… And why you should spend time upskilling yourself.
Welcome to this week’s entry. If you noticed there wasn’t a blog last week – you were correct! Stu was in the hospital, I’d just released Veins and was promoting the hell out of it (still am), and Ben was over in the States. So we missed one! But now we are back, and this week I’m going to be talking about the things you should be learning to do yourself, even though you may want to outsource them straight away.
I will make it known – I am in the process of figuring this out as I go. With every new release, every gig, every photoshoot, I learn something new and add some stuff to the List of Things I Can Do Myself. But sometimes, learning new things takes me down a rabbit hole of little things I don’t know how to do, that I have to learn before I can complete the One Big Thing. And this just leaves me feeling tired and sad. So if you don’t know how to do something – reach out to your music mates! Use your resources and figure it out together.
This one is probably a given, but your craft should be done by you. Especially for up and coming artists in todays oversaturated market, you should be able to sing, write your own material, and have basic skill of at least one instrument (most likely piano or guitar). Obviously if you’re in a duo or a band, you can spread these skills out, but for solo acts, it’s a little bit harder.
Especially when it comes to writing, it can be easy to find someone else to write your material for you. But your music is going to mean a lot more, and feel a lot more genuine if it’s your own words that you’re singing, so I urge you to go to some workshops and vibe with other writers to see what you come up with. Once you’re more confident, you’ll be able to put down entire tracks on your own!
Also, go to vocal lessons if you’re the singer. Mariah Carey still goes to vocal lessons, and there is always something more to learn.
If you can do your own production – good on you! You’ve just saved yourself 1000’s of $$ and you can get your music sounding exactly how you wanted! If you’re like us other mere mortals, welcome to the club. I will admit that I outsource all of my production. However, I am present and attentive when in the studio, I listen, and I’ve picked up a few things here and there. This will be helpful when I work with people I don’t know so well (it’s a different level when you’re producer has known you since your emo phase of 2010). By listening and participating actively in the production of your tracks, you will learn and pick up confidence as you go. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of it, though, there are plenty of classes that teach you the basics, and then the more advanced side of producing.
This is the area that everyone wants to outsource right away. Trust me, you don’t need a gig booker yet, nor a manager. They will come to you when you are ready. For now, we get to do it ourselves, and isn’t that fun! (It actually is, even though that read sarcastically).
There are plenty of resources, especially in Melbourne, to help you get gigs and get your name out there as an independent artist. The Melbourne Musicians forum on Facebook always has posts calling for artists, or you can make a post yourself. Make a list of small venues that you think you could play, and find some other bands to play live with you. Then, you can drop in to say hi, or give them a call to see if they have any availability.
When you’re releasing a track it gets a bit more difficult. I outsourced my press release text because I knew it would take me hours, and I’m not good at writing about my own work in that way (yet). I weighed up the cost vs the effort, and decided it was a no-brainer. Once the paragraph was done though, I put it all together myself, and I scheduled all of the emails for release day myself as well. It’s about balance, and knowing your strengths.
As for your social media, that’s obvious. DO IT YOURSELF. It’s easy, and you need to be genuine on your socials. If you’re bad at social media, invest in a little course that will teach you the basics, and the best way to market yourself on each platform.
There’s so much to unpack and learn about the music business, and about how you can make an impact with your brand. You can’t just be an artist in this day and age, you have to know the ins and outs of the business, and how you can make a space for yourself. Don’t expect anyone to give you gigs, want to manage you, or want to collaborate with you unless you have a plan and are out doing it yourself first. Of course, there are rare occasions where this does happen, but that’s the exception, not the rule.
I hope you’ve found this entry helpful, and I look forward to continuing to grow as an artist with any other artists reading this. It’s a tough gig at the start, but we got this!