Have you ever wondered how industry professionals tell an amateur from a seasoned talent? And have you equally found yourself doubting your actions in fear of coming off as a newbie in this business? There are indeed telltale signs of a musician who’s lacking experience and a grip on reality. While some of the following things may be innocuous at first sight, they might very well be the difference between getting your foot in the door and being told “not now or ever.”
15. Name Dropping.
If we look at your website and your bio opens with a big name, we know you haven’t been doing this for long enough. Artists who know their value, do not lead with names or affiliations. They lead with their creations. When you are good enough to stand on your own two feet, that’s when industry professionals start treating you like an individual worthy of opportunities.
14. Fishing for compliments.
Stop asking people, “so what did you think?” If they are not saying anything, you didn’t do great! When you blow people away with your performance, song, or music video, the praise pours in naturally and uninhibitedly. So, if you just got off stage and nobody is saying anything, take a hint and do better next time.
13. Being too agreeable too soon.
Because desperation stinks and it never benefits anybody. Say yes too soon and the person who was considering inviting you as a special guest on their podcast might just change their mind that same instant. If you are desperate to agree to go on a show, perform at a venue, or collaborate with an artist without much ado or research time, it simply tells people that anything goes with you and your brand. There are not many successful artists or producers who want to deal with someone who doesn’t pick and choose who they work with.
12. Not asking enough questions.
Because 13. On a further note, if you don’t ask at least the basic questions regarding a new opportunity, it goes to show you have no idea what you’re doing. When you are invited on a podcast, have your list of questions ready. When you are asked to open for a bigger name, ensure you don’t have to come in at an hour nobody will be present yet. When you are called to perform at a festival, it goes without saying that you should have a crystal-clear idea about the stage gear, positioning, and performance copyright.
11. Acting selfish.
The music industry is tough to break into and everybody on the inside knows it. Thus, when a new artist —who is seeing the first signs of success and recognition— takes all the credit and does not mention the myriad of people who contributed to him/her arriving there, the pros start placing bets on the countdown. This is not an industry where you can survive by being selfish. It’s a small world and it’s always getting smaller.
10. Missing deadlines and agreements.
Just don’t. Think very hard, very well before taking on serious commitments. If you’d love to go to the festival on the weekend but you know you likely won’t make it as you have your children over on Saturdays and Sundays, just say you can’t. It is less of a letdown to openly admit your inability to take on a commitment than it is to agree and then not show up.
9. Defending one’s music.
Seasoned talents know everyone is different and not two curators will react the same to one song. There may be a common ground for special elements that stand out in your record but each person will hear that same song a tad differently due to one’s own hearing apparatus, life experience, and emotional associations with the presented composition. When you begin defending your music, you’re too new to accept the reality of the industry and human emotions and it shows. People are entitled to their opinions and feedback irrespective of how it makes you feel.
8. Ill speaking of the industry.
More often than not, this comes off as resentment for not being embraced by the industry yet. Be very careful what you say, who you say it to, and when you say it. Sometimes, when the complaints are too loud and the names too big, you risk shutting all doors before you even get to knock on them.
7. Not being in the loop.
There are industry-changing movements, decisions, scandals, and arbitrations. When something becomes so big that it risks affecting the entire field, it is only who’s on the outside that is not aware of the impending changes. Set yourself aside from your competition by studying regularly what goes on in the business. Billboard offers a neat professional Pro section on its website.
6. Choosing to stay oblivious.
If you begin a conversation with someone better informed than you but you choose to remain ignorant, don’t be surprised when suddenly that person has better things to do and a very busy schedule. Nobody likes wasting their time and knowledge on somebody who doesn’t even care to listen with intent and ask with purpose. Even if your music is hot, your attitude is not.
5. Not having something to show for.
Have you come across on social media (and likely even in person) those artists who are all talk and no action? Don’t introduce yourself as a musician when the last time you put out a song was three years ago. Everybody is only interested in the HERE and NOW.
4. Yelling on social media.
Because in person you would never dare. Steer clear from making your social media profiles your venting pages. Nobody wants to know how displeased you are with politics, healthcare, royalty paychecks. Summon that dissatisfaction and anger into your music. Veterans keep it about the business 100% of the time.
3. Taking opportunities for granted.
Because of your lack of experience, you think you will forever have your buzz going without taking into account that you will guaranteedly age, get sick at times, and lose your popularity sooner or later. Don’t act as if your poop smells like roses. Be courteous, gracious, and respond to people in a timely manner be it an acceptance letter or a rejection email. But most importantly, ALWAYS thank people for their time.
2. Relying only on social media.
Because you haven’t done music for long enough to see that social platforms come and go while your music needs to navigate the ever-changing field and complicated societal policing. A pro will know you are at rookie levels when you push your Instagram link instead of your website link.
1. Not having a plan B, C, D.
Long gone are the days when being a jack of all trades was treated with shame and disdain. In this day and age, the more skills you have, the more respected and admired you are. Do not shy from pursuing other careers as well. It will not make you less of a musician. If anything, it will improve your artistic quality and expand your vision.
Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2023
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