Working in the music industry can be a dream for many that is never fulfilled. Here are 10 ways an emerging musician can get into the industry.
1. Network, especially in your local industry. Go out to local gigs, follow local blogs, newsletters and street papers, listen to local radio stations. Meet as many people as you can. You never know you might meet the perfect band mate or songwriting partner.
2. Once you have a band together practice lots. Practice your instrument, your live performance and your songwriting. Organise some opportunities to perform in front of friends and ask them for real constructive criticism. You want to be as professional as you can be for your first booked show.
3. Attend local venues. Go out and support your local venues, and make sure you go to shows by local bands, not just touring bands. Make a note of how the shows run. How many bands are on the bill, how long are their sets, can they sell merchandise? Does the venue have an in-house engineer, lighting person, do they sell tickets in advance or only on the door? Even if you learn nothing else at the very least you will have learnt a little bit about your local venues and, when you start to approach the venues for work, you can reference particular shows you have attended at that venue.
4. Research how other local bands organise their gigs. How do they promote, especially the live shows. Has the band printed posters, have a Facebook fan page, create Facebook events. Do they have a mailing list at the door and send a monthly newsletter. Find out all the ways that bands attract fans and get them along to their shows.
5. Take the time to talk to local musicians. At shows, online, through a Facebook fan page or some other means like workshops all industry events. Once you get to know some local bands, and they get to hear your music, they may offer you a support slot on their next show.
6. Get an education. You not only need to know how to play your instrument but how the music industry works, industry terminology and industry organisations. You will also need to understand and implement small business strategies, marketing, legals, copyright – the list goes on. The most effective way to gain the skills and knowledge is to research music business courses, and enrol in the one that has the best industry connections. You will gain extra networking contacts too through the other students in the course.
7. Ask. If you don’t know something don’t be afraid to ask someone. If they don’t know the answer ask them if they can refer you to someone who does. Ask questions at industry workshops and events, ask if you can do some work experience. People may not come to you with offers, you have to go out there and chase what you desire. You may get a few knock backs, but it will be worth it because you will also get a few people that say yes.
8. Be professional and polite. Remember that the people that you talk to at events, workshops, shows are often there to work. The music industry is their business so they may not have time for all your questions and comments right at that moment. Learn to read the body language of others, be polite and ask if you can buy them a coffee sometime and chat. If they have a business that services an aspect of the music industry maybe you can buy some of their time. Always say thank you for any help you receive, sending an email to say thanks is a great idea. The way you act is a reflection on you and your band.
9. Find a mentor. Once you have started to get to know the people and businesses in your local industry you may be able to find a mentor, who can keep you on track to meet your goals. A good mentor should be connected and knowledgeable about the music industry.
10. Once you have built a network, maintain it. Keep in contact with people, through attending shows and events, social media, email. Shout people coffee, let them know where you are up to in your career goals.
11. Bonus tip: Listen. Whenever you get a chance to learn from someone who has already been where you are wanting to head, listen to what they have to say. Whether it is the teachers at your music business course, venue managers, local bands or other industry folk, you can find out a lot by listening to and respecting their experiences. Remember to ask questions?