The music industry can feel a lot like the wild wild west. Lots to do, tons to figure out, and oftentimes, no idea how you’re supposed to do it all.
Because it can be such a difficult maze to navigate, you’re bound to hit a few walls and make a few mistakes along the way. It’s ok! This is part of the process.
That said, we don’t want you to have to spend too much time hitting those walls, so we’ve put together some of the most common mistakes we see artists make and how to avoid them for yourself.
You still believe it’s someone else’s job to make your career
If you’re of the belief that a label, manager, or anyone else is going to swoop in and solve all your problems, you’re wasting your time. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: No one should ever be fighting as hard for your career as you are.
That means, if you want a label, show them that you’re worth signing. If you want a manager, give them something to manage. When you bring on a team, be it the above listed, a publicist, a booking agent, a marketer, etc, it’s not their job to start from scratch and give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of. That’s your job. They’re just there to take their skills and then take what you’ve already created to the next level.
You still think social media is less important than the music
There’s a lot of amazing music out there, but great music isn’t going to get you very far. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, great music is the baseline for entry to the music industry, not what you base your career off.
Now I know, social media can be frustrating. It can feel narcissistic and uncomfortable and just plain annoying to have to pour so much into anything that isn’t the actual music. But remember, this is how you reach your fans. It’s how you build a true community. It’s how you connect.
When you stop looking at social media as a useless means to an end and instead begin to see it for the community that it is, that’s when you’ll start to see a shift in your opportunities.
You only think you know what you want
If you ask most artists what they want, they’ll think they have a pretty good idea—sign to a label, tour full time, make a lot of money—but the problem with those aspirations is most of the time they’re not specific enough, and when you ask them to dig deeper, they don’t really know why they want those things.
For instance, if you want to tour 8 months out of the year, ask yourself why that is. What feeling does that elicit? If you want to sign to a label, why? Is it just so someone else will fund everything? Because while that would be nice, that’s not a great goal to build off of. Or is it the sense of community? By going deeper and figuring out what it is you really want, you can begin to make a plan for it. Because when you say “I want to sign to a label” that’s a very abstract goal that may or may not make you happy when you reach it. When you say “I want to find my community and be able to provide them my music and message full time” well then, not only are you a lot more specific in what you’re after (and a lot more likely to be happy when you get it) but you also know what you want.
You don’t have a plan
Once you know what you want, it’s time to put together a plan. It can be tempting to just go day-to-day hazardously putting the pieces together and hoping something eventually works itself out. Unfortunately, that rarely (if ever) works.
What you need is a solid plan. I think it’s smart to have short (3-6 month) and long (12 month) goals, but I would suggest planning in 12-week increments so that you’re staying present, and giving yourself time to adjust as you go.
So, say you have the goal of releasing an album in 6 months—what does that mean the next 12-weeks look like? What do you have to do to prepare? Get specific but make small, actionable goals that you know you can achieve and if you find you have 10 things under each month, spread them out, and adjust dates as needed. The goal isn’t to rush—it’s to make sure you’re diligently working towards your goals. Trust me, it’s better to be patient and get it right, than to rush it and wonder where you went wrong.
Your live show is a bore
When people drag themselves out of their homes to pay to see you play, they want to be entertained. Again, just having good music or being skilled musicians is not good enough. You need to put on a real show, and give your fans an experience. Move around on stage, interact with each other, look like you’re having fun, (hopefully because you’re actually having fun), interact with the audience—you get the idea. And every now and again, do something extra special like a holiday-themed show or charity show.
If you’re making any of these mistakes, don’t worry! Honestly, these are more common than you know, but if you’re able to get ahead of them, correct the course, and start to implement some of these, you’re going to put yourself years ahead of the rest.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.