Making it in the Music Business - An Inside Look.

So you wanna make it in the music industry huh?

Good luck, because you’ll be going up against some of the most competitive players in the game. A music career takes some serious dedication and time to master; it means sacrificing comfort for results, working 16 hours days, skipping kickbacks to work on your craft, and trying to convince your friends to pay $10 for a half an hour time slot at some local bar on a Monday. 

Real musicians master their instruments to feed their souls and the souls of others.

So if you really want to do this, you gotta be real with yourself and know exactly who you are. 

I personally struggled with this part in the beginning stages of my musical career because I got too caught up in being a signed or marketable artist and portraying the ' right image ’. All that shit doesn’t even matter if you don’t know yourself and can’t identify with something real that people can connect to or relate to.

The way I overcame this was by being real with myself about who i was and not basing my career on what I thought was popular or trending at the time. I just stopped giving a shit about what people thought and who’s album had dropped. 

Instead, I started working on my story and began making things happen on my own by studying what was working for others I looked up to.

Your story is everything. Why do you want to be a musician so bad?  Where are you from? 

What’s your life like? Where’s your head at right now? Who inspires you?

Do you have any experiences that could possibly help someone else overcome adversity?

You gotta know all this shit right from the start or someone else gon’ out do you every time and you’re going to sit there and wonder, “ How is this mothafucka getting more results than me ? “.

Labels ain't lookin for some unknown random with barely any juice, they’re too much work to develop. They typically look for artists that are confident in who they are; as well as acts that are proven to draw in fans or viewers. 

Nobody ‘makes it’ in the music industry unless the music is really paying the bills and taking care of other expenses. You must be willing to work a day job or side hustle in order to fund your vision/studio equipment. Every artist dreams of the day they quit their day job,  but just remember why you have it in the first place - to make additional money to live on while growing your fanbase and career.

Once you understand that you’ll be doing more than just making music and performing songs, you’ll grow as a business person and evolve into what you believe in. Think long term when it comes down to making smart moves and business decisions.

You want your main goal to be acquiring as many fans as possible, the money will follow.

Every business decision you make for the rest of your career should be the best decision for your fans. You’ll never fail if you show your fans how dedicated you are to connecting with them.

Whether you are an entertainer, a wiseguy or somebody who means business, you’re going to need people who will support what you’re doing and adore you. You need the world to fall in love with you and promote your existence. In other words, you need fans.

Foo, your fans need to be streaming your music every day and follow you on every media page that’s accessible to the public. You need them to share your music across every platform and application so that you can find your core fanbase and begin to grow it strategically.

How do you make them love you and continue loving your craft?

All you need to do is create an opportunity for yourself to reach out to your ‘future fans’. Pull up to a local spot in your neighborhood that you’ve always envisioned yourself performing in or start a video challenge on social media. Once you get the chance to create a special moment in time, treat it as your best performance.

Create an email list to keep note of all the fans that you attract at your shows and make sure to send them your most recent projects or videos.

Stay active on Social Media and be consistent in posting interesting content. Only post the content with the highest qualities you are able to produce.

You want to look as professional as possible and having high-quality photos along with solid audio/video can aid you in the process of forming a dope look across your channels.

Talk to your fans on a regular basis and actually reach out. Piquing interest on social media or local bars won’t be enough, trust. I learned after a while that I really had to talk to my fans and find out what they are struggling with or what they are experiencing that’s similar to my story that makes them a fan in the first place. 

Running a contest or giveaway is an effective way to engage your fans by giving away some merchandise, free tickets, or even having them help you write a song. This is also one of the best ways to reward them for their loyalty. At the same time you can start to identify what type of people you’re attracting and target your audience.

There are still a lot of contest ideas out there that you can run for your fans. It doesn’t really matter what you would choose. The important thing is to engage your audience and discover more ways for people to find your social media pages. Just remember to be creative with your ideas so that you can stand out from other bands and musicians. 

Remember that a career in music means having to spend money first to make all of your ideas come to life. Success doesn't happen overnight, that’s why you need to make sure you got some money coming in. 

Whether that’s a part-time or full-time job, you have to commit to that sacrifice. 

But what if having a day job and even your savings are both not enough?

