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6 tips for artists in 2021

With January in full swing, we all want to take on 2021 with a fresh optimism and energy. With this in mind, here are some simple yet often-overlooked pieces of insight for producers, DJs and musicians looking to take their music to the next level this year. Each of these tips is taken from our 6 week Artist Development course, designed to unleash aspiring artists and led by top experts from the music industry.

1. Assess your foundational beliefs. Over the course of our lives we will absorb the value judgements and statements of those around us. Often these are positive and helpful, forming foundational beliefs which encourage us to pursue our vision. But they can also be detrimental to what we want to achieve. Maybe you’ve been discouraged from pursuing music as a career — you’ve been told there’s no job security and you’ll probably never ‘make it’.

What impact do such statements have on your creativity and pursuit of your goals? Take some time to list out these beliefs and value judgements you’ve taken on. What beliefs could you actively replace them with so that they actually helped you to create and grow your music project? (Week 1: Mindset and Vision with hosts Austen & Scott Smart)

2. Don’t assume a large social following = a large fanbase. It’s better to have a small, highly invested fanbase than one that appears big but doesn’t translate into support for your project. There is a lot to be said for organic growth on social media. So, before you start buying likebots, consider the benefits of sharing valuable, engaging content to the wider community in which your future fans will be found. Let people find you through the quality and consistency of your project. (Week 2: Cut Through the Noise with PR head TBA)

3. Mise en place. Get organised. From sample folders to your calendar, the unglamorous habit of housekeeping ultimately benefits your creativity. The less instances in which your creative flow is interrupted by issues such as missing sample files, the more productive those precious moments of flow become.

Perhaps an even more important effect of good organisation will be avoiding pitfalls like missing an important deadline or email. It keeps the wheels of your project running on smooth ground. Not only that, but you will come across as competent and reliable to those you are promoting yourself to, whether they’re publishers, labels or A&R. (Week 3: Effortless Self with label head TBA)

4) Don’t take unnecessary risks with uncleared samples. The sooner you get an agreement or permission to use a sample you take from someone else’s music or recording, the better. Doing this early, before you start to build up hype around a track, typically means you can cut a better deal. Failing to clear a sample can come back to haunt you, and if you’re found out you’ll likely have to pay that artist any money you made from sales of your record. (Week 4: Maintaining Control with Rob Eatkins of Bermans Law).

The next Artist Development course starts 28th January

5. Tell your story in everything you do. It’s the most effective way to get people interested in what you do and who you are. That said, there’s a fine line between overloading biographies and pitches with unnecessary personal information and, on the flipside, being too cold in your messaging. Use your story — who you are, where you’ve come from and what you’re passionate about — to tell people why you’ve created your project and why they should pay attention. (Week 5: Human Connections with Joe Muggs of The Guardian)

6. Make your sound your own. Overusing plugin presets and samples will show in your music — and you’ll end up sounding like a watered-down version of what’s already out there. Unless that’s what you’re going for, try to go out of your way to manipulate samples creatively and experiment with your plugins and effects racks to make sounds that you find interesting. You can find an appealing (and commercially viable) balance by marrying familiar, established musical elements with your own creative discoveries. (Week 6: Breaking Through with special guest artist TBA (previously Joris Voorn))

The virtual classroom where our sessions are held

In each week’s module of our flagship Artist Development course we dig deep into areas which are vital in understanding and breaking into the music industry. If you’d like to find out more about how the course can unleash your music in 2021, visit our course page now.

by Joe Matthews

The world's stage for music education.