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Ask a Failed Musician: Go Where The Successful Musicians Go

Welcome to Ask a Failed Musician, in which I will help struggling musicians make sense of their careers and even offer some advice. Whether or not it will work, who knows? It obviously didn't work for me. But then again, I was on Kimmel once, so there's that.

Hello, I'm an R&B/gospel singer and songwriter. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. I want to put out my single but don't even know where to start. I have all my songs copyrighted at the Library of Congress, and the only thing I've done so far is open mic shows.

It's good that you're taking the precaution of getting a copyright for your songs -- a necessary step to protect them in the future -- but it doesn't matter if nobody knows who you are. Therein lies the fundamental problem with music marketing. If nobody knows, nobody cares. Simply dropping a single won't bring you fame and fortune. Rather, for a new artist, a single is like a shovel: it can help you dig a hole, but you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.

The work doesn't end the day the single comes out. That's when you have to really roll up your sleeves. You say you've done some open mic nights, so you've probably gotten comfortable with the idea of being on a stage. Now it's time to take it a step further.

See also:
- Advice to new bands: Stop putting out albums


Break away from the open mic nights. You won't be discovered at one. If you want to be successful, go hang out where the successful artists hang out. You're an R&B artist, so my first recommendation is The Prophet Bar on Wednesday nights. RC Williams and The Gritz perform each week. It's a bustling scene of the best musicians in our city, maybe even the country. Get on their radar. Use your single as a tool, share it with some musicians. Ask them what they think of the song's production and how they would improve it.

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Who knows, maybe they'll remix it for you. Maybe they'll produce a track for you in the future. Maybe they'll ask you to collaborate on a future project. But rejection is something you'll experience a lot before you find success. Don't let it deter you. Instead, put out another single. Try to make it better than the last. Give your music to members of the media. Maybe one day they'll write a story or play your music. Just remember to be persistent.

Finally, if you take anything away from this response, let it be this: Make your songs good. Do what you can to work with the best producers. Write from the heart. Accept the criticism of other artists and use it to improve your music. You can follow all of the advice above, but if you don't have good songs, none of it will work.

Write to Ask a Failed Musician here. Ask anything you like. I will do my best to help you not fail also.

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