People enter the music business all the time. According to a 2016 report by the RIAA, direct and indirect employment in the U.S. music industry increased year over year between 2012 and 2015. In simple terms, you will always be faced with a lot of competition.
As you probably already know, only a small percentage of songwriters actually make enough money from their activities to sustain their lifestyles. What this means is that if your aim is to achieve any level of success from your songwriting career, you have to get real serious about your craft, if you aren’t already.
Songwriters who are serious about getting results from their efforts are those who are committed to getting better at what they do and develop progressive habits. The following are a few winning habits to cultivate if you’re serious about your songwriting career.
1. Write consistently
As they say, content is king. You need a lot of it in order to compete successfully in a crowded marketplace, so you have to keep writing songs. The main reason for this is that most of your material will get rejected, regardless of how good you think your songs sound. That’s because the people who call the shots – music executives at publishers and labels, as well as music supervisors, and even listeners on streaming platforms – are often bombarded with tons of submissions to choose from. If you’re only writing a few songs here and there, you simply won’t be able to work the law of average.
2. Set goals and actively try to meet them
Whether you plan to write a certain amount of songs in a month, have ambitions to learn an instrument within a year, or want to grow your followers on social media to a certain amount, it’s important to set these goals and go after them actively. It’s true that you may not always reach your target, but once you’re serious about what you want to achieve, the odds are higher that you will. On the other hand, if you don’t set goals, or if you make them and then fail to take action, there is a high chance that you will fall below the bare minimum of what you plan to achieve. With that said, to increase the likelihood of achieving your goals in music, you want to make sure they are specific, measurable, realistic, and time bound.
3. Keep learning
The music business is a highly dynamic one, and things that were commonplace at one time may not be so nowadays. That’s why you need to keep learning about the business and improving your craft to maintain a competitive advantage. As it relates to songwriting, the only way to keep getting better at it is to keep writing songs and learning as much as you can about it. You can do so through books, articles, and videos and by paying attention to the habits and traits of those who have proven themselves to be good at it.
4. Work on your image
Creating music and improving your skills is one thing. But another piece of the puzzle you want to work on, if you’re serious about your career, is to have the right image. Remember, you’re not just competing with local songwriters, who might be, more or less, on the same level as you. When you go looking for opportunities to have your songs placed, picked up by popular artists, or played on streaming platforms, you’re actually going up against the likes of Max Martin, Sia, and other big-name songwriters. Considering that those songwriters already have established images, you would want to have a polished image as well to even have a slim chance. By the way, your image is not only about the appearance of your person, it’s also about how you develop your brand. As such, ways to improve your image do not only include taking professional shots to use on your social pages and website or developing a signature look; it’s also about coming up with unique symbols (a logo, for instance) that depict what you and your music are about. This is an entire topic on its own, so you might want to do some research on how to go about developing your brand and image.
5. Grow your network
They often say the music business is a relationship business, meaning you need to get to know people in order to have a chance at uncovering opportunities. The good thing is that there are lots of ways for songwriters to meet new people for networking opportunities, whether it is to make music or promote your work. There are numerous songwriting and music events happening, which allow you to get out there, meet people, and introduce your music.
All of this might seem like hard work…and it is. Then again, how serious you are about your music career will determine if you see it as work or just things you need to do to get ahead. All the best on your journey.