by Metal Mastermind

September 7, 2020

how to improve as a metal musician

We all want to improve as metal musicians. It’s our passion and simply part of who we are.

Of course, ask anyone ‘how to become a better musician’ and you’ll get the obvious answer…just practice more.

But we all know that it’s more than just practicing, although that is part of it.

We’re going to take you to a deeper level of becoming a better metal musician with just four simple actions you can start taking right now for your band or as a solo artist.

We’re going to share some practical ways that will help take your music skills to the next level. And there may be some things you’ll learn that you haven’t thought of.

Let’s dive in…

1 – How to Implement Time Management for Musicians

Yes, us metal musicians sort of cringe when we hear or see the evil word schedule. I mean, you’re a musician and musicians live free and do everything by feeling, right?

But here’s the truth. If you don’t schedule it, it’s probably not going to happen.

Why is this?

Because scheduling that task makes it a priority and now you’re holding yourself accountable. You’re obligated.

If you don’t take the time to schedule things like practice times, songwriting sessions, website updates, etc. then you’re more prone to being stressed out and scatterbrained. Scheduling this stuff will help put your mind at ease so that you can micro-focus on each specific task.

More importantly, you know that there’s a benefit of following through on that promise you made to yourself. You’ll know that you’re hitting another milestone or even completing a project.

It could be those lyrics you’re writing or the progression for the bridge of a new song, or maybe it’s the completion of a song or album.

Put it into action:

  • The most practical and modern way is to use something like Google Documents, Excel, or Apple Numbers.
  • Or you can go old school like me (Jason) and physically write everything down in a calendar on your desk.
  • Pick a day where you schedule everything for that week (like Sunday)
  • Scheduling short-term task is not as overwhelming as it can be done quickly
  • Don’t overthink it – this doesn’t have to be super-detailed other than the tasks that have an actual time, such as band practice
  • It doesn’t need to be super-detail unless it’s something like a gig you have coming up – below you’ll see an example of ‘AM’ and ‘PM’ tasks – this is also assuming you have a day-job

Here’s an example:

Day / TimeTask
Monday AMBand website and social media updates
Monday PM4 PM songwriting, 7 PM band practice
Tuesday AMGuitar practice
Tuesday PM6 PM vocal lessons
Wednesday AMSocial media updates for the band
Wednesday PM4 PM band idea sharing, 7 PM band practice
Thursday AMGuitar practice
Thursday PM6:30 PM band photoshoot

You get the idea. Again, it doesn’t have to be detailed to the point where you dread doing it (because if you dread it, chances are you won’t do it).

Make it feasible and practical for yourself. You can always change or rearrange things as needed. The point is to have something down on your schedule so that you’re not wasting time wondering what you need to be working on in your music business.

2 – Getting and Staying in Your Creative Zone

Musicians, in general, are guilty of only taking action when they feel inspired. I think we’ve all been there and you may be struggling with this now.

This is that mentality in the movie Wayne’s World ‘If you book them, they will come.’

We tend to think that our music will be so amazing because we wrote it when we were inspired that the masses will magically come to listen. And we’ll wake up the next day to have a million listeners on Spotify.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that, no matter how amazing that seven-minute-long song with three key changes is.

Instead of wishing for that one hit to happen, you need to shift your focus to being consistent with your craft. And this means staying in your creative zone more often than not.

How can musicians stay in their creative zone? By taking consistent action, even when you don’t feel like it.

To start, you have to treat your music as something sacred and valuable to you. Think of your partner, spouse, or significant other. Do you only spend time with that person when you feel inspired?

No! You’re constantly pouring into that relationship, everyday, multiple times a day.

Why should your music be any different?

So, you can see this takes changing your mindset about your music. Yes, it’s fun and all, but there’s also that element of treating it like a job and making it a priority that you need. That will give you a far greater chance of success.

