Americana Music Association

10 essential tips on how to be a successful artist

We were at the Americana Music Association UK conference to learn how new acts can enhance their chances of success.

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 2 Feb 2017
  • min read
With the music industry more populated  with music than ever before, finding success can be tricky for even the most talented of acts.

But while there are undeniably challenges facing emerging artists, there are many things they can do and behaviours they can adopt to help increase their chances of standing out from the crowd.

We were at the Americana Music Association (AMA) UK conference to hear from a bevy of industry experts on how new acts can make an impression. And while the comments were made about the Americana genre, all of them can be applied to any style of music… Tuck into them below…

Make a big enough noise and people will find you

Sid Griffin (SG), musician, author and journalist: Get your music on Spotify, on Pandora, on Pono. Get your music published. Get your physical releases bar coded. The more lines you throw into the pond with bait on, the more chance you have of catching a fish.

Get your promotional ducks in a row

Danny George Wilson (DGW), musician: While you want to get good radio plays and play great gigs, the dream is when you get a great review in MOJO, radio play and a live show all at once. You want all the different strands to come together at the same time.

Be nice to everyone. And professional.

Tamsin Austin, Summertyne Festival: When contacting promoters, you need to be patient, be polite. Keep your emails short and always include fast working links. As an event promoter, I’m often going through the bottom of my inbox late at night listening to new acts. If that link doesn’t work, then unfortunately, it’s gone.

No one can deny your live act

SG: Get your live act as good as possible and no one can take that away from you. You will build up an audience, and after a certain tipping point, you will end up on the radio. Radio is important but being great live will get you there.

Think about expanding your networks … sometimes above money

DGW: Some gigs don’t make sense financially but some do. And if you're planning a tour with lots ot dates, maybe you can book a well paid festival which you can hang the rest on. Ultimately you might lose out financially - but the people you meet, that's what’s it about. There are only a very few people getting rich out of this. But it’s these experiences that make it so real.

Paul Spencer, Maverick Festival: We helped programme music at Noshville in King’s Cross with Kerb. We found three acts interested in the exposure and they will now be at the Maverick as result. So it shows you need to be alert to assimilating with the wider business.

Get digitally minded

Fergus Denham, Redeye label: To reach a new audience, you need to work with digital service providers such as Spotify. That’s where music lovers are increasingly dwelling and this will help you tap into a new market.

Look outside the community

Doug Hall, PR: Work with other artists and initiatives outside your community. Look at things such as Celtic Connections, Record Store Day and Independent Venue Week. They’re great to get involved with.

Be prepared to work hard

FD: Ultimately it’s down to great songs and hard workers. And love for music - it’s unlikely that income is the reason that you're doing this.

When you do make money from music, put it aside

DGW: On a gig where you get paid a lot put some away and save for future shows where you’re not expecting a big crowd or a nice amount of money from it. Be careful. But that’s easier said than done. It’s taken me many years to be prudent.

Read our previous news pieces from the day on diversity in festival line ups and the power of radio.