If your dream of success involves a microphone, recording studio, and/or a stage with lights focused solely on you, you’re likely want to know how to make it in the music industry. In the past decade or so, the way to achieve success in this exciting and diverse industry has evolved, meaning your formula for finding success within its ranks has evolved greatly from the methods used by the icons like Elvis Presley or The Beatles. So how does the music industry work and can you break into it? Below we rounded up some steps in how to achieve success in the music industry, and Musicians Institute will help you get there!

How to Make it Big in Today’s Modern Music Industry

1. Decide Between an Independent Music Career and a Major Record Label

When you get serious about making it in the music industry, your first major decision will be whether or not you want to do this yourself and launch an independent music career or whether you would prefer working with an established major record label. Be aware that your genre matters here. If you are wanting to enter the pop genre, for example, that industry is heavily influenced by labels, meaning you might not be able to find footing as an independent artist. Other genres, you might have more success in this endeavor.

2. Understand It’s a Business, And You Will be Rejected

Unfortunately, record companies don’t just approach anyone who can play an instrument or sing especially well and offer them a record deal. You need to have some pretty good business instincts/skills as well, because above all, record companies are out to make money, and you need to prove to them that you are in essence a money making proposition. It’s a business. Also, understand you will likely be rejected…a lot! Don’t take it personally. After all, there was a record label, executive, or person who rejected U2, Madonna, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Lady Gaga and countless others who eventually found success after meeting initial rejection. Had they given up after being told “no” by one person/label, what would the industry look like today? It’s unfathomable.   

3. Build Your Brand

Just as a successful business builds their brand to be recognizable to the general public, you must “build your brand” when it comes to your music. Social media is one tool to use to help you achieve this goal. You can let followers know you are dropping a new song on a certain date, for example. It doesn’t matter what platform you choose, just build your tribe “aka loyal followers” and slowly but surely increase your brand’s reach. Be your own public relations person at least until you can hire a professional to take over. However, even when you can afford to outsource this, you might want to keep doing your own social network communication. Just consider the hugely successful artists who still tweet their own thoughts out and have thousands upon thousands of fans watching their every move as a result. Talk about brand building! 

4. Know The Game Has Changed

Decades ago, artists would sign with a specific record label and then they together would produce copies of an entire album that would then be sold in whatever form was popular at the time from 8-tracks to CDs. Today, you will for the most part sell individual songs or albums as digital downloads through platforms like Spotify. Therefore, this type of platform has taken the place of the brick-and-mortar store in terms of the how you get your music to your customers/fans. Just so you know, though, this doesn’t mean your money making potential is lost. Sure, you might still benefit more from concert and merchandise revenue but you can still make a significant amount money thanks to the 70 million people who pay to use Spotify or the additional 140 million who subscribe to the platform according to Statista. That’s a lot of revenue potential. This nets to over eight billion dollars of yearly revenue from just that one platform and Apple music is right on its heels.

music students with synths

5. It Still Takes Hard Work

Though the method of building brand awareness and the way music gets from you to your audience might have evolved, there is one thing that remains the same…you need to hustle to earn it! The world is full of equally talented individuals who all want what you want. The only way to set yourself above them is being willing to out hustle your contemporaries. In addition, getting your music out there for potential labels to hear requires you play as much as you can. Do more than you ever thought possible by playing live whenever and wherever you find the opportunity. Never say no when asked to play a gig (within reason) even if it’s just setting up equipment for another artist. Don’t ever consider yourself above a certain location or job. Feel every opportunity to play or work with someone in the industry might be the step that will lead to the right person discovering you and giving you your big break.

6. Learn From Others, Find a Mentor

If you can, find out how currently successful artists got their start. You can copy or use some of their methods at the very least. At best, you can find out from them how they achieved the success they enjoy today and ask them to mentor you. In other words, you want to know how to do something, ask the man/woman who’s doing it right now. It is almost impossible to learn the ropes of the music industry without someone teaching you how to tie a knot. For example, just imagine Justin Bieber without Chris Brown or Kayne West without Jay-Z. Each of these artists only became  ultra successful after they obtained a mentor who already knew the industry.

7. Hold On To Your Passion For Music

Above all, in order to achieve success in the music industry, you must love your art. If the only reason you want a recording label or success is the money and fame that will follow, you probably won’t succeed. In order to push through the difficulties that most certainly lie in front of you, you must hold, unwavering to your passion for your art, your music. The music alone must be enough to drive you. If it’s not, you might want to consider another career path. However, if you would sooner do without air than your music, you might just have what it takes to achieve success in this incredibly competitive industry.

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