Put it into action:

  • Do something related to your music every day
  • Spend time learning to promote your music – we’ll talk more about that later!
  • Submerge yourself into your music’s genre
  • Stay positive and limit (or eliminate when possible) spending time with the people that don’t share your vision, aka people that say things like ‘You have to be on a label to make it’ or ‘You’re too old to play music for a living’ or ‘You need to focus on your future and get a real job…music is just a hobby’ – yeah, stay away from those people!
    ***In fact, we have another post you may be interested in regards to age and music: Are You Too Old to Pursue Music for a Living?
  • Re-read the time management section be sure to make a schedule

3 – Master Your Gear

Let’s face it, most of us metal musicians can be gear junkies. There’s a fun part of that.

But it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that you always need the latest and greatest gear. And more than often this will hold us back from pursuing our music.

This is the curse of our society, embedding that desire that we need more or something better.

The truth is…that’s just not true!

What we often fail to do is learn how to properly use the gear that we have. To take it s step further, we should master every piece of equipment we have in our studios.

When you start really learnings the ins and outs of your gear you start to realize ‘Wow, I had no clue my gear could do this!’

You soon realize that you have everything you need to write, record, and produce quality metal music. In many cases, you may find that you may be good with the gear you have for many albums to come!

And having expensive gear doesn’t guarantee a great song or album. In fact, sometimes having more studio enhancements can further complicate things that can hold you back from making progress.

Take an audio interface, for example. You may just have a $99 interface thinking that you need one that costs 5x that much to record your song at a professional level.

Well, you may be surprised to learn that your cheap interface has the same preamps as the expensive one, and will deliver just as good of sound quality.
**To learn more about the right interface for you, read our post: Cheap VS Expensive Audio Interfaces

Put it into action:

  • Remember the schedule we talked about earlier? Schedule one or two large blocks of time each week to watch tutorials and learn all of the features your gear has to offer
  • Join forums where other musicians talk about specific music equipment – metal musicians are nice people and always willing to help, as you know
  • When all else fails, read the instructions and pamphlet that came with your gear (an electronic version is normally on the manufacturer’s website)

4 – Developing Your Marketing Skills as a Musician

In the old days, bands sough to ‘make it’ by getting on a label. In fact, that was the proof that you were a successful band if you were signed by some big label.

Although labels still exist, the days of having to be signed to make a living with your music are behind us. Today, we all have equal capability to promoting our music ourselves.

We’re not going to pull any punches. Marketing your own music is hard work! But it’s totally doable, and boarderline necessary if you want to make it beyond just a bedroom musician.

The first step is finding out who your true audience is. Of course, you already know they’re going to be metalheads, so that makes things a little easier.

But what’s your specific subgenre of metal? Is it old school thrash? Melodic death metal? Black metal? Progressive? Symphonic? Or does it combine 203 specific sungenres?

Knowing this is going to help you target the right potential fans. and that’s the biggest part of knowing how to promote your music – knowing who to promote your music to!

From there, it’s things like having a band or artist website, having a business Facebook and Instagram page for your music, and maybe even a YouTube channel.

You may also have physical CDs and merch you want to sell your fans, not only at shows but also online. In that case, you’ll want an online shop, so that’s something else you need to research (online shops like WooCommerce, Shopify, etc) to see what’s right for your band.
**Read our blog post: Why You Need a Website as a Band or Solo Artist

Put it into action:

  • Make time in your schedule each week, or several times a week, to do audience research and promoting your music
  • As your current fans questions like what a specific song of yours sounds like, and find out what their other interests are
  • Make sure you’re following Metal Mastermind on YouTube!

On that last note (no pun intended!), we are constantly providing more and more free content to help you market and promote your music! So stay tuned to our YouTube channel and make sure you’re getting our emails.

**If you have not joined our email list, sign up here and we’ll also give you a free home studio guide: FREE Ultimate Home Studio Guide

We truly hope this post helps you improve as a metal musician!

Horns Up,

Ken & Jason
Metal Mastermind

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