With the popularity of singing competitions like The Voice and The Four—plus the return of American Idol—entertainment hopefuls seek to not only amplify their voices but also their overall talent. In this social media age, singers can reel fans into their artistic world and get their career off the ground without the glitz and glam of Hollywood, just by showcasing their personalities.
That's one of the many parts of Thaddeus Dixon's advice to rising artists. As music director/producer/drummer for popular singers like Khalid, Bryson Tiller and Brent Faiyaz, the Detroit native shares a bit of his intel on how artists can navigate the full spectrum of their gifts to reach their big break.
Read his six points (in no particular order) below.
1. Find Out What Your Strengths Are
"A great work ethic and a will to make it" are a couple of the things Dixon says should help place a young hopeful on the right path. "You can't give up. You have to have 'balls.' You also have to be a lover of people, which means you need to be likable, confident in yourself and have to network. Find your niche."
2. Consistency Is Key
"Grow your fanbase, tell your story through your music, network on social media, use hashtags, find your audience by paying attention to what your listeners, fans and followers like the most and do more of that!" he says. "Network and cross promote by doing stuff with other like-minded creatives. Find who are the power players of labels, brands, and social influencers and get their attention. Make sure they know who you are and pay attention to what they're doing. The best way for someone to buy into what you're doing is to support what they're doing."
3. Don't Shy Away From Laboring For Free.99
"I think it's important to work hard, but you should definitely work smart. When you're new and independent, collaborating with other artists and producers is important. You have to do the work for free in the beginning when you're trying to get on because that's when you have the opportunity to freely express your artistry and show people who you are and what you do without trying to use anything else to buy an audience in," he says. "That's when people will be open to listening more. After you develop an audience/fan base—if you're good and your music connects with people—those same people will share your music with others which then creates a demand and value for your brand by then people will respect your art where you can move on to bigger projects where people will pay for your music. Free projects are promotion for what you have coming next. You have to give people a sample of what they can expect next, especially being a new artist. By releasing music for free you can also tell what your audience likes and doesn't like which helps you plan for the future in terms of what you should make/release next."
4. Research And Get To Know The Power Players/Label Heads/Radio Station Heads Because They're People, Too
"Spotify is a great one! Nowadays because of social media, power players are people, too. Anyone who has a large enough attraction or influence are power players," he says. "Music is a powerful tool in itself so you have a lot of brands cross-promoting their products with artists and investing into music, which then can translate positively for you to companies like Spotify, Apple, Tidal, etc. DJs are still powerful as well. They can help break records in certain regions."
5. When Looking For A Label Home, Make Sure Their Goals Align With Yours
"You want to go with a label who has a vision and helps to guide your vision," he shares. "You want to go with a label where you're a priority and can see where you'll be a year from now and they're operating on that. Even if you don't go with a label, any brand or partnerships you go with should have a vision and support the end goal."
6. Stick True To Your Essence And The Collaborations Will Pour In
"You want to rely on anyone who is genuine about collaborating with you and respects you for what you do. That's when you'll get the best product no matter who it is," Dixon notes. "Cosigns and famous collaborations can help, but people like the story of others coming up on their own too. People are smart and can tell when something is forced, when it doesn't make sense, and/or when it's right. You have to be true to yourself and your art. That's when you'll get the best product hands down. If a collaborator believes in you and the both of you have an awesome connection musically, you've won."