Gaining Traction in the 21st Century

In order to gain a substantial following in today’s information age, it’s essential that you make the most of the tools that you have at your disposal. The internet is one of these tools and social media represents an arsenal of weapons that you can use to spread the word about your work, interact with your audience, present critics with your oeuvre and promote any events that you might have. Social media channels are a crucial part of the modern artist’s life, to ignore them is to ignore a very affordable opportunity for you to grow your audience and gain attention from people who could jump start your career.

By engaging in the right amount of social media marketing you can turn your fledgling career into something much more tangible.

We’ll run through our recommendations for social media channels and mention which ones are good for certain artists:

Soundcloud

Where once MySpace was the go-to for aspiring musicians, today Soundcloud is the dedicated platform that is used by composers, bands, rappers and all other sorts of musicians. Setting up an account is completely free and super simple. There are some features that are locked off for Premium users, but you’ll find that you can get by with the Basic package for quite a while before you need to dip into your pockets! Once you’ve signed up it’s a good idea to interact with the community. Like, comment and share others works to put your name out there.

Deviant Art

The World’s largest online art community can be rather confusing at first (there’s enough manga drawings here to last you a lifetime), but if you dig deep you’re sure to find a community that speaks to you. By consistently uploading bits and pieces you’ll be able to receive some great feedback from your fellow artists, you’ll also increase the likelihood of your work being shared online. Work on Deviant Art is often shared onto major forums such as Reddit, which can then go viral, exposing you to a much wider audience.

YouTube

Video content is more popular than it has ever been, millions of people watch videos on YouTube and there’s no reason why you can’t start uploading your own to this huge social network. If you’re a performance artist then you’re certain to benefit from starting a channel.

You can record video footage using most modern smart phones, but if you want to really up your value then you should invest in a good quality camera and microphone. Good production values will translate into more views, and more views means more engagement!

Instagram

One of the fastest growing social networks, whilst Instagram might lag behind Facebook in terms of usage, it offers a much more streamlined experience that benefits artists who work in visual medias. Many fine artists use Instagram as a simple way of recording and sharing their progress. An Instagram channel can be used to promote your work, sell your work or simply give you fans updates on your life. If you want to be found as an artist, it’s a good idea to get one and make liberal use of it.

Getting Vocal: Tips for Aspiring Singers

Singing is a practical artistic skill that takes years to fully master. How you perceive your voice, shape your tone and voice your songs will be dependant on your taste in music, as well as your own standards. Our vocal coaches have collected a few tips together to help aspiring singers broaden their horizons and consider their work in a more holistic fashion.

Remember, if you’re a singer that means you’re an artist and you should be able to appreciate the whole spectrum of art, not just a small slice that appeals to your tastes. The first step in improving your singing is accepting that there are many different types of music and the sound your voice makes doesn’t have to sound like anything else you’ve heard before. Be your own role model!

Get a pair of Hearfones

If you’ve ever wondered what your voice really sounds like, but don’t have the money to afford a good recording setup then a pair of Hearfones could be right up your street. Using a simple cupping technique, this handy gadget bounces back the sound of your voice into your own ears, allowing you to get a much clearer sound of your own voice. Although you might be initially put off by hearing such an unfiltered version of your voice, this will eventually allow you to make some real changes to your voice.

Practice your scales

Practice really does make perfect and it’s only by regularly practising scales that you can increase your vocal range and make yourself a more dynamic singer. You might think that your range is limited, or that there’s no way of extending it any further than it already is, but you’d be wrong in thinking that! Like any other muscle in your body, you just need to train yourself properly in order to make your singing voice stronger.

Get as much performance practice as possible

Performing in front of an audience is a completely different experience to practising in front of your mirror at home. When you’re faced with real people, with music blasting in your ears and lights in your face you’re under a lot more pressure to perform, which is hardly the case when you’re back home! This is why it’s a good idea to take as many opportunities as possible to perform in front of all kinds of people. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone is a key part of growing as a performer and something you should always try to do.

Expand your taste in music

Your taste in music should be as wide as possible in order for you to be able to give yourself as much opportunity to grow as an artist. Only listening to one genre, or a particular style of music will only serve to limit your growth and make your performance innately influenced by others. Unless you’re planning on being a tribute act, you’ll want to try out as many different styles and voices as possible before forming your own. Try and open your mind to as much music as possible. If you come across some music that you don’t like, ask yourself why? What don’t you like about it?

Set Up Your Own Multimedia Studio!

Do you feel priced out by the cost of recording or film in professional studio?

There’s no need to feel like you can’t produce your own music videos, songs, or films by yourself – all you need is a moderate amount of money and a spare room to work with. We know that some of these things might still be a little out of reach for the normal person, but with a bit of scrupulous saving and savvy shopping there’s no reason why you can’t get a hold of your very own multimedia studio.

