When I was young, taking piano lessons and singing in talent shows, I grew up with the thought in my mind that the only way to make it as a musician was to get a record deal and hit it big in the mainstream music industry. This article presents a how-to path on becoming a professional musician and singer.
Your Child Dreams To Be A Star
I’m writing this to all my parents who have children that want to be artists when they grow up. I’m writing this to little musicians who believe that they want to be singers, dancers, or musicians when they grow up. This is for those who have a dream. I want you to know, that as a full time musician, it is possible.
In truth, there are many ways to make it, and to even thrive, as a musician. The key to this success is to think big and think business.
Okay, let’s get into it.
Step 1 – Get training
There are many self taught musicians out there. It is true that you can teach yourself how to play and become very good at your craft. However, every great person out there has a coach. You need a coach, someone who can hear you, and critique what you’re doing right and wrong and help you grow into your best. There’s no substitute for a great coach or teacher.
Step 2 – Realize that you are a business
This is one of the most important steps on becoming a full time musician at any stage in life. There’s no end to the previous step, you should always have someone that you can go to and learn more about your craft. While reaching for this improvement, your mental state must be one of a business person. As a musician, or an artist, you are the brand, the product and the boss. You should approach learning about your craft as if you were working hours as a job. If this is your passion, it will be fun to learn and grow, and it won’t feel like work at all. You’ll just be becoming better at what you do. It will be helpful, if you want to be a full time musician, to learn about the business of music. There are a ton of great resources out there to help. One, in 2013 – 2014, is Donald Passman’s book “All You Need to Know About the Music Business”. This book gives a complete picture about music. If you’re a dancer, there are resources out there about becoming a choreographer or other professional in the dance realm. Learn about the business in school or through self study. The best place to learn is if you have the opportunity to do an internship at a publishing company, management agency, recording studio, or other reputable entertainment business office.
Step 3 – Be multi-talented! Becoming a professional musician
What makes an artist more valuable is the amount of things the artist can do. The truth is that not many people make it to mainstream music superstar status. The further truth is that even those who do make it, don’t stay in that industry forever. So, it is best if you can do several things. When it comes to learning an instrument, start with one, typically something musically foundational, like a piano, then learn another foundational instrument like guitar, then learn an ensemble instrument like saxophone, violin, or flute. Artists who make a living from their art, typically have several income streams. Examples of income streams for musicians are the following:
- Live Performances – Performing live at venues, and parties
- Studio Recording – Providing live instrumentation for recording artists
- Arranging – Arranging music for plays, recording artists, etc
- Merchandise Sales – For original music artists, they can sell merchandise with their logos.
- Licensing and Publishing – Writing music for other artists or selling your music to TV and film.
- Instruction – Teaching the next generation of musicians.
These are just six examples of income streams, there are many more out there for musicians. So, if you are a parent of a young one who wants to sing when they grow up, encourage them to take lessons, learn an instrument in addition to learning how to use their voice. If you have a little songwriter, encourage exploration in writing music, learning theory and composition is important for this type of artist. Ultimately, there’s no need to worry. Growing up to be a musician is exciting and can be a very rewarding career and financially secure.