Five Tips to a More Efficient Music Career [ indie artist please read & comment ]

Getting your music career to take off can be a timely process. You have to work your way up through the ranks, proving yourself to possess the skills and talent required to be a success along the way. Most people don’t get signed by a major record label as soon as they post their first video on YouTube, and it can often be a good while till you start getting the recognition and sales you deserve. Because of this, it’s essential you don’t make that process any slower then it has to be. Working efficiently will mean you achieve your goals a lot quicker, and often save money on the way. Here are five tips that will allow you to be more efficient in your independent music career.



1. Make Best Use Of Recording Studio Time

This is very important. When it comes to recording studios, many people use bad practices. I’ve seen people hire a studio for a day, spend most of the day writing lyrics and playing on the studio’s game console / snooker table, then using the last 1/5th of the session to actually record their music. This I can understand if you’re under a major record label with a limitless budget who won’t take this studio time out of your album sales (I don’t think that’ll ever happen?), but for anyone else this is a big waste of time and money!

These studios have various entertainment in their buildings as they WANT you to waste time. The more time you waste, the more you’ll be going back to their studio and the more money they’ll make. They’re a business, their aim is to make money… FROM YOU! Counteract this by writing and practising all your lyrics at home. That way, once you go into the studio all you’ll need to do is record. After all, that’s what a recording studio should be for. Anything else apart from the recording equipment is a distraction, so don’t get tricked into lining someone else’s pocket.

2. Constantly Analyse Your Music Career

As you do things, you should constantly be looking at what works and what doesn’t. Doing this will allow you to pick out things that are worth doing and those that aren’t. When things don’t work, you should ask yourself why they don’t work and if there’s anything you can do to potentially make them work. When things do work, try and find out why they work and see if you can do it on a bigger scale.

Many musicians don’t do this, and end up wasting valuable time on things that aren’t working. Because they’ve never stopped to measure the results they’re receiving, they don’t realise what they’re doing is ineffective so carry on along the wrong path.

Actively learning from your experiences and implementing what you learn is a great way to streamline your efforts and help you reach your goal a lot quicker.

3. Make A Plan For Your Music Career

Running on auto pilot and doing things as they come up is a bad habit of many independent musicians. Not having a plan can often lead to a lack of focus and not really knowing what to do. For example, many people have the goal of doing as many shows as possible, but don’t have a plan of how they’re going to get these shows and by when. You need to know how you’re going to do something so you can systematically put it into practice (Randomly waiting for shows to appear isn’t a very good strategy). You also need to know by when so you’ve got a end date. If you don’t have a end date you could be working to achieve one aim for years before you realise it’s not working. At least if you set a date you can stop and reflect on whether or not something is working and adapt accordingly.

It’s often wise to set S.M.A.R.T aims. S.M.A.R.T stands of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. You want to make yourself specific goals that can be measured and will be achievable. For example, you may say you want to do ten shows by the end of the year. This is specifically what you want to do, it can be measured with numbers, and it should be achievable. On top of this it’s realistic and it has a time limit.

Making a plan for your music career with S.M.A.R.T steps will allow you to have direction rather then just swinging out and hoping for the best. Then, along with analysis, you can alter and refine your plans to you find something that works for you.

4. Use Automated Software To Speed Up Promotion

Promoting your music is essential, as if you don’t let people know your music exists no one’s going to buy it. Having said that, not everyone’s cut out for promoting. They may not like the process, or may simply feel like it’s too time consuming. While it may not be an option for promoting to people at shows and the like, you can get a lot of online promotion done for you automatically while you work on other things. At Independent Music Advice for example, we use Tweet Adder and MailChimp (Which is free up to 500 subscribers). Tweet Adder automatically adds people to our twitter account, messages them, and updates our twitter status to a schedule we specify. These twitter users then check out our website and often sign up and / or become regular readers.MailChimp automatically sends our subscribers pre written messages every week, effectively building a relationship with our reader on auto pilot. The amount of time these tools have saved has been extremely valuable, and will allow you more time to make your music and do anything else you need to do.

5. Don’t Over Network And Learn Which Music Contacts To Trust

I’m sure people have told you before about the importance of networking, and this is true. You can’t do everything by yourself, and you need links to help you achieve things you may not be able to do by yourself. What people don’t often say though is you should pick the people you network with very carefully. There are too many non-serious people in the music industry, and many will end up slowing you down. A good link is someone who can help speed up your music career, not slow it down and waste all your phone credit.

