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Making a Living From Your Music, Part One

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In this two-part series, we will briefly discuss eight ways you can further your professional goals and make a solid living as a musician. Although there are thousands of different ways to break into the music business, what we've compiled here are some of the habits most successful professional musicians share when pursuing their goal of making a living from their music.

  1. Realize Your Fans Are Your Business

Whenever someone expresses interest in your music, instead of just talking to them like a friend, ask them the same questions you'd ask an A&R Rep if you had them right in front of you. Why? Because news travels fast in the indie music scene, and it's usually by word of mouth. Most localities who attend your shows are (a) more interested than you think, (b) may have a connection to someone you want to get in touch with, and (c) may have advice on how to get more POW for your musical punch. Do this both online and in-person by handing out free CD's at gigs with your contact information, uploading your songs to free music download sites and offering up your favorite songs to local radio stations to create a buzz and get instant feedback from the people you need it from the most: your fans.

  1. Gig Often and Everywhere

Have you ever attended a show where you were mesmerized by the performers because they played with heart? You knew that it didn't matter if anyone got paid for the gig (although surely they did!) because they were playing for the right reasons - and those aren't money. Accept as many gigs as your band is able to play, and play often. Don't worry too much about money at first: focus on the show, the fans, your set-up and how to play the crowd. And don't just contact the paying venues for gigs: play EVERYWHERE! At non-profit events, school fairs, charities, church groups, organizations or jam spots.

  1. Learn Your Craft Better Than Anyone Else

Except for the recent grunge trend in the 90’s, the musicians who have made a significant impact throughout history were experts in their art. They mentored other up-and-coming performers, took pride in their skill and were the absolute best at what they did. Take those who came before you as an example to better yourself as well. Take lessons, read books, pore over the magazines in your field, attend shows, ask questions and push yourself further than you thought you ever could. If you take the time to invest in yourself, it’ll show in the end, and record labels will appreciate that you’ve invested in what eventually will become a product of theirs.

  1. Protect Your Music

One of the simplest and easiest ways to determine if a musician is really a professional is to ask him or her if they’ve registered all of their songs. Any why wouldn’t you? In Canada, the process is free (go to SOCAN for more information), and in the US it costs about $30 to register your music (try BMI or ASCAP). Think about it: as soon as an inventor discovers something new that would appeal to a mass audience, he copyrights the idea. If you value your creations, protect them in the same way. For more information on music copywriting, take a peek at this website.

Looking for Part Two? Read it here.

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