Posted: Mar 8, 2021
Category: The Musician Business
**Guest post from Justin Paul, music/career coach, A&R, DJ, and producer.
The pandemic has been pretty devastating for live entertainment and in general, and especially the music industry. It's been especially challenging for up and coming artists that want to
get out there and play live. Now, clearly, all they can do right now is a live stream, but if they don't already have a large following, that can present its own challenges. The pandemic has hurt all artists, even larger acts had to cancel tours. Ultimately what we're talking about is that there has been loads of money lost for the artist, for the promoters, also for the sound engineers, light engineers, stage crew, food vendors, security, stage techs, drivers, venues, and merchandise sales in live music.
Furthermore, the pandemic has created a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty for artists. Some artists are now thinking about shifting to a different career or creating side hustles. Multiple income streams are the way to go even during normal times.
The music industry is constantly changing, though the pandemic definitely threw a curveball for live music. What I believe is that artists need to stay focused on their principles.
Of course, no one knows what the future will be like, besides more streaming and technology innovations. Still, we can focus on sound principles such as creating great songs, great video content, staying engaged with one's community, and focusing on mental and physical health. When things start to open again, artists that spent their time wisely will get a jump on their careers because they focused on their music and marketing their brand when they couldn't do much else. I believe that people will be more excited than ever before about live music since we've been starved of it for the past couple of months.
When artists are starting, most don't already have hit records or a trust fund. Without a fan base, the primary focus is making money, paying rent, groceries, and car insurance. They have to figure out a way to survive.
At the same time, in some ways, it's good to work outside of music because work begets work. Being grateful for the ability to play music is important. You have to be thankful and humble that you do get to practice your instrument, write music, and record.
Most artists don't realize that they can find jobs with transferable skills that will help their music career beyond making music: graphic design, fashion, education, website design, software, programming, marketing, social media, accounting, business development, and working at a studio. Learning about money management is a great way for an artist to support their career when they're starting out.
Leaving the music industry temporarily can mean that an artist will potentially lose their craft and passion. Even if you have another job, it is imperative to practice music and write songs to stay sharp. Having another job to support one’s career is great, but artists need to keep their technical skills up to par by practicing daily.
Getting a job working for another artist is a good way to learn the business. Knowing what strategy works for that artist and learning from their mistakes can help one's own career. However, keep in mind that what works for them might not work for your artist brand.
I'd suggest they get a job at a record label or helping an artist that's successful so that you can be around them and see the things that they're doing to be successful. Learn from their successes and mistakes. Have an open mind about how you can be close to music without relying on the craft entirely, such as working in design, video production, or other ways to transfer your skills and still be around music.
Artists should do everything they can to keep a positive attitude and mindset. Have a great work ethic. Ultimately someone with less talent but who's willing to put the time in can equal or surpass talent.
Beyond that, they must value their family, friends, and community. Thank them for being supportive. Always remember who was there to help you out because they will be there for the long run.
A music career is a marathon, not a sprint. Understand there are waves of success with dips and plateaus. Figure out a way to push through the dips by reinventing, pivoting, and just keep going.
Understand what worked for you in the past may not work for you in the future. The methods that got you where you are, but they may not take you to where you want to be.
Lastly, it is challenging for young musicians who are starting out to have the money to support their physical health. Your physical health can affect your mental health. Exercise, eating right, and meditation help you feel healthy mentally. Making music could be a form of meditation. It is important to surround yourself with supportive people and live healthy because they affect us the most."
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