You need to look at how genuine someone is when you’re first getting to know them. Many people over hype what they’ve done or what they can do for you, so the first sign of a lie and you should be very wary.

You also want to avoid people who you constantly have to chase up. If you ring them and they’re always ignoring their phone, in “a meeting”, or tells you to call them back later (And later never comes), stop trying to contact them and forget about them. If they can really help you and they want to they’ll contact you back.

When you’re networking there will be many people who will waste your time. The key is minimising the time they waste in your search for good music industry contacts, and holding on to the good contacts you find.

All these five steps will lead to a more efficient music career, saving you valuable time and money. If you know of any other ways to make your career more efficient, please let me know in the comments.


What Makes A Brand Stand Out?

Make sure your brand has, and demonstrates, these seven important qualities:

1. Originality

First, your brand needs to be original. If you attempt to mimic a competitor’s brand, people won’t have a compelling reason to choose you instead of that other brand. If your messaging relies on clichés and sales talk, it’s not going to resonate with any of your customers. Instead, find an angle that nobody has taken before, and develop an image and voice that are wholly your own. This is easier said than done, of course, but it’s a necessary step if you don’t want to blend in with the competition.

2. Sincerity

Next, your brand needs to demonstrate a degree of sincerity. If you respond to all your customers on social media with the same copied and pasted corporate response, people are going to see you as a soulless machine that cares only about turning a profit. Instead, show your human side. Invest in the “personality” of your brand, and speak to customers the way you would speak to a friend. You might make some mistakes along the way, but your customers will be able to forge much better relationships with you in the long run.

3. Understanding

The best and most popular brands are the ones that understand their target audiences. They demonstrate this by creating messaging that is relevant for only one target niche; for example, if you’re targeting parents, you might mention a common parenting problem, like having difficulty with a morning routine. This will demonstrate a degree of sympathy and instantly make it easier for that audience to connect with you. In time, this will lead to increased interactions with your brand, which in turn will lead to more traffic and conversions. Make sure you research your target demographics thoroughly and on an ongoing basis, and adjust your wording and targeting as needed.

4. Boldness

In branding, risk often leads to reward. The boldest brands aren’t afraid to experiment with new techniques, or take a stance on controversial issues within the industry. They’re somewhat polarizing, which means they could alienate a portion of their audience, but they also encourage more loyalty and respect from the people who stick around, and they never run the risk of being seen as “boring” or “just another brand.”

5. Consistency

It’s easy to blend in as white noise if your messaging isn’t consistent. If your brand standards aren’t clearly defined, or you have multiple people executing those standards to varying degrees of effectiveness, you might end up alienating your audience. The goal is to get your followers and readers to stick around as long as possible; but to do that, you need to give them a sense of familiarity and predictability. The best way to secure those qualities is to lock down your brand standards early on, and ensure that all team members working on your campaigns are skilled at their execution.

6. Visibility

Obviously, if people aren’t seeing your brand, they won’t be able to respond to it in any way. Though some potential customers will undoubtedly trickle in through organic searches and other inbound routes, the only way to build your reputation from scratch is to make your brand as visible as possible.

Leverage different opportunities to diversify your strategy; for example, you might post content on external publications to build your reputation, launch a social media strategy or invest heavily in advertising and promoted materials. The bottom line is that you need some medium to promote your messaging — otherwise, it won’t matter how appealing that messaging is. For help getting visibility for your brand, see How to Get Media Exposure for Your Startup: The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide.

7. Value

Brands can also stand out by offering more value than their competitors; that can be done in a number of different ways. First, you could simply offer better products and services; if you offer a similarly valuable product for half the price, it will be only a matter of time before people start flocking to you.

Unfortunately, most brands don’t have the flexibility to get this competitive (without eating into profits). Instead, you might offer value in terms of better, more informative content, or a stronger dedication to personalized customer service. Originality plays a role here, too, so think carefully about how best to appeal to your customers.

If you’re just starting to build a brand, these factors should guide you in its development. If you have a brand already, and it seems lacking, consider implementing a rebranding campaign, or at least adjusting your execution of your brand standards to reflect these values. At the very least, take the time to audit your current brand strategy and evaluate your adherence to the standards you originally set.