How to make your music matter in 2014

Are you a new songwriter or composer looking to stand out and make your music matter? We were at the BPI’s Big Music Project to find out how…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 30 Oct 2014
  • min read
With the advent of ever faster, futuristic technology, the music industry can look like an intimidating place for a new songwriter or composer.

When starting from scratch, the web can offer an infinite number of possibilities and entry points when it comes to making your music, getting it recorded and, more importantly, getting it heard.

At the recent BPI Big Music Project event, a panel of industry experts sat down and discussed some of the key things emerging artists need to remember when setting out on their voyage of musical discovery. BPI chairman Tony Wandsworth (TW), Natalie Wade (NW) from Small Green Shoots, Jez Bell (JB) from streaming service Rara and YouTube’s Matias Llort Lorenz (MLL) were on hand to offer their top tips...

Technology has changed - use it wisely

TW - In the last 20 years there’s been a massive change in the business. Access to technology is such that before you even sign to a record label, you can have a clear idea of how to record music and what you want to sound like. 20 years ago you would have had to go into a studio to do the same thing.

You are a brand

NW - It’s not good enough to make music anymore. If you want to make money from your music, you need to be your own brand. Ed Sheeran got signed but already had an audience. He already had the following. Money in the industry has dipped and development. It’s all in your hands.

It’s easier than ever to get your music out there

JB - The cost of music production has been democratised. Pressing CDs and shipping used to be expensive but that’s now gone away. The critical change – it’s become much easier to be a record company. Anyone can do it but being noticed, building an audience is the challenge.

Sign up with Performing Rights Organisations asap

JB - Remember people get paid for plays on streaming services. So it’s very important that artists and composer engage with collecting societies at early stages in their careers. Look into becoming members of PRS for Music and PPL.

Record labels can help

TW - Just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean you have to work like this forever. This digital revolution has meant labels have got very good at social marketing and bringing your music to the consumer. They’ve had to raise their game. When you make a deal with a label, you’re plugging yourself into a network of people with expertise. All of a sudden your potential has gone up.

The industry is in the hands of the geeks

NW- You need to look at your digital platform. The geeky computer guy sitting in the corner is now front of house. They are running things now. My online platform is your shop window and you need to make it look great.

Do your research

JB - The piece of advice I’d give everyone is there are a huge number of resources out there. You need to look at each music service and understand the various options creating channels. They are easy to find. The people who are successful are the ones who put the hours researching those channels. You need to keep abreast of the new platforms.

YouTube channel advice

MLL - The most important thing is frequency across your channel. It’s not enough to upload one video. You need to create engaging content and be consistent in how your present yourself.

Once they see it, you need to keep that consumer and show off all the elements of your talent. Once you get that view, you need to capitalise on that and get people to subscribe.

JB – In a digital world critically important for you to get right is that all your meta data and track information is correct. The way that payment works is information. The people who are successful are the ones who get the boring bits right as much as the exciting bits. It’s a data driven business as much as anything.

Playing live can help you stand out

N - Get out there and play live. Hone your performance skills. You want people to subscribe in real life by continuing to come to your gigs. Play to a live audience and create a buzz for yourself. Every A&R guy wants to make a discovery so give them that opportunity.

Research other marketing campaigns which have caught your eye

J - Look at things that have worked such as marketing campaigns and exercises which have enagaged you and got your attention. Think if you could replicate that with a different flavour.

Click here to listen to a recent playlist compiled for us by Natalie from Green Shoots. Read our previous advice from the event discussing how to make the most of selling yourself on social media.