Essential Skills for a New Artist: What I Wish I Knew
As a new artist breaking into the music industry, talent and passion are vital. However, beyond the music itself, several key skills can significantly enhance your career trajectory. In retrospect, I wish I had known and developed these skills earlier in my journey. Today, I'm sharing this wisdom with you, so you can equip yourself with the essential skills for a successful music career. 

1. Songwriting

Songwriting forms the backbone of any musician's career. Even if you predominantly perform cover songs or pieces written by others, a deep understanding of songwriting can enhance your artistic range. When you comprehend the craft of creating a song – the weaving of melody, harmony, and lyrics – you'll naturally have a better understanding of the songs you perform. This knowledge helps you interpret the song's essence more accurately, and deliver it in a way that resonates with your audience. Furthermore, it aids in appreciating the emotional narrative behind the lyrics, allowing you to connect more deeply with the music and express it more convincingly. Regardless of your musical aspirations, developing your songwriting skills can profoundly enrich your artistic expression and delivery.


Practice is key to improving your songwriting. Write as often as possible, experiment with different styles and structures, and don't be afraid to rewrite and revise. Reading books, taking songwriting workshops, and studying the work of successful songwriters can also be incredibly helpful.

2. Instrument Proficiency

While mastering an instrument isn't a prerequisite for becoming a successful musician, it undeniably opens up a world of creative possibilities. When you're able to play an instrument, you have a more profound connection with the core components of your music—melody, harmony, rhythm. You can experiment, craft, and tweak these elements in real-time, thereby having greater control over your compositions. This skill also broadens your musical palette, allowing you to express your creativity in multifaceted ways. You can explore different genres, create unique sounds, and infuse your individuality into your music. So, even though it's not a necessity, the ability to play an instrument could be a game-changer in your artistic journey, transforming you from a performer to a comprehensive musician.


Again, practice is crucial. Regular, focused practice will help you improve your proficiency over time. Consider taking lessons from a professional, either in-person or online, to ensure you're learning proper technique.

3. Vocal Technique

Regardless of your genre or style, a good vocal technique is fundamental to your success as an artist. Think of your voice as an instrument - it needs to be maintained and played correctly to deliver the best performance. Proper vocal technique focuses on breathing, pitch control, tone production, and articulation, helping you to sing more effectively and consistently. More importantly, it promotes vocal health, preventing strain and potential damage that can occur from misuse. It enables you to expand your vocal range, adding versatility to your performance. Additionally, mastering good vocal technique can bring out the unique qualities of your voice, enhancing your overall performance and setting you apart in the industry. Therefore, investing time in refining your vocal technique can bring long-term benefits to your music career.


Working with a vocal coach can be invaluable in improving your vocal technique. A coach can provide personalized feedback and exercises to strengthen your voice. Remember, vocal health is crucial, so learn proper techniques to avoid strain or damage.

4. Stage Presence

Commanding the stage goes beyond merely executing a rehearsed performance. It's an art in itself - the art of connecting, engaging, and making your audience feel. It's about taking them on a journey, where they're not just passive listeners but active participants in the experience. This connection isn't born out of extravagant theatrics or a flawless performance; it emerges from authenticity, passion, and the willingness to share a piece of yourself with the audience. When you cultivate this ability, every performance becomes a unique conversation between you and your audience. It's not just about them remembering your songs; it's about them remembering the experience, the emotion, and the story that you shared. This deeper, emotional connection is what turns casual listeners into loyal fans and makes your performances truly unforgettable.


Stage presence is about authenticity and connection. Watch performances by artists you admire and note what engages you. Experiment with different ways of interacting with your audience. Practicing in front of a mirror, recording your performance, or performing in front of friends can provide valuable feedback.

5. Networking

In the dynamic landscape of the music industry, your network can often be your most powerful asset. Much like in other sectors, the adage "it's not what you know, it's who you know" holds significant weight. Forming genuine relationships within the industry can pave the way to invaluable opportunities, ranging from collaborations to performance gigs, and even record deals. A well-connected artist has access to resources, knowledge, and platforms that might otherwise remain out of reach. Networking isn't merely a transactional process, but rather it's about fostering mutually beneficial relationships over time. This can be achieved by attending industry events, engaging on professional platforms, and offering support to others when you can. As you build your network, you're essentially opening doors to a multitude of opportunities that can propel your music career forward.


Networking is about building relationships. Attend industry events, be active on social media, collaborate with other musicians, and don't be afraid to introduce yourself to industry professionals. Remember, networking is a two-way street. Find ways to support others in your network as well.

