By Cari Cole
The days are pretty much gone when a record label is gonna swoop you up and develop you. Leaving the artist development process to the artist. So how does one tackle this and do it well on their own?
Here is a glimpse into the process we’ve used and evolved over the years, and continue to use every day at our studio, in our online and in person programs.
We start this process in our Step Up to the Spotlight Artist Development Program, where we take you step-by-step through the journey. Comes with a 52 week Artist Development Plan.
8 Steps to Perfecting Your Artistry and raising the bar on Your Music
1. Daily Practice & Habits: Developing Your Talent & Skill: Vocals, Musicianship, Songwriting, Performance Skills.
The first thing, no matter what level the artist is at, is further developing the talent and skills of the artist. The core of developing an artist, starts with a strong practice. To be a force in music, your musicianship, voice, performance skills have to be in tip top shape. The best way to ensure you’re at your best, or to evolve your skills (a continual process even for stars), is to practice your craft every day (minimum 5 days per week), and to perform regularly. We teach artists the techniques and mindsets you need to step into your daily practice and build those habits. You won’t fool anyone with less, least of all yourself!
Your Optimal Practice Schedule: Start by practicing voice and your instrument (guitar or piano) 3 days per week. Build to 5.
Vocal technique: 30 – 60 min 5x per week. Vocal technique is the routine of singing vocal scales. Start with our Singers Gift Warmups which helps you open and free your voice while strengthening your instrument fast!
Vocal rehearsal: 45 – 60 min 5x per week. Rehearse a set of songs or work out individual songs during this time.
Instrument practice: 60-90 min 5x per week. Practice your scales and songs during this time. Every singer or music artist needs to be able to accompany themselves. It’s never too late to get started!
2. Signature Songwriting
At CCVM we teach “signature songwriting.” This term means to write songs that build a signature, that come from the themes in an artist’s life. We have found that when artists write from personal experience, it makes their material more authentic and resonates more deeply with artist and audience.
Songwriting daily practice: Journal daily to write down song ideas and lyrics. You are a songwriter 24/7. Ideas pour through you awake or asleep, or during your day when you are living life, observing life. Jot down thoughts, ideas, concepts throughout the day and when you wake up in the morning. Then sit down to write 2-3x per week for 90 min – 3 hours. Make sure this time is uninterrupted for the best results.
We go more deeply into this process in our Step Up to the Spotlight Artist Development Program which takes you step-by-step through the process of artist development. It’s easy to follow and gives you tangible results. It comes with our Singers Gift Vocal Warmups and a 52 Week Artist Development Plan. Plus, you get VIP Lifetime Access to all future runs with access to an amazing community of thousands of Step Uppers worldwide.
3. Building Your Artist Persona
An artist persona is something that is developed, built over time. But there are some ways to speed up the process.
- Who are your biggest influences, music crushes from the past? List them.
- What are you listening to now? List them.
- What current artists do you listen to? List them. Notice the patterns.
- What are your favorite albums of all time?
- If you blended 3 artists that represented pieces of you, who would they be? List them and what aspect of you they embody that is important to your brand.
- List the 3 Defining Moments in your life that changed you. Moments from which you were never the same again. From the most devastating to the most inspiring moments that shaped who you are and have become. What were the messages you learned in those moments? What were the things that were the hardest for you to learn or overcome, or are still overcoming? Write them down.
- What is your biggest message? The one you wish the world knew, if they would just listen to you? Write it down.
- Create a Pinterest or Instagram board of images that appeal to your artist self. What does your stage show look like? Who is coming to see you? What are you wearing? What is your message? Creating a visual experience is one way to help you step into your artist persona.
The above process is a part of our system for developing or rebranding an artist. Helping them find their voice, literally and figuratively for their new album.
4. Recording Your Breakthrough Record
From the process of song content and selection (A & R), to choosing the right producer, to the making of that record — breaking through is the art and science of stepping into your genius. Tapping your deeper message, writing songs that speak that message, sculpting a killer sound and finding the right production team that will make you a better artist than you could be on your own — these are but a few of the necessary elements of making a record that has the potential to break you through.
When you set out to make the BEST record you can – barring no limitations…and that means taking the time to source the best material and best production — you want to focus your efforts on creating a record that is on a high enough level – and has enough energy in the content– to garner serious attention. And to be sure it’s not just your opinion, gather feedback from your Inner Circle of people whose musical opinions you trust, including industry professionals.
5. Develop A Killer “Live Show”
An artist is only as good as their “live” show. Building a strong live show is an art and science unto itself. You want your live show to be even better than your record!
Start by examining your strengths and how to best present them. How are you most comfortable? When you are imagine your Artist Persona — what does the stage look like? Build from there.
Also important is that you are able to translate that Live Show in different settings. Every artist has to be able to perform solo, with 1 musician, 2-3 musicians and a full band. They all require creativity to pull off while making a statement and creating an experience for your fans. Look at Ed Sheeran and you’ll know what I mean. A guy and a loop pedal who took over the world! You’ve GOT THIS.
6. Artist Branding
This is where we see lots of artists struggling, or coming up short. Probably because they’re good at #1-5 — but not so skilled in this domain.
Here’s how we do it.
- We start with building the artist persona
- Then send you off for art direction from one of our trusted sources. There are lots of great people out there who do art direction or styling for musicians (ask your photographer.)
- Then we source a great photographer – someone who shoots in music artists on a daily basis.
- Hire the hair stylist and makeup artist (who also work in music…)
- Then we plan out the photo shoot using the art direction, and work with the photographer to create a concept. The key here is sourcing the right people who work with musicians and getting the right art direction. Art direction and planning gives your team direction making your shoot successful! #priceless.
Here’s one of our before and after stories of our CCVM Alumni Miranda Glory!!
7. Building Your Story
Now that you’ve got your message and persona, a killer “live” show, an exceptional record and brand — and now we’re ready for marketing. Great marketing starts with your story. We want your audience to get to know you ~ to fall in love with you. This is a HUGE part of the marketing piece and how you connect with your audience.
Building your story starts with asking the question “why this record now?” What has brought me to this moment to make this record at this time in my life?
Connecting with your “why” helps you to build the story of how this record came about and it’s message in the world. It’s a great idea to have 2 bios — the bio of the artist and the story of the record. Helps you to rebrand with each new album and is great for press ;).
8. Growing Your Career Independently As Well As Within the Music Industry
One of the deadly mistakes I see a lot of independent artists making is building their career all DIY – without any help. First of all, you need people to help you and second of all you need people in the industry to help you as that is where most of the opportunities will come from.
The most important thing you do is to consistently grow your music relationships. One of the easiest ways to do that is to attend music conferences and industry events to build your connections. And/or work with a music mentor. Opportunities to grow your career come from relationships with people inside the industry. Don’t be on the outside looking in. Both are equally important.
Want to evolve your music career? Looking to rebrand your next project? Check out our 6 week Artist Development Online Program and get that kick-start that you need! Don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help!