Are you ambitious? Do you want to see your music career grow like never before? Do you have the desire to best your competition whenever and wherever possible?
Standing out from the crowd as a musician isn't as hard as it may seem. It means adding a little bit of extra to your ordinary, which will ultimately make you extraordinary.
Many artists miss the fundamentals of building a career over the long-term and end up leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.
You can't afford to be short-sighted if you want to best your competitors. Here are five steps you can take to bring your game up to the next level.
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1. Build A Music Website
Many bands and musicians don't have a website. They may have a social media presence, but they don't have their own dot-com domain name.
In this day and age, there's simply no excuse. Domains are cheap, hosting is cheap, and the tools are so easy that if you know how to use Gmail, you can get a website up and running with ease.
If you don't have a website yet, you have to ask yourself what kind of impression you want to create online.
If you don't care about being seen as a professional, if you don't want to have some control over what the internet and the world says about you, and if you don't want to use customized email addresses, then maybe Facebook or ReverbNation alone is a good solution for you.
But if you want to stand out from the competition, then you can't ignore the value of a well-designed website. Moreover, I wouldn't advise risking hosting all of your content on social media sites.
If you want to learn how to set up your site, you can do so here.
2. Create A Live Performance Contract
Walking into a venue empty-handed simply isn't a good booking strategy. If your goal is to book more shows and earn your keep, you need to be prepared.
It's fine to approach venues and hammer out an arrangement that works for both sides, but oftentimes this can foil your attempts to negotiate for your best interests. You need to pre-empt the venue owner's attempts to maneuver the deal in their favor.
When you walk in with a contract, it will instantly separate you from the droves of artists that walk in every day without a clearly written agreement stating their expectations.
A word to the wise: your agreement should be flexible, concise and leave no room for misinterpretation.
If you come with a contract in hand, the perception will be that you are more professional than other artists. However, if your terms can't be customized to fit the situation, or you lay a college essay on the table, don't expect to get a booking.
The contract is also a safeguard against a breach of terms.
3. Film A High Definition Performance Video
There's a lot of talk out there about electronic press kits, the quality of videos you need to have, what sort of venue and atmosphere you need to film in, and so on.
All of that is great, but in my experience, all you really need is a live performance video filmed in high definition along with great quality audio.
Hopefully, you can capture multiple angles and edit together an engaging video, but you don't necessarily need the best-looking venue in the world or an excited crowd to make it great. Those are nice extras to have.
If you're looking to book more shows, you definitely need a couple of impressive performance videos. These can be leveraged to approach more venues and strike up favorable deals, because when they see your videos, they'll know exactly what they're getting and will be less likely to change the terms on you at the last minute.
4. Study The Business Of Music
If you're a regular visitor to Music Industry How To, then you are likely aware of how important business is to your music career already.
However, at this moment in time, you are still in the minority. Many musicians choose not to get on a path of personal growth and take the business side of music seriously. Why? Because they don't know that they need to!
If you understand business, you already know that you don't have to do everything yourself. However, there's no harm in knowing how it all works; in fact, it will benefit you more often than not.
Over the long run, growing in your entrepreneurial skills will set you apart from the rest. Set aside some time in your daily schedule to read, learn and grow as a businessperson.
Improve your people skills and become better at building more friendships and connections.
5. (Really) Engage Your Fan Base
When musicians begin using social media, their tendency is to immediately start posting call to actions.
“Come to our show”, “buy our album”, “vote for our new single”, do this, do that…
It's almost like artists are trying to send everyone on a fetch quest.
Don't get me wrong; I understand why many musicians think this is going to work for them. They're just imitating what they see other well-known bands doing.
What they don't realize is that these established artists are fitting those call to actions within the context of a conversation. There's already a dialogue taking place; the artists are merely asking their fans to take the next step with them.
If you really want to stand out from the competition, actually learn to engage your fan base. Ask questions. Share stories. Give your fans a voice.
Again, the steps mentioned here aren't complicated; they are simple things that any artist or band could do.
However, just because they could be doing them doesn't mean that they will be doing them. That's where you have the opportunity to set yourself apart.
From booking shows to selling more music, if you conduct yourself in a professional manner and focus on your growth, you will come out on top over the long haul.
If you're willing to do what others aren't willing to do, that's where you'll see some tremendous growth.