According to estimates, the U.S. has over 9,200 employed professional musicians. Over 2 in 3 hold Bachelor's degrees, while 10% even have Master's degrees! To top it off, they earn an average of over $50,000 annually.
However, finding a career in the music industry is more than just singing or picking up an instrument. It involves education, practice, patience, marketing, and promotion.
To that end, we created this guide to help you learn how to become a musician. So read on, as what you discover here can help you lay the groundwork to become a successful musician.
1. Choose Your Instrument
Here's a mind-blowing stat: At least 1,000 types of musical instruments exist worldwide. They are then classified as percussion, wind, string, or modern electronic.
As an aspiring musician, the first step you must take is to determine which instrument/s you want to play. But of course, you can also use your voice, which is already a powerful tool. However, you may find more job opportunities if you can do both.
Percussion instruments produce sounds by striking, shaking, or scraping them. These include drums, cymbals, tambourines, bongos, and xylophones, to name a few.
Wind instruments generate sounds by blowing air into them. Harmonicas, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, and clarinets are some examples.
String instruments produce sounds by striking their strings. Guitars are among the most popular, played by an estimated 72 million folks, at least as of 2021. Other examples include cello, violin, piano, viola, banjo, ukulele, harp, and mandolin.
Modern electronic instruments are the electricity-using counterparts of traditional ones. These include electric guitars and bass guitars, keyboards, and synthesizers.
2. Train and Practice Hard
You don't need a formal education to become a musician unless you also plan to teach music.
What you need is to play and work well with others. But to play well, you must educate yourself and commit to training hard.
You have two training options: self-teaching and mentorship.
Teaching yourself can be a good option if you're only starting. You can read books and watch video tutorials about your preferred instrument. Then, apply what you learn by practicing daily for at least 30 minutes to one hour.
To maximize your training, consider teaching yourself and also getting a mentor.
Mentorship involves a qualified, experienced mentor (instructor) teaching a mentee (student). The set-up is usually a one-on-one class for a few hours each week.
One of the benefits of mentorship is that you can learn from someone with far more experience and skills. Your mentor can also tailor your education based on your current skill level. They can also correct technique flaws while improving your strengths.
3. Join or Form a Band
Playing with other musicians is one of the best ways to develop the needed skills to work well with others. Even if you want to go solo in the future, you must still be a team player as you'd still need a team behind you then.
Joining or forming a band can also help you learn from others and further develop your skills. It can even keep your ego in check, which people in the industry and fans alike. Humility can draw people to you, which can mean getting more offers to play, thus, exposing your music more.
4. Display Your Skills
Suppose you've been learning, training, and practicing for a year. Then it may be time to consider taking it to the next level and showing people what you've got.
If you have a mentor, ask for their educated opinion and whether you can already play in public. If they say yes, ask them if they want to be part of your first-ever audience.
If your mentor believes in you, they'll likely say yes. They may even support you further by asking if they can bring others.
If you're comfortable with that, then great. However, you should also ask people closest to you, like your parents, siblings, or friends, to come. Their presence and support can be enough to strengthen your confidence.
Open mics at coffee shops and bars are some of your venue options. So, go around town and ask them if you can play for a night. They may ask for a performance test, so be ready to give one.
If you're not ready for an in-person audience, you can take a video recording of yourself playing. If you're in a band, ask the other members if they're okay with it. Then, upload it online via YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook.
5. Build a Following
Suppose your first performance was such a big hit that you get invited to play again. If so, grab this chance, but offer something new each time you perform. Also, use these as opportunities to take high-quality recordings you can upload later.
Once you have enough top-notch material, consider setting up an official website. Your site should be as professional looking as you are a professional musician. You should also be active on social media to continue building your following.
However, as crucial as those tasks are, they can be complex and time-consuming. Besides, that's time you could otherwise spend creating incredible music or songs.
Consider delegating those jobs to a music promotion and marketing company instead. Examples include The Mob's Press, Indie on the Move, and Sonicbids. They provide various marketing services, from website building to social media promotion.
Once you have a pro handling your marketing, you'll have more time to hone your skills further. Train and practice more so you can keep satisfying your fans and audience. As long as you keep at it, you may not have to wait that long until you land more high-paying gigs.
That's How to Become a Musician
Now that you know how to become a musician, you can decide if this is the career path you want. If so, consider taking the first step now, and that is to pick your instrument. The sooner you do, the faster you can master it and your art, and the sooner you can get your name out there.
If you liked this article, we have more informative articles to share. For starters, check out our entertainment category for more music-related news and guides!