I have about 15 friends who are aspiring musicians and so do my other friends too. It’s a crazy hustle for anyone who wants to make it big in the mainstream. It takes years of patience and perseverance, believing in yourself and trying so hard not to give in to people who try to discourage you. Whether it’s for the sake of passion, money and women.
The music industry is an exciting place full of opportunities. A career in this industry is definitely a dream for most, especially if you’re talented and passionate about music. With the advancements in technology and the introduction of a new wave of music, it has become easier than before to start and grow as a musician. However, you’re going to need a lot more than just technology, talent, passion, and skills to be a successful musician. There are certain traits that you’ll need to be a success in this industry and the best part is that you’re not born with these traits but you cultivate them and pick them up as your career progresses.
As a Blogger, Online and on air Promoter, I meet many upcoming artists who just record their songs and burning to CDs and running around the streets begging people to buy it… No matter how nice it is no one will. I have seen a lot of artists delivering music to guys in the market so that they help play them but one thing for sure is that once the artist goes the guys in the markets toss it away, not nice, I know but you can imagine the reaction from others.. …well am going to give some tips on how you can promote yourself the freeway, although there’s the paid one too It’s not full guarantee but it’s a step worth taking.
1. Ground Work
So, you are a passionate artist with mad skill who is going to change the industry. That means nothing if you never leave your basement! You have to grind like an ox if you want to be heard. Some of the best ways for upcoming artists to get their grind on is to hit up every open mic you find, introduce yourself to everyone and remember their names, give positive and constructive feedback online to every artist you come across, participate in online music groups and sites, and know who is who in your local music community build a very good relationship with these people, they have the key to your success in the game.
Umusepela Crown is a good example of true grinding and never sleeping. He jumps on every opportunity that comes on the way, including taking on other challenges from other artists, voicing out on every topic that currently trending as well being creative all the time.
2. Patience is required & always have a backup plan.
Frustration, stress and depression is obviously going to come along in the process of being a mainstream musician. Years and years of putting in effort and dedication to the hustle but still no result. Many people give up because they cannot handle this frustration. It’s however helpful to know that most of the top artist in the nation didn’t just make it in a day of starting. It took them years of trying and being rejected even by the audience that appreciates them today. Macky 2 had gone a lot of years without being recognized as an artist despite creating good music, promoting in the streets and radio. But he never gave up.
Some motivational speakers would advise that if you really want something, you should dive at it. This doesn’t always work in this case. You should have a back-up plan in case things don’t go as planned, get an education or learn a trade. Don’t go all in, put one foot in and the other somewhere else. Like Petersen always say;
“One foot in the fire, another one in the water” Did you know that Stevo works as a full time bank manager despite having succeeded in music? He one time halted his music career, left the XYZ entertainment just concentrate on getting his degree at the University of Zambia.
3. Be Professional
Professionalism is something all artists need to grasp if they want to be considered a serious artist. Many artists fail to realize that the people they need in order to succeed are professionals and don’t have time for improper communication, drama, and irresponsibility. When communicating with radio stations, online promoters (such as blogs), recording studios, venues, and other artists it is important to be clear, concise and well spoken. I promise that an email/Whatapp along the lines of… “ay man, we finna b murkin dem beats play r songs on yur show.” will promptly be deleted. The same goes to short texts like “Hi”, “Hello”, “Laka”, etc.
Even if that is how you talk with your guys, you cannot talk to a professional radio station manager that way. Always be on time, leave the drama behind, and assume you are dealing with a big brand all the time. Because one day it will be the real deal, and if an opportunity is lost due to stupidity and a lack of professionalism it will hurt you! Best Belive!!!!!!
4. You Have To Build A Team (A Team Very Important)
If you have decided to pursue a career as an artist, you must know that you cannot do it alone. Having a strong team with experience and connections can be the key to furthering your career. These people will represent you and guide you through the tumultuous early days as an artist, as well as through the many challenges you will face on the road to success and beyond. This team can include, (but is not limited to), a Personal Manager, Business Manager, Booking Agent, Attorney, Publicist, Publisher, Tour Manager, and Producer.
As your career continues to grow, the more of these positions will need to be filled. For many, the most effective starting point for building a team is with a personal manager. A personal manager can be integral to an artist’s career. The key is to find a manager who also has time and energy to dedicate to your career. (A seasoned manager will know the ins and outs of the industry and will help you navigate different obstacles.)
While beginning with a personal manager is beneficial, it is by no means the only route to building your team. You can start by filling any of the positions mentioned. For example, a live show is integral to building an audience for a lot of artists, so it may be that a good booking agent could be first on the list.
In the back of your mind, you want to assess new people you meet or even those already in your network that could potentially be a part of your team as you grow. Ultimately, you want people who are willing to grow with you, grind it out with you and not just trying to take advantage of your successes. And to be honest with you, avoid keeping people around that don’t add value to your career. Sampa the Great rose to fame because she had a powerful team working tirelessly behind her.
