How to Launch a Music Career

How to Launch a Music Career: Your Unique Recipe for Success


When it comes to pursuing a music career. We all have been brought up to believe that to become a professional artist or band takes luck and knowing the right people (AKA getting discovered) and you can see examples of this in shows like American Idol and movies like A Star is Born. So when musicians decide to pursue a music career, most of them will approach the process with what we call ‘The Getting Discovered Mindset’. Meaning, they focus 100% of their efforts creating great music, so they can attract industry professionals and get signed by a record label. They don’t pay attention to the business side of their career because, once their discovered, their manager or label will take care of that annoying business stuff. Well, this is every aspiring artist’s dream scenario because in this scenario they get to spend all their time doing what they love - creating music, playing live shows and interacting with thier fan base. Unfortunately, this isn’t reality, and it’s this belief that leads many young artists and bands to invest their hard-earned money into things like expensive recordings, advertising, PR campaigns and getting on playlists, all so they can get noticed by someone in the industry. The problem with this plan is it’s very high-risk and it’s high-risk because spending large amounts of money on your music career BEFORE your career is generating enough money to earn that money back can lead to financial hardship and in some cases, even end some careers. That being said, without the business knowledge needed to develop a full-time career, these musicians feel like they have no alternative, so they make the financial investment – sometimes even going into debt just so they can have a career in music. For their investment, they might get an amazing recording of their music and see their social media followers and play counts go up, but they typically don’t see a financial return on their investment - at least not one big enough to cover their expenses nor do they gain a true fan base. Then after years of repeating this process, many artists sadly choose to give up and to get ‘a real job’.

On the flip side, you have the DIY movement, which is the better route for independent artists that choose to pursue a music career. Why? Because it puts the control of building a career in the musician’s hands and allows them to take 100% responsibility for their success. However, this doesn’t mean the DIY route is all sunshine and roses, it’s actually the direct opposite. Being a DIY musician, requires a lot of learning, time and a lot of work, but fortunately there are tons of tools and resources to help them throughout the process. Yet, although independent artists have access to all the tools they need to create and manage a successful career via the Internet, many of them don’t understand the overall process for creating one. This makes the DIY approach and DIY tools less effective and makes a music artist's career progression more difficult than it needs to be. To use an analogy, it’s like handing someone a hammer, nails, a saw and some wood and telling them to go build a house – some people might be able to do it, but most will fail and many will waste a lot of time and money trying. So it should be no surprise when we see independent artists waste their time struggling to increase their video's TikTok virality and their streams on services like Apple Music and Spotify, instead of focusing their time and energy into activities that will actually help them build a successful music career.


A turning point in every musician's journey is the day they realize: 'There’s a big difference between CREATING a successful music career vs MANAGING a successful music career.' 

Hopefully, you have this realization while you're a young artist

Many DIY musicians, as well as artists that have the ‘Getting Discovered Mindset’, believe to be successful, they simply need to focus on learning their craft, album releases, live performances and promotion. However, this is only truly effective when you’re MANAGING a successful career and have an established and loyal fan base that is willing to financially support your work – like professional artists.

Aspiring performing artists and bands, meaning ones that have yet to find financial success, need to focus their time and energy on learning what will make them successful and this process starts with creating a plan. When we work with artists the first thing we do is we make them plan out their vision for their career by having them create a business plan, using a special tool we developed called the Artist CMS. Now creating a business plan serves 2 purposes:

  1. It helps you understand all things you need to have and a do to build your music career.
  2. It allows you to plan out a strategy for getting and doing all those things.

You can’t simply release music and see what happens, you need to have a plan. This really important. If you wanted to open a restaurant, you wouldn’t start by selling food and handing out fliers. There would be ton of things that you would do BEFORE you could begin selling and promoting, and launching a music career is no different.

Once you decide that you want music to be your profession, you need to create a plan and figure out everything you’re going to need to do BEFORE you begin doing it. It's like creating a concept album. To create a concept album, you need to create the concept, figure out all the songs and how you want to present everything BEFORE you begin writing and recording it.

Most of the time, a musician’s business plan will contain some standard items, such as recording and releasing music, recording videos, having a website, being on social media, playing shows, selling merch, etc.

But as important as these things are, by themselves, they aren’t going to make you successful. Why? Because there is an X factor when it comes to developing your music career, that most musicians don’t account for. And in my opinion, is the main reason behind why most artists and bands fail.

And this reason is you’re unique, your music is unique and audience is unique. As a result, to create a successful music career for yourself, you need to have a custom plan for your career that fits your unique needs and interests, as well as the unique needs and interests of your audience.

We’ve all heard stories about how record labels control their artist’s image and the music they release. Well, music labels do that because they’ve developed techniques for selling certain types of artists and certain types of music. It simply isn’t practical for them to create a unique business strategy and marketing plan for each one of their artists. It’s easier just to change the artist.

So if you want to have a successful music career journey, one that makes you really happy, then your primary job as an artist or band is to figure out your ‘Unique Recipe for Success.’

