Brown Paper Tickets uses cookies to provide the best experience on our website. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy

Cookie Settings

Breaking in: How to build your music career from the ground up

Event Tips >


It takes a village to make an artist. This message sounded again and again at a discussion with swoon-worthy industry experts at SXSW. There is no magic elevator to the top. Today’s musicians build their careers with an entire community pitching-in. Read what the experts say about building your music career and start building your village today.

Don’t expect success to happen over night. As Dez Dickerson ofPavilion Entertainment said, “Musicians think that they’ll go from obscurity to fame in one fell swoop. More like boxing. Rather than one big Mike Tyson punch, it’s more like the knock in the 12th round.” He added, “You can’t just put your music ‘out there’. You have to build awareness and differentiate.”

Even once you get your foot in the door, your work is not done.Jonathan Daniel of Crush Music Media Management shared this with us, “When you get into the business, you think you’ll get a record deal and then be huge. After four record deals, we realized that wasn’t the case. You have to work and preserve and hone your craft. The record deal cannot be the goal.”

Musicians expecting to simply sit back and expect the label or agent to do everything for them are in for a shock. Daniel said once you get a deal, “It’s roll up your sleeves and do it yourself time. Build your village—radio, TV, video and advertisers. Stay humble and you’ll have much better success. Major labels can be incredibly valuable, but they can’t be your only tool. It’s your job to get it started.”

Sara Baer of 4Fini Sponsorship & Marketing, which organizes theWarped Tour, tells us that even the big names hustle during the shows. “On down time, smart bands work the merchandise booth and find non-profits to partner with.”

Jenna Lomonaco of Glassnote Records (known for breaking Mumford and Sons), wraps up the discussion with this, “There’s a lot of pieces to an artist breaking in. Every piece of what you’re doing will make change.You need to tie everything together—interviews, television, performance, tours, blogs, digital sales and social media. Really reach out to the bloggers and let them know what’s happening and what’s going on. You need to build up all of the pieces. It’s vital that artists develop relationships with their audience. It’s the weird stuff that builds the loyalty.”

Building a career in music is a worthy and challenging goal. We support your efforts and applaud your awesome courage! We hope to be there for you ever step of the way.

Need help getting started? We’ve got a whole department dedicated to assisting you with Event Promotions. Call (800) 838-3006 (Option 5) or email for free personalized support today! We’d love to help.

Want more help and advice on pulling off successful events? Subscribeto our twice-a-month Event Success newsletter!

See more articles here.

Spread the love! Share this article.
Tweet this article | Share on Facebook