Essential Tips on How to be a Successful Musician

You have a radio-worth voice, excellent writing skills, and can play a few instruments like a pro. That’s talent, and it’s fantastic. However, like all fields, finding success in the music industry is not an overnight affair. Sure, you could go viral with a few lucky clicks, but even then, it would still take a few more hits to transition you to the top.

So, how do you become a successful musician in a world filled with aspiring artists? You must invest your time and effort, build tenacity and patience, and accept criticism and some failures. Here are ten must-do tips on how to be a successful musician.

Contact Publications


The music industry has an intricate ecosystem that involves a lot of input from different people. Among them are music publishers. They are the people who promote and commercialize your work and collect your royalties.

In today’s music scene, knowing how to be a successful musician often hinges on your ability to leverage publications. As much as you want to remain independent, you also want to make money. Promoting your music and selling it to potential users via publishers is the only way. You can’t do that if you don’t have the connections and the resources to have your creative work in radio and television studios.

Music publications have hundreds of connections with producers, music video directors, and other artists. You can benefit from their network by collaborating on various projects that propel your work to a larger audience. They also have relations with magazine printers, website owners, and even merchandising companies that can help you sell your brand.

The point is to contact reputable publications that can help expand your reach. You can tap into their vast resources to effectively promote your music. You might gain recognition and become a household name with time and consistency.

Play at Music Festivals

Playing at music festivals is a pivotal strategy for any artist wondering how to be a successful musician. As an entertainer, fan engagement is crucial for your career. It makes you relatable to your audience and is the only way to create a solid fan base to buy your creative work and merchandise. Besides, it is one of the biggest income-generating avenues for most artists. According to Statista, the market has an estimated value of US$16.98bn in 2024.

Music festivals are incredible stepping stones to building and enhancing your live performance skills. They help you fight stage fright and improve your entertainment abilities while enhancing your self-esteem. These festivals don’t have to be big ones, paying you millions. Chances are, nobody knows you at first, and you must take the small gigs within your community. Then, build a name and a brand from there, and hopefully, someday, you will go on world tours and open up for major acts.

You could even organize small community live shows and put up amazing performances. From this, you will get bookings to the more prominent festivals, and the cycle continues. As your brand grows, and you become more recognized, you can reach out to country-wide music festivals where you could play alongside big names. Ensure your live gigs have everything, including porta potty, drinks, snacks, and enough security.

Have Stylish Photographs

In your quest to understand how to be a successful musician, never underestimate the power of visual appeal. To you as an upcoming artist, stylish photographs are not just about vanity. They’re a critical part of your branding and marketing strategy.

As much as they are relatively expensive, you shouldn’t ignore them. Firstly, they indicate seriousness and dedication to your craft and will significantly increase your stage value. Secondly, in an age dominated by social media, your image speaks volumes even before your music hits the ears of your listeners. Professional, eye-catching photos create this larger-than-life character that your audience admires.

Stylish photography also captures your concept in visual form. For instance, with simple local family photos, you can translate the emotion behind your music and give listeners a taste of what to expect. You can use them across various platforms, from album covers and posters to social profiles and websites, and create a cohesive and attractive brand. That’s how the likes of the stunning black and white headshot of Adele’s 21 become the symbol of Adele’s music.

Besides attracting a fan base, professional photographers can attract industry insiders. They are who-is-who in the music industry who can take notice and offer endorsement deals that further propel your career. The good thing is that photography is not that expensive. According to Expert Photography, it can cost anywhere from $100 to $300 per hour.

Steer Clear of Shady People

Navigating the human element is crucial in figuring out how to be a successful musician. Like any other realm of entertainment, the music industry is not without its share of shady characters. They are the people who destroy promising talents even before they blossom.

Shady characters range from managers with dishonest motives to promoters who fail to deliver on their promises. With an industry worth $28.6 billion, according to Billboards, you can expect to meet unscrupulous characters waiting to take a piece of these earnings. You will meet many of them as you rise, usually great talkers, but steer clear as soon as you discover their fraudulent ways.

It is no secret that a good number of artists and celebrities have gone to prison due to their association with such characters. While you may not end up in jail, you may end up paying a huge bail bond before proving your innocence. Simply avoid them.

Surround yourself with trustworthy individuals who respect your art and career aspirations. Genuine professionals who understand your vision and have your best interests at heart will be the pillars of your success. Such people will guide you through the industry’s complexities with integrity and help protect your creative output. Remember, an ethical team is an asset.

Find a Great Tour Vehicle

How to be a successful musician also depends on how you move around. A good tour vehicle is necessary since you will be in various bookings around cities. Even if you have a car, it won’t be ideal for this workspace. A big truck or a bus would be great.

Your tour vehicle is more than just transportation. It is where you relax between gigs and will significantly impact your tour experience. It’s also where you carry your musical equipment and band members if you have any. A dependable vehicle ensures you arrive at performances on time and build a professional reputation.

