Once an artist makes the decision to become a full-time musician, it can be difficult to know where to start and what step to take first since there is no "one-size fits all" blueprint for success in the music industry. Yes, there are must-do tasks to start and grow your career, but the timing and approach is different for each artist. In fact, I believe that, unlike in other industries, the "business" side of the music business can be just as "artistic" as the music itself. It requires finesse and creativity to come up with a unique path to success.
There is no such thing as following a tried and true format (or copying someone else's) because audiences can be fickle and are always looking for the next new thing. If it was as easy as following a consistent scientific formula or business model, every talented aspiring artist would be successful.
Having said that, it does make sense for some steps to come before others. Sometimes this is obvious: you wouldn't have a photo shoot done before working with an image consultant or stylist, and you wouldn't do a radio tour prior to getting some media coaching. But for the lesser obvious order of things, knowing your short-term and long-term goals as an artist can help you determine what unique order of steps you should take.
Two recent articles provide examples of, not necessarily what "comes first," but what "comes before" in a music business plan, giving artists some idea of how to appropriately prioritize their own unique career path.
The Great Takeaways
The first article highlights lessons learned by its author (rapper and artist Deuce Ellis), from a panel of experts in the music industry. His two takeaways were (paraphrased):
- Know what your story is: Marketing, promotion, PR, crowdfunding, or even social media will never matter until you can truly define who you are, what you stand for, and what your story is. Knowing and sharing your story is what draws people to you and makes them rally around you, which makes your job easier. You no longer have to create for validation or be a "door-to-door" music salesman. Instead, you are defining the experience and molding the conversation by being you. This is what fans want and have always wanted. They want to share in your story and be part of that experience, so don't deny them of what they want.
- Have a plan: Set some goals for yourself. Once you achieve them then you'll move on to greater goals and challenges. Most of the unnecessary obstacles in your way are the ones you created. Let them go because they don't serve you any longer. It's easier than you think to do this, but it does require you to think differently and to take action consistently and persistently.
Asking The Right Questions
In the second article, Ethan Schiff (CEO of New Torch Entertainment) lists the items that most new artists immediately start working on (i.e., setting up a web site and social media profiles, creating a newsletter list, hiring a publicist and manager, booking some shows, and hoping for the best). However, Schiff explains that before a new artist tackles any of these logistical steps, he or she needs to first answer some very important questions:
- What is my end goal?
- What do I care about, not as an artist, but as a person?
- What do my fans care about, as people?
- What level of transparency am I comfortable with?
- What visual aesthetic do I identify with?
- Is my current music actually the first impression I want to make, or should I keep writing?
- What kind of experience do I want to create for my fans? (perhaps the most difficult yet most important question to answer)
It may sound like doing all of the above requires you to get alone and think about all of this by yourself. But, it will be a more productive process if you enlist the help of a coach who can guide you through this critical thinking process and challenge you to look at yourself from new perspectives. This is just one of the services we provide at paNASH to help you integrate your image with your own personal brand. It's actually one of our first steps we take in working with our clients, because it helps us to customize our services to your specific needs so that you are receiving more than just a "cookie-cutter" blueprint or formula for artist imaging.
Take for instance one of our recent clients, a singer/songwriter who has moved to Nashville to pursue music full-time. Here's what he has to say about his experience so far with our coaching sessions:
Lori, the owner of paNASH, has helped me define not just my image and brand, but also who I am as an artist. She provided a well-designed yet personalized approach for me to learn about my target audience which makes a huge difference in the way I've been writing my newest songs. Lori helped me think about things on a much deeper level than I ever had before, forcing me to figure out what about my brand of music is unique and marketable. Overall, working with Lori and paNASH has better prepared me for music industry opportunities, specifically label and publisher meetings. Working with Lori is one of the smartest decisions I have made in my career and would recommend anyone who truly wants success to work with her.If you know your budding career requires an image consultant who's going to do more than play "dress-up" with your image or just provide you some generic music industry career advice regarding your brand, then reach out to us. We'd love to help you tell your story, both on a visual level and a much deeper level!
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