8 Things to Keep Connected to your Musical Mental Mainframe before taking that next Step
It doesn’t matter if you are new to the music game or seasoned, an indie artist, songwriter, musician, or band, if you have chosen to make 2018 your year to be recognized or take your music to the next level, there are some things you may want to make sure you remember to check off before you take that next step. My hope, as a music journalist and song critic is that you have already noticed a few of the things I list below and that you are just going back to connect the dots so as to not let anything get overlooked.
Somethings below may seem cliché, but to make sure you have every amp connected, keep these things in mind before you take your next step in reaching your ah-some goal.
Don’t Always Follow The Herd!
Be honest with yourself, your creation, and your audience. The music should be just as honest as it can be. Be it passionate, raw, funky, sexy, or mellow, let it rip. That is one element that is missing in music today so honestly follow your natural voice or flow first and then see if a trend can fit YOU. Not every trend in music means that if you incorporate that into your song that that will automatically make that track or EP a HIT. To quote Shakespeare, says Polonius in Hamlet “This above all: to thine own self be true.” Let your fans see YOU first and then let the trends follow later.
2. Have Your Own Calling Card!
Twitter, Facebook, Sound Cloud, Instagram, Spotify, etc. is great and it shows you are sociable and networking, but you should have your own calling card to show industry professionals that you are willing to invest in your career. Make sure to have a personal music page that represents you as an artist or band and showcases your best features, and make sure to have a link to that page on all of your social media platforms.
3. Do Not Get Lost in Translation!
Do not let the music suffer due to this common mistake. This happens a lot – an artist thinking that as long as I have an awesome title to pull in the fans, or a new music bottom that follows a certain trend in music, the lyrics themselves can be lazy or insignificant which in turn makes the song overall a musical version of paint by numbers. And guess what happens? Amazingly that song does bring in listeners but soon you will find that your song had only a handful of revisits and now it’s dead. Why? There was no meat to keep them chewing. Where is the message, that hook, that melody, the emotion that keeps them coming back for more – that universal foundation? Put in the work. Keep in mind that while trends and tricks can be eye catching to draw in the listeners, a great musical message is the magic and is very important to keep the listeners engaged. Make sure to tie all of your loose ends. And remember, the element of surprise is a MUST but the message and a strong core in that song is a MUST HAVE.
4. Never underestimate the weakest song!
Never underestimate the weakest song as this one may become the foundation of each stronger track. You know that song that just lingers and gets on your last nerves?? Do not toss it, as that lingering hook that kills you may evolve into another song with an amazing hook or it may develop into a riff that sparks a whole other song, etc. and this ripple effect can develop an entire collection that becomes a hit.
5. Give your music a second, third, and/or fourth ear before you go to master!
Widening out during your creative process makes a big difference. Let someone else hear your music, someone you respect and know and also someone you do not know as this will sharpen your tools. Often, music creators find themselves just listening to their own music over and over again and then once it is given to another listener from another party, all hell breaks loose if the listener garners a different point of view that the artists considers and said artist has already mixed, mastered, and pressed that song or songs and now new things are being contemplated and the funds are dwindling. The same is true if you are a musician; let someone else hear your patterns, riffs, scales, etc. first and then meditate on the edits and then, and only, then should you do the final mix.
6. Make sure to have all of your things in line!
When reaching out to a music journalist like myself in order to have your music/song reviewed or critiqued or a record company, radio, promoter, etc., please make sure to have all of your things in line. You would be surprised at how many back and forth email exchanges there are between me and some of my clients. Have your lyrics, photos, bios, sound clips, copyrights, a well-produced track(s), and links already ready when you reach out to a promotional party. This saves time and insures that your music gets the attention it deserves. In addition, make sure to follow through as this shows us that you mean business and you are not just wasting our time.
7. Online can be scary!
In today’s music scene so many things are instantaneous and fly by night. Keep your own speed; do not let the speed of the internet rush your creativity. Try to complete all of your unfinished songs before pitching to anyone be it radio, a journalist, or promoter. Do not get hung up on online pitching sites and competitions that offer swift success and fan-reach as this can drain your cash flow and your optimism as well as slow up the music. The internet is a great place to network and showcase your music, but first look for ops that are reputable and free so you can build your brand and your following with ease and at your speed as you create. And try to pay for one thing at a time. Moreover, try to invest in a great finished production and let the other stuff find its place. Again, never rush creation!
8. Start a blog NOT ABOUT MUSIC!
Sometimes you may hit a road block in your music and instead of just giving up entirely a great way to stay on your path but to go to the side of the road (so to speak) in order to refresh is to get the conversation started in a whole other space. I know you may be saying to the screen “say what? Yo, I don’t think she knows WHAT she’s talking about.” But nah, you heard me right. Start a blog about another skill or favorite passion of yours – be it cooking, fashion, art, sports, anything creative, but it should not be about music. The blog space doesn’t have to be verified and it does not have to be expensive. Just set it up and start writing. Don’t worry about the form, grammar, or perfection; treat it as a journal and this will get a dialogue going to start a conversation outside of your comfort zone with like-minded people. Share it on your social media pages and as your blog ages, you will be amazed to see how you are sharing and conversing with others who may have an interest in MUSIC and the community will grow. And in turn, your musical juices will get a reboot as if the “refresh” button was pushed. It is amazing how so many things not in common are really in common.
By keeping these eight things connected to your musical main frame, you will be better prepared for that next BIG thing about to happen in your career. So stay connected and rock on peeps.
Lakisha Skinner is a USA/UK based music journalist and song critic who has worked with many of the greats in the Independent Music realm. She is the founder of Klef Notes (www.KlefNotes.com) an online blog focused on music reviews and the underground music social scene. She is also ½ of the American Alternative Pop band TK Skinner ( www.TKSkinner.com).
Follow Lakisha on Twitter https://twitter.com/The0riginalKiKi.