How to Succeed as a Musician : A Step-by-Step Guide

The music industry has shifted dramatically, leaving independent artists wondering how to build a successful career and beyond. In this comprehensive guide, we break down the key steps you need to take to set yourself up for music industry success.

Businessman Listening To Music

Focus on Creating Quality Music

The foundation of your music career is the quality of your songs. While expensive equipment isn’t essential, your tracks must meet a baseline professional standard. Don’t rush releasing subpar songs and blame marketing when they underperform. Keep honing your craft and release only your best material.

Develop Your Personal Brand

Artist development gets you pigeon-holed into one lane. Instead, focus on developing your personal brand. Document your journey so fans feel connected, even if they’ve never met you. Differentiate yourself by being authentic. Establish your mission, values, goals and the experience you want to deliver to fans. Branding is far more than logos and filters. It’s who you are at your core.

Choose Your Platforms Wisely

You don’t need to be active on every social media platform. Select two or three you enjoy using and can dominate. For example, showcase your personality on TikTok, share behind-the-scenes footage on Instagram and upload high-quality music videos on YouTube. Avoid spreading yourself too thin. Focus on just a few avenues to gain maximum visibility and engagement.

Build a Cohesive Content Ecosystem

Posting identical content across all platforms diminishes your reach. Develop a unique content ecosystem tailored to each. Understand the language and algorithms of each platform. Share different elements like snippets on TikTok, full songs on Instagram and vertical videos on YouTube Shorts. Interconnect your channels to retain followers. Move fans from discovering you on TikTok to subscribing on YouTube.

Get Your Music on Digital Platforms

Sign up for a PRO like ASCAP, BMI or SESAC to collect public performance royalties. Distribute your music to major streaming platforms using outlets like DistroKid or CD Baby. Use aggregators like SongTrust to track additional royalties. Making streaming income alone is unlikely, so take full advantage of all available music distribution channels.

Plan Your Release Strategy

Don’t just release music spontaneously. Map out a content calendar to build excitement around each launch. Schedule releases over the coming year. Generate momentum on social media through polls, teasers and behind-the-scenes footage. Treat each release like a product launch. The more strategic your plan, the more potential fans you can reach.

Diversify Your Income Streams

Relying solely on streaming royalties is unlikely to pay the bills. Monetize your audience by selling merch, offering memberships through Patreon and gigging locally. Sync your music for TV, ads and video games. As your fanbase grows, you have more products and services to provide. Do what comes naturally based on your strengths and audience.

Stay Open-Minded and Learn

Avoid fixating on your follower count. Progress takes time. Focus on improving your processes and averages. Soak up feedback and constructive criticism. Successful musicians must be agile, adaptable and eager to implement fresh strategies. Let go of preconceived notions of how artists “should” operate. Forge your own path by testing new ideas with an open mindset.

The key ingredients for music industry success include improving your craft, honing your personal brand, targeting key platforms, coordinating content, distributing music widely, planning releases strategically, diversifying monetization and embracing an open-minded mentality. How will you apply these steps to propel your music career forward this year? Let us know in the comments!