Having talent, authenticity and drive are great qualities to have if you’re on the journey to becoming a successful artist. But if you’ve got no one to show those qualities to, then all your hard work will be for nothing.

Finding and maintaining an audience, according to Nick Raphael, former president of Capitol Records UK, should be at the top of your list when trying to make it big in the music scene. And he’s signed artists like Jay Z and Sam Smith, so he probably knows a thing or two about this whole thing.

Like Woody Allen said (cancellation aside), “Without business, there’s no show.” How far can a business go without regular customers buying products or using a service? How far can you go as an artist without an audience? Hint: Not very far.

Have a read through some of the golden nuggets Nick dropped on our Music Industry Mondays event stage about the importance of finding an audience.

The audience is always right

Finding the first 1000 listeners is going to be your biggest challenge.

But good news! It gets a whole lot easier from there. Your number one goal as a budding artist should be trying to capture that first set of listeners because they will give you clear guidance on which steps to take next.

If your audience is feeling your music and your numbers slowly start increasing, you’re doing something right. If your numbers are a little stagnant or you’re struggling to get to your first 1000, it may be time to return to the drawing board.

Don’t worry about what other people think of your music. It really doesn’t matter whether your friend loved the way you turned over on those chords. That’s not what matters right now. All the information you need is in the numbers.

The time for excuses is over

When Nick first started out on his music journey, he had to impress people to get to the top. His music career was pretty much in the hands of the very few influential gatekeepers of music like BBC Radio 1Xtra and MTV. If they didn’t like your music, you were pretty much done for.

Now someone at Radio 1Xtra could say they absolutely hated one of your tracks and that same track could blow up online literally the next day.

Living in the 21st century has made things even easier for artists. Sure, Radio and Music Week are still around and can do a lot to push your career along, but you don’t need their permission anymore. It costs absolutely nothing to go viral on TikTok and get hundreds, thousands, even millions of people streaming your music.

You can become a hit overnight and the audience that you’ve built is going to be the ones to tell you when that’s happened.

Key takeaways from Nick Raphael

Just in case for some reason you don’t watch the entire event and miss out on some of the best advice you’ll hear for a while, we’ve created a list of some of Nick’s key takeaways for you to remember:

  • Don’t try to appeal to the masses – you can create a lot of buzz within a niche
  • Only 1% of records signed to a major label breakeven – the ones that make it have one thing in common, you guessed it, a solid, devoted audience
  • Talent is about 10th on the list of crucial attributes to have as an artist – you don’t have to be the best, quit the perfectionism and post a TikTok already
  • Let your ego accept help from others – Beyoncé isn’t known for being the best lyricist, Ed Sheeran has an alright voice, but his songwriting is world-class. These people know where their talents lie
  • Collaboration is key – you don’t have to do everything yourself to be authentic, if anything, you’re just giving yourself a harder time

This post just scratches the surface. Join us in person for our next Music Industry Mondays event and get even more advice from the best in the business and have a free drink whilst you’re at it. Get your tickets here.