There is a lot of competition in the music industry — thousands of aspiring musicians are vying to become the next breakout artist, while the superstars of the industry dominate the billboard charts and radio airwaves.

So, if you’re an aspiring singer/songwriter, how do you stand out in such a crowded space? While there is no guarantee that you will get noticed by record labels and industry executives, allow FanLabel to provide a few tips to best position yourself for the opportunity.

Tip #1: Use social media to your advantage

This may sound obvious, but it’s extremely important. Social media is a free platform with the potential for an extraordinary reach right at your fingertips. Think about this for a second: Facebook has more than 2.2 billion monthly users, with about 1.45 billion daily users. As of the first quarter of 2018, Twitter had 336 million monthly users. Several notable musicians got their start from uploading YouTube or (now defunct) Vine videos and growing a following on those platforms: Shawn Mendes, Tori Kelly, Charlie Puth, Alessia Cara and even Justin Bieber! The kind of exposure social media can create is unparalleled.

It could become quite time-consuming to create, grow and maintain a social media presence, but it will be well worth it if you are discovered by the right people. Below are a few specific tips for succeeding on social media:

-Have a welcoming profile picture and cover photo

-Boost important posts on Facebook to a defined audience with similar interests

-Engage with your fans/followers by mentioning them or commentening back

-Create Twitter lists with like-minded folks and people in the music industry

-Used pinned posts to ensure the most pertinent or timely information is displayed at the top of your page

-Create a concise, but intriguing bio/about section that shows what you do and your personality

Tip #2 Create a blog

Yes, this may also be a time-consuming task, but it will pay off if you execute it correctly. Aspiring musicians can blog about any number of things: upcoming shows, the song-writing process, stories from the road or those about your struggles and triumphs, video blogs of past shows or backstage access, your favorite instruments, your influences, etc.

There are a few reasons why a blog is beneficial for aspiring musicians, First, it is great for search engine optimization (SEO). That way, if somebody searches online for a topic you are writing about, they may just stumble upon your name and your music. Or, if they search your name, it will be a way for them to discover and follow your blog. Be sure to use specific keywords, meta descriptions, alt text on photos and, for WordPress users, the Yoast SEO plug-in is very helpful (and has a free version).

Second, a blog allows your followers a chance to see what it is like to be an aspiring artist. They will see your trials and tribulations, and perseverance and dedication. There is a real human element to it, so be sure to use multimedia, such as photos and videos. Lastly, if you keep the content up-to-date, it shows you’re active and are serious about pursuing a career in music.

Specific tip: Link to other internal articles within your blog in the body copy of the articles, or intersperse related links in between paragraphs.

Tip #3 Build a network and value constructive criticism

If you’re an aspiring musician, you should be in constant network mode when the opportunity is there. For example, if you’re playing the same gig as other singers or bands, connect with them. Exchange contact info, ask to collaborate on an upcoming song, hell, add them on LinkedIn. What’s important to remember is that every person you meet in the industry likely has contacts that are beneficial to know, and they may just introduce you to that hit-making producer or set up a phone call with a great publicist.

Building a network is also something that will take time — remember, you’re playing the long game here. Making friends in the industry is only going to help you in the long run, and it will expand your career. Again, use social media to your advantage and follow the new people you’ve met and shout them out to your followers. They’re likely to do the same.

Also ask for feedback and constructive criticism. Work on what others are telling you to get better and hone your craft. Likewise, provide tips and advice for other aspiring musicians, as well.

While we won’t get into as much detail, here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

-Always be professional, whether online or in-person

-Create a crowdfunding campaign, such as a Kickstarter, to raise money and create awareness for your endeavors or for a cause you are supporting

-Surround yourself with open-minded people

-Define the reasons why you are putting in this much effort, and never forget that

-Be yourself and have fun

-Never doubt yourself