By Cari Cole
As a musician today, you really are pure potential. Everybody has pretty much the same shot. And as an artist, you are THE most important thing that makes this industry tick. Without you, there IS no music. There is nothing standing in your way right? — except yourself.
Last Spring I was in the office of a Sr VP of a label showing some of our artists. It was interesting to watch what perked up his ears. We have a policy of showing the music w/o showing showing the brand — just have them listen first. I think it makes them focus more – and purely respond. The first 3 artists we presented got major accolades from him. He was interested in working with the first two. But the 3rd one, he didn’t like so much — too generic — said he hears that all the time. And the 4th one he waved his hand within 15 seconds of hearing one track. Why? Because it wasn’t on a high enough level, soundwise, hook wise, lyric wise — and they can hear it right away.
The artists he went nuts over had the most craft.
So, my challenge to you is to raise the bar on your own artistry. To be so good they can’t ignore you. That’s what John Mayer did, and Alicia Keys, and Amy Winehouse and Beyonce and Green Day, and all artists you admire.
An artist is only as good as their music. It all starts there. And the foundation is your craft: your voice, your musicianship, your performance, your songs. That’s your REAL job.
Here’s my 3 Secrets to Make Your Fans Obsessed with Your Music.
1. Work Your Your Craft to the Bone.
Become obsessed to be the most amazing artist you’ve ever heard. Period. Work your ass off, work your craft, harder than you ever have — so when eyes and ears fall on you — you stand out. You’re undeniable. And everyone knows it.
Action: Commit to your craft. 5 days a week. Heck, 7 days a week. You wanna be good? Do it every day. Vocalize, shed your scales, practice your instruments, become a great musician. 2-3-4-5-6 hours a day. Do it. Your favorite musicians did. No one gets away with not doing it so you might as well get going – right now.
2. Stand Out Don’t Fit In.
Now, listen up — the music industry is not going to tell you this one. They are going to tell you that you have to write a “hit” and then proceed to tell you what that is. A 3:15 min song with a tempo over 120 and memorable melody that people can sing along to and tap their feet to, that makes you want to hear it over and over again. They won’t tell you to stand out – they’ll tell you to fit in.
But what they (and your fans) really want, is an artist who stands out. Who isn’t afraid to be different, to be themselves.
Your JOB as an artist is to find your unique strengths. And the only way you find them is by performing a lot, writing hundreds of songs, and pushing the limits to find who you are and what you have to say. Because only when you have put in your 10,000 hours will find your signature.
Sam Smith explained it best in his 2015 Grammy winning speech after sweeping the night with 4 Grammy awards. Sam Smith went through this very thing. He had the team, the money, the label – everything an artist wishes for—and he still couldn’t make it —- until he did one thing.
Fired everybody and started making the music that was in his soul. Sam Smith didn’t find his genius until he stopped trying to make music for the industry and started making the music that he wanted to hear, that was in his heart. And so he wrote a record about where he was at. Lonely, gay, and single in London. His heart was breaking and he wrote about it. He didn’t cave to writing “hits”, he went inside and wrote his truth. The result earned him 4 Grammys, Billboard success, and songs that went instantly viral on the airwaves. Because news of great music travels fast. All because he had the courage to follow his inner voice and intuition and take a risk to be himself.
The single biggest challenge for most musicians is to be yourself. Write the songs you want to hear. Stop chasing trends and tell your story.
Action: For one year straight perform 2-3x a week, write 100+ songs and co-write as much as you can. Find yourself.
3. Update Your Brand.
Brands matter. It’s a visual world. Big beautiful pictures that bleed to the edges of the page, less text, more white space. This is the way we like to see things on the web. Here’s one of my favorite bands squeeze page (first page of their website with their big beautiful picture and one call to action ~ join the mailing list.
Start by building a great big, beautiful, gorgeous brand for your fans to step into. Nothing will make potential fans click away, or opportunities pass on you, than going to a musicians site that looks like they built it themselves. Your brand is your music at first glance. Make them click play. Create the fantasy. Make it a worthwhile experience. And use professionals, don’t do this yourself, we can tell.
Action: Update your pictures and your website. Research current music photos of your favorite artists, get ideas for your shoot. Find a photographer that shoots music artists. Research websites of musicians who are similar to you, steal their formatting ideas, apply to yours with your own twist. Hire a professional to build your site. Don’t stop tweaking until it looks amazing. One of our artists did this and got a booking agent ~ just by changing her visuals. Another upleveled her brand and got a publishing deal and a manager. Stop getting in your own way and do it right.
Want help? Accountability? Inspiration? Click here.