"I want to become a singer!"
Inspiration to fulfill a dream can come at any age. Society tells us to decide at a young age what we want to be when we grow up, stick with it, get an education and make money. Being a professional singer is an unconventional career with no direct route to success but also a career of passion and something you enjoy doing. Wait... work can be enjoyable!?
You finally get the guts to tell the world about your dreams and the first thing they tell you is "That's going to be very tough... just so hard."
Your ego is sucker punched. Why can't they say something more encouraging like, "You have a beautiful voice."
1. Believe in yourself and don't listen to the nay-sayers
Most people don't get the privilege to say they enjoy the work they do. People are envious of those who actually have a fun job and work for themselves. It will be hurtful when people you thought would believe in you aren't there to be encouraging about your career goals. Be sure that you don't internalize others ill will towards you or loose faith in your abilities because people don't want to see you succeed. That's their problem, not yours. Let a hater hate!
2. Be A BOSS
All successful careers are hard to reach. Is passing the bar exam easy? It takes years of education to become a doctor or lawyer. Yet being a musician means that you will never stop learning. You will never stop growing with your skill and you will never stop training. There will always be room to evolve as a creator of music. There will always be a new song to learn. Like an athlete you need to be skillfully trained for a long performance or recording. Once your ego thinks you're the best then you have decided to stop growing, keep that in check and always remain humble.
3. Learn something new everyday
Become educated musically. Go to college. Take lessons. Find a mentor. Develop your skill. Practice. Perform. Learn a new song. Put yourself out there. Then do this all over time and time again. It is monotonous and the definition of insanity but it takes a great deal of talent and effort to reach the professional level. Most people aren't born with prodigy star-like skills, people earn it. Someone making the effort day in and day out will eventually surpass another's natural ability that isn't exercised enough. Through out life there should never come a time you can't grow as a musician or evolve with your skill.
4. Invest in yourself
Having a music career, just like any career field, means you have something to offer in return for money. If you're not making money then it's just a hobby. As a professional musician you are an independent contractor, you work for yourself and pay your own taxes. You need to find ways to get paid; clients who will hire you, fans who will buy your music, merchandise and tickets to your concerts.
5. Create a product
In the music industry you will be taken as serious as you present yourself. Being able to hand an industry professional your CD will make you more memorable and set you apart from others chasing the same opportunities. Financial sacrifices are necessary to invest in your music to create a product and begin building a portfolio. Make recordings and have them available online so you can create a digital portfolio and press kit. Just like all fine things in life the more you put in the more you will get back. I find that seeking the highest quality is key to a great project.
6. Take initiative and do it yourself
Don't wait around for your next big break. Consider yourself very lucky if someone wants to financially sponsor the costs to create your musical project. It's unrealistic to think someone else is financially obligated to cover the costs for your project. The reality is that most likely someone else is not going to execute your creative artistic vision and do the work for you! It's your priority to find a way to execute your musical visions and financially back them up. Even it means getting a second job, applying for artist grants or fundraising. Keep track of all your business expenses because these are write-offs! Most start up businesses take three years to establish a steady revenue so expect this to take some time.
7. Get A Producer
Find a producer to help you write your songs. Someone who composes and arranges music in the direction of the stylized music you're looking for. Be open minded to the producers ability to capture the message of your song and bring it to life right before you through the speakers. Finish pre-production, get studio time and record professionally. Don't second guess the talent and skill that a good professional recording engineer will bring to your project. A second set of ears is just the beginning of the benefits a pro will help to enhance your music, especially when it comes to mixing and mastering. The music industry will be able to instantly recognize music that has been professionally mixed and mastered. Keep in mind that they're looking to work with people who are ready to work right now, not still in the process of developing so don't cut corners. It's easier said than done but no matter what life circumstance you're in; if you're a singer, music artist or writer you should have enough fire within to want to make the sacrifices to find a way to create your artwork so you have a product to offer.
8. Copyright and register your music
Continue to invest in your musical education by learning the business end of the industry so you can protect your assets. Learn about the steps it takes to properly release music so it can be traced and you can earn royalties.
The traditional formula for the music industry changed in the new millennium when digital music killed the need for record labels. The internet has created world wide access for music artists to hold their careers in the palm on their own hands instead of being signed to a record label.
9. Get involved in your community
Take your ideas, invest in creating your artwork and run with it. There are many opportunities out there for musicians to earn a living. The more ambitious and creative you are the more revenue you will generate. Earn the respect and give back to your community utilizing your talents by teaching, performing, volunteering and being part of music benefits for helpful causes. What are ways that your musical talents can benefit your community?
10. Be authentic and never stop creating
Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your music career. Just like every love story is different so will your journey to establish a successful music career. There will always be a new song to write and another opportunity around the corner, this is is your job! Continue to build, believe in what you do and the message behind why you are inspired to be a creator.
Entertainers have endless power at their fingertips with the vast internet to promote artistic ideas and connect with fans. Create music videos and other creative artistic mediums to connect with your fans through social media and digital platforms. New connections can be made on a daily basis with power of promoting yourself using the advertising and marketing tools the internet has available.
Ultimately having a music career is not a competition about being the best, collecting accolades and post likes. It's about being uniquely YOU with your art. Making music that is authentic to your message and story about life. All forms of art are subjective and you won't be the right fit for everyone. That's alright! As one of my favorite singers said, "Dust yourself off and try again. You can dust it off and try again, again and again." Free download if you know who wrote that quote! Email your answer to> firstname.lastname@example.org
About Katie Ann
ASCAP member, Katie Ann, is a music producer and music artist who has successfully released many works of art through her publishing company, LK PRO. A certified member of Wedding Wire and Buffalo Bridal Association, Katie Ann is a singing pianist specializing performing weddings and other special events. As an accomplished musician she offers voice and piano lessons to aspiring children and adults.