Business News

Tips: Money making tips for pop beginners

By | Published on Tuesday 19 February 2013

This Must Be Pop

A&R scout, music industry consultant and gig promoter Jessica Pinkett also writes pop music blog This Must Be Pop, and through the site has just published her first ebook, ‘How To Make It In Pop: Ten Steps To Pop Stardom’.

Aimed at any aspiring pop star, it covers all the basics, from finding your niche and securing early gigs, to building an online fanbase and ultimately signing a record contract. Both Jessica and other industry insiders offer tips in the book.

But for those aspiring pop singers at the very start of their careers, with rent to pay and food to buy, what options are out there that might generate some cash without straying too far from the world of music? Based on a section of her book, Pinkett has some beginners guide tips…

As a blogger, promoter, A&R scout and a big pop fan, I’ve seen many acts come and go over the years. It’s easy to guess which ones are going to make it, not just because of their natural talent and star quality, but also because someone involved clearly knows how to launch a pop act.

Of course there are many different ways to achieve success in pop, and the right one for each artist depends on their genre and target audience. There are some great opportunities for singers and musicians to apply for auditions and be whisked away into a development process, but ‘How To Make It In Pop’ is for those who want to take their career into their own hands.

But pop stardom doesn’t happen overnight, so you need to consider how you’re going to make enough money to live on until things take off. Most aspiring musicians have full or part time jobs unrelated to music, but there are also ways to use your talent to make money and gain useful experience at the same time.

Private gigs: If you love performing live and don’t mind singing covers, you could get work performing at functions such as weddings and birthday parties. It might not sound too cool, but often these events are held by wealthy people so there’s a lot of money to be made if you get a reputation for being a good entertainer. You’ll also learn how to tailor your act to different crowds and win over audiences who’ve never heard of you.

Session work: Whether your talents lie in singing or playing an instrument, you can use them to earn money and make useful contacts as a session musician. This involves recording vocals or playing instruments for demos in a recording studio. Make a good impression and the producer you’re working with might even offer to record some of your own original material. Another similar line of work is as a backing singer or backing musician, where you could get the opportunity to go on tour or perform on TV – great experience for anyone interested in music as a career.

Songwriting: Many popular artists, such as Bruno Mars and Jessie J, wrote hits for other singers before they got their own big break. If you’re a good songwriter, send your songs to producers as an example of your work. Talented topliners are in short supply, so next time they’re looking for someone to join a writing session with a new act it could be you they call. You may find that the songs you write don’t get released, but all it takes is one ‘Party In The USA’ to get the whole music industry interested.

Sync: One way to make money and get exposure for your music is to licence it for use in TV shows, video games, adverts or films. This is known as sync, short for synchronisation. If you sign a deal with a music publisher in relation to your songs, your publisher will managed the sync rights for your music and will pitch your songs to music supervisors. But even without a publisher you can still sign up with a sync agency – there are several based in London including A&G, The Sync Agency and Sync Inc.

Industry Roles: If you can’t imagine doing a job unrelated to music, how about working in the music industry? Look for junior roles at record labels, booking agents or other music firms. You could pick up a lot of information useful to furthering your career as an artist. Understanding the music industry will vastly improve your chances of success, and you’ll make some great contacts at the same time.

You can buy ‘How To Make It In Pop’ from Amazon here. The This Must Be Pop blog – with features on upcoming popstars and TMBP-related events – is here, and you can find Jessica on Twitter here.