What Will Make For a Successful Recording Artist In The 2020s?
Top 10 Tips!

To make any kind of bold prediction with any sense of accuracy, it is important to look very closely at the state of the present. The IFPI stated in their 2019 Music Listening Report that “This year’s Top 10 paints a diverse picture of music listening” and I’m inclined to agree. Sincerity, truth and authenticity are key ingredients for emerging artists and one of the boldest pictures that any artist can paint is with their honesty; from staying true to their genre to how they portray themselves in social media and ultimately how they connect with their following. “Artists must be multifaceted” the report also states but what does really mean? I’ve worked with hundreds of international artists over the years so I’ve picked up a few tips over time as to what makes a successful one.

Here are my top ten tips for emerging artists hoping to step into the bright lights of the music industry in the 2020s.

1) Know the Business. If you’re wanting to be in the music “business” you could fall short of glory somewhere along the line if you’re not willing to learn the mechanics of the business. Subjects such as Song Splits, Music Publishing (Collection and Exploitation), Sync Licensing, Master Rights and Copyright. Start with those. You don’t need to be versed in legal language but you do need to know what key terms are relevant to you and your career. I come across many artists that hope “someone else will deal with that stuff”. Generally speaking, those artists don’t get far. Trust me, anyone that works with you will appreciate you knowing your masters from your publishing.

2) Artistic Identity is Crucial. Being you is all you can do so do it right and that starts with knowing what genre you sit in most naturally. It doesn’t have to define you forever but it does have to define you for now. Is there a direct link between what you consume and what you create? Many artists take years to reach their natural artistic destination and there is a lot of compromise and experimentation along the way. As a Producer, I’ve been sent many artists over the years with the quest of “Can you try and find their sound?”. No, I can’t. Nobody can. I can put you on a record that will make you happy and get you streams but it doesn’t mean that its sustainable. In order to tap into who and what you are it takes deep thought, tenacity and bravery.

3) Speed and Efficiency. Being reliable is a soft skill, not a hard skill. Your talent is your hard skill but what gets you work is often your soft skills. One of the ways that I test artists before I work with them is how quickly and efficiently they respond to my communication. It offers me an insight as to how organised they are and how important their career is to them. I know many others that do the same.

4) File Management Skills. This links to the last point and it is crucial for an artists development. Do you have your tracks is hi-res and MP3 ready to go? Can you offer instant access to your EPK? Does it all have your key creative assets? Do you know how to create a press release? Do you know how to edit or export your stems? Speaking of which…..

5) Technology is Your Friend. In order to excel in this business you have to learn to become functional in the world of DAW technology. You don’t need to be a kick ass producer but it will help your career significantly if you know how to record yourself remotely, tune your own vocals and deliver them to professionals in a succinct fashion.

6) Research. Don’t overlook this one. Research is key to success in many trades and music is no different. You could send your press release to a million blogs in a hit and hope fashion. Eventually you’ll find out that you need to research the right ones for you before you build relationships and get the press that you deserve. It is important that you understand your place in the landscape of the industry and by that I mean where you fit in terms of genres, styles and territories. Take advantage of the “fans also like” section on Spotify by searching for artists in your genre and studying their sonic characteristics, their structures, their release strategies and their communication on social media. Before you play a festival, research it, build an expectation. Before you pitch for playlists, research which ones are suitable.

7) Passion. How passionate are you? What brings out your passion? The thrill of creating music? The buzz of perming live? Or the dopamine hit you get from thousands likes on a picture? Ask yourself a very simple but very tough question. Why are you making music? Dig deep for the answer. Your passion is key in not only building but also sustaining a career.

8) Understand Your Market. This one links back to your research. Where do you see yourself? You just want to make music I know but for you to turn your hobby into a viable income it will take strategy but before you strategise you need to know who and what you’re aiming for. Where is your place in the market? What artists are in your market space? Once you can answer that, you can start to strategise.

9) Work Ethic. This might just be the most important tip and yet the most simple of all. I have met many artists who have told me how hard they’ll work but when it really comes down it they only think they know what a strong work ethic is. Your ethic will define you for better or for worse and there is not soul on this planet that you can teach how its done. If you’re an up and coming artist then you’re unproven. This means you’ll have to show others how hard you can work.

10) Be Nice. Leave a trail of positivity and professionalism behind you with every angle that you navigate through. This business might seem tall and wide but it isn’t. It has always been and will always be a people based industry and your relationships are key to your success at any level. Make an effort to be nice, learn people’s names and be thoughtful. It will serve you well.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention talent? Talent is a prerequisite. Talent is everywhere, it is therefore how you use it that defines you.