Becoming a successful musician is really tough – not only do you need technical prowess and songwriting skills, but you also need to have a firm grip on the business side of the industry.
While there’s so much you’ll learn from your music course, there are some holes that you need to fill with outside knowledge.
From knowing how to write a press release to understanding the benefits/limitations of the DIY model, here are three vital tips you won’t get from your music course.
Recommended reading: Choirs are not just about singing
Knowing how to write a press release is key (you need journos)
Journalists are the dark magicians of music – they have the power to make an artist a success or a failure with just a few words. Suffice to say, you want music journos on your side and knowing how to write a press release is a great way of doing it.
Speaking as someone who’s spent a lot of time writing for music publications and creating attention-grabbing press releases for journalists, here are a few important things to consider:
- The reason for your press release – are you launching a single or announcing a tour?
- Quotes to support your case – ideally, from industry reps, but fan comments work too
- A succinct story about yourself – explain your past, present, & future story
- All the info a journo needs to cover your music – music, images, bio, and social links
A Badge of Friendship is a music PR agency that knows excatly how to write a press release – this example for ELVIN gives you a blueprint for how to create your own.
Treat selling your merch seriously (it may be your main income)
There’s precious little money to be made at the bottom end of the scale in music. In fact, many of the greatest artists in history were broke before achieving international success – the story of Kurt Cobain living in his car when Nevermind went to No. 1 is a powerful example of this.
This means you need to supplement the limited funds you get from touring and recording. The sensible way to do this is by selling your merchandise, while you’re on the road and when you’re at home.
Cobain is a good example of the importance of merch. Why? Because Nirvana are perhaps the best example of capitalising on merch since The Beatles – they’re so popular that Marc Jacobs ripped them off.
However, Nirvana are far from the only example of musicians who treat selling their merch seriously – one of the world’s oldest and most successful choirs does too.
The Monteverdi Choir is one of the most famous choirs in the world. Founded in 1964, it’s a diverse collective whose repertoire includes Classical works, Renaissance pieces and much more. But while the Monteverdi Choir’s reputation is such that they perform across the globe, they still supplement their income with an online shop to sell their merch to their fans.
I carried out a quick search of The Monteverdi Choir’s store, to learn why it’s so simple to buy the merch. The source code revealed that it’s built on WordPress and uses the WooCommerce plugin:
WooCoomerce is a superb platform for creating an online store – it’s user-friendly and comes with a huge community of WordPress developers to help you personalise your site.
WooCommerce requires you to add plugins to make it simpler for your customers to buy your merch. However, if you install too many plugins, your store’s speed can grind to a halt. This means that you need to think very carefully about what plugins you add. Why? Because if you don’t, your fans might not be able to buy your merchandise, causing you to lose out on income for no good reason.
Using a DIY model does work (but you’ll need help eventually)
Gone are the days when a small-time musician or band could play their first gig and immediately get signed by a major label, on a million-dollar contract – or get success because they were liked by another band.
But the DIY model has never been more important and with good reason: tech makes it possible to become a star in your own right – giving you the ability to manage your recording, branding, merch selling, promotion, and more.
Billie Eilish is a great example of the power of the DIY model. Billie released her debut single, Ocean Eyes, on SoundCloud; she gained traction through her social media mastery; she caught the media’s attention (in part) because of her carefully self-curated image.
But Billie is also an example of how a pure DIY approach only works for a while – Billie now has a team of people helping her (a cursory check of her Facebook page reveals she now has a general manager, press contact, and booking agent). If you want to get true success you’ll eventually need outside help.
Knowing how to write a press release, making sure you make it easy for people to buy your merch, and understanding the benefits/limitations of the DIY model are just three of the things your music course won’t teach you – there’s also the need for mastering your finances, the importance of your social media voice, and plenty more.
However, getting these three things right will be a great supplement to the lessons you take from your music course, and increase your chances of carving out a career as a successful musician.
About the Author : This guest post was supplied and written by Kayleigh Alexandra at Micro Startups
4 Part Music is not in any way affiliated with the author and accepts no liability for factual inaccuracies within this post. The opinions are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by 4 Part Music Ltd.