Tips for Navigating The Music Industry | 1500 Sound Academy icon
Music Education Articles

What You Don’t Know About the Music Industry

Becoming a professional musician has never been easy-even 60 years ago you needed talent, grit, and luck to become a chart-topping star. The music industry is hard to be successful in, and sometimes even harder to figure out. Trends tend to shift quickly, and missing out on a trend that your music fits into can make a difference in the speed of your success. These tips can help you stay informed and take advantage of the opportunities offered to you.

Passion Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Of course you’re passionate about the music you’re making, and of course it means the world to you. Unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to win a Grammy or make enough money to support yourself right out of the gate. Even if you are an extremely talented musician with years of experience and training, you’ll still need to know how to handle the business side of being a musician.

Without savvy and training in actual music industry business and practices, it will be difficult to be successful and stay ahead of the curve. The music industry can be incredibly tempting and exciting, but only for those that remain dedicated and consistent.

Have Realistic Expectations

Reel in your expectations for what you can accomplish in your first year, or even your first five years, of performing. Even a hugely talented performer can perform for a long time before hitting it big. Playing a few good venues or opening for big acts doesn’t necessarily translate to long-term success in the music industry. Don’t expect instantaneous fame just because you got good feedback from someone you admire or you had a video go viral, you must continue to stay the course you were already on and be prepared for it to lack glamour for a little while. This way, when good things inevitably do happen to you, you can be grateful and surprised rather than bitter that it took this long for them to occur.

Try to stick with the music industry trends that favor your style of music. If you make upbeat pop that’s easy to dance to and has catchy hooks, TikTok and other visual social media can help your song trend and reach more people. If your style is more gritty and/or punk, try to get into the underground music scene-find places to play that fit your style, like the underground Seattle venues that shot Nirvana to superstardom. If you’re a burgeoning singer-songwriter, scour your area for local competitions and enter yourself-even if you don’t win you’ll gain audience members and constructive feedback from judges. The main point here is to always remember to play to your audience.

Find Your Onstage Persona

DJ wearing a bright outfit to emphasize their brand.

No matter your music style, creating an onstage persona and style will start to create an image for the performer you want to be. By creating this persona, you are working to establish your brand. This could be done by exploring aspects such as color schemes, outfits, symbols, or onstage theatrics. Also creating banter with the audience or being known for your signature dance moves or guitar riffs will help set you apart from the rest of the musicians and lend you a sense of individuality and personality.

Be Frugal

While it’s tempting to roll out the bandwagon when you start seeing some success in the music industry, there’s nothing worse than blowing your hard-earned money on investments that won’t return to you at all. One of the biggest money pits in the early stages of your career can be merchandise. There’s no use in someone wearing a t-shirt with your face on it if you can’t afford to make more music because of it.

Focus your energy on producing the best quality of music you possibly can, and keep your merchandise low-key and a small part of your business until you have proof that demand outstrips supply.

Learn the Basics and Stick to Them

a musician practicing

The music industry is, after all, a business, and that business needs advertising, professional development, branding, and accounting. Invest in yourself and your music early on, and you’ll find that riding the roller coaster of music industry trends will be less difficult for you and your career.

Firstly, of course, developing your instrument (or instruments) is paramount. Whether you play multiple instruments, sing, or produce and mix your own dance tracks, always assume that there is someone in the industry that you can learn from. Take voice lessons or seek out a guitar coach. Even watching videos of bands/artists you admire can give you some great ideas.

Next, take courses on music business and industry practices. Sign yourself up for a one-time class, or enroll in long-term courses, and study hard! Your future literally depends on you absorbing this information and utilizing it in your daily life. Hard work and consistency will take you a lot farther than luck will. If you’re lucky and unprepared you’ll only be lucky once, but if you’re lucky and prepared then luck is going to swing your way a lot more often.

Lastly, know that even with all these daunting obstacles in your way, making a living as a professional musician in the music industry is not impossible. Investing in yourself and your music, learning the best way to navigate the industry, and being consistent in your artist branding can take you farther than you think. If you are ready to take your music career to the next level, reach out to 1500 Sound Academy and let our professionally-designed curriculum teach you all the skills you need.