Music & Entertainment

How to Navigate the Music Industry

Authored by Deadmau5


Learning how to make music is a wonderful creative endeavor. On the other hand, learning how to navigate the music industry is challenging and filled with many pitfalls. Electronic music artist deadmau5 offers his experience to help emerging musicians make their way through the industry.

Part 1 of 10

Learn the system

There are many cautionary tales about musicians who were exploited in the business, and the best way to avoid that is to teach yourself a basic knowledge of music law, publishing, etc.

Did you know?

The music industry is like a nightmare, but with some knowledge, it can be like a lucid dream where you have an understanding of the situation and some control to make it work for you.

Part 2 of 10

Beware of major labels

There’s a climate of fear around everybody who’s trying to get a major record label deal, and with good reason. The major label’s main focus is to make money, and they do so with their top talent. You won’t have a person at a major label who’s looking after you, let alone looking out for you.

Part 3 of 10

Build a team you can trust

Your team should consist of three parts: accounting, legal, and management. Make sure you like them—don’t ever work with someone you can’t stand to be around, even if they do their job better than anyone else. You want your team to be an efficient, harmonious, well-oiled machine that will communicate openly.

Did you know?

The sign of a good accountant is one who can answer “How much money do I have?” in one simple sentence.

Part 4 of 10

Build an online presence and following

Before you can sell your music online, you’ll need a following, and before you gain a following, you’ll need some kind of website. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a source with a gateway payment system (e.g., PayPal) to begin aggregating your stuff out.

Part 5 of 10

Cautiously move into bigger marketplaces

The most effective way to sell your tracks online is through iTunes, but it takes some time to get to that stage. Other services might not be as beneficial to you. For example, you can’t actually sell anything on SoundCloud. Be very careful whenever it comes to signing a contract and working with a company and why.

Part 6 of 10

Albums are not entirely necessary

There’s a traditional reason why major labels want to sell music in packaged albums—they’re the most cost-efficient way to make money. Albums are nice but not necessary, especially in electronic music. If you prefer, you could just release singles whenever you want, as this is faster and simpler, and they can eventually be put together into an album, if you want.

Part 7 of 10

However, create a total package of yourself as an artist

Labels, especially Mau5trap, look for self-sufficiency. This means not just creating solid music but understanding your branding and unique style as a musician, including art direction for album or LP covers.

Part 8 of 10

Don’t stress over song and album titles

Deadmau5 literally named a track “Right This Second” when told by his manager that he needed a title for it “right this second.” Unless you’re deliberately trying to come up with a horrible title, the name of a song isn’t going to change its popularity.

Part 9 of 10

Develop your network along the way

As you develop your music, be a part of your local music community as an actual human being and not some email address. Build your connections by meeting with like-minded individuals, and share information, stories, and experiences regarding the industry.

Did you know?

No record label likes the person who constantly sends out demos. If you’re good, your network will share it, and word of your skill will get around.

Part 10 of 10

Evolve and grow

Think about YouTube stars who are hot for a minute but eventually fade when people move on to something else. You need to evolve, grow, and learn not just as an industry professional but as a creative artist, because otherwise you might just be around for one summer and then you’ll be left behind and forgotten.

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