How to be a successful artist

We were at BBC Introducing Live 2018 to learn some essential tips on being a successful artist...


Being a successful artist in 2018 can be challenging as the music industry continually evolves and changes. 

But there's plenty of industry support and guidance out there to help, from music colleges such as ICMP to industry events such as the recent BBC Introducing Live, held at London's Tobacco Dock.

We visited on the event's second day to learn more about how to succeed in the music industry from numerous top speakers and leading professionals. The first session we attended was BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley's Question Time session featuring Stuart Galbraith, founder of Kilimanjaro Live, Mike Smith from music publisher Warner Chappell, artist manager John Dawkins and Luke Pritchard from The Kooks.  Read what we learned from these experts below... 

Be nice

Mike Smith (MS): Working hard and being nice are invaluable in the music industry. If you’re not going to be nice, then you need to be exceptionally good at what you do. Things usually go wrong so it’s best to be pleasant to people, then you can get away with it. 

Live and breath it

John Dawkins (JD): You need to have self-belief. But don’t let this turn into arrogance. At the same time, it’s important to remember that if you want musical success, then you need to live and breath it.

Music isn’t a nine to five

MS: Making music isn’t a business where you apply for a job, you start it and that’s it. It’s not a nine to five. I started as a post boy at a label and pretended to be an A&R person in the evening. Whether you’re getting paid or not, you are doing it. You don’t start being a songwriter once you get a publishing deal. 

Try and do as much as you can before labels come knocking 


Try and do as much as you can yourself before you go near a major label. If you’ve got to a position where you’re being picked up and streamed, getting on the radio and blogs, then there’s less opportunity for major labels to come in and mess it up! 

A lot of artists get signed way too early and it means it has the potential to go wrong.  

Use social media wisely

JD: Use your social media profiles as a TV show or magazine. You need to leverage them like this, then set your stall out as to what you are. That way you can attract people to you. 

Now is a great time to launch your career

MS: I think there is a greater ease of access to the business than ever before. Now there are countless colleges educating people about music and music business is a now seen as a proper career choice. It’s recognised, quite rightly, as an industry that generates a lot of money and opportunities. 

Find your champion

Stuart Galbraith (SG): Once you get something burning, then it can be fanned. It’s all a case of finding your first champions whether that be a manager or lawyer, then use them as a springboard. 

Look after yourself


The sex, drugs and rock’n’roll side of the business is not what it is - and that’s a great thing. People are much more focused on being sustainable. If you can get a bit of sleep and eat properly, then that’s going to help you in the long run." 

Surround yourself with good people

Luke Pritchard (LP): Surround yourself with good people. It keeps you grounded and can stop you from being a dick. Look at someone like Damon Albarn - his team has been with him for some time. This kind of stability is also really good for your mental health as well as your career...   

Visit to find out more. 

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship,  learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email and start your music career today.

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by Jim Ottewill
November 13, 2018
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