There have been plenty of things that artists have learned, and often, the hard way. How many of you out there can say you paid X amount of dollars to either be featured in a magazine that never came out or a mix tape that never dropped? Or to even pay money for radio play or promotion that never happened or doesn’t go anywhere? There are countless mistakes that all artists have made, successful or not, and without those mistakes, most would never have learned the business.

I can recall one of my clients telling me a story one day, about a very famous person in the industry, who isn’t too famous now a days, but still had a name, and had reached out to them on social media regarding their music. This client was hyped up, convinced to come out of pocket a large sum of money, in order to be featured on an exclusive mix tape with that famous person’s name all over it and promoting it. What are the chances of that? Well, after the money was sent, the conversations abruptly ended, too. Countless messages and attempts to contact were unanswered.  Feeling disillusioned and disappointed, my client later learned how to research everything about any opportunity before forking over any cash.- Lesson learned.

Many times, artists are so focused on people listening to their music, or spamming their Facebook walls with desperation for people to “click the link to listen to my hot music”. After a while, the people you have in your circle, get tired of your posts. So they block, un-follow, never comment, and either this makes the artist mad and lose focus, or, smart artists will use this as leverage, as ammunition, to continue amidst the obstacles.- Lesson learned.

In order for anyone in the industry to take you seriously, YOU have to take yourself seriously. Think about this: You are building a brand. Whatever your brand is, you are building it to encourage people to buy what you are selling. If you can see yourself as a business, you have to think about what is going to make you marketable. Your image, what you’re about, your interests, your appearance, who you associate with, what genre your music falls in, what artists you are similar to, what artists you are not, knowing who your audience is and how to cater to it. It takes more than just talent to make it out here. It takes business smarts and great marketing, either by you, or by a good team who believe in you and your artistry. – Lesson learned.

If your music is what you feel is worthy enough of radio, club play, commercial, TV, licensing, etc., how will you get it out there? How will you let people know? You need to go about getting your music reviewed. And yes, there will be times you need to pay for services like that, but you need to check them out first to make sure they are legitimate. Why pay? Because someone is spending their time to listen to your music and give it an actual review, someone is taking the time to listen to your lyrics and messages, production quality, determine if it’s radio ready/friendly, determine what markets they can hear it in, what are the chances of its success, and many more factors. Getting your music reviewed, by industry professionals, getting worthy interviews, being featured on different sites that will promote your music, networking with like-minded people in the industry, these are the things that will get you noticed and open the door for more opportunities to come your way. The fans will come, in time. Trust me. But if you force someone to be a fan, or chuck your music down their throats, they will be more inclined to pass than to fan up. In addition, if you are making music with making money your goal, then perhaps you should rethink your strategy. Music should be your passion, the financial windfall of course is welcomed and needed, of course, but it shouldn’t be your main focus. The art of making the music should.- Lesson learned.

So here are some great tips.

  • Make sure your final project is presentable, that the production is good, that the sound is quality.
  • Make sure you own the masters. Clear any agreements with whoever made the production or music IN WRITING.
  • Copyright your song. It’s easy to do online. Right now it’s $55.00 per copyright for sound recordings.
  • Register yourself with a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) like BMI or ASCAP. Then, register your song once you get your account number.
  • Once your song is copy-written and registered with a PRO, create a preview of the song before the hook comes on so listeners can hear the verse, then the hook. A great resource is SoundCloud or Reverbnation or any other site similar to those. ( I am not promoting these sites in any way, just giving examples).
  • Do you know what genre it falls under? You should. Make sure you reach out to industry professionals who either have experience or review music in that genre,. Reach out to radio stations, management, PR, etc. that are also affiliated with the style of music you are trying to market.
  • Did someone ask for the demo? Ok, great. Make sure your meta-tags are on point. If you are asking what are those, then you need to do some more research.  A meta-tag tells people what they are listening to. So instead of putting on a CD, hitting play, and on the display it says “Unknown name, unknown artist.,track 1″, this can be easily fixed so it can say ” John Doe, Song Title”. And when DJs get your track from their record pool, they won’t have to second guess. Also, know what the BPM is for your song. That’s important for a whole slew of reasons. Just ask any DJ.
  • Network, network, network. Networking is crucial in this business. In any business, really. It’s all about connections, who you know. Be kind, be genuine, be professional. Join forums, attend music networking events, do your research for everyone you meet. Understand that not everyone is your friend and not everyone wants to help. Be polite, but not ignorant.
  • There is always a time and place for everything. Remember where you are and how to act. I mean, these are things that most people learn in Kindergarten. So take note of how to get your brand sold instead of dismissed.
  • Lastly, don’t fall for any gimmick. Mom always said, if something is too good to be true, it generally is. Independent radio stations are a great venue and platform for the indie artist. Do your research on their listeners and what kind of music they play before submitting your music. Also, review their guidelines and what you are waiving when you submit. ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT.

To wrap things up, I always feel that the Indie Artist has a great voice that needs to be heard and that somewhere out there, someone who is not known, has made my favorite song. I want to listen to your song. Sure I have a preference of genres, many people do, but for the most part, I am pretty open minded. You have to be in this business. Take chances in legit opportunities, not just in something or someone who is selling you a dream. Build your team with people who want to see you rise, because they know if you rise, they will, too. And if you’re not about that, then don’t have a team. There is strength in numbers, remember that always. And don’t be so cocky. Just because you may have a good song, doesn’t mean everyone will be on board. Be humble and be smart, but most of all, be passionate about what you do. – Jilli