Becoming a professional musician isn’t easy. If it was, then everyone who wanted to achieve their dreams would be able to do it, and sadly, that’s just not the case. With that said, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams, because if you do, you’ll lose sight of the thing that’s keeping you going.
The music industry is one of the most notoriously difficult industries to break into, but it’s certainly not impossible. With a little work, some luck, and a lot of passion, you should be able to find gainful employment in the music industry. Here’s how to chase your dream as a musician.
Figure out what you want to do
The first and most important part of chasing your dream as a musician is figuring out exactly what you want to do. Musicians fulfill all kinds of functions within the music industry; they could be session players, for instance, who fill backing bands for singers or other performers, or they could be part of a bespoke band in and of itself. It’s important to know exactly where you want to fit into the music industry and how you want to present yourself because that will inform your future career path.
Sadly, becoming a professional musician doesn’t just take time; it also takes quite a lot of money, because you’re going to need to take some gigs for little pay (and occasionally for free) before you get anywhere. With that in mind, you need to make sure that you’re adequately funded. Luckily, buying gear or making sure you have adequate transport to gigs doesn’t cost that much; you may even find that something as simple as a £1500 loan can cover you, so don’t despair.
Take the gigs you can get
When you’re trying to become a musician on a professional basis, it’s important to take whatever gigs you can get. That might not feel great at first; playing as part of a band whose genre you’re not a huge fan of might not be your jam. However, it’s important for getting your name out there and making sure people know who you are. You may not quite be playing in the band of your dreams just yet, but taking any gainful employment that you can find is crucial for your reputation.
Work for free…sometimes
You’ve probably heard of the “paid in exposure” meme if you’re trying to make it as a professional musician. Essentially, it refers to anybody who thinks that artists and musicians don’t need to be paid for their work, and it’s a frustrating attitude to come up against. However, there might be times when working without pay is a good idea, like charity gigs or especially high-profile events. Just make sure you pick those events very, very carefully.
Jump on social media
Social media is an essential tool for a budding musician. If you’re trying to become a session musician, then you need social media so that you can give potential clients an easy way to contact you. On the other hand, if you want to become a star, then social media can give you a good avenue for connecting with your fans and putting your music out there. Social media should be your first port of call when it comes to advertising your services as a musician.
Keep the love of it
Loving music and making it part of your life is essential for achieving music success. Of course, passion alone won’t get you anywhere, but if you make sure that you’re consistently passionate about what you do, then even when the bad times come, you’ll be able to weather the storm. There will definitely be times when things aren’t going so great; maybe the gigs have dried up, or maybe you’re playing with a band you don’t particularly like. Keep your love of music intact and you’ll get through it.
Try teaching on the side
If music teaching isn’t your passion, don’t worry; many people feel that way, and you don’t need to give up becoming a musician just so you can teach. However, teaching can be a great source of income while you wait for your big break (or while you build up a profile as a musician), so you should definitely think about teaching. You will almost certainly have reached a level of proficiency on your instrument that warrants becoming a teacher, after all.
Nobody is perfect, and no instrumentalist has achieved total mastery of their instrument. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have and keep a regular practice schedule. Set aside time each day to practice your instrument and make sure you’re not getting rusty. Work on individual elements of your playing at first, then finish up by practicing the songs or pieces you’re playing with your current band or orchestra. This is a surefire way to improve your skills!
Build a musician network
In the music industry – almost more than in any other place – it’s about who you know. People can hook you up with connections, which can lead to gigs, and that’s far more likely to get you to work than simply casting around in the ether, so to speak. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to build a network of like-minded musicians so that you can all help each other out with finding work. Keep talking to your network and asking about available opportunities as well!