6. Digital Marketing

In today's digital age, mastering online promotion is crucial for any new artist. Effective utilization of social media platforms, for instance, allows you to engage directly with your audience, create a community, and announce new music or concerts. Being consistent with posts and interactions can increase your visibility and help grow your fan base. Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is equally important; it's how you ensure your music is discoverable on platforms like Google or YouTube. Properly used keywords, meta descriptions, and backlinks can significantly increase the reach of your music. Lastly, leveraging online advertising tools, such as Google AdWords or Facebook Ads, can help target your music to specific demographics, boosting your exposure to potential fans. Each of these components is a vital piece of the digital puzzle for promoting your music and growing your audience.


There are many resources available online to learn digital marketing. Start by understanding the basics of social media marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and email marketing. Consider taking online courses or attending webinars. Always keep your audience in mind when creating marketing strategies.

7. Business Acumen

Grasping the business side of the music industry is critical for any artist seeking to transform their passion into a profitable venture. It's not just about making great music - it's also about knowing how to protect and profit from your work. Understanding contracts, for instance, can ensure you're not inadvertently signing away your rights or underpricing your talent. Knowing how to effectively monetize your music can open up multiple revenue streams, from streaming royalties to licensing fees. Plus, understanding copyright laws and intellectual property rights can shield you from exploitation and ensure you're adequately rewarded for your creativity. In essence, business acumen in the music industry equips you with the knowledge to navigate the landscape confidently, making informed decisions that safeguard your interests and boost your income.


Understanding the music business can be complex, but there are plenty of resources out there. Read books about the music industry, attend industry conferences, or take courses on music business, like our AYV COURSE. You might also consider finding a mentor in the industry to guide you.

8. Audio Production

Understanding the basics of audio production can significantly impact your ability to create the sound you envision for your music. This knowledge allows you to communicate effectively with producers and engineers, giving you a language to articulate your ideas and preferences clearly. Instead of relying solely on subjective descriptions, you can use industry-specific terminologies and concepts, ensuring that your team understands your vision. Furthermore, a grasp on audio production lets you take part in technical discussions about mixing, mastering, and sound design. This active participation empowers you to steer the production process, resulting in a final product that truly represents your artistic vision.


While you don't need to become a full-fledged producer, a basic understanding can be beneficial. There are many online resources where you can learn about recording techniques, mixing basics, and music software. Working closely with a producer can also provide hands-on learning.

9. Resilience

The music industry, much like any creative field, is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. It's characterized by soaring triumphs and steep challenges, including facing rejection, handling criticism, and enduring periods of uncertainty. Rejection may come from record labels, criticism from fans or peers, and uncertainty can be a constant companion. This is where resilience becomes an artist's secret weapon. Building resilience allows you to weather these storms and come out stronger. It enables you to view rejection not as a personal failure, but as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Criticism becomes a tool for sharpening your artistry, and periods of uncertainty turn into fertile ground for creativity and innovation. Nurturing resilience can transform your perspective, turning challenges into stepping stones towards success in your music career.


Resilience is often developed through experience. However, maintaining a positive mindset, setting realistic expectations, and taking care of your mental health can help. Don't be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. 

10. Adaptability

The music industry, like most other fields, is dynamic and always in a state of flux. New technologies, changing consumer behavior, and evolving distribution platforms continuously shape and reshape the musical landscape. Being adaptable in this context means having an open mind to the endless possibilities that the future holds. It involves a willingness to learn, experiment, and embrace new trends, techniques, and technologies that could potentially enhance your music and how you deliver it to your audience. Whether it's harnessing the power of social media, creating engaging music videos, exploring new genres, or using emerging platforms for music distribution, adaptability ensures that you continue to resonate with your audience and stay relevant amidst the industry's constant evolution. This capacity to adapt will not only ensure your survival in the music industry but can also offer exciting avenues for creative growth and innovation.


Keep up with the latest trends and changes in the music industry. Read industry news, follow influential people in the industry, and be open to new ideas and technologies. 

In closing, remember that these skills are meant to support and enhance your musical talent and passion, not replace them. As you continue to grow as an artist, these skills will become more refined and integrated into your music career. Remember, becoming successful in the music industry is a journey, not a destination. 

If you're looking for more guidance on how to navigate the music industry, consider enrolling in my comprehensive music course. I've designed this course with the aim to help new artists avoid common pitfalls, gain exposure, and build a sustainable income. 

Keep honing your craft, stay persistent, and remember to enjoy the journey. After all, the passion for music is what brought you here. Let it be the driving force as you navigate your path in the music industry.


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