If you’ve ever wanted to pursue your passion for music and don’t know where or how to start your music career, this is for you. If you’ve been doing music as a hobby and you want to switch to making it your career choice, you have found the right article. 

In this guide, I’ll cover all the major things you will need to start your music career as an independent artist. If your end goal is to get signed with a major record label, you will still need to start your music career by applying the following steps so I have put in some work to gather these steps for you. 

With the current situation in the music industry, thanks to the internet, you do not need to be signed and highly dependent on record labels to make a career in music because now, the internet provides you the freedom to do it yourself given that you have guidelines and strategies in place to follow.

Signing with a record label has its benefits as the label can provide resources, networks, and expertise that lets you leave out the business side of your music to focus on the creative aspects but this may come at an expensive cost that I don’t think is advisable for artists to pay. Like the label having full ownership of your music, etc. 

The disadvantage of starting your music career as an independent artist is that it’s not easy, and it takes a lot of work because you will be taking it as your business and not just focusing on the creative aspect. You will need to be very well aware of the marketing and promotion aspect, streaming and distribution aspects, licensing and certification aspects, and also focus on the creative aspect at the same time so this may seem like a lot of work.

Hence why I have put together the essential things you need to know to start your music career as an independent artist. I hope this serves as a roadmap to help you get a good starting point for your music career. 

1.0 Make Sure To Have A Job

Most times, people think when getting to start your music career, you need to leave everything behind and focus on creating and building your music career. Unfortunately, this is more of a fantasy than a reality. 

If you leave everything behind to focus on your music career, then how do you plan to finance your studio sessions, music promotions, graphics design, website building, etc? Now, do you see why it’s probably not smart to drop everything and try to make a living off your barely started music career right off the bat? 

Although not everybody is the same as some people may be more privileged financially than others may be due to parental wealth, not all budding independent artists will have the finances on the ground before heading to start their music career hence why it’s important to have at least a day job that foots the bill and puts your finances in place to start your music career.

If you already have your finances planned out, this may not apply to you, you can go on to skip to the next step. 

2.0 Set Your Goals And Create A Plan

What do you plan to achieve when you start your music career? Do you have an idea of what you want to achieve with your music career?

It’s important to understand what you want to do and have a good idea of how to get there. If you don’t, then what’s the point of going on to start your music career without a goal and a plan, what do you aim to achieve? Make sure to set your goals and have a plan so you don’t waste your time.

Not every budding independent musician will have the same music career goals or aspirations. It may take some time to determine what your long-term goal is, and it may also change as you grow in your career but once you have an end goal, you have to work towards it.

3.0 Treat Your Music Career As A Business

If you don’t like to see your music career as a business then you don’t want to live in the present reality because to start your music career successfully, whether you like it or not, being a music artist is like starting a new business. Part of the artist development process is learning how to turn your passion into sustainable living and operate your own business successfully.

Your music is your product and you want people to buy and use your product by streaming and listening to your music. This can be likened to the traditional business model of buying and selling. Your brand will now be the commodity you monetize through your streams, merch, and tickets to shows. 

You need to operate as a business entity to be seen as a professional within the music business space. There are several business models you can incorporate, you just need to be aware of what they are and choose which one works best for you. 

This means, to start your music career, at some point you will need to:

 

  • Create a marketing strategy
  • Identify your target audience and niche
  • Position your brand
  • Allocate a budget for marketing 
  • Protect your assets (music)
  • Build a team
  • Develop a business plan
  • Consult with an entertainment lawyer to help with contracts

4.0 Improve Your Craft

This can be quite challenging in today’s music climate because to start your music career, you need to be good at what you claim to be doing. 

There are a lot of good artists in the present music industry which may lead to you combatting the competition for attention. Speed has relatively become a huge factor in this game. By speed, I mean how often can you release music consistently to stay at the top of your audience’s minds and keep fans engaged. This may be quite challenging because you’d need to balance the business and creative sides to produce quality music, but in this present music industry, this has become the cost of entry. 

To succeed in the music industry, your music has to be good. This is your foundation to a successful music career so to start your music career, have it at the back of your mind that you need to produce good music and you can only achieve this by constantly improving your craft.

5.0 Network

In life, it’s basically about who you know because as the saying goes, “your network is your net worth”. This is no exception in the music industry. 

