How to develop your music career?

1. Gig Till You Bleed
Do not just depend on airplay to get the word out on your music. Under these circumstances, it is important to get the word out by gigging a lot. Play in as many places as you can so that you are able to reach different circle of fans. And when you play, do not be too shy to go round asking for people to join your mailing list – as an indie, your mailing list is your lifeline – build it!

2. Co-Bill
Get your friends who have groups and co-bill gigs (3-4 groups per event is ideal). This way, everyone bring their fans and they ‘share’ fans. This is one reason why I am so against peer-group bitching and politicking. Unity is power.

3. Maximise Your Skill Sets
The trick is to know what yours are – and then see if you can utilise them in a way that increases your public visibility. These skill sets may range from writing ability, to techie ability, to design ability etc. Once you have identified the skill sets available to you, then find out who needs these services and begin bartering for exposure.

4. Persevere
The first thing to do is to strategise for multiple albums release rather merely hope to ‘make it big’ on your debut album. If you can’t see a way to do that, then it’ll be tough – because the chances of you ‘making it big’ with your debut album is very small, especially if your don’t have a major label investing loads of money into your publicity campaign.

5. Define Your Objective
There are many ways to be a musician – not all of them involves turning ‘pro’. If you wanna turn pro, however, realise that the domestic market for English music in Malaysia is very small and is very unlikely to be able to offer you a chance to make a living out of your music.
Thus, the choice is(i) stay semi-pro forever; or(ii) have a plan to export your music (eventually) to bigger markets.

6. Export You Stuff
With the internet, you can make small moves to build an audience outside of Malaysia.
There are many ways to do this – e.g. touring with the help of friends abroad who know the local scene, get your music uploaded to as many download portal as your can, or offer free downloads of extra material you have to anyone who cares to download it.

7. Get Multi-Dimensional
Try and cultivate different versions of your music. This sounds fine in theory, but in reality, different venues will require you to play differently – e.g. a cafe or a wedding reception is unlikely to want to have a loud band with drums – and so in order to play it you may need to do acapella as what we did before

8. Make It Happen Yourself
Fundamentally, this means changing your mindset from being ‘a musician’ to ‘a musician who understands the business’. The latter is partly a factor of being not afraid to ‘self-promote’.
Thus, study how press kits are done and then write it yourself, manage a mailing list of fans, design your own leaflets when you gig, create your own opportunities and do your own publicity.

9. Be Good To Your Fans
Sign autographs, reply emails, give free things away once in a while (however home-brewed, it is not the value of the freebie that counts but the thought). Add a blog to your website so that you can keep your fans informed of what you are doing on a very regular basis, and where they can write stuff to you. You’ll find that the best advertisers for your music are your own fans.

10. Develop A Unique Voice
If you are serious about exporting your music to the USA or Japan or Europe, you cannot sound like some famous band in the USA or Europe or Japan and hope to be taken seriously in these markets. However, if you sound like no one on earth, you may have a decent chance.

Originally titled 10 Steps to Infamy by Pete Teo


Ana Shirin said...