The electronic music sector is not only a highly competitive industry - with a current industry value of $6 billion - but also an environment often exposing musicians to numerous negative influences. These may include unstable sleeping patterns, high consumption of alcohol, a great level of stress, lack of rest, and much more. Such conditions can make it especially difficult for electronic music artists to succeed at their craft.
Are you struggling yourself? In this article, we’ll show you some key survival tips for electronic music artists to follow their path and make a successful career in the electronic music industry.
1. Never stop working on improving your electronic music skills
Just like any other skill, your electronic music skills also need to be continuously developed, as that’s the only way to improve them. Generally speaking, thriving to always be better at your craft is extremely important for your career, allowing you to evolve, both professionally and artistically, and stand out among your competitors.
Know well your digital audio workstation (DAW)
A crucial step in improving your skills is to choose and, more importantly, know your digital audio workstation (DAW) - the electronic device or software application that you will use to record, edit, and produce your audio records.
Objectively, there is no ‘best’ DAW on the market. All available quality DAWs present more or less a similar set of key functions that can guarantee an outcome in a form of great music. However, they may differ in terms of additional and specialized features, sources available for learning, and, naturally, the price. Your choice should therefore come down to your preferences and what simply works best for you.
The easiest way to discover this is to simply select a DAW and start working with it (that's what the DAWS with free trials are specifically good for). If you need help choosing a DAW, you can check out the article about the four digital audio workstations we would recommend. You can also ask for tips and suggestions from your friends in music and other electronic artists.
Generally, it shouldn’t take longer than a day to pick your DAW. However, whatever you choose, remember that you can always switch to a different DAW in case you need to.
Your top priority after downloading or purchasing your DAW should be learning how to use it - not starting to make music right away. Learning how to operate your audio workstation will prevent you from getting overwhelmed and, consequently, stuck in the process. Additionally, knowing (almost) all features that the software encompasses will allow you to expand your overall skills as well as identify your strong points.
Naturally, it’s impossible to become a master in everything - for that, the field of electronic music production is way too broad. Nevertheless, trying out various features and developing different skill sets may help you (re)discover your strengths, go deeper into the topics, and, eventually, advance.
Ableton Live's key features
Create a sustainable working routine for your electronic music
Improving your skills and progressing in your electronic music career may be considerably difficult without a functional and sustainable working routine, particularly when having multiple jobs, a family, or other day-to-day responsibilities.
An effective working schedule is more likely to ensure that you will truly commit to your craft regularly and, this way, help you stay on track. Moreover, organizing your daily tasks can help you better manage your overall time and, subsequently, mitigate or at least lower your stress levels, anxiety, or feelings of being overwhelmed.
If you’re not used to working according to such a schedule, it’s important to take it easy at the beginning. Rank your tasks and responsibilities based on their importance and start by scheduling your top priority ones first. You can then schedule your other tasks around them. Breaking big projects into a number of small tasks may come as helpful, too!
There are plenty of apps available on the internet that can help you organize your workload and schedule your tasks. For example, Todoist is a task-planner app that you can use both on your computer and your phone. The basic version is free and you can also upgrade to a paid version to gain access to more features and benefits.
What’s also important when creating your schedule is knowing how you work. Everyone’s mind is different which means that every individual may request different working conditions to ensure the best results possible. Learning which conditions you need is therefore key.
Try making music in different situations and brain states - in the morning or at night, right when you wake up, after your workout or when you’re tired and sleepy. This way, you can compare your results and know what to expect from you and your work under different circumstances.
2. Be consistent and patient
Something that goes hand in hand with creating a good schedule is consistency, backed up by a great amount of patience. It’s an amazing thing to have a passion for electronic music and be motivated to create and produce one track after another. However, the truth to be told, motivation may not be your best friend and is likely to leave you from time to time - particularly, when you encounter creative problems (speaking of bad friends, inspiration may be one, too).
Creative blocks are something that each musician will experience during their career, and most probably more than once. Mainly in these situations, it’s essential to remain consistent and patient, committing to your craft to find solutions for your creative problems, regardless of how long such a creative stage may last.
Consistency will contribute to your artist’s mindset, helping you build habits that will ultimately push you forward, even in moments it seems difficult. Having patience will then help you maintain your focus and stay driven to accomplish your electronic music goals.
Speaking of creative problems, the most difficult one will most likely be the first one you experience. Finding a solution is ultimately a result of a process of trying out several different things. There are plenty of materials and resources on creativity and related issues available offering different solutions and strategies.
It may also be a good idea to ask other electronic musicians about their personal experiences and get inspired by what helped solve their problems. Some may find it meaningful to listen to tracks that inspire them while describing their attributes. Meanwhile, others may try to find the simplest sounds instead of the perfect ones, which will eventually lead them to the melody they’d like to create. Simply said, whatever it is, just give it a chance and look for what works best for you.
3. Take risks and challenge yourself
Trying out different things may be beneficial in multiple areas of your professional life in electronic music, particularly if the ‘different thing’ means sharing your music with others. It’s important to know that the professional path of every musician is built with risks just like opportunities.
Naturally, not everything you try is likely to work out - you share your music and get rejected; you agree on a gig and it turns out a failure, or you spend weeks working on something ‘different’ in your music and then not like the final result.
On the other hand, you may also share your music and find new collaborators; have a wonderful gig that will lead you to another chance to perform; or create something new and attract a brand-new group of audience.
Trying something new is also very closely related to working on and improving your skills - whether it’s trying different production processes, DAW features, or even different genres. It’s always important to challenge yourself as a musician, regardless of your field of expertise. By facing up a challenge, particularly in terms of your creative process, you will not only learn new skills but also step outside your comfort zone, which can ultimately present you with opportunities that you didn’t see before.
4. Set clear goals as an electronic music artist
Previously in the article, we said that both consistency and patience play a crucial role in helping you accomplish what you’ve set to do. However, in order to reach your goals, you need to first identify them. In fact, not setting clear goals is often why musicians decide to give up, especially in the midst of experiencing a creative block. That’s because this is when inspiration, motivation as well as passion are often nowhere to be found.
To always ensure that you know where you’re heading and that you follow the path you actually want, it’s important that you determine two things: your overall reason(s) for why you’re making music and your next goal/objective.
Your overall reason - whether it’s one or more - should work as the general motivator for you to keep up with what you’re doing, that is making electronic music. It can be more emotionally based, expressing your love for music or how producing and finishing a song make you feel. It can also be that you love how people bond over your music or that you get to teach and inspire others to create something, too.
As for your objective, this should be the next ‘great thing’ that you’re actively working toward. That includes a release of an EP or single, your upcoming gig, or a collaboration with some fellow musician. It’s important that your objectives are rather pragmatic, as specific as possible, and definitely measurable. With measurable goals, you can easily track your progress and monitor your outcomes, which can then help you stay focused.
Tip from us: Although money is a highly relevant motivator in life, it should not be your overarching reason for why you’re making music. In the long run, the motivation of earning money with your music will lose its power. Moreover, it could even drive you away from the music and related projects you originally intended to work on as you may feel you won’t be paid enough.
5. Be willing to work hard as an electronic music artist
As we mentioned at the beginning of our article, the electronic music industry is highly competitive and so getting heard as an electronic music artist may be incredibly difficult at times. One must also be aware that success, fame as well as a stable fanbase don’t happen overnight. Being consistent and patient, as stated before, is crucial but so is working hard.
Becoming proficient at your DAW and your other instrument(s), creating music that will stand out just like promoting your music brand, and growing your fanbase will all require hard work and time (and perhaps some sweat, too). It’s therefore key to be willing to give all of that if a career in electronic music is something you truly want.
Here, once again, it’s important to have your overall reason (your ‘why’) as well as your next objective clearly identified. The ‘why’ will keep reminding you of why you’re making music and why your hard work will eventually pay off. Your objective will then present the next great thing that you need to work hard to achieve it.
6. Cooperate with other artist from the electronic music field
Collaboration with other artists and musicians is not only extremely important for one’s career but also highly beneficial. In fact, there may not be a reason or excuse for not collaborating. Collaboration with others (e. g. electronic music producers, musicians, vocalists, etc.) will help you pick up new tips and tricks on how to make music or how to navigate yourself through the electronic music field.
You may also learn how to work better with other people, and communicate your creative ideas but also listen to the ideas of others and make compromises. Additionally, by collaborating with other artists you might well meet like-minded people and build important long-term relationships within the industry. Most importantly, however, you will introduce yourself and your music to other audiences and fanbases, who, as a result, may become your fanbases, as well.
Naturally, not everyone you ask may be up for a collaboration for whatever reasons they have. However, finding someone to collaborate with should generally not be too difficult, especially with access to the internet. If you happen to live in an area where you think nobody else makes electronic music, try to connect with others via specialized platforms or electronic music communities, such as EMDProd Artist Community (Facebook group for free) or Electronic Music Alliance (offers paid membership).
You can also join our very own iMusician community forum! Although not specifically focused on electronic music artists, our community will give you the opportunity to connect with artists across various music genres and subgenres - from country to popular music, to electronic dance music. This way you can engage in interesting collaborations, get insightful tips from a variety of musicians, as well as get inspired by other influences.
Looking for a great community of musicians and artists across genres?
Another launch that happened recently that you can utilize to your advantage is Beatport's new feature for its very own DJ software, Beatport DJ, called Party Mode. Through the feature, DJs can enter sessions with up to four DJs at once at any time, no matter the place.
While in the session, DJs can exchange tracks, build joint playlists as well as dig through Beatport’s music library to find new music. What’s more, they can invite up to 100 fans that can watch, listen to, as well as interact with the DJs.
Would you like to distribute your music to Beatport?
7. Prioritize your mental health as an electronic music artist
To begin with, it’s important to note that mental health in the music industry is generally a topic of high relevance that needs to be actively discussed. However, the electronic music field may be more unique in this regard in a way that it’s more likely to present musicians with various challenges and pressures that may have a negative impact on their mental well-being.
The most common challenges of the electronic music industry include working late and working long hours; unstable work; usual traveling; or, most importantly, the frequent presence of alcohol and drugs. Such pressures may then result in unstable sleeping patterns, high levels of stress and anxiety, social isolation, or alcohol and drug abuse.
It’s therefore essential to not only be aware of all possible challenges one may face in the field of electronic music but also to actively prioritize and work on one’s mental and physical health.
Seeking moderation in alcohol consumption, deliberately spending time with people you love, engaging in frequent physical activity, or practicing mental fitness daily are a few valuable tips that may help you take care of yourself better and find balance in your profession. If you are more interested in the topic of mental well-being, our guide about mental health in EDM may come in handy!
Although it may be rather difficult to maintain and navigate your career as an electronic music artist, it’s not impossible to do so with a number of useful tips and tricks that may help you face the challenges and conditions of the industry.
If you want to learn more about the electronic music industry or become better as an artist, check out our other articles related to electronic music, such as the article about what is EDM or the guide about the history and evolution of electronic music. If you’re rather curious about the legal aspects of the industry and how licensing works, our guides about DJs and licensing or how to remix a song may help you.
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