Are you going to wait forever to get the money you need to start working on your music?

Hell Nah, you need to wake up and realize that there's more you can be doing with your time.

With thousands of musicians waiting to be discovered who are doing more than you are right now, it’s crucial that you deliver in the best way possible. For all know, only a few will be fortunate enough to make it where you dream of getting.

Plus, how can you even consider a music career if you’re an artist with financial problems?

There are several options available on the market and one of the quickest ways to get funds is to apply for a loan. But before deciding on getting one, you should consider the things that you need to do before submitting an application.

Decide on the amount that you need and how you can pay it back  - carefully decide on the amount it’s going to take to make your project happen before applying for a loan.  Research on the costs to help you realize your music. How much are the new musical instruments that you need? Or the cost of the recording studio? Have these included in your business plan because you might have a hard time paying it back if you don’t understand the projected costs. You don’t want to propose an investment for less than what you actually need, it defeats the whole purpose of getting a loan in the first place.

Plan ahead before getting a loan application. Having one is a serious commitment that may ruin your finances in the future if you go in with the wrong mindset. Once you get your loan proceeds, think carefully about spending it in the right way. Reach out to people with good and bad experiences that will educate you more on how a loan works and move applicably. 

Shop around -  after deciding on the amount that you need and planned ways to pay it back, shop around and look for the best source. You would consider a source that will give you the lowest interest rates and the best deal. You want to look for something that won’t let you lose your creative control over the business . You only need funds, not something that will control how you should do your music (otherwise, you should have selected other resources). Make a decision and move forward.

Check out the interest rates - When opting for a loan, you will not only pay for the amount that you borrowed but your loan comes with interest rates. Meaning, you’ll have to pay more than what you borrowed. Getting the money that you need is not everything. You don’t want to end up doing music just to pay for what you borrowed. Some lenders charge high-interest rates so try to avoid them as much as you can. Loans with high-interest rates mean high monthly payments and take longer to be paid than those with lower interest rates.

With all the expenses that you need in leveraging your career as a musician, choosing it means you need funds to pay for everything that you need. From travel expenses for your tours and concerts to recording studio rentals and all of the other things you got going on. 

You pretty much need to know everything on how to get your music funded. This includes how to get sponsorships. Acquiring sponsors will not only care for some things but it will also help increase your visibility in the process.

But how do you even begin the process?

Check if you’re ready with sponsorships. 

This means that you should already have an established fan base,  high social engagement, thousands of views on youtube, sold-out concerts and high mail subscribers. All of these will surely help in increasing the possibility of getting sponsored.

Next, write a sick ass proposal foo.

How do you do that then? Here’s how: 

Creating a Proposal

As soon as you have already a list of companies and their contact information, you have to prepare your proposal to pitch your offer.

Your proposal should contain the following: 

  • Your Bio -  If you think the company still doesn’t have a lot of ideas, you have to tell them through your bio on who you are including your achievements and other impressive things about you as an artist. 
  • Your Band Logo - Place it directly next to to the Company’s logo
  • What you need from them. Be clear in stating what you need from them. It doesn't necessarily have to be cash. It can be transportation, T-Shirts, a place to stay or anything that you think your band needs. What you can offer in return is shout- outs to their company, social m3edia or mentions - like when you are playing on stage you may mention the product. You can also have the product included in your music video. Coming up with a song that they can use for their ads also sounds like a great offer. Putting photos of their product on your social media pages -  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter once a week or for 2 months may also sound like a great deal. 
  • Put the Time Frame -  You have to indicate if it’s for a local show or a tour and how long it’s going to last
  • Add their Perks -  You can probably offer tickets for employees and VIP access.

Once you come up with a proposal, look for the person who has the authority to make decisions on the company.  Get the contact information and check if you can set up a meeting on the phone or in-person and pitch your proposal. If you don’t hear back from the company within 3 days, send an email for follow up. Be realistic in choosing the sponsor to pitch. If you’re a local based band with a minimal number of fans, sending a proposal to huge companies might not be the best idea. 

Never be discouraged in case your proposal will be turned down. It would help if you ask for feedback so you would know next time on what to improve. 

Good luck with creating a proposal. Remember, success is a process.