You have heard it a million times as have we, that social media is the new tastemaker and industry breaker. Gain favor with the Gen Zers on TikTok and you have a real shot at climbing the charts overnight. And that actually stands true. But the other truth is that social media alone will NOT create a sustainable long-term music career. There are 10 other fundamentals you need to develop to increase the odds of you comfortably eating from your music and hopefully retiring as well when you decide to. Read on to discover which are these 10 foundational pillars and re-strategize your marketing plan if it only included social media.
10. Hired Professionals
What we intend by hired professionals are people you pay to help you out in achieving your vision. While you will a thousand percent learn many jobs along the way as an indie act, when it comes to showtime, you will grow much faster and more solid if you hire instead professionals who are hyper-specialized in doing the tasks you only know the basics of. There are so many advantages to this that we would have to write another article dedicated to number 10 alone but for now, peep the following example: you learn more from a day-long video shoot with a professional videographer than you on your own in a year. Also, and this is highly essential, these pros know people who know people and if you leave a good impression, they will help build your reputation in the industry faster than going to red carpet events. Just like teachers talk about teacher stuff, video editors talk amongst them about the artists they’ve worked with and share it all: the good, the bad, the ugly. Same for sound engineers, instrumentalists, dancers, etc. Hire professionals as often as you can afford to and watch how many doors open for you without you even knocking.
9. Your Own Website
Although we’ve reiterated this numerous times, it is one of the vital components of a successful artist be it signed or independent. Social media platforms come and go and you can’t afford to lose all of your efforts with them. Prioritize your own website and your own email list and social media will be secondary to the original content you post.
8. Respect From Other Artists
Think of the music industry as a high-school system where instead of fighting for the top grades and diplomas you fight for chart positions, merch sales, and Spotify streams. And instead of the popular girl, there is Ariana Grande. Seriously, this is very much how the current music industry works. While there’s only one Ariana and most likely you will never be in her place, you can, however, adopt the popularity shtick to increase your odds of success. And it is a survival mechanism in the real world as well: the more friends you have, the higher survival chances you got. So being supported by other artists is vital to your success. This will only be achieved by investing and supporting other musicians first.
7. Industry Co-Signs
These are not other artists or hired pros that worked with you. These are smart people with influence in high places who took a liking to your music and overall brand. They can be lawyers, DJs, A&Rs, other artists’ managers, label executives, producers, etc. Often they’ve become familiarized with your music after seeing you at a live show or festival. SXSW is one gig where these connections happen a lot. You need these third parties to like you and support you as they will lead the right people to you and you to the right connections. So be nice to everybody you meet that is in the music industry. You never know who holds the one key that will unlock all doors you have been dreaming of.
6. Traditional Press
Why? Because it matters even more when everyone else can pay to land on the homepage of YouTube. While the readership dropped in numbers, having physical copies of something, anything for that matter, is a bigger deal than ever. Landing an actual magazine cover can be a career changer. Being invited on an actual talk show – same. Having an interview in a big newspaper – just wow. You got the idea so do keep traditional press as a MUST to check off your to-do list.
You need to be involved with other people and companies to show that you are relevant outside of your own TikTok and Instagram. These partnerships can range from charity work for a cause you believe in, to being sponsored by an energy drink company to shoot your next music video. Actively seek to get involved in collaborations and partnerships with other people and associations that reflect back your core values as a musician.
4. A Proven Track Record
Look, there’s no other way to put this: you will only develop a fanbase once you become the definition of consistency. You can not put out a song or two then disappear for two years, then come back, release a new song, go away again. It’s just not gonna happen. Music fans will support people who give their all. Equally, the inconsistency will reflect in your social media posts and you will lose the fans overtime. You’ve heard of quality over quantity but starting with this moment, go for consistency over quantity. One music post a week is better than 5 personal videos.
3. Great Music
It sounds obvious as day but for many, it’s not. As an artist, you need to develop a self-awareness that’s close to being maddening when it comes to analyzing your own music. If you’re not honest or aware of your music being less than what you think it is, you will struggle for years to make it out the bunch and you never will. Listen to charting songs, talk to experienced curators and reviewers, ask for feedback from people you can trust that won’t try to sabotage you, and take notes and improve, improve, improve. Unfortunately, when you’re first starting out, you are so far behind the rest when it comes to a trained ear that it will take you anywhere from 5 to 7 years to actually GET IT. Until that point, you have to trust the opinions of those around you, granted that they’re not constantly lying to you to avoid breaking your heart.
2. A Palpable Personality
This is one thing you can’t fake or buy. A personality. If we were to give you a definition of having a personality, it would be: being a hundred percent confident with you are. Do you like wearing red jackets and yellow shoes? F*cking wear them all the time shamelessly. Do you like bringing your teddy bear along for good luck? Put him on the table beside you at radio interviews and leave the hosts with something to talk about. Do you like Rock music while you’re a rapper? Break into an AC/DC hook during a show and let the world know. Having a personality means getting rid of any prejudice against yourself and fully embracing your quirks and your weirdness and your outrageousness if that’s who you are on the inside. Stop caring about what everyone else thinks and bring back your inner child because you were BORN with a great personality already.
1. Live Shows
NOTHING CAN OR WILL REPLACE LIVE SHOWS. It doesn’t matter how much of a 4k or 8k resolution you got. Until people get to be in the same room with you, your presence won’t materialize for them. It is your duty to yourself and your talent to place yourself in the same room as many people as possible and touch their souls with your music. The biggest, hardest, liveliest supporters will always come from live shows. We’re willing to go as far as saying you could probably build an entire career off live shows without having any social media presence in this day and age.
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