The best thing of all is that once you’ve got it setup and you know how to use it, then you should be able to rent out your services to others in need and start to make some of your investment back! It’s important to remember that not all of these components are compulsory, but they will make it a lot easier for you to get your work done.

Big Screen

Whether you’re producing your own music or editing video, you’ll always benefit from having a nice large screen to work from. Any screen size from 20 inches up will be useful, but the larger the screen the better resolution you’ll be able to work with (which is always a good thing). Having a larger screen will also mean that you can have someone sit alongside you and share the same view, a bonus if you’re hoping to collaborate with or produce another artist. Top tip: Look for budget HD televisions, rather than purpose built monitors, to make a saving with little impact on your setup.

, rather than purpose built monitors, to make a saving with little impact on your setup.

Laptop/Computer

A decent computer is a must-have, especially if you’re planning on processing high-quality video or audio. As with all technology, (usually) the more you spend the better machine you’ll get. You can pick up cheap, refurbished desktops (which are always cheaper than laptops) with a decent specs for around £200-300. This will be one of the biggest investments you make, but choosing to skimp out on it will inevitably hamper your progress: you have been warned. Note: If you’re working with lots of power then it’s worth investing in a dedicated AC-DC power supply to handle it properly.

Speakers & Headphones

When mixing music and audio for film it’s important to have a couple of reference points to work with. Ideally you’ll have access to a set of high-powered, flat-response speakers that can give you as wide a frequency range as possible, so that you can get a ‘true’ reflection of whatever your mixing. A good pair of headphones are also a good idea, so that you can get a second-point of reference (and also not annoy your neighbours too much!). The sky’s the limit for how much you can spend. But, we recommend spending at least £200 on your set of speakers.

Microphone and Stand

Every multimedia setup needs an audio input and (luckily) these can come at a very cheap price! Make sure to buy a name brand (such as Sennheiser or Shure) to ensure that you’re buying quality and also invest in good cables to reduce the chance of static. Microphone stands can also be picked up on Amazon at a very reasonable cost.

Camera

At a pinch you can take great photos and videos with a high-end smart phone, such as the latest iPhone, but if you’re planning on focusing on creating visual content then you’ll really benefit from spending a few hundred pounds on a good SLR. Even the budget-range cameras from Canon offer professional features that will put you head and shoulders above an amateur instantly. Buy older used models to get an extra saving.

Overall, your multimedia setup could easily end up costing you £1000. We understand that this seems like a lot, but once you consider how quickly you’ll be able to make the money back in recording sessions and video production it will soon seem like a no-brainer!

Taking Instagram By Storm

What does it take to become a ‘big deal’ on Instagram?

Instagram is one of the world’s biggest social networks and has become a real King-maker when it comes to launching new personalities into the world. Whether you like or loathe these ‘influencers’, it’s hard to deny that the social media platform offers plenty of opportunities for aspiring artists looking to make an impact on the world and get noticed.

The correlation between a successful artist and a big Instagram following might seem a little tenuous, but both of these achievements require steadfast determination, an understanding of your audience and a focus on good content. In order for your art to gain traction and attention from potential investors you’ll want to ensure that it’s seen by as many people as possible. Creating an Instagram account is the easiest and cheapest way of getting your work up online.

We explain how to make the most of the popular social network channel right here:

Find your niche

Before you even think about taking any photos, it’s important you consider what your niche is going to be. In order for your to grow your following, you need to understand what kind of Instagram user you are going to appeal to. Are you looking to engage people with a particular shared interest or hobby? Are you going to make your life the subject of the feed? Or will it be something completely different, like these artful statistics from @MonaChalabi:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mona Chalabi (@monachalabi) on Jan 12, 2019 at 9:14am PST

Interact with your community

Once you understand who your audience will be then it’s time to start interacting with them. Don’t be disheartened by the long road ahead of you, remember: everyone starts with 0 followers! You can start making some progress by following the big and small influencers in your niche. Start by liking and commenting on a few posts, just to introduce yourself.

Post regularly and consistently

Once you know your niche and have started engaging with the community you can start focusing on the actual content of your feed. It’s a good idea to keep a consistent tone and style throughout your posts, so that your following gets to understand what you’re all about. Stick to your style, whilst allowing for some deviations from the formula to keep people interested. Listen to feedback and considering making changes to your approach if you think it might help.

Use those hashtags

One of the best ways of appearing on your community’s radar is to make use of the hashtags in your niche. Whilst generic hashtags such as #tbt (throwback Thursday) are ubiquitous amongst niches, but there will be an array of niche specific tags that you can use to join in on a conversation with your Instagram community. Get successful enough and you can begin to popularise some of your own such as this resourceful rabbit-owner:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ♛ Queen Blanco ♛ (@blancobun) on Sep 12, 2018 at 8:09am PDT

Be honest and friendly

Remember that behind each Instagram account is a person. If you are in any way disingenuous then the community will be able to tell. Succeeding on social media requires commitment and genuine passion for your niche. Don’t pursue creating a channel for the sake of monetary gain, the best route to success is through honest intentions.

