Think of music as a spectrum; there’s the art side of it, and then there’s business side. To make it big, you need to be successful in both. While most musicians understand the art aspect, the business side remains a mystery to many. While there’s a lot you can do to turn your world around and make things start working for you, be sure to check the following pattern of mistakes musician make all the time in their desperate bid to make it BIG in the music business.
1 - Not Building a Brand
You've probably heard about 'artist image’ or top musicians referring themselves as brands. For centuries, musicians have been described by their personal attributes and genres. Beethoven, for example, was often described as moody and so was his music.
Since then, the popular music of the time has changed dramatically but the basics remain the same. You don’t have to confine your brand to just one style of music but be sure to at least put a label on it. You can do this by making your genre explicit and by weaving in your personality and attitude.
2 - Worrying Too Much About Getting Heard
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get your name heard but that shouldn't be your first priority. Instead, focus on making both your image and music compelling. Those lucky enough to have heard your music should end up becoming actual fans. If not, find a way to integrate this one very important promotional tool into the music you release.
3 - Targeting Everyone or No One in Particular
No matter how good your music is, it will never please everyone. The best thing to do is to throw away that idea completely. Even within the same genre, your music will only appeal to a certain segment of fans who listen to that style. With that said, it’s important that you find your audience and laser-focus on them instead of directing your effort on a disinterested group. This will save you a great deal from wasting your time, effort and resources.
Test your music on different people. Start with your family and friends. Let them listen to your music and give their honest feedback. You can thereafter use the feedback you get to calibrate your brand and make it appeal to your target audience.
4 – Not Having a Plan
Winging it in music is the beginning of failure. Fail to plan and you’ll be making one terrible mistake many upcoming musicians make all the time. The marketing plan you create should include your goals, strategies, objectives, market analysis, tactics, metrics, project timeline and projections.
5 - Failing to Network
While talent plays an extremely important role in making it big in music, it’s not the only factor at play. It also has to do with who you know. Whether it’s a certain club owner who later introduces you to his buddy that works at a label or a fellow musician who knows a great up and coming producer, networking will become crucial in the long run. Don’t forget to leverage social media. You can do this by promoting other musicians you know, and ask them to do the same for you. Whatever you do, if you’re planning to make music your full-time career, never let a day pass without adding a new contact into your network.
6 - No email list
Having thousands of followers on various social sites doesn’t mean a thing if you have no way of contacting them in an efficient and direct way. That’s where email marketing comes in. Ever wondered why some musicians sell thousands of copies the first week of releasing an album or single? Or can pack a club when they're on tour? Well, these are the musicians who know how to leverage their fan base and email marketing is an important component of that.
7 - Relying solely on Facebook and Twitter
The Internet is swamped with all sorts of upcoming musicians trying to make it happen. The problem is that most of them are only promoting their music on Facebook and Twitter when there are a whole lot of other online and offline tactics that they could employ and reach an even bigger fan base.
- Radio Promotion
- Street team promotion
- Online Advertising
- Email marketing
8 - Bad Timing
Just because you have a hot track doesn't mean it’s time to make a new release. Give yourself enough time to promote your last single and build enough anticipation before you greet your fans with new music. On the other hand, you also have to make sure you’re releasing new stuff at on a consistent basis. The last thing you want is for your fans to get bored waiting for new stuff to come out. The key here is striking a good balance.
9 - No Website
We understand, your fans can connect with you on social media. They can inbox or DM you. But your fan base starts growing and you’re prompted with questions about your bio, tour dates, music, the kind of merchandise you have, or your contact information. You surely won’t have the time to attend to all their questions from your inbox or timeline.
That’s where websites come in. If you can, hire a web designer (or ask a web designer friend) who can create a website that fits your style and brand then feed it with all the relevant information that you feel your fans might be interested in knowing.
10 - No Fan Interaction
It’s important that you learn to connect with your fans on a one on one basis at times. You can do this by creating a channel that you’ll be posting behind-the-scenes footages, studio sessions, and run-through's. You could create album trailers, song previews, tutorials and live streaming sessions that you can use to connect with your fans on a personal level and create a loyal fan base.
In addition to the ten mistakes we've just listed, it's important that you never compromise on the quality of your music. If you're hoping to have your big break someday, then make your music resonate with your fans. You'll have an easy time promoting your music when you have a quality product. Other than that, don't hesitate to look for help or pointers anywhere you can. Read books, ask the people around you for advice and take your time to study the music industry and only make a move you're sure of.
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What do you feel is the most common business mistake made by musicians?