I can't tell you how many musicians I know that spend hours every day, obsessed with their self-promotion checklist... Facebook, check. Twitter, check. Blog, check. They ask for my advice on what all they should do. They're out there talking, but no one is listening. Because they don't have great songs. And they don't have a great show. Building a career in music can be as complex as you want it to be. I'm not saying it's easy, but there are some simple guidelines that you can use to make sure you're on the right path. If you ask me, this is one of the big ones: There are three key areas you need to grow at a similar pace; artistry, audience & promotion. Let any one of these areas get too far out ahead or lag behind the others and you're going to have a problem.
Artistry is your music. Your craft. It's your records, videos and live show. If you aren't a musician, it's your painting, photos, films or other product or service. Audience is the fans. You have to grow that audience both in numbers of people and in their passion and excitement for you and your music. And the last, promotion, is everything you're doing to get the word out. That would be Facebook, Twitter, blogging, contests, radio appearances, contests, emails, etc.
If you don't spend enough time and energy on your artistry, there won't be an audience. Go that route and all the promotion in the world won't help (in fact, it could kill your career – but that's another post). Of course, the best music in the world won't matter if you don't get out there and tell people about it. But too much promotion to too small an audience and you look like a marketing machine, not an artist. Fail to connect with your audience and you're just talking to yourself. All that time spent on artistry and promotion is wasted.
So, what it comes down to is this: Balance your efforts, your time and your money. Make great music – in the studio and on stage. Then get out there and tell people about it. But be realistic about how much you can do and how much people actually want to hear from you. Listen to your audience. See what gets them going. And as your audience grows, make sure you have plenty of great music and great stories to keep them engaged.
Balance. In your career – just as in life – it isn't the most exciting answer, but it's almost always the right one.