Starting up as a musician in the 21st century
Recently I was asked in an interview about the possibilities upcoming artists have today, if they can make enough money to support themselves, where it should come from etc. Also many of my fellow musicians frequently ask me for advice on how to do business as an artist, what to do when, who to contact how etc. I have the feeling that many young musicians are afraid of their future and do not really know how to get started. That is why I would like to share a few of my thoughts about this with you:
In my opinion the main challenge has always been and still is to create a great product, make really good music and tell a compelling story. With the recent technological progress promoting yourself and your product has become easy and cheap. But - especially for small artists - it has also become difficult to earn any money from record sales. That’s why there is a general trend to use recorded music to promote one's brand and to gain popularity in order to play more shows (and sell merch) that bring in the money. I recommend young musicians starting out - but also established artists, managers and promoters - to embrace the possibilities modern technology presents and not to isolate themselves in a more and more global and transparent world. New services and apps enable everyone to produce high quality products, to promote and market them and to communicate with one's community. I do not advocate an exclusive DIY approach as I think many people in the business fulfill necessary and important tasks and do a good job, but starting out without a big promoter or record company is more than possible today. Make use of the available tools (mostly free of charge) that help you establish a valuable and meaningful relationship with your fans not only in the digital world!
A selection of online promo tools (in no particular order):
Facebook (to touch base with your fans on basically everything),
Twitter (to keep your followers up-to-date),
Google (to be found and promote your events),
LinkedIn (to connect with agents and other industry experts as well as other musicians),
Soundcloud (to easily host your music),
Wordpress (to share your thoughts),
about.me (to present a brief professional profile),
MusicKickup (to distribute your music online),
Stagelink (to promote and fund your live shows),
buffer (to schedule your posts).