Recently I received an email by a young artist asking questions about how to gain exposure in the music industry. Although I have no solid answer for this question I do believe I may have a unique perspective on it – if nothing else an entertaining perspective! So here is my response to one of our fans recently that I typed out. I thought it would be a great thing to share. Enjoy!
Sorry it took me a bit to get back with you. We have had a crazy couple of weeks and currently have a couple days of down time so I wanted to make sure I took some time and really responded to your questions. I think the first thing you have to do is create a youtube video that generates dislikes (thumbs down). This may seem counter intuitive, but here is why. First, it teaches you the most important rule in the music industry – don’t give a shit about what people say/think about what you are creating. The moment you care more about what people think than the art that you are creating – you can not continue on creating great art. Also, if you are getting negative reviews it means that you are actually reaching people AKA you are being heard. Just because someone likes or does not like your work does not really matter – you just want to be heard right? You should not care whether or not people enjoy or do not enjoy your music – it is art everyone is titled to an opinion. This does not mean that you should not have mentors – but I will talk about that later. If you can get over this first major hurdle then you are on your way. Exposure in the music business can be a very difficult thing for artist to stomach. So right away, this is giving you a great lesson – to simply let go and start creating. A quote by Steven Pressfield illustrates this ”Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” So focus on giving to the world and forget about what others think – just do your best.
So obviously youtube is a huge way of gaining free exposure.
From a logistics standpoint of building a fanbase – start building a core group of followers in your class/hometown/school. It might just be a couple of friends that you are going to give your first recordings to. Start small and focus on developing meaningful relationships with people who genuinely have an interest in both your music and you as a person.
Play open mics. Learn from other performers and ask questions. Develop relationships with people at these gatherings. Get feedback on your original music from people you look up to and trust. This will help you in deciding what works and what does not. Always try to get lessons for guitar/voice especially when you are young. Great website openmics.org
Once you feel confident in your performing abilities – record a demo. I would suggest paying and going to a studio when you are young. You can learn to record yourself later. But go to someone who knows all the little studio tricks that can help you out.
Finally maintain a presence (and grow it as you go) on Sonicbids, Reverbnation, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and CD Baby. This is an investment but these are great tools to begin gaining exposure.
A lot of shit has changed since I was 15 playing at open mics, but this is what I think would really help a young person in current music world. Hope it helps you.