Chasing a career in music is a tough and brave thing to do. It’s not for anybody who lacks patience and resilience. The industry is setup in a way that can be frustrating to navigate. Being a talented musician is undoubtedly imperative. What is, however, more important is focusing on other essential parts that make your music career solid.
Even though I haven’t yet earned a name or reputation in the music industry, I have seen enough to know that artists don’t approach music holistically. It is even worse that many of these artists have teams that have no knowledge of the music business. Why are you a musician if there is no artist development plan in place for you? Sooner or later, it’ll tell on your career. There’s no escaping it.
In the last article I wrote, I mentioned artist development. It is not optional. Every artist (who wants to make a name in the industry) must have a plan for artist development. A few years back, when artists could only be discovered by record labels, the record label had a department that was responsible for artist development. As we know, things are not that way anymore. Independent and unsigned artists need to take charge of their careers themselves.
Before we go deep into this, it only makes sense to define what artist development is.
Abeg Wetin Be Artist Development?
According to Music Vault Academy,
Artist development is regarded as the process a musician goes through to develop their craft and the skills needed to build a professional career in the music industry. This process involves songwriting, voice training, image and branding, music and video production, live performance, marketing.
We have the internet to thank for helping with the shift whereby record labels aren’t the only platform for artists to get heard. As up and coming acts are being discovered by the audience, some of them are coming to the realization that they are fully responsible for their careers. They can’t help but ask “How do I go about this?”
Yes, it’s something you can achieve on your own. It’s significantly better if you have a team of smart guys that work with you. You can pay a lot more attention to the music while they work actively on this for you. The artist development plan is an intricate process that should serve as a guideline for every fledgling artist.
And don’t forget, make sure you set goals.
The plan entails:
Regular Practice & Building Daily Habits (Talent Development)
Wait. I don’t have to tell you this, do I? You have no business being a musician if your first priority isn’t honing your talent and musical skill. How does one do this, you ask? Your everyday job revolves around singing so you want to make sure that you practice it daily. Sharpen your vocals.
If you play instruments then you want to make it a regular habit. Even if you can only spare 20 minutes of your day, do it religiously. You can fit these practices into your daily schedule. The more time you devote to practicing, the better.
Building a Strong Artist Identity
Many artists fail in this aspect. It’s like they’re mindless of what having an artist identity is. Yes, you might make good music. Maybe even some of the best music. But you’re at a disadvantage if your persona is weak or absent.
Your identity is a huge part of you. And this reflects in your music. Consciously, that identity should come to play in the way you carry yourself as an artist. Your appearance, style, sound should reinforce that identity in the minds of your audience.
I wrote about the need for Nigerian acts to invest more in branding. I wasn’t kidding. Branding is what sets a lot of successful acts apart from their peers. Branding is what wins you the loyalty of your audience.
Make sure someone in your team has a solid idea of what branding is. If you’re yet to have a team, endeavor to learn more about artist branding. Your pictures, logo, album arts, any visual related thing must spark an emotional reaction in people. Never forget that.
Songwriting and Lyrical Content
How do you write your songs? Do you write based on your personal experiences or just freestyle through every session? Remember, your lyrics have to be easy to sing along to. You don’t want to give your audience a tough time when listening to your music.
It would benefit you to work on your songwriting skill. You should try to write down ideas and lyrics regularly so you have a direction whenever you’re trying to record. It can be a waste of everybody’s time when you are in the studio, clueless.
I’ll tell you this for free. Working with a couple of badass creatives in the industry has taught me that there’s no point recording music if you’re not putting your all into it. You have to create songs like you’re auditioning for the position of an angel in the heavenly realm.
Be experimental. Be perceptive. Say things that would amuse any listener. Think up melodies that would sway people. Sing from the depths of your soul. It is in this process that you would make hit songs, timeless songs. Work with producers and songwriters that have share the same goal as you.
Live Performance & Touring
This is another aspect I’ve written about before. Personally, I believe the best way to get people hooked to your music is by giving them an unforgettable performance. The stage should be your playground where you can completely express yourself without holding back.
Never cease working on your live performance. Look for a band with whom you share great chemistry. Keep your energy positive and contagious. Music lovers tend to connect deeply with you and your music when they enjoy watching you perform.
Touring helps extend the reach of your music and garner new fans. You get to explore regions that you’re not familiar with. Another benefit of this is that it’s a good revenue stream.
Marketing & Promotion
Marketing can be such a pain in the glutes. The best thing to do is to get someone who’s adept at marketing. Just like many aspects of your music career, marketing is an everyday thing. You and your team should consistently look for new ways to push and market your music.
The internet has provided us with different options to reach new audiences. It allows you to be more creative and inventive.
Educating Yourself on Music Business
Imagine if many artists knew what a 360 deal was or knew how publishing works. Knowing how the industry works is an advantage. You don’t find yourself in messy deals that can hamper your career. The internet is a fountain of knowledge. All you need to do is read.
I’m yet to become an expert so it’s possible I missed on some things that make up the artist development plan. But if you say this isn’t enough to work with, then you are a criminal. Go and pay for online course.
If more people (artists, producers, and people working in the music industry) show interest in write-ups like this, I assure you I’ll continue to deliver. So, don’t stop sharing, eh?