How to Get Noticed as a Small Artist in a Big City

How do you get your voice heard in a city that hums with talent? It doesn’t matter if you’re in London, New York, Stockholm, or any other musical hub, getting noticed isn’t easy. Even if you’re the most talented up-and-coming artist in the world, making it in a big city is tough because there are so many people competing for the spotlight. The good news is there are ways to get yourself noticed and we’ve got five tips that can help.

1. Make Your Name Online First

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As an unsigned artist, there is no better place to get eyes on you than social media. Many aspiring artists have built up media skills throughout their lives and can use them to build up a following long before they sign a record deal. Take, for example, Justin Bieber. The Canadian superstar first came to the attention of music fans by posting videos on YouTube. Those videos caught the attention of Usher who opened the record industry’s door to Bieber who’s since gone on to become one of the biggest-selling artists in history.

If you’re going to take this route, quality counts. You don’t necessarily have to do something completely original. Bieber was posting covers of popular songs. It’s all in the delivery. You need a strong singing voice and, if you have something different to what everyone else is doing, you’ve got a foundation. That foundation might not be enough, particularly if you’re trying to get gigs in a big city such as New York. There are thousands of good singers in New York, so make sure your YouTube videos are well-produced.

2. Invest in Yourself

Invest in yourself. Book time at a recording studio. Despite what you might think, studio time doesn’t have to break the bank. Pirate Studios in New York gives you access to a rehearsal studio and recording equipment packages to suit your budget. From standard to professional-level setups with space for a five-piece band, there are plenty of options. Not only does this help get your signature sound into a high-quality audio recording, but the studio environment can motivate you and reinforce your goals as an artist.

It may also be worth investing in a video editor. You don’t have to produce a full-length music video, but something a bit better than you in a bedroom with a podcast microphone should be part of your strategy. Once you’ve got these elements in place and published your video, you can build your social media following by connecting with like-minded musicians, either from similar genres or who have a skillset you may lack. Expanding your network through social media is vital as an early-career musician. Drop them a DM and see if they want to collaborate.

3. Collaborate with Other Artists

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Finding people to collaborate with will be a lot easier if you’ve already uploaded content so they can see if you match their vibe. Music Radar also lists several resources for aspiring musicians who want to collaborate, such as, Musicians Contact, and Kompoz. Join these platforms and put out a call to like-minded people and you could soon have a list of musicians to record content with. The benefit of this is that you get the power of two and, therefore, have more chance of gaining a sizable following. 

Generating enough of a following online can get you into places you otherwise might not have had access to. The owners of venues such as Saint Vitus and Village Vanguard want someone who can sell tickets. They don’t necessarily care how the tickets are sold, just that they are, and that the venue is packed out. Becoming popular on social media is a great way to do this. 

4. Explore New Genres

Using your presence on social media to forge relationships with other artists can be beneficial in other ways. For example, collaborations inspire new ideas and give you different perspectives on music. Let’s say you’re primarily a rock artist. Collaborating with a hip-hop artist, much like Linkin Park and Jay-Z did on the Collision Course EP, could open the door to a whole new stream of content. This proverbial door can lead to new songs that call out to more music fans. Thus, through a single collaboration, you might be able to increase your fanbase.

Again, when venues know someone can sell tickets, they’re more likely to book them. What’s more, if you’re willing to work with artists from other genres, you might get bookings for venues that would have otherwise been off-limits. Sticking with the rock/hip-hop crossover, Sounds of Brazil in New York’s Soho region is primarily for aspiring rap artists. However, if you’re a rock band with a few hip-hop-inspired tunes, it could be a great place to play. Then there are multi-genre venues that may be more willing to book you if your music has different influences.

For example, New York’s Irving Plaza has been a rock venue since the 70s, but its hip-hop roots go back to 1988 when De La Soul played their first gig there. The point here is that collaborations are not just a good way to piggyback on the success of another artist. Working with others can lead to new projects that, in turn, can expose you to different audiences. When more people are listening to your music, venues will listen when you want a spot on their stage. So, if you’re aiming to use social media as a way to get noticed, make sure you embrace its fundamental utility as a platform for connecting with people.

5. Embrace the Grind

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Getting noticed as an artist, particularly in a place like New York, isn’t easy so be prepared to grind. You may spend years uploading videos, networking, and playing at venues across New York, but don’t give up. If you want to make it and believe you’ve got the talent, embrace the grind. Keep the quality high in everything you do and, with the right amount of timing and luck, you can get noticed. 

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