Protect yourself legally.
Never cut corners by acting as your own attorney. Have every contract reviewed before you sign them. Protect your intellectual property by registering your songs with Copyright organisations, Trademark your band name, your tag line and your logo if you have them. Have an attorney negotiate deals for/with you. Hire an experienced entertainment attorney for anything career-related. Your uncle Kwame Attah, the real estate attorney, just doesn’t know the nuances of the music industry.
Manage your money wisely.
There will be great times and there will be dead spells. You may be selling one compostion everywhere and not have the same success on your next one. Gigs can cancel. You might get sick or injured and can’t perform. Any number of things can go wrong. Develop a budget and stick with it. Put money aside for the lean times. Hire an accountant you trust. If your act is big enough, hire a respected business manager.
Keep up with the trends that affect you or your fans.
These include trends in music, fashion, the economy, merchandise (what people are buying now) etc. These also include how your fan demographic discovers new music, how their income is changing and more. There is no faster way to lose career momentum than to be considered passé. When it comes to the music, you don’t need to be something you’re not. However, you do need know where you fit in and where you don’t. After all, venues usually change with the times if they want to stay in business. You also need to be aware of how your core fans may be changing. Find ways to keep them for as long as possible. Don’t ever give them a reason to ‘move on’ to ‘the next greatest thing!’ Always go to where your audience is instead of trying to win over people who aren’t interested in you or your music.
Treat your career like a business – because it IS!
Set time aside every day to take care of business. Of course you just want to write songs and sing! But someone has to market the act, record the music, market the music, book the gigs, put together the press kits and the one page, send out the monthly newsletter, review the contracts, rehearse etc. If you can’t afford to hire others to do these for you, then it is up to you to insure that they get done. I know it may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Take each task, break it into smaller tasks and put them on the schedule.
Everything else needs to be scheduled around it. Otherwise, the act will go nowhere. End of discussion. No one wants to continue working with an artist who doesn’t take care of business. It is simply too risky. And if you are on top of everything, you will be ready and able to take advantage of every good opportunity that crosses your path.
Mind and protect your health.
This includes your voice. If you want a long-term career, it only stands to reason that you need to remain healthy. Of course there are common precautions to take, such as eating healthy and exercising. But just as important is keeping in top form. This means taking on-going voice lessons to keep your voice strong and trouble free. It means avoiding risks that could cause career-ending injuries..