Making It: Six Innovative Ways to Launch Your Music Career in 2022
Making It: Six Innovative Ways to Launch Your Music Career in 2022March 31, 2022
The music industry is a crowded place these days. More artists than ever are vying for the spotlight, and there are more ways than ever to promote your music. But where do you even start?
For some, TikTok is the answer. Others use the magic of YouTube. There’s no right answer — only new ways of thinking and DIY approaches that are tearing up the rulebook on how to stand out as a burgeoning young artist.
Read on for inspiration and insight into how these six artists have launched their careers in the modern music industry.
A Little Sound — A YouTube Sensation
She may be A Little Sound, but the noise she’s creating in the drum and bass scene is anything but small. If you’re on Tik-Tok then you’ll likely recognise her face, and if you love a good power vocal then you’ll probably have heard her dreamy voice. Despite being in her early twenties, she has already become one of the most sought-after vocalists in the genre.
While many vocalists start their journey approaching producers or getting noticed at shows, A Little Sound focused on making herself stand out through YouTube. “I broke through the saturated music scene by applying my acoustic vocals to D&B,” she tells Beatportal. “I used to upload acoustic covers of my favourite D&B songs. This was a great way to get noticed by producers.” Two artists who spotted her talent were Technimatic and Kanine, and they went on to create “Lakota” and “Back In Time,” respectively – two of D&B’s biggest anthems in recent years. According to A Little Sound, “if I hadn’t uploaded videos to YouTube, I may not have had the same opportunities.”
But it’s not just the way she broke onto the D&B scene that makes Little Sound unique. During lockdown, A Little Sound developed her own stage show, incorporating singing, MCing, DJing and hosting. It’s an ambition born from experiences on stage where she felt somewhat out of place.
“Performing my songs to an audience was the best feeling, but I felt like I relied on DJs and didn’t have control of my sets,” she says. “Once I’d nailed this combination of DJing and singing, I was much more confident in myself as a performer. DJing for yourself as a vocalist is definitely appealing to promoters as I’m now getting booked for new events and international shows.”
A Little Sound’s approach to DIY performances is paying off in a big way.
Fred again.. — Redefining the Concept Album
Fred again.. is the man behind 2021 Beatport top seller, “Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)” with The Blessed Madonna, and over three years he’s already released three albums and become one of the most talked-about talents in the house scene.
It’s the album releases that really make Fred again.. stand out. The concept album has been around for years, but the way Fred approached his last two albums was something completely different. Titled Actual Life 1 (April 14 – December 17 2020) and Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021), the albums are exactly that – his actual life. They’re an honest diary of his last couple of years, with each song relating to personal experiences in his everyday life – from conversations he’s had to things he’s seen.
When speaking to Mixmag last November, he described the albums as “the makeup of my camera roll made into songs,” explaining that “there’s something so exciting to me about how you can make music from the world around you now, where that wasn’t possible before. You had to go into a recording studio previously – now, if you went on a night out that was really cathartic, you could just sample it.”
For someone who has gained millions of fans, streams, and hits, you’d assume Fred’s sample-driven production set-up was an expansive one, but it’s really not. Pretty much all of his music is written using a laptop, iPad and iPhone – going to show what you can achieve with a humble set-up. You don’t need to spend thousands to make it as a music artist. Believe in your ideas, come up with concepts unique to you, and let your creativity flow.
Michael Bibi — Do-it-Yourself Party Master
While most musicians work their way up by releasing music and playing shows for promoters before launching their own imprint, Michael Bibi did the opposite. If you’re familiar with Solid Grooves then you’ll likely know how big it (and Bibi) have become. But back at the beginning when the club night/music label first launched, no one really knew the man behind it or the music he was making.
“It started just as an idea for friends to come together that enjoyed a similar style of music that wasn’t really being done anywhere else at that time,” Bibi told WhistleLouder in a 2018 interview. “We had no idea what it would turn into.” While the imprint didn’t help him stand out initially, over time, Solid Grooves amassed a loyal following of fans hungry for groovy tech house beats. London was its stomping ground, and a fateful night at Egg London where Bibi unleashed his new “Hanging Tree” single led to the artist’s ‘overnight success.’
