The subject of giving away music for free is a touchy one for musicians, and rightfully so. Music isn’t something that appears out of nowhere for people to enjoy. It takes money and time and sacrifice to create. Unfortunately, the world’s relationship with music is a complicated one that often leaves hard-working musicians high and dry. It seems that people are more addicted to music than ever before, but are less and less willing to pay for it.
The truth is that there are times when you should absolutely be giving your music away for free. Whether you love or hate the idea of giving away your music, it’s something that can bring you big advantages in today’s complex music industry climate.
Being represented by a label or manager are things thought to signify an artist’s success, so it makes sense why so many musicians spend their valuable time and resources trying to get represented and signed. But the ritual of crafting thoughtful pitches and sending them off into the ether rarely results in bands landing a record deal or enthusiastic manager, even if their music is good.
There’s a few reasons why these pitches usually get ignored, but it mainly comes down to the fact that successful labels and managers want to discover talent themselves, not be sold on it by reading about it through an email. The people in the music industry with the expertise and resources to actually move your music forward want to hear and see your music in action before considering taking a risk on you. Instead of banging your head trying to pitch to labels and managers, here’s what you should be doing:
Networking is an essential part of your music career. The days where you can simply release music, invest no time in promoting this music, and become a well-known artist are gone. The good news is that there are plenty of tools available to you for free to promote your music to a global audience. Below, I have listed three ways that you can network as a music producer.
The concept of genres is fascinating if you look at it closely. Before a song is categorized into a specific genre, it’s just a collection of sounds. But when that same collection of sounds is called rap or rock or EDM, it transforms into something completely different. Musicians are thought of as having an almost unlimited amount of creative freedom at their fingertips every time they set out to create new music, but when songwriters and producers focus too much on genre, they risk losing that creative freedom.
For most bands, putting together a music video is an opportunity to express themselves, provide new content for their fans, and extend the life of a single or album. Yet somehow, the first piece of that—expressing themselves—tends to get lost in the mix. What results tends to be an underproduced, poorly shot, kind of boring music video that probably wasn’t super cheap to make, but also isn’t making much of an impact on anyone. Not really much of a win.
To avoid that disaster and create a music video that will actually make a lasting impact on your fans, we’ve put together a few tips. Even if you’re on an incredibly DIY budget, these tips will still help make your next video a hit.
When you begin playing music out – especially in a new place – it can be intimidating. There’s often gateholders to breaking into a music scene, and they often have their own standards by which they allow people to play the shows they involve themselves with. I come from a big town where I was involved in the music scene for almost a decade, and then moved to a giant city with hardly any idea of what to do next. This one is personal to me.
What I truly believe is that no matter how old you are or what kind of music you play, there are ways to find people to play with and an audience for you. You just have to get out there and find them. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to play shows or have never done it before, let this serve as a guide to booking your first show.
Creating music can be bruising or even downright crushing at times. Writing meaningful music often requires isolation, vulnerability, and fortitude in withstanding dead-end after dead-end throughout the creative process. When an idea is finished, it’s put out into the world for everyone to hear and criticize – or even worse, to be ignored or never heard in the first place.
If you make music, you are inviting disappointment into your life in some form. And while young musicians seem to be able to roll with the inevitable physical and emotional punches of a music career, older musicians don’t cope as well. Add in the fact that as musicians age the non-musical aspects of their lives become louder and more pressing, and it’s easy to see why so many people stop making music after their twenties. An image of someone at a desk job reminiscing about the good old days of being in a band comes to mind. Lots of perfectly talented musicians trade in their dreams for lives that are financially and emotionally safer with claims that they weren’t good enough to keep making music. But the truth is that when musicians lose their passion, the world loses something as well. Individual musicians lose a vital creative outlet and the rest of us lose the music they would’ve made if they wouldn’t have quit.
Money is almost always tight for musicians whether they’re just starting out or have been building their careers for a while. This makes knowing how much and what promotion efforts to invest money in a tricky task. There’s no guarantees in music, and this doesn’t just apply to whether the world will connect with your songs or not. Throwing money into an expensive PR or radio campaign won’t necessarily get you any closer to your goals, meaning there’s a certain amount of risk involved when you pay for music promotion. But for many artists, forking over precious cash for professional radio and PR campaigns ends up paying off in huge ways. And with today’s ridiculously saturated music culture, most artists need all the help they can get.
But with tight budgets and shrinking profits, many bands are forced to decide whether to invest money into radio campaigns or professional PR efforts.