How to Become a Musician

How to Become a Musician: Start Your Musical Journey

Are you passionate about music and dream of being able to play, sing, write and / or perform like your idols? Regardless of whether you want to pursue music a professional career or you dream of making it big in the music business, you need to first learn the art form of music. Becoming a successful musician requires dedication, hard work and the willingness to spend a long time practicing and learning your craft. That said, if you truly want to know how to become a musician, we will not only share the essential steps needed to develop your musical skills, but also teach you practical and valuable insights that will guide you on your musical journey towards success. So let's dive in!

It doesn't matter if your dream is strumming a guitar, belting out lyrics on stage or pounding away on a drum, getting into music is a fun and exciting experience that will impact your life in a positive way. Here are some key steps to help you kickstart your musical adventure: 

How to Become a Musician: Essential Steps  

Step 1: Develop Your Musical Skills

The foundation of any musician's career lies in learning music and mastering their craft. Whether you're a singer, instrumentalist or writer, you need to invest time and effort into honing your skills. You need to practice everyday, take lessons and explore different genres and techniques if you want to continuously improve at your instrument and develop your sound. However, many young musicians choose not to invest their time in private lessons, opting instead to be self-taught. I'm self-taught, as are many professional musicians, so being self-taught won't hold you back from being successful. However, there is a benefit to working with a great mentor. Working with a great mentor is the quickest way to learn new skills. They teach you important things like the proper technique for playing your instrument / singing and proven exercises that help speed up the learning process. In short, learning how to correctly do something from the start is easier than having to unlearn bad habits. So if you're one of the musicians that don't think they need a formal education when it comes to their instrument, keep an open mind because a great mentor can be a huge help. 

Step 2: Invest in Learning

Separate from formal instrument lessons, is music education. If you ever talk to self-taught musicians vs music students about music, you can see the vast gap between their musical knowledge. Music is a language, so if you want to become a musician, it's recommended that you learn the language of your craft. Again, many professional musicians don't have formal music training, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Not having a formal music education may not prevent you from creating good music, but it will hold you back from collaborating with your peers and can make you look bad. For example, if you ever work with a great music producer or hire session musicians for a recording, they will communicate the entire time using music terminology. Now, image before the session, they ask you to create lead sheets (a written form of music) for all the parts or during the session, they ask you the time signature for the song and you have no clue, you're gonna feel like an idiot and your going to waste time during a session you paying a ton for. A version of this scenario happened to me and it was awful, thankfully one of the assistant engineers was a formally trained musician and fixed my incorrect lead sheets on the spot, but it still felt awful. That said, I recommend becoming literate in music theory. You can learn the basics of music theory through online videos and other resources or go all the way and become an actual music student. Either way it will come in handy. 

Step 3: Find Your Musical Style

Defining your musical style is crucial for finding the right people to join your band and / or that will make up your audience. Most people know the genres they like listening too, but experimenting with sounds and covering songs from an assortment of influences is a great way to discover your unique musical style. The music industry is filled with tons of artists and bands, so if you want to stand out, you need to have a way to authentically express your artistic vision and musical personality. Also it's worth noting, just because you like a genre doesn't mean you can create music in that style. I've worked with plenty of established musical groups that can't place their music in a specific genre. That's because, even when you write music with a specific genre in mind, once that music gets filtered through your brain and the music production process, it develops it's own unique flavor.  

Step 4: Surround Yourself with Music and Musicians

The first 3 steps we covered focus around learning music and your musical style. This steps starts the process of living as a musician. Only musician's that immerse themselves in a music lifestyle become true musicians and part of the music community. With that in mind, attend concerts, join local jam sessions and participate in music-related events. By surrounding yourself with other musicians and people that share your passion for music, you'll gain inspiration, make valuable connections and above all, you'll have fun. 

Step 5: Build Your Musical Toolbox

To create great music and musical performances, you need to have the right tools at your disposal. Invest in quality equipment, such as instruments, recording gear and software, to support your musical endeavors. However, don't sink yourself into debt in the process. If you have the money, feel free to spend it, but you can find tons of quality second hand gear and discount deals on things like software.

Step 6: Build Your Performance Experience

Performing live is an essential part of being a musician. Start small by playing at local open mics, community events or small venues. As you gain experience and confidence, seek opportunities to perform at larger venues, festivals or concerts. Each performance is new experiences that will help you develop your stage presence and connect with your audience.

Related Article: How to Build a Music Fan Base

Step 7: Network and Collaborate

People in the music industry thrive on personal connections and collaborations. Get in the habit of talking to people when attending local music events, join musician communities and actively seek opportunities to collaborate with other artists and local creatives. Collaborating can lead to new creative projects and valuable learning experiences.

Step 8: Continually Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Personal and musical growth only happens outside of your comfort zone. Don't let your fear of looking bad or your insecurities, hold your back from doing things that will make you happy. Every musician makes mistakes and encounter setbacks along their musical journey, but that's part of the success process. Use every mistake as an opportunity to refine your craft and grow as a person and musician. Every obstacle you overcome, will help you gain confidence.

Step 9: Embrace Continuous Learning

The music industry is constantly evolving and the best musicians are those who embrace continuous learning. Stay up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies and always be learning something new. Attend workshops, seminars or take online courses to enhance your skills and knowledge. Seek feedback from mentors, peers and industry professionals to continuously improve your musical abilities. 

Step 10: Stay Persistent and Patient

Becoming a great musician takes time, so stay committed to your goals, persevere through challenges and be sure to celebrate small victories along the way. Remember, becoming a successful musician requires patience and a willingness to learn and grow, so stay true to your artistic vision and you'll get there. So, what are you waiting for? Let the music begin!  

And finally, if you're serious about making music your profession, then I strongly encourage you to learn how to build a sustainable music career for yourself because it takes more than talent and great songs to be successful.

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How to Build a Fanbase as a Musician Your Musician Career Plan

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