Over the years, I’ve asked just about every successful artist I’ve interviewed what their top tips for up-and-coming musicians are. In this article, I share the positive, practical, and sometimes painful advice they’ve given.
JACOB: Learn marketing
“The worst piece of advice I got was to just “let the music speak”. Sadly, nowadays this doesn’t work any more. You really need to do hard work on marketing and everything else. It’s just as important as the music, maybe even more so.”
Mood Swing & Chevy Bass: Get a stage presence & volunteer
Nick: “Follow your dreeeaams. Listen to lots of people. You’ll love it. And if you can’t be inspired, give up. Oh wait, what was the question again? Oh yeah, just do it because you actually fuckin love it. Don’t do what is ‘cool’. Whatever feels good for you to do – enjoy it and do it passionately. We do it with fuckloads of passion, fuckloads of energy, fuckloads of fun and that rubs off on people. Its a chain reaction, and then they love it as well.”
Dizzy: “One quote we tell people struggling to perform in front of crowds or trying to get stage presence: If you’re having fun, they’re having fun. People always comment on our stage presence and the reason is we’re having fun and loving what we’re doing.”
Nick: “Get heavily involved in your scene. How we started getting gigs was that we were running events, parties, warehouse parties. If it doesn’t exist, create it. Volunteer at festivals. Give your time for free to get into the scene and support the scene. Because in the alternative electronic music scene, people don’t make a lot of money.”
Dizzy: “The reason we got together is because I volunteered at someone else’s party where I met another DJ who invited me to another party and that was our first gig together. Then we met the right people there and it exploded.”
StomPsy: Accept failure
“Do you. And persist. You are gonna fail. You’re gonna run into walls. You’re gonna have hurdles where you play a shit set and everyone hates it. If you are playing a show with good DJs and your playing sub-par compared to them, you probably won’t want to continue. Don’t get disheartened. If you get disheartened you are going to give up.
No one is going to be the best or great or even good straight away. Just keep going. If I compare my first set to how I play now it’s ten times different.”
Tim Penner: Perfect your craft
“As an artist, it’s all on you to succeed. Nobody is going to feel bad if you don’t make it. You can tell people how much you want it, but twenty years down the track it only matters to you if you actually went and did it.
Now, let me also add that I don’t agree with DJs that just download Traktor and play track to track to track. If you’re going to use a technology use it to the best of your ability and be great with it. Nowadays everybody can be a writer, everybody can be a DJ, everybody can be a photographer, but it doesn’t mean they’re great. Learn it, learn it the right way and learn to think outside the box. Learn to strengthen and contribute to the scene.”
AVALON: Back yourself
“I think just BELIEVING in yourself. You can do anything if you really dedicate and work hard!”
DJ Tristan: Commit
“I would say to people who might be considering a career in music production not to be in any doubt that it is a tough road requiring dedication and years of work; also there is so much competition out there, so in order to succeed you have to fully commit.”
And, finally, a little advice from someone who runs a festival…
Sam Goldsmith, Esoteric Festival Co-Founder: Keep working
“Probably the best advice I can give is to keep getting gigs. Keep working. Don’t just kick back and wait for the right gig. The more gigs you play the more you get known. Networking. Keep sending through your stuff. Keep applying to everything. Make it happen. And don’t be a dickhead.”