Made some music? Want to get paid for it? You’ll need to get it out there and get yourself out there too, so lose the studio tan, make yourself a demo, and start earning money with our top tips to going pro with your music-making…
1. Find a sound
There are, we admit, two contradictory schools of thought on making money from music-making. One is that people commission you based on your reputation – i.e. you need an uplifting orchestral film score, you get John Williams. This is a brilliant concept as you find yourself a unique sound which you enjoy producing and people flock to you for it.
Commissioners the world over know that you are the person for that specific sound and you’re happy. Forever. While we do advocate this approach – you have to be happy in music production – we have to temper it with that second school of thought, which leads rather cunningly to our next tip…
2. Be a Jack of all trades
Yes, the very opposite approach of what we’ve just suggested is to push your music out to whoever wants it, produce music for every genre you can, be brilliant at knocking music out in a range of styles quick smart and say ‘yes’ to everything.
There’s no doubting that this approach works, but – ask any freelance TV composer – it can lead to hand-wringing, soul-searching, head-scratching moments of, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Perhaps the best approach then, is to dip in and try and follow both tips 1 and 2. Don’t sell your soul, just half of it…
3. Cast your search wide
There’s nothing wrong with aiming high and heading to Hollywood for a professional life in music making, of course, but there are many other outlets for your music, some more realistic at delivering the cash than others. So consider how your music could be used in all other media, not just film or the popular music charts.
Sound design is now big business and audio and music is required for everything from ringtones to start-up music for apps. So cast your sonic net as wide as you can, as there are now more homes for your sound than you might realise.
4. Soundtrack other lives
On your way up to scoring films, do consider that everyone else – from theatres, to adverts, corporate videos to student film course videos – all require music. You might have to start out by giving your art away, but if you get a portfolio of work together, you can start approaching more film companies or library companies that specialise in providing music for the mainstream media. Think about it, as soon as you have some of your music over some images or film, you’ve got yourself a nice demo and the start of that portfolio. And talking of which…
5. Get a name
Once you have your sound sorted and some idea of where you are aiming it at in terms of soundtracking, then you’ll need to create an identity which people can associate with that sound. In other words you’ll need the aforementioned demo, preferably short, to the point and against some moving pictures, and you’ll need to make it part of a press kit that you can approach companies with.
Include your CV, successes, music (obviously) and that demo. Pictures of yourself too, if you are feeling confident/narcissistic. You’ll need to get a version of this onto…
6. Get online
The internet! Yes, this one is very obvious, but if you want to make it in any walk of life on your own, then you will need a significant online presence and we’re not just talking the obvious ones like Facebook and Instagram (although do those too).
Go more musical with Soundcloud and Bandcamp. There’s a complete article on getting your music out there (read it here) but your online face is the most important so make sure it’s consistent across all sites and, though it horrors us to say this in print, you should even consider making yourself – here goes – a brand…
7. Spread the word
Whether you go for the ‘b’ word or not, you will need to have some confidence at this stage. Spreading the word is about getting your music to the people that want to hear it. There’s no hard and fast way of doing this, but joining forums of like-minded musicians is a good start.
Don’t be pushy and don’t (as people occasionally do on our Facebook page and website) post a link to your music on every single post you make. Don’t be pushy, don’t expect to become a star overnight or get commissioned to score the next Bond film. Develop a thick skin and take constructive criticism. Music is very personal, but when you get a few fans the good comments will make up for the bad…
8. Get a strategy
Really the best way to spread the word is to get a strategy which might mean you concentrate on few social media sites, but do them well, and include blogging sites that review music to try and get a name. There are loads of these now including Louder Than War, Little Indie Blogs, Indie Music Review and This Song Is Sick. Get a quote from any of these, then go back to tip 5, stick it on your press kit, rinse and repeat.
9. Get the contacts
So far we’ve mentioned library companies, colleges, film producers, media companies and much more, rather nonchalantly like you’ll know how to get in touch with all these people, and indeed who they are in the first place.
Well it’s easier than you might think to at least find out who they are from books like the Showcase International Music Directory (www.showcase-music.com). As good as this is, though, the best way to sell your music is, sorry, to…
10. Meet human beings
Literally every star we’ve interviewed, every engineer we’ve grilled, every producer we’ve harassed has one story of where they met someone and something came of it. Meeting humans leads to stuff happening and there are now more relevant meet-up events than you realise at recording studios and colleges up and down the country.
People are meeting, sharing samples, remix ideas, making music and possibly that is all leading to greater things. It’s beautiful, so be a part of it!