As everyone in the music industry knows, starting out is one of the most daunting experiences to come across. It’s easy to think you joined too late, don’t know enough or just aren’t doing enough. However, after dabbling in the scene a while, ten months ago I fully committed to being a full time musician and these are five things I wish I knew before I started.
- It’s bloody expensive
Being a musician is something you have to really enjoy, because it’s a lot of money in that you’re not guaranteed to get back. Along with equipment, there’s studio’s, DAW’s and a lot of licences you need to play your music in public. This is added onto travelling to gigs and promotion techniques, the bottom line is that it’s going to clear you out so your best bet is to be prepared and save before taking the plunge. There are plenty of ways to be a musician on a budget like renting equipment and free DAWS so be sure to do your research before making any big decisions.
2. Know your theory
It’s really easy to leave the theory on the backburner because the performance will always be everyone’s favourite part about being a musician. However, leaving this until later on in your music endeavours will only cause stress while trying to do hundreds of other things and you need theory to do the majority of performance, especially if you’re a songwriter. There are plenty of ABRSM workbooks and exams that you can take, as well as apps and quizzes to help you along the way. But get it done, no matter how much you don’t want to, you’ll thank yourself later.
3. It’s not what you know it’s who you know.
The cliché, but it’s extremely true. Network, Network, Network. No matter what career you’re going into, if it depends on people liking you, you need to make friends and build a community, you can’t just get away with sharing your content and hoping you will blow up overnight. Build connections, help others and you never know what good karma will come your way and who has connections where. The best way to do this is finding other people on the same journey as you and being a supporter by commenting on posts and chatting often. You also never know, you might make a few friends for life.
4. Be socially active and consistent
Tiktok is the place for a musician to be at the moment, it’s the only social media who has a completely fair and equal algorithm, one thirty second video could set you up for life. But unfortunately you can’t just try it once and hope it’ll work, post consistently and build an audience. Also, set yourself up a YouTube account for longer videos and an Instagram account so your fans can get to know you and get the latest news, even a Twitter if it’s also a social media you enjoy. It’s a lot of hard work that isn’t direct music but it’s worth it, and having a place where you can connect with your fans is one of the best parts about it.
5. It’s lonely, and you’ll never be the best
A bit of a brutal one, but unless you are in a band or consistently work amongst others, being a musician is extremely lonely and isolating. Especially at the start when you’re doing all of it yourself: writing, recording and mixing. This is also why networking is so highly recommended, it’s so important to connect with people who can appreciate and value your highest highs and understand your lowest lows. Obviously, as the community you build and your fans grow, that loneliness will start to lessen, but be prepared to feel very isolated and like you’re getting no where at the start. It’s also ridiculously easy to compare yourself to musicians who have more experience, have been doing it longer or have more followers or gigs. Anyone can make it, there’s room for everyone and there will always be someone better than you.
Aside from this list, being a musician is incredibly rewarding and if you enjoy it, be sure to pursue it. Seeing yourself improve with technique and confidence is one of the most heart warming and motivating things to see in yourself and others, good luck!