Keep at it!

Legal Loopholes & Pitfalls

If you’ve yet to find yourself on the wrong side of a legal case then you’re either very lucky, or you’ve yet to reach a level of fame that has attracted such attention.

What is unfortunately the case is that most artists do not get involved in any legal issues until they’ve reached a certain level of popularity. A fine-artist might, for example, unknowingly be plagiarising or misusing another’s work for years and go unmolested for the crime. However, as soon as their work reached a larger audience more eyes will be on them, and a greater level of scrutiny will be paid to their output.

Take a look through our questions here to consider whether you’re as clued up as you should be on these legal matters. If in doubt, ask fellow artists for advice so that you can prepare for the worst, should it arise.

Do you need an agent or managerial representation?

Although managers and agents might sometimes take a hefty percentage from your overall income, their advice and connections could prove invaluable if you are put into a difficult legal situation. This extends to all kinds of legal situations, beyond what you might normally expect from an agent. A good agent will know the law on Japanese Knotweed, as well as performance rights and insurance matters; they’re your first port of call should you get into any hot water!

Do you have the rights to your performing name?

You might think that your performing name is unique, but there are a lot of people out there trying to make it and only a finite number of original names to pick from! Before you get too attached to a certain name, it’s best to check that it hasn’t already been taken by a rival artist. If you start touting a name that is already in use, then you might find that you receive a rather nasty cease and desist letter…

Do you have the permission to perform your work?

If you’re currently working with a dance company, or performing in a covers band then it’s worth inquiring as to whether you have the necessary rights to perform your work. Covers bands need to have direct permission from the PRS to play other artist’s songs, as well as pay the appropriate royalties to songwriters. Dance companies should also ensure that they have the appropriate permission to use backing music.

Have you got a handle on your intellectual property?

Original artists and musicians must also be careful to protect their own intellectual property. Regardless of the stage you are at in your career, you should take appropriate steps to protect your own work from dissemination, plagiarism and unauthorised distribution. If you upload your work online make sure that it’s protected from those who might download it and keep an eye on other artist passing of your work as their own.

Are you properly insured and protected?

Finally, insurance is something that every artist should consider investing in, especially if you’re engaging in any kind of physical performance. Performing can often put you body at risk, not to mention your audience; should the worse happen and you (or an audience member) sustains an injury then you’ll be glad to have some kind of insurance to see you through any potential financial costs.

Shooting for the Stars

Our tutors talk about what it takes to reach for the stars and achieve your ambitions.

Success in the arts hinges on number of factors, some of these are within your control and some are simply impossible to predict. All our tutors have achieved some sort of success in their fields, whether that be publishing a piece work, or touring with a professional show. Although they might not have reached the stratospheres of their respective industries, their experience has given them useful insights into how to achieve in the Arts.

We’ve collected some of their top tips for how to realise your ambitions, which should be applicable to any artist:

“Only you can decide what ‘success’ means to you.”

When I first set out as a young performer I was dead set on achieving international success. I was convinced that I was going to be the next ‘big thing’ and that I totally had what it takes to become an idol. To say that I set my sights high would certainly be an understatement. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with setting your standards high, but it’s important to temper your expectations. It can be a hard thing to acknowledge that you might not reach the pinnacle in your career that want to, but by setting small-term realistic goals you can at least keep yourself motivate on a day-to-day basis.

Thomas Sincere

“Dedication is the common denominator amongst the best artists.

No artist succeeds on natural talent alone. As much as some artists may well have a head-start in terms of their God-given talents, no one can survive or achieve without putting in a serious amount of work. At the core of any brilliant artist is a drive to succeed, better know as ‘determination’. In order to progress as an artist in any field you must be utterly committed to your own progression, only you can be responsible for this and only you can be accountable for this. By staying steadfast in your ambitions and committed to your credo, you will put yourself in the best chance to become the artist you dream of being.

Elizabeth Tyneside

“There’s a time to listen and there’s a time to not listen,”

How much you choose to listen to the outside world and how much you choose to block out will inevitably impact your work. You should be conscious of how much you open yourself to outside influences, as every time you do, you’ll be potentially warping your own artistic vision. Conversely, by closing yourself off mentally from the outside world you’ll be able to preserve your vision in its purest form, but beware! By blocking out outside influences and criticism you run the risk of living on an island, rendering your work potentially isolating and redundant. My advice is to remain aware of how much you take from outside influences, always remain conscious!

Terrence Wholefield