When musicians enroll in our online program the Musician Success Blueprint, we provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to develop, launch and scale their career, while providing them with the expert guidance and support needed to overcome the challenges they encounter in their career. However, no matter how much information and guidance we provide, what we can’t do is tell artists their unique recipe for success.

Because no one can tell you that.

It’s something only you as an artist or band can figure out.

Now, we might not be able to tell you your unique recipe for success, but the good news is we can tell you how to figure it out.

The 3 Steps to Find Your Unique Recipe for Success:

STEP 1: Develop Your Niche and Brand

A musician’s brand is a detailed description of how they want to portray themselves as an artist to their fan base. When musicians ask us about creating their brand, they focus on visual things like their logo, font, color scheme, wardrobe, etc., but that’s only one part of their brand. The other part of a brand focuses on emotion and it’s the most important part because in encompasses and reflects all the things you and your music represent, as well as who you are as a person. For example, perhaps you’re a politically active band, care about mental health or you believe in specific social causes. etc.

To put in another way, your brand communicates your beliefs and all the things you’re passionate about. We call them your ‘Emotional hooks’ and just like a song hook, these are the important details about you and your music that people will focus on and walk away remembering. You can also think of your ‘Emotional Hooks’ as the things you have in common with your friends, such as activities like sports or yoga or music-related items such as your favorite band or your passion for writing lyrics.

It’s these hooks that are responsible for building your emotional connection with your fan base and the reason behind why they will financially support your career. After all, no one is going to support an artist they dislike, so you need to highlight all the good themes you feel will resonate with fans.

Your niche on the other hand is what stands out about you as an artist and person. For example, Johnny Cash was known as the man in black, which is necessarily unique, but wearing black was one of the things that stood out about him. Today’s industry is flooded with tons of artists and content, which makes the process of standing out challenging, but you don’t need to invent something that no one has ever done before to stand out, you simply need to highlight the things that make you – you! In many cases, it’s the combination of all your ‘Emotional Hooks’ that will help you stand out.

STEP 2: Get to Know your Audience

A large amount of your time and effort needs to go into learning about your audience on a personal level. A great way to accomplish this is to ask questions like: What are their interests? What are they passionate about? What motivates them?

Then from a music perspective you need to know: What artists they listen to? What type of live shows do they attend? Do they care about lyrics? Do they like acoustic performances?

And this also extends to business-related things. Do they buy merch, if so what kind of merch? Do they attend live stream DIY performances or prefer in person events? What social media service do they use?

The more you know about your audience, the more informed choices you can make when it comes to making decisions about your career.

It's not a good idea to press vinyl if your audience won’t buy it and you don’t want to print hundreds of t-shirts your audience won’t wear.

By learning about your audience and including their feedback in the development of your career, you will create an experience that is more in line with their likes and interests.

How do you do this? By talking with them, either in person, online or through things like polls.

For example, run a poll and see if they like a t-shirt design BEFORE you create it.

Create a post that says you love cooking and ask if anyone out there has good recipes.

If you get a lot of responses, then you’ve learned something important about your audience that you can use to strengthen your relationship.

For example, if they are into an activity like cooking, you can provide a great recipe in your newsletter. Or if they they struggle with mental health, you can craft inspirational social posts.

The point I’m trying to make is, building a loyal fan base comes from turning casual followers into your friends and treating them like they’re part of your family. And you make friends by sharing the things you have in common with them.

In short, in today’s industry, your job as a musician isn’t to sell music. It’s to sell your audience an experience. And that experience is being part of your life and music career.

Once they’re a part of that experience it will be easier to get them to support your career financially because that’s what friends and family do.

Now the last Step to Unlocking Your Unique Recipe for Success is the most crucial because it’s the actual process you need to use to learn about your audience.

STEP 3: Experiment Using the Feedback Loop

When it comes to learning about your audience, you don’t just want to simply throw something against the wall to see if it sticks. You want to think strategically and plan actual experiments using the feedback loop.

Now the feedback loop has 4 parts: Plan, Test, Study, Adjust

In part 1, you set a specific goal and create a plan for accomplishing that goal. For example, I bet I can collect 50 emails over the next 2 weeks by giving away a free track or by putting on a couple of DIY performances. And quick tip, ALWAYS give yourself a deadline when creating you plan. Otherwise, the experiment can run forever.

Once you have a plan, you move on to part 2, which is to test your plan.

If your test works, great! If it doesn’t, you would study the results, make one adjustment to your experiment and then test it again. And I stress changing one thing because if you change more than one and you’re successful, you won’t know, which thing you changed was actually responsible for your success.

And you keep repeating this process, until you get your desired result and once you do, then you’ve learned something that will benefit your career.

These 3 steps are SO important when developing your career and without them, it makes figuring out your unique recipe for success almost impossible.

And I practice what I preach, because they’re the same steps we continually use to develop Musician Indie Coalition and our program, so trust me it works. It just takes time and effort, but if you follow these steps you will eventually reach your the specific goals you set for you career.

You can hear us discuss this more in the below video:

Click Here to Enroll in our program Developing Your Business Plan: Your Unique Recipe for Success for Your Music Career for FREE.

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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