Choosing the right vehicle hinges on several factors. Ensure you consider the size of your band and the equipment you have. As a starter, you do not need to buy one. You can rent a party bus or party movers. Vans are popular among emerging artists due to their balance between space and affordability. However, a tour bus might be a more comfortable and efficient option for longer tours or larger bands, though it comes with higher costs.

Be Careful With Your Money

It goes without saying that how to be a successful musician relies heavily on how you spend your money. Do not be tempted to live like your millionaire music idols. The glitz and glamour associated with rock star life is a mirage. Even they aren’t as extravagant as you would think.

While the music industry rakes in billions, it takes time to cash in the big cheques as an upcoming artist. According to a study posted on Research Gate, only 28% of musicians earn over $330,000 per year. That means music isn’t a get-rich-quick business, and you must live within your means.

Be disciplined when managing the money you earn from live performances and merchandise sales. Utilize wisely even the little meaning you get from streaming sites such as YouTube or Spotify. Make a budget and stick to it, irrespective of the sudden cash inflow. Prioritize what’s essential, invest in new equipment, pay your band members first, and then spend on yourself last. While you might take loans occasionally, avoid expensive ones like a pay day loan or an advance cheque from your record label.

Even if you are lucky to have your debut album hitting platinum status before you ever step on stage, remember that the music industry is unpredictable. You might have sold out concerts today; two years later, you are a struggling musician. Invest and save for the future.

Stay in Good Health

Part of how to be a successful musician is staying healthy. Like every other occupation, the music career has some health hazards. Late nights, traveling, and hectic schedules can affect your physical and mental well-being. According to the National Institute of Health, musicians can suffer from diseases like skin disorders and hearing impairment.

The constant exposure to loud music can cause hearing loss as you age. You can mitigate such issues by investing in earplugs and wearing them during performances and studio sessions. In case you have cardiovascular problems, ensure you go for cardiopulmonary rehab sessions.

The rigorous nature of the music industry can affect your mental health. Identify healthy ways to cope with anxiety and stress. It’s easy to neglect your health in pursuit of success, but it is essential to remember that you are only as good as your body allows you to be. Take care of yourself by getting enough rest, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and taking breaks when necessary.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

As you learn how to be a successful musician, it is vital to understand the importance of protecting your intellectual property. Your music is your creation, and you should safeguard it from theft. According to Bill Boards, the USA is the third largest market for music piracy.

That means lost revenues for hardworking musicians. If you have no copyright for your music, piracy websites will likely try to cash in your music. Even with certifications from performing organizations, you might still be prone to copyright infringement lawsuits if you do not have proper documentation.

Always register your songs and albums with the relevant authorities to protect your intellectual property. Talk to a lawyer before releasing your songs, and let them help you with the legal paperwork. You can also use digital distribution platforms that have anti-piracy measures in place. Such platforms help monitor and remove unauthorized uploads of your music on various streaming and download sites.

Create Social Connections With Musicians

Networking with other artists is another step in how to be a successful musician. The industry has various talents, and each has an audience or niche. Building connections with them can open collaborations, bookings, and ticket sales opportunities.

Collaborations with different musicians help you expand your fan base and learn new music techniques and styles. Your fellow musicians can offer valuable insights on trends that can help you gain valuable perspective. Additionally, good industry connections will build a reputation for you.

If you do it right and luck is on your side, you and your art can be the center of attention like a gas fire pit. Everyone and everything will revolve around you. Such celebrity status comes with big cheques and better-performing events.

So, how do you network with fellow artists? Start by attending concerts, open mic shows, or music conferences. Also, join forums and social groups for musicians. Remember, networking is a two-way street, so ensure you, too, can offer support and opportunities to your connections.

Spend Time Practicing

Practice makes perfect. You have probably heard this saying a million times, and now it sounds like a cliche. However, it cannot be overemphasized if you want to learn how to be a successful musician. In the words of renowned musician Ed Sheeran, ‘Run the tap ’til the dirty water runs clean!’.

Musical skills are like your fireplace, which needs fueling now and then. You must continue practicing if you want to be a major industry headliner. You have to hone your skills and learn new ones constantly.

Spend as much time as you can rehearsing and perfecting your skills. It may mean sacrificing social events or leisure time, but the rewards will be worth it. While you may not know how good you are, your fans can. They can even distinguish between a well-rehearsed performance and an impromptu one. Even how well you write your lyrics depends on how well you practice.

There is no shortcut to this: practice, practice, and more practice. With time, patience, and dedication to your craft, the difference will be visible in the number. You will have more streams, higher views, and a better bank balance.

Becoming a successful musician requires more than just talent and luck. It takes hard work, dedication, and a good strategy. At first, it might seem like a hard nut to crack, but with time, you will have the skills to piece everything together. If your heart and mind are in the right place, you can go places your guitar can only dream about. And even when success comes your way, remember to be humble and stay true to your career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *