7 things every self-starter musician should know

(Photo by James Stamler)

(Photo by James Stamler)

Music is an expensive endeavour, so it’s important to know when to spend and when to cut back. 

When it comes to making a decision between musical gizmos, William Broad from Steve’s Music Store says, “The less expensive it is, the less forgiving it can be. I recommend buying the expensive one.” But not everyone can afford the best equipment on the market and that’s why it’s important to know where to spend and where to save. An aspiring musician’s wallet needs all the help it can get. That’s why ALTo has made it easier for self-starting musicians to learn straight from the source. Here are 7 ways to keep you and your wallet happy. 

1. Invest in a great computer 

Apple computers such as IMacs are designed for professionals and beginners. It’s best to go with a computer that has a large storage capacity and a fast processor. Apple also has great applications like Garage Band that allow you to compose music without overwhelming you. Broad recommends Apple’s Logic Pro X for music production. Another recommendation is the recording software called Cube Base. Broad suggests that you “upgrade to the full version as it gives you more options.” 

2. Record songs using a proper microphone 

Quality matters, but it can come with an expensive price tag. You should look for a microphone that has great sound clarity. Your voice should sound crisp. Forget all the fancy equipment that you see in the music industry and focus on investing in a great microphone. “We purchased things we found out later we didn’t need to...like a GoPro camera. We just thought it was a higher-end camera, but it’s more for when you need an action shot,” explains Tamara Sanchez, a mother of a young independent musician. You shouldn’t bother investing your money in any of that until you become more advanced. When purchasing your equipment, be sure to test it out. “You might strike out with your first buy. Be sure to listen to your voice and how it sounds in the mic... some good mic brands are Audio-Technica, Akg and Rode,” says Broad.

3. Use free resources in the city 

You’d be surprised all the places that are available to you cost-free. Sometimes, it’s just about doing your research. There are free music teaching events such as HoneyJam, a workshop for females about the music industry. Mia Sanchez, a female musician in Toronto, is among the many women who found this to be very helpful. “It helped me so much to and out a lot about the industry and ways in. It’s just really great and then we perform this big concert at the end.” She was one of the 10 artists that had been selected to play at the concert held at the end of August 2017. There are places in the city like studios that normally are expensive to rent, but some are free to the public. Tamara, Mia’s mother, suggests visiting the Fort York Library in downtown Toronto, saying that it “has a couple of studios and a green screen to make videos.” 

4. Learn to play an instrument 

It’s so important to learn anything from a keyboard to a guitar. It doesn’t have to be the coolest or latest of models — something simple will do. Not only will this add more to your songs, but it might even inspire you to write songs. “I taught myself piano and created simple songs out of that. Over the summer, I learned guitar and it’s the
best thing I’ve ever done,” says Mia. It may require a lot of practice every day, but it’s definitely a game-changer for many songwriters. If learning on your own is too di cult for you, get some lessons. “It’s so much easier and I’ve written so many more songs and it’s a different vibe with different instruments,” says Mia. 

5. Collaborate with other musicians 

People love to talk. Helping other musicians can help put your name out there. “I support other local artists and share their music. It’s kind of like a big family of artists that try to make it out together,” says Mia. The more you mingle with those in the profession, the more you’ll see that everyone’s there for the same reason as you — to get their voice heard. You can work together and learn from each other. “I learned a lot working with these ladies and also like collaborations. We’ll feature each other on each other’s channels,” explains Mia. 

6. Don’t sign contracts immediately 

An image is necessary. But how you want to represent yourself to the world is most important. While some productions may not insist on changing your image, it’s important to know what you’re signing on to. At the end of the day, you know your image best. You know what your music means to you and how you want it to sound to others. It may cost you some money to get your first single recorded, but you’ll have full control over your vision. “I’m an independent artist. I don’t have any contracts and there’s all the freedom there,” says Mia. 

7. Be patient, be persistent 

Don’t give up. You have to understand that you’re working towards something much greater than instant fame. It’s about sharing your talent and growing as a person while doing it. And that means having some high and low points on your musical journey. It’s important to acknowledge that it may take years before a music producer who is willing to take you to the top discovers you. “I mainly get people from the neighbourhood — oh, you’re the one that sings,” explains Mia. That shouldn’t stop you from playing at local bars, events, busking and sharing your talent. “It’s still a lot of work, but I nd everything exciting,” says Mia. Hard work is necessary in everything that one dreams to do, so why not give it your best shot? It may not be some- thing that pays your bills, but it’s important to keep your music alive in a world lled with aspiring musicians. You owe it to yourself to see this the whole way through. Learn to “develop your own style and don’t forget to be yourself. You do this by learning stu you like and adding your personal touch,” advises Broad.

When you’re a self-starter musician, you’re working from the ground up. So the idea of doing things independently is both an exciting and daunting undertaking. But becoming a self-starter mu- sician means that you work with what you have. You’d be surprised about just how much you can do on your own that doesn’t need a professional’s help. Sure they’re experts, but a little research about the music industry and how other self-starters have gone into the business, can really help you. However, it doesn’t mean that you go along with your musical dreams with absolutely no help. Rather, it’s important for you to be self-reliant so that you alone can come up with the image and the sound that is best for you! Whether that means doing it on a budget, being resourceful or letting your deter- mination be your guide.