This article is for when you get out of college and you’re ready start your career but are not sure exactly how to go about it. The first step to establishing yourself as a musician is to sell your name as an artist. You really have to promote yourself – without being overly aggressive. You just have to be honest and tell people what you do – it is key not to exaggerate. They will find out the truth eventually.

Ways to promote yourself include creating a press kit, staying in the public eye, writing articles for magazines and websites, creating your own website, maintaining your own blog, etc. Additionally, you can launch branded merchandise for all your needs, such as printed t-shirts, caps, mugs, drinkware, and a few more products to promote yourself as an individual musician or a band.

Do not be afraid to ask other musicians questions about what they are doing. Most musicians are willing to help other people out because they are complimented that you think something you are doing is cool. Take advantage of every opportunity that makes itself available to you – “opportunity knocks once”. Have an outlook of saying yes first and then finding out how to do it immediately after. However, you do have to make sure that the task is “doable” before you commit to it.

Take business classes, English and writing classes, and public speaking classes. The skills that the classes offer are irreplaceable. You need business experience because music is a business – you can’t be successful without good business skills. You need to take writing classes so you can write your own bio, or articles or even CD liner notes. You need to take speaking classes because you are always going to be in the public’s eye and you need to have speaking skills in front of big groups and small groups of people.

An important skill to have is good time management. Find those few minutes to get what you need to get done finished. For example, in between writing your latest composition and going to the studio to record for that one guy’s new album, get a few minutes of practicing in. It is not enough to just be a good musician – there is a lot more involved in having a successful career as an artist. You have to really want it and be willing to work hard to get there.

You also have to be a good educator – it is important to be able to tell other people what you are doing and how to do it. Plus, knowing how to explain what you’re doing will, in fact, improve your musicianship.

Once you begin to have some success, it is time to advertise your music. If you want to take promoting yourself to the next level then why not buy some Magnetic signs for cars / vans? You can create a logo for yourself and easily attach it to your car without damaging the paint. Your vehicle can become a mobile advert for you and your music.

Get your own website, have publicity pictures, a bio and written material about what you do. The internet is a valuable source of promotion. There are outlets all over for artists to get their music and information out – take advantage of it!

Some suggestions:

– Create a fan page on Facebook
– Create a Twitter account
Soundcloud channel with constantly updated clips
– Take Berklee School of Music online classes (or some of the free Coursera alternatives)
– Reverbnation artist profile
– Maintain and produce videos on YouTube

And for when you’re out doing gigs, make sure you have something physical to show or give to anyone who may come up asking about you. At the bare minimum, get yourself business cards from somewhere like Kaizen Print. Who knows where, or in whose hands, one of those cards may eventually end up?

Want to learn more about the music business? Check out our popular FREE eBook – Advice for Young Musicians: From Established Music Professionals.

Read Part I on working as your own manager and Part II on working as your own booking agent.

[template id=”182″]

Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.