Ever felt like no matter what you do, your music career isn’t taking off like you want it to?
Done everything from marketing to content creation and still not seeing serious results?
It can feel discouraging, I know. But trust me when I say, we’ve all been there. There is no breakthrough without the trials, experiments, and work that comes before it. Just know, you are not alone in feeling this way. And believe it or not, there are solutions.
An important thing to remember is: what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Read on with an open mind and go with your gut. Does one of these feel more doable to you? Does it feel more aligned? Be ready to put in the work, and aim to find the path that makes the work feel worth it, exciting, and engaging.
That’s the key. And it’s also where we start.
Check your mindset
I used to roll my eyes so hard when people said that changing my mindset would change my life. BUT I would be lying if I said that I haven’t noticed a difference. There is an undeniable shift that happens when you tweak your approach even the tiniest bit.
And after all, isn’t it worth trying? Because what if it does work?
Take a minute to check in with yourself and see where your mindset might need some work. Are you constantly focusing on how hard everything feels? Or what you have to do versus what you get to do? Are you always finding reasons things won’t work or are stacked against you, rather than making them work for you? How can you tweak the way you approach things to come from a place of excitement and curiosity rather than waiting for it to fail?
Focus outside your music
Talent and good music are simply not enough any more. And the days of record labels scouring clubs and sweeping you up are long gone. Now, they scour social media and look for an existing fan base before they’re taking any chances. And it’s on you, the artist, to show them that partnering with you is not only good for you, but more importantly, good for them.
After all, your music career is a business, and business is just that. Learning to approach your music career as a business instead of a creative hobby will make a huge difference in how you make decisions and move through the industry.
Be clear on who your music is truly for
Please don’t say “everyone”! I know you probably don’t want to make exclusions, but you can speak to one segment of people without alienating another. For instance, me at home on the couch with a bag of potato chips is not going to be offended by a sports brand talking about going on an amazing hike at 5am and connecting with nature, while showing all their gear. Their ideal buyer (i.e. fan in your world), however, WILL be inspired by that hyper-targeted messaging.
On the other hand, if they tried to do an ad that speaks to everyone, like “Hikes can be cool if you’re into it. If not, no worries, but if you are, here’s our product”, their target audience won’t be moved because they don’t feel seen. They don’t feel like you know their true values, personalities, and what matters most to them.
One way you can do this is through getting hyper clear on who your music is for. In other words, your brand.
This is the thing that will get you more fans and help you stand out.
Create a brand
Let’s talk about creating a true brand. All this means is figuring out who you, as a band are, and putting it out into the world. That’s it.
So the first thing you want to do is hone in on what you believe in. What is the basis of your music? We worked with a super catchy pop punk band called Gold Steps who told us, “We’ve never been part of the in crowd. But we sure do love making music and hanging out together.”
BOOM. That’s it. That was their brand. They didn’t need to be a pop superstar or the next shiny thing. They were the people you wanted to hang out with. The ones you knew would make you laugh. The (band) next door. You’d always feel like yourself around them, and always have a good time. That was their brand and from there, they could create content that reflected that.
So how do you do this? Look for the themes you tend to gravitate towards the most in your music and, if you’re really stuck, look at your life. Do you watch lots of action movies and enjoy the thrill of adventure? Do you love songs that talk about a certain subject or evoke a certain feeling? What makes YOU pay attention? Odds are, there are traces of that in your music as well.
Pick a platform and create, create, create
Nowadays, we have the unbelievable benefit and curse of having a million social media and online platforms to put our music on. While some are always going to be more popular than others, the important thing is to pick one that you feel like you could grow in, and that you genuinely enjoy and, also that your fans hang out on. These two things are key.
We have tons of content on how to best use social media that you can dive into here.
Create a career roadmap
You wouldn’t get in the car with no idea how to get to your destination and just drive aimlessly hoping it happened, would you?
So then why do we do this with our careers? Have just a vague sense of where we are going, but no real idea of how to get there?
As we talked about, the days of a record label coming to scoop you up and sign you are over. So if you want to sign to a label, you need to have a plan in place for not only getting in front of them but having THEM come to you because they’ve:
- Seen your highly engaged fan base
- Heard you’re amazing live
- Heard your name/songs through the grapevine
If you want to make it living full-time off your music, you need to know what that looks like for you. Studio musician? Tour? Lessons and original music?
There are so many paths to success. You just have to decide which is yours, and then map out a plan to get there. It’s yours for the taking – you’ve just got to get started!
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR where artists have seen placements on Spotify, Alternative Press, American Songwriter, PopWrapped, & more. She loves ice cream, reality TV, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.