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4 tips to making it in music from the Zeal Music Symposium

Making it in the modern music industry takes so much more than just writing a killer song. 

The logistics of managing your online presence, getting your tracks to radio and building your ‘brand’ – these are all things that can be pretty overwhelming for a young kiwi trying to get a break. 

On Thursday 11 May Zeal West ran a Music Symposium – a day filled with panel discussions and Q&As from some of New Zealand’s top musicians and industry heads. Over 75 young people from all over Auckland and Hamilton came to learn with ten Zeal young volunteers running the technical aspects of the day – plus providing coffee!

We’ve put together a few of our key takeaways from the event – and if you need any more guidance, come and see us!

1. Write a killer song

This one is a given! Make sure that your song is the best that it can be. What makes a ‘good’ song is pretty subjective, but there are definitely things that you can do to help. If you’re aiming for radio, researching and listening to the jams out at the moment are a good place to start. Get a trusted friend or muso to listen to what you’ve got – having an outside opinion is always helpful.

Find an amazing audio engineer (or join one of our Programmes at Zeal) to get your songs sounding huge! We have recording studios at our Hamilton and West Auckland centres – if you’re in another region, get in touch with us and we can point you in the right direction.

2. Put effort into promotion

Over the course of the Symposium, a panel of musicians that had taken it international talked the ins and outs of online promo with artist managers. With social media becoming more and more vital to pumping up the reach of musicians, it’s super important to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the tools you have. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat – all of these are great platforms to reach potential fans.

If you’re gonna put some serious hours into writing, recording and perfecting your tunes, you’ll need to put just as much effort into planning the promotion of your song to make sure it hits the widest audience possible.

Make sure you get your music out to as many platforms as possible – sites like CD Baby and TuneCore will get your songs on Spotify, Apple Music, and anywhere else you can think of.

3. Always have a plan

Diaz Grimm, one of the speakers at the Symposium, puts a lot of his success down to having a wall planner and writing down solid, concrete goals for the year ahead. Maybe you want to have an EP recorded by July. Maybe you want to be in NZ Top 40 by September. Maybe you want to be headlining a show at Spark Arena in December. Having your ideas and plans written down somewhere you can see them every day is a great reminder of the things you want to be achieving. 

Nerd talk: Parkinson’s law says that work always expands to fill out the time you’ve allocated to the project, so if you’ve got solid timelines set, it’s gonna be so much easier to achieve all your goals.

4. Go hard!

Believe in yourself and your music! The music industry can be overwhelming when you first get into it – it’s vital to always hold on to the passion that you have for your art. Making it big is gonna take a lot of hard work, but we’ve had enough success stories from young New Zealand artists to know that it is possible. 
Reach out to people in your area – show promoters, local venues, musicians. You never know what opportunities can come from a Facebook message or an email.
Here at Zeal, we have a lot of resources you can use to help out your music career – from songwriting courses to recording classes to events you can jump onto to test your tunes out on an audience. Find your Zeal centre and contact us, or come and see us! We’d love to help.