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Ten Tips to Help You Make a Living From Music

Making a living in the music industry is the ideal dream of millions, but given the challenges that arise, only a small percentage of those dreamers ever fabricate their aspirations into a reality. So without further adue, here are my top ten tips to help you make a living in the music industry.

  • Build your fans strategically – Developing and building fans isn’t a random occurrence, in fact a psychologist could tell you that it is a simple emotional connection using music. However, I am not a psychologist but I know that all you need to do is build an emotional connection with music fans. When your fan sees you perform, does your music connect with them? Or do you connect with them personally? If not, they will not become your fan.
  • Know your stuff – They say that if you want to win the game, you’ve got to know the game. The music industry is no exception to this saying – if you want to sign a record deal then your best bet is to learn exactly how you can get that record deal (all of this information and knowledge is available in The Musician’s Guide to World Domination).
  • Explore and research alternative revenue streams – Putting all of your eggs in one basket has never been an advised tactic to success, so instead of putting all of your hopes into selling 1,000,000 copies of your hit single, try and explore some alternative routes to earning a living from music such as writing music for film, performing live or pursuing sponsorship deals.
  • Take calculated risks – Essentially, as a musician you are a business and you will need to take a certain amount of risk to reap your rewards. Now I don’t mean blowing your annual salary on a gigantic order or T-shirts in the hope that they will quadruple your income, i’m talking about the calculated risks – investing your money in travelling to music industry networking events, paying to get a number of CD’s pressed that you know you can sell and earn a profit from etc.
  • Network, Network, Network – When you ask any under achieving musician why they think they failed to achieve making a living in the music industry, you can bet your bottom dollar that their excuse will probably be something to do with not having enough contacts. People always say “It’s who you know”, and they’re certainly right, but that is not a limiting factor – no one is so unapproachable that you can’t get to know them, it is more likely that the person saying this just isn’t trying hard enough to meet these people. There are so many music industry events which I recommend to all musicians.
  • Use other peoples success – It’s not unethical to run off of other peoples success if you are doing them a favour, performing collaborations, covers, remixes and features will introduce you to the original artist’s audience – use this as a way to build your fan base.
  • Be likeable – One of the arts to building your fan base is ‘being likeable’, could you make any person you meet like you and become a fan of your music? Could you do it without them even hearing your music? Coming across as approachable and a nice person can go a long way when trying to develop a large fan base.
  • Set Targets and meet them – There are many statistics around that illustrate the point that if you physically set out a series of targets or aims, you are more likely to achieve them. Admittedly, this is a seemingly pointless and time consuming task, but if you can really convince your self to accomplish maybe five realistic goals by the end of the year, you might just surprise yourself!
  • Quantity AND Quality matter – The popular old phrase suggests we forget about quantity, as it is just a compromise on quality right? Wrong. The best artists combine both – in terms of music you should aim to produce as many songs as possible that are great, the more opportunities you have for a fan to stumble across your music the better (providing it is of good quality and will result in them becoming your fan.)
  • Don’t be a one man band – but don’t try and be a multinational corporation. Find yourself a small group of dedicated and motivated friends or music industry contacts who are willing to put aside some of their time to help develop your career.

So there you are, I hope there is some good food for though here on making a living in the music industry. What would you recommend a musician who asked you “How can I make a living in the music industry?”

About Marcus Taylor

In 2013, Marcus Taylor won the award for 'Young Visionary of the Year' at MIDEM. Marcus is passionate about marketing and the music industry, and has consulted to some of the biggest names in the music industry through his agency, Venture Harbour. Marcus founded this website in 2009, and has reached over half a million musicians ever since.

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