How to make your name in music
Getting started in music is easy if you do not aspire to much. Playing for friends and neighbours, perhaps singing in church or in a choir, or enjoying karaoke once a week can be a gratifying – and it is healthy for you too.
Studies have found that singing with a choir can reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels as, if not more, effectively than prescription medication. But if you want more than a local name as ‘a bit of a singer’, how do you make the transition from rank amateur to fledgling professional?
You could try the ‘traditional’ route of booking studio time and recording some of your work, followed by an arduous and dispiriting trek around agents and music distributors in the faint hope that one of them will take your demo, actually listen to it, and get back to you with a request to hear more from you. This is still a viable way to enter the industry and do not be disheartened if you have already started this process.
A more informal way of gaining the necessary experience and exposure is to use word-of-mouth and social media. Work locally in pubs and clubs, getting your name known, and use social media to promote yourself. Many venues have filming capabilities and some record all their entertainment as standard. Some might let you have a copy of the footage, others might want to keep it for their own uses – double-check any contracts that you have signed with them to be sure on your rights. If there is no footage available, get a friend with a good eye and a steady camera hand to film you during gigs, then edit the footage lightly to make yourself look good and give the impression of professionally shot footage. These clips can be shared on social media to catch the eye of promoters and managers looking for something new and fresh for their venue – and it has worked surprisingly well: Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen both started out on YouTube before being snapped up with mainstream recording contracts.
But there is something else that you can do in conjunction with the either (or both) of the above actions: set up a website!
What will a website do for me?
What a website will do for you is very simple: it will help you get started in the music industry by selling you, your brand and your voice, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A properly designed and laid-out website will keep working for you, even while you sleep, travel, sing, and socialise! Almost anyone can have a website, and if you are in any of the creative arts: art, design, literature, writing, sculpture and, of course, music, it is almost mandatory that you have a website of your own to promote and protect your work. (People sometimes claim that a piece of text, artwork, or a song is theirs – this is harder to do when you can prove that it has been on your website for three years before ‘they’ produced it!)
Sounds simple – I will set one up tomorrow!
Not so fast! If you are serious about getting started in the music industry, your website should reflect this. It will need a professional design behind it, so that it looks attractive, inviting clicks into the site and then retaining the interest of those who arrive on your landing page, so they listen to all the songs, make note of your next venues, and perhaps even purchase your merchandise. Music scouts will definitely click through any new musical offerings in the hope of catching the next big star while they are still young, but they will have a very keen eye for an authentic site, as opposed to an amateur offering with cut-and-paste elements.
Some people think that they are saving money by opting to do-it-themselves – but having a good-looking site does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. There are any number of companies who devote themselves to providing high-quality websites, designed to help the small businessman thrive – and getting into the music industry is a business, with your talent as the product on sale! The best thing that you can do for your business (that is to say, your music career) is to invest in the best possible website, and make sure that you cover all the possibilities from ticket sales, to tee shirts, to downloadable content. Anyone coming across your page will immediately assume that you are a great musician and be more inclined to give you a fair chance than they would had they come across a poorly set-up site with no product links and an unsecured payment link.