Your gigs and festival slots have been cancelled. You’ve never heard the streets so quiet. The idea of a ‘normal’ life seems so out-of-reach right now. But that certainly doesn’t mean your music career has to be put on hold.
At Spinnup we never want you to feel like you’re going at it alone (you can check out our Creators United page to see how we want to be there for you). Don’t spend time trying to figure out everything by yourself when people are there to help. People who have literally been where you are. People who can equip you with the best advice in order for you to progress in your music career.
One of the best ways to learn what to do (and what not to do) is hearing first-hand from others. So we advise you to turn this tough situation on its head and focus your energy into finding a mentor and getting your knowledge up to speed. And with a lot more people at home, the more time they will be active online, so it’s a great opportunity to network.
This post will focus on how to find a mentor, as well as alternative ways you can get mentoring from online videos to studying your favourite artist.
What is a mentor?
A mentor can be anyone who can give you insight into their career journey. They can offer you knowledge because they too have been in your position. They can inspire, encourage, provide honest feedback and push you to become better. In this day and age, and especially at the moment, you don’t need to have met your mentor face to face. And your ‘mentor/s’ don’t need to be musicians either – they can even be authors of books that you read, YouTubers, artists you look up to, or those that inspire you. The list goes on. So long as they can guide and inspire you in some way – in music, business, creativity – they can help you on your journey.
Be specific about your goals
Before anything, you’ll want to establish your own career goals and what you need to know in order to meet those goals. Only then you can go forth and find the right resources and/or people who have done what you want to do, and find out how they achieved what they achieved.
Don’t think that you need to speak to a music guru or someone of superstar status. Be realistic and find that middle ground between where you are now and someone super successful. As long as this person is even a few steps ahead of you in their career then they can still offer you great advice on how to progress from where you are now.
How do I find a mentor?
Usually, we’d encourage you to go to networking events and gigs for example, but unfortunately, that’s a big no no right now. What you can do is look around you. Look at the people in your current music network. Is there someone you already know that can offer you guidance or feedback? Have you got a manager that could be a mentor-type figure? Are there any industry professionals that you met at University, such a lecturers or guest speaker? Now would be a great time to link up with them again, whether it’s on LinkedIn, email, or Instagram etc. Make that initial contact and once you have a conversation going, suggest going for a virtual coffee over FaceTime/Zoom/Skype.
Don’t be afraid of messaging these people. Just be yourself. The worst that can happen is getting a ‘no’ response, and it won’t kill you. The best that can happen is you receive some meaningful advice that will help your music career for years to come. And that is invaluable.
Also don’t be afraid to cruise LinkedIn, Facebook community groups for music industry/creative/business professionals. You don’t have to have met someone in person before to approach them. Obviously it helps, but it’s not the be all and end all.
If you’re going the one-to-one mentor route…
Build a relationship
Make a meaningful connection. To build a lasting relationship with your mentor, consider what you have to offer them as well. As we advised on networking, when you provide value for someone, they are more likely to provide value for you. A mentor/mentee relationship should be a two-way one that benefits you both, where you continue to help one another, ideally long term.
Although your mentor may be at the top of your list, it doesn’t mean you’re at the top of theirs, and they could be super busy. Keep up the contact and update them as much as you can with what you’re currently working on. Don’t get disheartened or give up if you don’t hear back straight away.
Read our blog
We’re biased, obvs, but our blog is the perfect place to find out useful advice to help with your music career. Learn with us. From how to get feedback when your song isn’t perfect to ways to keep your music moving when you’re stuck indoors, we’ve got it.
And if you haven’t already, check out our video series: Spinnup Academy to get industry-level insight from Universal Music. The series covers topics from mixing and mastering to digital marketing.
We are so fortunate to live in an age where we can access so much at our fingertips totally for free. YouTube is a great place to gain advice from people of all levels of professionalism, as anyone can publish content. Also check out LinkedIn Learning (which used to be Lynda.com), where you can get a free month’s trial and check out lots of tutorials and other useful advice.
Study artists you look up to
You can learn so much by simply studying the career journeys of other artists. But be sure to pick the right artists that align with your goals, whether it is making music in a certain genre, touring internationally or getting your music in films.
You can study an artist that is at a much higher level than you as you can access so much online. You can watch and read old interviews, research where they toured, what sort of press they got, how they interacted on social media and so on! What’s important here is that you pay attention to how and why they did what they did throughout their career.
For Spinnup artist Barz Da Lyricist, it has been certain artists that have played a key role in the development of his sound. “They’ve helped show that simplicity, sonics and longevity are key for me. Hearing simple messages with nice mellow vocals or lyricism to a nice beat really made me wanna make music in the same vibration because I FEEL those songs. I wanted other people to get the same vibe in my music… I’ve also been watching the Evolution of Hip Hop series on Netflix as well as simply revisiting albums from artists that influenced me.”
Finally, remember that not everybody’s path is the same
It’s so important to remember that no two snowflakes are identical, and neither will your music journey be identical to someone else’s.
You must never compare yourself to others. Judge yourself on how far you’ve come, not where you think you should be. You’ve got this!