- Be yourself. Make the kind of music you want to make while being open to other people’s ideas and suggestions. Don’t be stubborn, but be you. If want to create Death Metal Neo Dub Step Country, who is there to stop you? Only you. So be yourself
- Play as much as you can. Find out where you can busk in your town. Go there. Present yourself to the public. You don’t even have to worry so much about getting shows. If you’re good, somebody will see you and offer you something: A wedding. A party. A bar-b-q. A festival. Remember the old adage: If you build it, he will come. Learn that perspective. Apply it. Have faith.
- IF you don’t have any prospects for shows through busking, go the traditional route. Walk into a bar that has a stage. Ask for a night. It’s that easy. When you start off, you won’t be shooting for big shows anyway, so keep it small and intimate. You’ll have wonderful shows at this stage (get it?)
- Be wise. Don’t waste your energy. Go out on Friday night if you want, but think about Saturday. Saturday is a great day for busking. You don’t want to get up too late. Head back at 3. You can party hard another night. Partying should a treat after really killin in on stage or on the streets.
- Write new songs. You can never write enough new songs. You might have to sometimes force yourself to tear yourself away from Netflix, but you’re always happier after you manage to make a cool new song.
- YouTube. GET a YouTube channel. Put everything up. Music, comedy skits, vlogs, Music Videos. If you want to make different channels for different things, go ahead. The more the merrier. If you want to keep it on one, do it. The point is: have and maintain a presence on the Tubez. YouTube is like a CV. People see your videos. They see what you’ve done. They can get a good feel for you. Do it. Now.
7. In the same vein as the last point: GET A F*CKING WEBSITE!!! I can’t stress this enough. You need a hub. You need a nucleus, where everything else floats around it and is connected to it, but that is your centre. That is your order of operations. Post often. Post a few times a week. Your thoughts. Your fears. Your songs. Your art. Show yourself to your fans. Be a real person. That is what they want to see. They want to see you being you.
It’s easy to make a website. I use WordPress. Super user-friendly. Choose a good domain name. See if it’s free. Direct WordPress to your domain and blammo! Search and destroy, muthafuckaaas!
8. Don’t worry about searching for a label. If it’s meant to happen, it will. Yes, that sounds cheesy and New Agey, but if you work hard, get shows, promote them, tell your friends and you end up filling small venues, people will sit up and take notice. Think about it. Wherever you are, there is most likely some kind of music scene (and if there is not, move to where there is one). Music scenes aren’t that big. If you create a buzz, it will resonate. It will catch on.
9. Write catchy songs. Write songs that people will remember. Try to write intelligent lyrics. Try to have something to say. Or if you have nothing to say, write songs about having nothing to say. That could also resonate. The point is, create create create. Don’t be afraid to tell the world you’re hiding away for awhile because you want to work on developing your sound and creating more hooks. Find a cabin. Take a month off with nothing but a typewriter and books to inspire you.
Try this: Think of all the times you caught yourself humming a song from your long forgotten youth. Why do you think it’s there? Because it’s most likely a very catchy hook.
10. Be true to yourself. Don’t write songs that you don’t believe. Don’t write to please the masses. Make a list of shit that you like and find interesting: stories that you stumble across… people that intrigue you… subjects that you love. If you wanna write love songs, do it, but be sincere. Which leads me to my next point…
11. Avoid clichés. Paul Simon said once that “to write is to rewrite”. Think about it. Chances are, you’re writing clichés without realizing it. Look at the phrase. Could it be more interesting? Colourful? Original? Can you play with subtext? Can you play with simile or metaphor? Maybe you could throw an Onomatopoeia in for good measure. I don’t care what you do, just think outside the box.
12. Always be grateful. Don’t be grateful only to your parents for bringing you into this god forsaken world. Be grateful to your fans, your booker, your contacts, the lawyer that helped you with your shady record contract, whoever. Just be grateful. These people are giving you a chance. They are placing faith in your talent, so don’t forget to show your gratitude. Stay in contact. Send cards. Be nice. Throw parties. Throw good parties. Invite the neighbours so they don’t call the cops.
13. Master Social Media. It is the most interesting time to be DIY. You have so many opportunities to get exposure. There are so many websites and so many opportunities for strangers all over the world to find you and love you forever. Learn how to share your songs. Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Instagram… the list goes on. Get involved. Share your songs wherever you can. Go to forums. Talk to people.
14. Start a music page on Facebook. Whether you like it or not, a lot of bookers check out your social media stats before giving you a chance. If you seem to be doing okay, they will likely be more okay with giving you some time on their stage. Build up the page. Invite every single friend to join it. When you busk, have a link for people: whether it’s written on your sign or it’s on your business card. Just make sure you have it available. People will follow you if they find you the least bit interesting.
14. Know your worth. What is your act worth? Do you have other musicians you play with? Think about what a decent wage would be for all of you. Of course, when you start out, chances are you will do free or very-little-money shows but as you as soon as you got a following, you gotta cut that shit out. I would say, except for charity shows or parties for close friends, always insist that you get paid. You worked on your act. Your act is your product. You should be get paid for your product. It’s a no-brainer. And if you feel like 50 is way too low, don’t agree to fifty. It’s called bargaining. Try it.
15. Copyright your songs as soon as you can. I can’t stress this enough. Shit does go down so cover your ass. This is your work. It’s your livelihood
16. Be nice to people. You never know who you will meet, so be nice.
17. Chill The F*ck Out! Have faith that it will happen, because if what you’re doing is good and you’re passionate about it, you just have to find your audience. They’re out there. Chill out, do what you need to do, remember to rest occasionally and never let failure bother you. Everyone goes through it. If this is your bliss, then you have no other options. Oh yeah, and fuck backup plans. That leads me to my next point:
18. F*ck Backup Plans. You don’t need them. Not if you have music that people like. If people like what you have, keep doing it. Which leads me to my next point.
19. Keep doing it. What is fear? F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. We all have those little critical voices in the back of our brains, trying to bring us down. “You’re not good enough!” “Your music’s generic” bla bla bla. It’s all garbage. It’s transparent negative self-talk that will get you nowhere. KEEP DOING what you’re doing. You’ll know if it’s working and if and when it does, keep riding that wave. Keep creating. Never stop
20. Don’t listen to negative people. I would say, avoid negative people. If people aren’t supporting you in your dreams, why are they part of your life? Why? Life is too short to waste time with people who don’t appreciate you. Make your art. Avoid the haters. Never let go
21. A VERY Important point I am saving til last: RECORD! It is so easy to record these days. Get your hands on Ableton. Get a soundcard, mic, midi keyboard, analog instruments. Just make something that sounds as good as you can make it.
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