Make sure you have a way to make a living
In popular culture, we romanticize the idea of leaving everything behind and head to the big city to pursue our passion. Unfortunately, more often than not, it’s more fantasy than reality.
It’s probably not smart to drop everything and try to make a living off music right off the bat. If you’re financially well off or have built up a strong following through another industry then maybe this doesn’t apply. But for the rest of you, your priority should be to do something that pays the bills to keep you afloat while you do music on the side.
Foreign Forest is a bedroom project started by singer and producer Frankie Denham. Since 2014, Forest has released 2 albums, the first of which being “Pretty Songs I Like to Cry to”. With over 17 songs, half of which being features from similar artists in the emo/hip-hop genre, Forest made sure people heard who he was, and soon they began to get an idea, as now the album boasts over 7M+ streams on Spotify alone. With high expectations from fans to release something comparable to his last project, Forest took another route while making his follow-up album “Halloween, but All Year” (also known as “HBAY”).
Taking the time to produce and engineer HBAY by himself, and only including 2 features rather than many, Forest was determined to shine unlike he had before. The 11-track project moves back-to-back between tracks that feel familiar and tracks that feel completely “foreign”, which Forest says was the goal of the album. Adding House percussion to beautiful melodies and exploring introspective lyrics, Forest has truly created an experience for not only the dedicated Alternative Rap fans but also for any fans of EDM or Indie Pop.
Some might like the idea of going all-in without a backup plan because they feel the pressure to survive will help motivate them to make it doing music full-time. Hey, it’s your life, but not what I would personally advocate.
Before the internet, if you wanted to pursue music, your best hope was to move to a big city and try to get the attention of A&Rs (artists and repertoire) in order to get signed by a label. Fortunately, those days are basically over as you no longer need labels. However, this also means that just about anyone can try to pursue music, creating a noisy and competitive environment.
Have goals and a plan
You really need to understand what you want to do and have a good idea of how to get there. If you don’t, you need to research and ask people. Set goals and have a plan so you’re not wasting time.
Some people may want to just make music to get sync licensing deals for commercials or movies. Others want to be a performing artist who tours the world as an independent. Maybe you just want to produce tracks for other artists.
Not everyone will have the same goals or aspirations. It may take some time to realize what your long term goal is, and it may even change as you gain more experience. But once you have your end goal, you gotta reverse engineer it.
Keep making music and improving your craft
It sounds obvious, but it can be quite challenging in today’s music climate.
To combat the oversaturation of content and competitive climate for attention, speed has become a huge factor when it comes to making music. By speed, I mean how often you can release music consistently to stay top of mind and keep fans engaged. It may be challenging to balance the business and creative sides to produce quality music, but that has become the cost of entry.
Your success in the music industry ultimately starts with how good your music is. A good song can help jump start your career, but you need to keep pushing out music to build off that momentum.
Don’t fall into the belief that talent alone can sustain you, as there are other more important factors, like work ethic and promotion. Talent matters to a point, but if it doesn’t translate into “good” songs that gain exposure, then it won’t take you far.