Do you want to “make it” as a music artist?  What’s it going to take?

Being successful in music today requires a different approach.  You now have to be in the business of being a music artist, not just merely a group of musicians playing in a band and writing cool music.  Record companies are no longer selling records – they are selling artists. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just put out great music.

Okay, before every songwriter’s blood starts to boil, I realize the music business still depends on great songs, however the focus of selling records as a primary source of a major labels revenue is gone.  “We’re not just a record company,” explains founder and head of Tommy Boy Entertainment, Tom Silverman. “Our business was always building brands.  In the past we made money just by selling records…but this is no longer the case…it’s more than music, we have to work with the artists positioning.”

So it’s not about just performing or writing music.  Today’s music artists must move beyond the scope of their music and connect with their fans in a variety of creative (and meaningful) ways.  You must define who you are as an artist in regard to your image and position yourself to cut through the noise.  Most acts lack congruency with their marketing and as a result, their message becomes confusing. When fans don’t get it, they go elsewhere.

So, what is it that you need to do?

1)      Step away from the “all I want to do is focus on my music” paradigm. Gone are the days where labels sign you solely on your demo. Donald Trump is not in the real estate business. He is in the Donald Trump business. The latter has proven to be much more successful for him. Build your brand.

2)     You must establish a connection between the artist and their music!  The majority of total album releases don’t sell.  Most albums rarely sell over 100 copies. The reason?  Narrow focus on marketing the music instead of the artist.

3)     Build and reinforce your fan connections through social media. A great way to do this is through TalentWatch’s personal video. It bridges the gap between the artist and the fan, drawing them to your music!

4)      Make your live show the best it can be.  This is where careers are made. Many musicians place emphasis on the recordings first, then the live show.  It’s the other way around.  Building a solid fan base involves live interaction.  The fans coming to your shows visit your site, to get new music.  Keep them satisified!

5)      Present to impress.  Your songs, video recordings, logos, website continuity , promo shots,  design of merchandise and even how you carry yourself on stage must be the very best.  Give both fans and potential fans anything less and you risk looking amateur.

6)      Exude confidence. As an artist, confidence is your best friend.  Your level of confidence will affect the way others view you.

7)      Hire a GOOD publicist. Yes, it is an expense, but one that can make a difference.  A decent publicist gets you reviews, interviews and potential big write-ups in major online blogs and news websites, like Huffington Post.  This leads to licensing opportunities, such as television.  Remember The Fray?  They were discovered through Denver Colorado’s Westword.  Though they scored big with their hit “(Over My Head) Cable Car,” it wasn’t until their song “How to Save a Life” was aired on an episode of the hit TV series Grays Anatomy that catapulted them into global fame.

Hugh Hession is a leading music industry expert, artist mentor and coach with over 25 years experience as a composer, performer, producer and artist manager. He develops talented, up and coming singers and transforms them into stand-out recording artists. Hugh’s website, Making it in Music ( provides strategies and resources to help music artists move their career to the next level