To start your music career, one of your first goals should be to develop relationships within your music scene. You can network in your neighborhood, city, or school by knowing the different music venues and establishing relationships with other local artists and people doing music. 

You can do this online and in person. The internet isn’t just there for you to find fans. It provides you with networking opportunities. 

Reach out to that artist that you know can influence your fanbase if you get a feature with them. Go to other shows to network and meet other artists in your niche. Collaborate with other artists with possible industry connections that may help in the future. 

6.0 Create An Online Presence

To start your music career, you need to know the difference between making music as a hobby and making music as a profession. In business, how you present yourself is important. First impressions are important and you want to capitalize on this to make people perceive you as a serious artist when presenting yourself. 

If people perceive you as an amateur, they can subconsciously associate you with lower quality and someone not worthy of their attention. Hence, your online presence needs to come off as professional to convert your audience’s first impression. To do this and create a strong online presence, you need to have good quality visual components (photos, graphics, videos, etc).

Invest in a professional photographer to get high-quality photos of yourself that you may use for your bio, website, and social media pages. You also need to create professional graphic designs. For starters, you may not need to pay a graphics designer if you have the time to learn how to use Canva to create your album covers, merch design, flyers, etc. 

In addition to setting up and optimizing your social media accounts, you should have a clean and professional website. You can use WordPress, Wix, and other web development platforms to create outstanding music websites for yourself. 

7.0 Create A Brand Identity 

Establishing who you are as a brand is essential to help you start your music career because it makes it easier for people to identify and distinguish you from other artists. Here’s a cheat if you’re finding it hard to establish a brand identity, a good way to understand who you are is to establish who you are not. This will help you market your music to the right audience. 

Establishing your brand identity helps potential fans decide if they resonate with your music or not. Remember, not everyone will accept your music, but once you’ve established your brand identity, you will attract people who want to listen to your kind of music and this is key if you want to start your music career successfully.

8.0 Understand The Basics Of Music Copyright Laws

When you start your music career, there are tendencies you may overlook the aspect of protecting your music because it may seem irrelevant at the time. Avoid this and make sure you properly copyright your work. 

Technically, when you create your music (write and record), it is automatically copyrighted but no one will know this as you don’t have legal backing from the copyright office. Hence, registering your music with the copyright office offers further protection and provides you with the legal backing that indicates you’re the originator of that work. 

Start your music career by understanding the basics of music copyright laws to prevent you from becoming a victim of copyright infringement (intellectual property theft).

9.0 Find Opportunities To Perform Live

Before you start your music career, I’m sure you already know that live performances are part of the journey and also a source of income as a musician so if you’re not the type to want to stand in front of a large crowd, you might want to begin to work on that now.

For upcoming artists, performing live is an opportunity to convert people who may not have heard your music before to paying fans in the future. You can reach out to your local pubs to perform live and entertain their customers, reach out to local show promoters to perform live on their shows. You can also open for a much bigger artist at their concert. 

10.0 Build Your Music Team

Now that you’ve decided to start your music career, if you want to take your music career to the next level, you need a team. You may be one of those persons who love to run the entire business operation but you cannot do everything alone. There are some things you have to let professionals get done for you. 

This way you can easily manage your music career and oversee the effort every member on your team is putting in to help you achieve your goal as an independent artist. Here are some of the people you should consider on your team as you start your music career and grow it:

  • Manager
  • Marketing Strategists
  • Photographer and Videographer 
  • Entertainment lawyer
  • Assistants

Here’s a guide to get you started on building your team successfully.

11.0 Learn How To Distribute Your Music Online

You can start your music career by posting your music on SoundCloud and YouTube, but you’ll need to eventually use better distribution platforms that will get your songs on user-friendly streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, etc. 

Popular online distribution platforms include:

  • DistroKid
  • TuneCore
  • CDBaby

These sites allow you to get your music on major streaming platforms and don’t require you to be signed to record labels. All you need to achieve this is to subscribe to their payment plan to get your songs on the streaming platforms.

One Comment

  • Donmat says:

    This is a great one .thanks so much for the tips.i am an artiste and one of my biggest challenges is recording quality videos…my phone camera is not up to per and this demoralizes me a lot, I wish I could get a better phone and I will be better off honestly.

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