the song, Wang also collaborated with the brand by making his very own collection, with the black FF logo and lush velvet construction. And to solidify the collaboration, the logo “Fendi Team Wang” was also included.
Whether you are collaborating with a musician or a brand, make sure that you do your best and promote it.
#3. MAKE COOL BAND MERCH
Merch that make people go WOAH is something that every musician should have if they want to have new fans (and more money).
And if you released it together with your music—as usually the case— then it would help promote your album, EP, or single.
Aside from it being cool, though, you have to make sure that it is of high quality. What’s the use of it being cool and unique if the quality is subpar?
Many fans would always opt for the usual merch with high quality rather than a special merch that is low quality.
Let’s take for example, Olivia Rodrigo’s merch for her Sour album release.
She had a set of earrings with the word “sour” spelled out. It is not really unique, but earrings are not the usual merch that fans get to see in a collection.
Of course, fans were very excited to have it. However, they were disappointed when the word was misspelled. Additionally, she had a sweatshirt merch that was very different from the picture on her online store.
It was a disaster for a new pop star!
So instead of raking in money for her next merch release, it can be expected that fans would choose to just listen to her songs rather than spend their cash on low-quality merch.
So remember, a cool merch is one that is of high quality. It is not the uniqueness or the originality that matters, it’s the quality.
#4. BUILD CONNECTION WITH IMPORTANT MUSIC FIGURES
Whatever industry you belong to, it is imperative that you don’t isolate yourself because no man is an island.
You have to build connections and relationships with important people so you will get guidance and help when you need it the most.
In the music industry, aside from fellow musicians, you have to connect with producers, A&R representatives, and even the managers of other musicians, especially more famous ones.
This is not a must, but if you want to improve your career you have to do this.
Because they are the most well connected people in the music industry. They have worked with lots of musicians before and have also worked with other producers, reps, and managers.
If you have a connection with even just one of each, then it would be an easier path for you because from there, you can build connections with the people they know too.
And if you have a good relationship with them, they would put in a good word for you when you need them to.
#5. PUT YOURSELF ON TIKTOK
TikTok has the most varied user demographics with users spread all over the different age brackets.
It’s no longer a newbie as it was launched in 2018. However, even with its lesser active users compared to Facebook, TikTok is still the platform where you can find most of the newest trends across the globe.
Going viral in this app is not really easy, but it definitely is doable. You just have to be armed with a good song and good concept for your video.
A good example for this would be Anees, an American rapper and singer. He went viral on the Philippine side of TikTok with his song Sun and Moon.
On the platform, he launched an open verse challenge to promote the song. On the 11th of April, JRoa, a well known musician in the Philippines uploaded his version.
After which, the challenge was picked up by other Filipinos uploading their own versions. Some had even made their own choreography to the song.
Due to this, Anees and his song made it to the top of Billboard Philippines and became the first artist and first english song, respectively, to top it.
You see, it’s a good place for any song to go viral so hop on that TikTok train now.
#6. GO OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
If you want to improve your music career, then you have to challenge yourself.
Go out of your comfort zone and try something new!
You can try to diversify your music genre. Be flexible and try to fit in with other genres. You can experiment and determine which genres are doable and which are definitely not going to work for you.
This is another way to help you decide and choose the collaboration you can take on and those that you unfortunately have to give up.
Another way to challenge yourself is to do promotions you’ve never done before.
If you haven’t tried busking, why not do it?
You’ll never know, people might love your performance and become a fan of yours.
#7. PROMOTE ONLINE AND OFFLINE
Marketing is everything for a musician so there is no other choice but to do this.
For online promotion, you have to make sure that you are promoting on the right online channels.
You need to have your website ready and be sure that it’s always updated. Additionally, you have to make sure that you maintain your online presence, it’s a must.
Aside from that, you have to be on Spotify because for the past years, it has become the most used music streaming site by many people.
It would be best to be added on a playlist whether that be Spotify created or user created, the latter being better because it indicates their love for your song.
You can never forget to promote yourself offline too because even with the wider reach online, face to face interaction with your fans and the locals gives more appeal to them.
You can do gigs and showcases and invite fans to watch. You can also do busking if you want to since it’s a good way to reach locals who might have never heard of you.
Another way to promote is to have your songs played on the radio. Though most people are already online, there are still a good number of people who listen to the radio and you have to take advantage of that.
It would be great too if you get an interview on the radio since it will help your audience relate with you. It would even be better if you play live on the radio. If you do well, listeners of that radio would surely watch out for your new releases.
Never forget this tip because it’s a good one for a long lasting career.
#8. IMPRESS WITH YOUR PERSONALITY
Personality matters. Period.
Though the music industry is congested with a lot of artists, it will never be too big for any news or gossip.
So if you show them a bad attitude, expect that most would not want to work with you.
Remember that even if you are the most talented and popular person in the world, if you’ve got a bad personality, then people would not want to work with you.
Even if you are not the best, if you just have a good character, then people would want to work with you because talent and skills can improve with effort but personality can’t without the person’s willingness.
With a good personality, you can impress a lot of important people in the music industry. This can be your road to making great connections with famous producers and artists.
And with those connections, you can have advice that some will never ever receive.
So if you want to improve your music career and make it long lasting too, you have to have a good personality.
Jumpstarting a music career is never easy. More so when you’re trying take your career to the next level.
But be comforted in the fact that every popular musician that you know has struggled to the top, come across obstacles, and has sacrificed and may even be sacrificing still for their career.
Anyway, good luck on improving yours. We’ll be here to cheer you on. See you in our next article!
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.