5 tips on how to excel in the Music Industry by David Ward

Succeeding in the music industry depends on attitude and communication skills.

David Ward is a singer, entertainer, comedian and promoter. A former award-winning Jazz and Folk singer, David was the founder of Gateway Recording Studios and the Gateway School of Music Technology and Music Business. He was the Education Director of the Association of Recording Studios and is the Founder of JAMES, the Joint Audio Media Education Support. With Richard Llewellyn, they founded Technology in Music Education in 2018, a community interest company, founded to raise the awareness of Music Technology in all its aspects. David has deep experience developing course content for music and sound programs, assessing and accrediting programs and forging partnerships across industry and education. 

In September, David coordinated a rigorous onboarding program for students and faculty alike, including industry outreach events, master classes for alumni and current students, and intensive training of trainers workshops.

Here are the 5 things you should know:

1. Music theory

Writing music is about understanding the essence of the message you intend to pass; what emotion do you want to evoke from your listeners? There has been a debate around analog vs digital software. Here is a table to simulate the differences:

Digital Analog
It is convenient; everything you need is in one placePhysical contact with the equipment is better psychologically

Each has its own strengths and weaknesses therefore, it depends on the user experience. However, many producers prefer working with analog consoles that have a digital output. Alternatively, there are software packages that simulate analog tape such as Magix.

2. Communication skills

In the music industry, one way to thrive is through your networks which makes your ability to communicate an important skill. Even subtle tendencies such as smiling, go a long way; how well you work with others will determine your repeat customers and word of mouth marketing which results in goodwill.

David (left) with Allan Niongira (right) founder of Portable Voices, a company that showcases pan- African voices in the form of podcasts and other audio content.

3. Business skills

When asked what advice would you give to your younger self?” David indicated that he would give advice on how to take care of the business. It has become easier for artists to market their own work on different platforms such as YouTube, therefore, knowing how to create a spreadsheet or an invoice will come in handy. Moreover, self-marketing is vital because, beyond your music, you can become a brand on your own thereby accessing different platforms such as a brand ambassador, sponsorship, etc.

4. Stress management

The industry demands take a toll on you; with the long hours and live performances, thus, it is not unusual for an artist to be stressed. Therefore, one needs to find a way to take the pressure off and there are various ways to do this for instance;

  • Prioritizing tasks; you can’t do everything at once.
  • Exercise; get your blood circulating.
  • Most importantly, have fun! Absorb each moment as it comes.

5. Rights

It is said that knowledge is power, consequently, as an artist or a professional in the music industry, you must be aware of your own rights. There are advantages and disadvantages of signing with a record company; the advantage includes regular income while the disadvantage is that you give the record company ownership of your music.

David Ward during a Masterclass with our alumni

In this day and age, one does not have to be signed under a record company to make money; the internet has made everything much easier. Nevertheless, the decision lies with the artist.

If you wish to start a career in the music industry, learn more about our Diploma in Music Production by clicking the button below.

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