Here are some people you need to consider on your team as your career grows: Managers, Booking Agent, Marketing Strategists, Photographer and Videographer, Assistants and Entertainment Attorney.
The fifth priority for a new artist is branding. Once you have put time and effort into your craft, building your team, establishing a digital presence, and getting comfortable on stage, your personal brand should fall right into place. Your brand is what separates you from every other artist in your genre.
When creating your brand, it is important to balance staying true to yourself with representing a personal style/image that correlates with the genre of music you play. There is a range of style and image norms within the different genres. Sometimes, breaking or bending those norms can be a good thing in order to stand out, but stark violations of them runs the risk of alienating a large portion of the intended audience.
Branding is one of the most compelling parts of the music industry because it can be changed and manipulated in different ways. In order for a brand to further an artist’s career, it has to be distinct. Although it may seem simple, it can take years of hard work and patience to change people’s perceptions. Branding is about the little details that build up over time to create something marketable and unique. Many opportunities for corporate sponsorships are available to an artist with a distinct brand and a positive public image.
6. Establish your online presence
There’s a difference between making music as a hobby and making music as a profession. Just like in business, presentation is important. Part of treating your music career like a business involves presenting yourself as an artist to take seriously. If you come off as amateurish, people can subconsciously associate you with lower quality and someone not worthy of attention. This is why having good quality visual components (photos, graphics, videos) is key to a strong online presence
Can you get away with just using social media? Sure, anything is possible, but I don’t recommend it. The way I look at it, it’s all a numbers game. There are things you can do that are not required, like having a website, but they will improve your chances of being successful.
There may come a point where you need to get publicity or coverage. Remember, people or organizations with large audiences tend to get a lot of requests, so they need to have a system to filter out who they write about or promote. Creating a good impression with a website and a strong brand can help. Only having a Facebook account as your main online presence just doesn’t put out a good impression.
7. Never Gossip About Fellow Artist to Another Individual
We are human, and the spirit of gossip is another part of us that is within our control. However, because human gossip, it is very vital we understand that gossip has been the genesis of so many conflict in the history of the word.
As an upcoming artist learn to listen to rumors and not spread rumors about another fellow artist thinking it will play to your own advantage. Many entertainers have been reported to commit suicide or die of depression as a result of things they hear about themselves as circulated by somebody close to them.
As a result of these bad gossips, notably in Zambia music terrain, it was noted that artistes tend to be watchful of the type of person they mingle with, and also what they say.
Hence, it will be difficult for any artiste who wants to protect his/her career to have something to do with another person known for peddling rumors. An artiste rather roll with a funny guy who would make them laugh than someone whose only business is to talk and talk about someone else.
8. Form a Strong Professional Peer Group as Your Sounding Board
Family and friends are great but they are often too biased to give proper guidance and advice when it comes to your music and known that you Family and friends are your supporters not your fans these group of people will support you even when your music is trash.
Music professionals tend to give more constructive guidance and can set more realistic goals and expectations. For instance, reach out to veterans like DJ Mzengaman, DJ Showstar to ask for professional analysis and guidance.
Remember: Grandma will most likely love everything you do, no matter what, so don’t take her advice too seriously! LOL
9 Know Your Target Audience.
As an artist you need to know the type of audience you have and what audience you want to builds. Always know you are the captain of the ship hence you need to know how to control your fans/audience.
Everything laid out in this post should help you lay the foundation to build a fanbase properly by understanding your niche.
Remember, it’s not about appealing to the masses. The right people you want to reach will not only resonate with your music but also share a deeper connection with you as a brand. It’s about understanding yourself (self-awareness) and building a brand around reaching/attracting your ideal target audience through your music and content.
Building a fanbase is an involved process that takes patience. It’s easy to get caught up in this overnight success mindset that “I gotta keep pushing and promoting my music until I have that one hit that will make me famous overnight.” For most, that’s never going to be the case so don’t let these perceptions in our culture fool you.
To me, when it comes to marketing and building a fanbase, it’s not just about how to promote your music and get more exposure. Not only do you have to think about width (exposure), you also have to balance it by focusing on depth (branding).
At its core, I believe marketing your music revolves around relationships. Instead of having this rock star mentality where fans should worship you, you should think of yourself as someone getting others to build relationships with you. Relationships take time, and so will be developing true fans.
At the same time, you still need to balance your marketing efforts between your true hardcore fans and casual listeners of your music to be truly sustainable as an independent artist.
For professional guidance and more marketing tips reach out to Surb Ratio from Zambian Music Blog or Syre from ViralTrenddz. We offer step by step guidelines that will make you sell your music career as a professional in this new wave age.
Written By Surb Ratio, Edited by Syre