This academic year I waved my daughter who is a soon- to- be self employed musician off to Uni to begin a course in Popular Music.
The experience of seeing another person begin their journey in the industry has forced me to reflect on the key things that I would tell someone starting out, seeking a life making money from their passion for performing music. I’ve loved being a self employed musician and have been able to work through multiple avenues.
With my own company http://thepianosinger.com/thepianosingerstory/
As a freelance singer/songwriter and producer https://www.jamesjunior.uk/about-page
With innovative companies such as this one, bringing music to people in new ways – https://songdivision.com/about-us/
and of course as part of the incredible Get Gospel Team! https://www.getgospel.co.uk/our-singers
“Dedicate time to practice”
So what are the key things to keep in mind, if you wish to pursue a life in this industry that is both fun and also pays the bills?
Here are my thoughts…
Focus on skills.
Whatever your instrument or talent is, focus on being the best you can be at that. Dedicate time to practice and seek out the help of others who are better than you at it. “Surround yourself with people who lift you higher”.
Don’t wait for other people to tell you you are good enough.
Have self belief. Take every opportunity you can to perform as every performance raises your ability . Don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes.
Build on your pool of contacts.
This is both agencies, venues, suppliers event planners other musicians. You need multiple avenues for work that you will actually use. You can never have too many contacts. If you find yourself at an event and chatting to people, suggest you share your social media details to connect online later.
Be prompt with your communication and follow up suggestions to work together.
Opportunities to do something a little out of your comfort zone will encourage you to raise your game learn something new and apply a little pressure to yourself. For example, the first time that I worked in theatre, I of course had to learn lines and I also had to deliver jokes and act. I was terrified. I decided to take it on and this grew my understanding of performance in a way nothing had before. I learned a lot about the audience whilst taking part in the show. I learned to be more confident holding the attention of a room.
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. Financially, don’t overstretch yourself but make sure you do have fit for purpose instruments/equipment and make sure it is something that will not need replacing too quickly. For example, if you decide to make a promotional video, make sure you spend as much as you can afford on a quality product in order to grab attention.
Organised and reliable.
When you become a self employed musician and you hopefully begin to become increasingly busy, you will need to be disciplined and utilise organisational tools. This is especially true in terms of managing your finances, your expenses and especially your diary. It is difficult to succeed if you create a reputation for forgetting events, being ‘flaky’ or double booking yourself. Also when you are required to prove income, such as for a house purchase in the future, excellent organised finances to use as evidence are a must!
Consider turning your full time job into a part time one, so that you can create a space to build your business, whilst also earning consistent money.
Eventually you will hopefully reach a point where you can sustain yourself as a full time self employed musician! Until then this may mean working both day and night until the leap can be made. It took a few years from the creation of The Piano Singer http://thepianosinger.com/ until I was able to give up a role teaching music.
Hopefully some of these tips have inspired you! Best wishes on your journey! – James.
January 26, 2022