DON'T FORGET: The world of music is the most competitive environment on the planet. Every day millions of artists post songs and videos on the Internet. This is a wonderful cultural achievement; the ancient Greeks believed every civilized person should be trained in music.
Over my fifty years in showbiz I have never met a musician who didn't think he was going all the way to The Big Top. This is charming but statistically untrue. Every musician loves the sounds he makes, perhaps that affection comes with the muse. Regardless of the source, ninety percent of them are wrong. Most will never compete in the professional arena and only ten percent, of those who do, will make a profit. Careers have no artificial time-frame and the race lasts a life time.
The game is not fair. Only artists with an extraordinary combination of talent and drive survive. Most importantly it is NOT a part time job. Get the most out of the academic environment while you are locked in to it; but, your survival begins when you leave school. Until then everything you do is preparation for the war ahead. You learn by doing it, and practice, practice, practice.
Each new artist is solely responsible for the application of the eight core professions in his personal career. Until someone else is assigned the responsibility, there are seven things that he must accomplish:
1. Create & Own a Repertoire.
2. Create & Mount a Live Act.
3. Create & Control a Booking Mechanism.
4. Create & Operate a Publishing Company.
5. Create a Operate a Record Label.
6. Create a Merchandising Apparatus.
7. Create a Powerful Internet Army.
With these seven tools and a lot of passion, sacrifice and luck an artist can make a living in The Music Renaissance, that is, IF the public affirms that you have talent and supports your career.
The booking process is one with a built in gravitational force that holds the new band down. You are a one man band, until you can acquire sidemen. That is a very expensive proposition. You must either pay the drummer or make him a partner. Both are costly choices. If you hire him you are in charge and can direct the show. If the sidemen become shareholders, the band becomes a democracy, everybody has a vote, equal rights, fiduciary responsibilities and certain liabilities.
The talent buyer wants to hire an act that people will line up around the block to see. The more people you can "draw" to a given venue on a specific date, the more money he will pay you. It doesn't matter how the larger venues screen acts, they rent their facilities to outside promoters who don't have a lot of choice when it comes to opening acts. The headliner usually dictates who will appear on the show. If you can't draw, you add no value to the bill. Everybody starts at Rock Bottom.
Focus on what you are in your own skin: A Singer, Songwriter, Artist, Manager, Agent and Producer. You are also your own Lawyer, Accountant, Publicist, Band and Crew. This makes you eligible for only the smallest of gigs. These start in the streets, homes, schools, bars and night clubs within driving distance of your home. If you can build a following, you will have value in the system. As your ability to draw a crowd grows, your income will rise and your fame will spread.
An artist will have many bands in his life long career. Some players will come and stay, many will play a while and move on to the next dream. Having a band is a luxury that has to be earned. The leader must organize, discipline and glue the group together. It is an endless job that should never be taken for granted. A strong solo artist, will attract the more talented musicians. This is important because, the quality of your live show depends on the virtuosity of you and your band.
It may be tempting to consider selling your songs to get started, but this is an extremely drastic act. The copyrights are the only long term annuity that accrues to songwriters. To survive in the quest for Elvisland the publishing revenues are a very important income stream. You must become your own publishing company. The next time to consider selling your publishing is when it is worth millions of dollars. By then, you may not want to part with the one true thing.
It is not likely that major publishers would pay a novice writer enough to build and maintain a band. So, you could sell your "golden eggs" and still end up facing the challenge of being a solo artist with no sidemen. Don't sell your publishing unless it gets you off of square one with an income, it provides access to other writers and it includes a marketing and placement machine.
Take action on your career immediately. Start demonstrating your singer/songwriter artistry. Build a repertoire of at least one hour's length. Sing that set every day to an audience of any size, in any place, for free. If there is no audience, sing it in the mirror. Write songs every day and find a way to work with more established writers to learn your craft. Re-write every line many times.
Create an act. Study your rivals and competitors. Do what they do only faster and better, keep what works and dump what doesn't. Develop a running sales “pitch” for your act. Learn to sell anybody in the food change on why your band is great and how they will be good for business.
Build a powerful web presence that will impress the talent buyers. Figure out where you want to play and find the access pathway to the talent buyer, every venue has a booking system. Find out what it is and play the game. Be confident but not arrogant; you need them, they don't need you. There are dozens of acts lined up for every gig. Persist, sooner or later you will make the booking.
When the repertoire is polished and refined, in the forges of the live arena, make a "live" recording. Produce and package the product yourself, add a t-shirt, and anything else you're not ashamed to put your logo on, and sell it at your gigs. By being in ACTION on a clear goal array, you will recognize the opportunities as they present themselves. Your career will be going at the right pace to, evaluate the options, and make the best choices from the ever evolving possibilities.
In other words, you have to do-it-yourself.