This is completely normal:
Many musicians who get started creating music have the goal of making it into a career.
Often times, these musicians have no idea what they’re getting into.
Nobody starts off knowing what he or she is doing.
The important thing is that you learn from your mistakes along the way, and spend time trying to avoid common mistakes other musicians have made.
The only thing better than learning from your mistakes is learning from the mistakes of others so you don’t have to make them yourself.
Often times, mistakes are made from following through on assumptions that just aren’t true.
Whether you’re just starting out and are still trying to find band members, or are farther along wondering why things aren’t working out for you, here are some common misconceptions about the music industry held by musicians to help get you thinking in the right direction.
1) Thinking the first release doesn’t matter.
Too many bands think along the lines of “Nobody succeeds off of their first release, so ours doesn’t have to be that good.”
This is the wrong way to think.
Often times, artists with this mindset don’t be to see any growth until later releases, and it only takes them longer to reach their music career goals.
The reason artists do begin to succeed in follow up releases is often because they learned from their mistakes, and applied themselves to the releases before the one that’s perceived to have made them take off.
Once they figure out that they should put all of their effort into everything they’re putting out, they start to grow their fanbase more with each release.
So as an example, if your first release gets you to 10,000 fans, that means your follow up release starts at 10,000 fans. Your second album may grow you to 30,000, and then your third may get you to 100,000.
From an outside perspective of fans who discover you on your third album, this makes it look like you released one album that “took off” – taking you from 0 to a 100,000 within a matter of weeks. In reality, it’s a result of hard work and a streak of quality releases that steadily grow your audience over time.
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2) Thinking “good enough” is good enough.
Too many musicians stop working on something when it’s perceived as “good enough..
The problem here is that average work produces average results. Most musicians compare themselves to the local bands in their scene instead of thinking of how their work compares relative to the best stuff out there.
The only way to produce exceptional results is to put an exceptional amount of work into everything you’re doing.
People who find you online aren’t going to compare you to other local bands; they’re going to compare you to their favorite musicians. Don’t stop working on something until it reaches its full potential. That way, you’ll be able to compete with the best musicians out there instead of being stuck in the league of local musicians.
3) Not understanding the importance of a quality music video or artwork.
Quality artwork and music videos create a positive perception of your music before anyone even hears your song.
If someone sees a well-designed image for your artwork that looks like something they’d be into, that’s when they click on it and start listening to your music.
If your fans are sharing your music on social media, artwork can make a difference between someone’s decision to click to check out your song, or simply scroll past it to continue looking at memes.
This goes for music videos as well. On Facebook and Instagram, videos will auto-play while people scroll. You need to create a video that catches their attention quickly so they stop scrolling and check out your music.
This means going above and beyond what other bands are doing. Hire the best music video creator you can, and if you can’t afford it yet, wait and save up. Don’t sacrifice quality to get things out faster, especially if it’s your first release.
4) Not understanding the importance of live sound.
Having high-quality live equipment makes a huge difference in how a non-musician audience will perceive you.
People make comparisons – that’s just how it is. If you play your instruments well and have bad equipment, but the band after you play well and has higher quality equipment, people will perceive them as being the better band.
This doesn’t mean performance isn’t important – it definitely is. However, this doesn’t mean that it can act as a replacement for good live sound.
5) Not understanding the value of their email list.
Most musicians don’t realize that good music is nothing without good marketing and hard work.
Many musicians who do spend money on advertising and marketing do so in ways that don’t give them long-term results.
They create Facebook ads that get music video views or promote their Spotify links.
The problem here is that these artists are spending money on advertising that produces one small result, one time.
If the money were instead spent building an email list, the money would go towards something that will provide lasting value.
Think about this…
You can build up an email list of 10,000 people instead of spending the money to build up your YouTube views or Facebook likes, this means you have a list of 10,000 people who want to hear from you that you can send new releases, event promotions, and merch deals to.
This is the best way to build up your audience over time and give each additional release more traction than the last.
Guest post: Nick Rubright is the founder or Dozmia and the lead guitarist for the band Days Gone By. He’s passionate about all things music and marketing and writes to bring these together.