Your First Steps in the Music Business

You have just finished a few songs – but what now? How do you proceed as a musician in order to make money from your art one day? When is the right time for certain action? While I must admit there is no one-size-fits-all solution (if there was we’d all be rock stars now and this blog would be about money laundering), there are a few proven things that have helped a number of successful musicians ‘make it’. 

If you want to build a useful (emphasize ‚useful’ here) network of fans, media- and industry people, then a few finished songs will be helpful tools to prove your credibility as a serious musician. After all, any potential fans need to hear your music so they can decide whether they want to join your army or not.

If you can even provide a fully-fledged music video your chances of reaching potential fans will definitely increase. Not only do videos generate more attention, they also create the perception among viewers (fans and industry people) that you are taking it seriously (after all you seem to believe in yourself in a way that encouraged you to invest time and money for a music video). More than that, though, your music video will be very helpful later on when you are dealing with media people (more on that in part 2).

Build your Fanbase
It can never be too soon to start building a loyal and dedicated following. Applied the right way, social media can be a good start here. But how can you find the right people? From personal experience I can tell that fans who actually buy music from unsigned musicians do not necessarily have to look like a fan. I had to find out the hard way that the hard rock guys with the wild hair, ripped jeans and tattoos were just attention-seekers. The real music buyers, on the other hand, looked pretty regular; your next door Dad of two kids.

What’s the lesson learned? When submitting friend requests on Facebook, avoid the hot chick, but look for the dude instead who posts photos of his new CD purchases in stylistically relevant groups.

Facebook groups are often poorly managed and thus get spammed by other attention-cravers. Finding the needle in the hay is a difficult task. However, once you found a serious group where fans and musicians maintain a well-balanced exchange, I recommend you become an active participant: talk shop, share your views, show a studio photo once in a while – and while you’re doing this do your best to show you are a musician (one who will release an album himself soon).

German Rapper Richter mentioned in his speech at the MusicBiz Madness Conference 2015 that he always places his logo in the photos he uploads. This is a prime example for branding yourself a musician and sets you apart from the masses.

Such Facebook groups will be an excellent place with many helpful people to finally announce your album release. But right now they are a great hotbed for new fans.

Lead them over
Mere connections on social media won’t do much for you. According to Richter again, any and all social media activities must serve to direct your fans to places that make you money: your online store or your monetized Youtube channel.

If you don’t have anything to sell yet, your job will be to stay in touch with your fans on a regular basis. The best tool to this date is your own newsletter. Speaking of newsletters, by the way, I do not mean those annoying automated mailing lists that spew out fake special offers every day. I am talking about an interesting, entertaining email which you send to your subscribers every other week.

Your challenge will be to keep your readers happy and in line so they just can and will not miss your big announcement about your album release. Especially when your album release is still some six or nine months down the road (it always is once you start working on a new album) valuable content is key to actually inspire your readers to open and read your emails every time they come in.

Of course, new subscribers really appreciate a free mp3 as an initial incentive to sign up.

Entertain your Fans
If you make music you should always communicate it. In other words, your newsletter and your social media profiles should be about music: studio pictures, backstage reports, sound samples, lyrics. Sometimes a comment to non-musical subject can be important, however, they should never ever distract from your being a musician. A new visitor or a new reader should immediately recognize that you create music. Music that matters.


Okay, at this juncture we’ll make a cut and postpone the rest to part 2, “The Next Steps” so to speak. Then we will be talking about establishing media and distribution contacts as well as generating buzz.

Here’s to your success – Julian Angel

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About MusicBizMadness

Julian Angel is a chart-noted songwriter and film musician with Hollywood credits. He has successfully released six (physical) records by himself. MusicBiz Madness started as a business conference in Germany and keeps sharing hands-on advice for musicians and people in the music industry.
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