Most artists I work with ask me at some point if I can share any electronic music career advice. So this article is heavily inspired by those conversations.
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I hope you find something that resonates with you and inspires you to take action. But first of all, I want to make one thing clear: “Electronic music career” is a pretty vague term. My definition of success has always been about happiness and fulfillment rather than making a ton of money. So if you read words like “career” in this article, I’m not focusing on the monetary aspect only (though this tends to be a desirable side effect).
Which electronic music career advice will always be relevant?
It’s easy these days to talk about short-term tactics instead of long-term strategies. I could tell you something like “social media is the key to success” or “go to every party in your area and meet all the promoters to build your network”. But this would be a bit too small minded in my opinion. Building a long lasting, fulfilling electronic music career doesn’t depend on the right tactics but on the right strategy. But can there even be something like a single strategy that I would recommend to every artist? Yes, I definitely think so. To be precise: It’s rather a mindset than a strategy.
My biggest advice: Constantly invest in yourself
The most important electronic music career hack is to constantly invest in yourself. Even if it seems like a waste of time, energy, and money at first. It’s all about having the right mindset: If you’re not willing to invest in yourself, why should anybody else?
Out of all the artists I’ve worked with, the ones who constantly invested in themselves have grown significantly faster over the last years. They play more and bigger shows, release more and better music, found bigger and better-fitting labels, and overall seem to be much happier with their career.
Invest in these fields and you will grow your electronic music career significantly
Let’s say you take this advice seriously (which I hope you do) and you’re now asking yourself: “Where should I start?” Well, I have some suggestions:
Invest in your skills:
Build your creative muscle and expand your knowledge. Whether you take online courses, seminars or personal training in certain areas – be a constant learner and hone your skills. To give you an example: I’ve come across a very nice guy in Berlin who offers composition training for electronic musicians. His name is Jakob Gille and you can find out more on his website elektrokomposition.de.
Invest in your network:
First of all: I despise the term “networking”. What I mean here is you should invest time and effort to build long lasting, positive relationships that create meaningful value for both sides. Sometimes these turn into friendships, business partnerships and many other forms. My good friend Benedikt Hain is a great example for this. He also runs a studio (probably one of the best places to record heavy music in Europe) and we’re constantly trying to support each other wherever we can. The last cooperation we started involves electronic post production for bands in the heavy music scene.
Invest in your releases:
It sounds obvious but it definitely isn’t. I’ve seen many releases flop just because the artists didn’t invest in them beforehand. This can be hiring a professional mixing and mastering engineer, a well-connected PR agency/ freelancer, a talented photographer, graphic designer, booking agent, etc. You don’t have to invest in all these areas but please: If you want to put out a release that people should take seriously, you better think about outsourcing some of the things that will help the end product stand out.
It’s about mindset, not money
Now a quick note on the financial side of things: From time to time, I have this very odd discussion with electronic music artists who are just starting out. They tell me that they’re working with a cracked version of Ableton Live and have three terabytes of samples (also ripped from a friend). They only play shows in their hometown because promoters in other cities are not willing to pay enough to cover the travel expenses.
Their productions sound really bad but they don’t want to hire a professional mixing and mastering engineer because they don’t want to invest their personal savings. Their artwork is a stolen photo from Google’s image search, twisted through some filters in a cracked version of Photoshop.
The whole mindset behind this is: “My music career should support itself”. Now let’s make one thing clear: I’m totally opposed to exploiting artists in any way, shape or form. But believing that you can have any type of success without investing some personal savings (besides time and energy) is simply stupid.
So if you really want to take this seriously and invest in your electronic music career, I suggest setting aside a monthly budget (by cutting down other expenses) to invest in yourself. It doesn’t have to be a lot. But at least it’s something. The returns will be fulfillment, joy, a feeling of accomplishment and maybe even some extra cash in a few months from now.
Summing it up
Investing in yourself is a key ingredient for success, in my opinion. Your skills, network, and your releases are good places to start this investment. Set some time, energy, and also a little bit of money aside to pursue your dreams. Maybe the next big career step is right around the corner. Make sure you hustle hard and let me know if you’re struggling with something. I’m happy to help wherever I can.