How to Become a Recording Artist

How to Become a Recording Artist

For many independent artists, the dream is to quit their day job and take their talents into a professional studio, record music and emerge with a polished album full of hit songs that they can share with the world. That said, becoming a recording artist isn't a spare time hobby, it requires serious dedication, not just to honing your artistic abilities, but to understanding the business, technical and marketing aspects of the music industry.

If you've got your sights set on signing with on of the major record labels and launching a sustainable career as a recording artist, here are some key steps to pursue:

1. Master Your Craft

This should go without saying, but becoming a successful recording artist starts with being an incredible musician, singer and live performer. You don't necessarily need to be a songwriter, but it can't hurt. Professional musicians devote enormous time and effort to training, practicing and perfecting their skills until they have an extraordinary, audience-captivating talent and that's what lies on the road ahead for you - lot's of work. So if you don't read music, start becoming literate by taking some music theory classes or finding a good teacher. Not pitch perfect? Then begin training with a vocal coach. I had a great mentor that taught me everything I needed to know about music and that included vocal training and sight singing. In short, you best chance at success will come from developing a strong work ethic and continually learning.

2. Record Professional Demos

With relatively inexpensive recording technology these days, you can produce studio-quality demo recordings from home, if you learn engineering, or go to an affordable local studio. We recommend learning at least enough about recording to record your performances, but working with a mixing engineer for your studio releases. If you plan on pitching yourself to labels, publishers, music supervisors, venues, etc., you need to aim for recording the most polished product possible.

3. Build an Online Presence

In the modern music landscape, contemporary musicians need to be skilled at marketing themselves through a strong brand identity and online presence. Having highly engaged music fans and constantly-growing social media following is crucial. Share videos of live shows, behind-the-scenes clips, new music teasers and other thumb-stopping content.

4. Play Live

All the major labels and most music industry professional will want to see that you have the talent to captivate audience and be a memorable live act. With that in mind, it's a good idea to book as many gigs as possible at local clubs, colleges, fairs and opening slots to hone your stagecraft and grow a loyal fanbase that will come out and support your shows. 

5. Network & Get Your Music Heard

Attend music meetups and industry events to expand your network. Connect with local musicians, like guitar players, talk with mastering engineers or meet people that work for a record company. Reach out to music blogs and press to seek coverage and support. Submit songs for licensing opportunities on TV, film and video games. Look for every opportunity to get your music in front of new ears.

Related article: How to Build a Music Team

6. Be Independent

The majority of artists are self-employed bypassing the traditional label system and independently recording and releasing their music online. The simple fact is, if your goal is to sign a major label deal, you first need to show you can be a successful independent artist, so no matter what your goals are, you will start off as an independent artist

7. Prepare to Be Patient and Persevere

Recording artists only achieve overnight stardom in movies. It takes years of relentless performing, networking, recording and self-promotion before you gain serious traction. If you have the passion and are willing to put in the arduous work, your unique talents and brilliant music could make you a breakthrough success.

Becoming a recording artist is a long, challenging road, but potentially an extremely rewarding one. Record your artistic spirit and let your voice be heard by doing the hard work to get your music into as many ears as possible.

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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