As Mixmag described in their 2020 interview with Bibi: “He made the track in 45 minutes, played it out that night at Egg London and it instantly went viral, starting a series of events that catapulted Bibi to superstar DJ status – selling out London’s Leake Street Tunnel in 15 seconds, winning Best Tech House DJ at the 2019 DJ Awards, and running the hugely successful Solid Grooves residency at Privilege Ibiza.”
As a young artist, sometimes you feel inclined to follow the same path as those before you, but as Michael Bibi has shown, doing it yourself can pay off in huge and unexpected ways.
Nia Archives — The Pioneer
If you caught a glimpse of Bandlab’s NME Awards 2022 then you probably saw Nia Archives win the award for Best Producer, and saw her speech, saying, “It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do whatever you like and you can make something of yourself.”
This is exactly what Nia Archives has done. Despite only releasing her debut single “Sober Feels” in 2020, which is sitting at over four million Spotify streams, and her debut EP Headz Gone West in 2021, Nia Archives has already become one of the most talked-about artists in jungle for her fresh take on the genre.
There’s a beautiful sense of rebellion to the music she releases with no one track sounding the same, and that’s one of the ways she described herself as standing out in a UKF interview last May. “One of the reasons things have progressed so fast is because what I’m doing is not really being done in the scene right now,” she said. “I feel like I’m approaching my sound from a different perspective.” As someone laying down neo-soul vocal hooks over jungle tracks, alongside creating personalised archive-style rave videos for her releases, Nia Archives is doing things differently to most right now.
It’s not just her sound that’s unique either. It’s her identity. While many young artists spend years working their way up the label ladder, Nia Archives set up her own HIJINXX imprint from the off, and that’s been the home for her releases. It’s testament to the fact you don’t need the recognition of a label to cement your name. Believe in the uniqueness of your craft and take ownership in your identity.
Miss Monique — Stream Queen
If you love progressive house then you’ll know Miss Monique. From producing hits including “Don’t Come Back” (feat. JOSEFINA) and “Eclipse” to founding Siona Records, she’s quickly become one of the biggest names in the genre.
But it all began with her Mind Games podcast on Ukrainian online radio station Intense before Miss Monique started a podcast in her home studio. MiMo Weekly Podcasts was born, and the community grew fast. As the go-to place for exclusives, Miss Monique’s mixes consistently garnered attention from loyal fans. But it was during lockdown when she really stood out.
The turning point came during a stream for the cancelled Atlas Weekend 2020 in the centre of Kyiv. It took place “in the middle of the river on a barge, with the crowd in the distance on small boats,” Miss Monique tells Beatportal. “The audience loved that video and I realised I was moving in the right direction.” Since then, she’s taken her streams to exotic locations like the Red Sea in Egypt and Tulum in Mexico, which helped her gain millions of new fans.
Despite only launching Siona Records in 2019, the label is already Beatport’s 5th best-selling progressive house label – an achievement Miss Monique attributes partly to her YouTube endeavours. “The community on my channel has helped the label grow fast,” she says. “Year by year it has grown, and now the live streams have a small festival crowd with 3000-4000 people tuned in.”
With her recent streams pulling over one million views regularly, it goes to show that investing time in building an online community with unique content is a great way to stand out.
Read Miss Monique’s Beatport ‘Artist of the Month’ feature here.
PinkPantheress — TikTok Breakthrough
Whether you like it or not, TikTok has had a monumental influence on the music industry. From creating viral hits to bedroom superstars, young artists are finding their way into the limelight faster than ever before though TikTok, and PinkPantheress is no exception, having made a name for herself through catchy, vocal-led mashups with D&B, jungle, lo-fi or UKG beats.
After originally posting music on her SoundCloud with little to show for it, PinkPantheress turned to TikTok in December 2021 hoping the ‘throwaway content’ friendly platform would help her get noticed. “I tried all the other options in terms of getting my music out there – and I feel like TikTok was my saving grace,” she told NME in an interview last year. “I was using TikTok anyway just to watch videos, but the idea of it being used as a music-sharing platform struck my mind one day when I made a video with zero followers and it kind of did well.”
Considering the song from the video – “Just for me” – was picked by TikTok as the platform’s breakout track of 2021, and her follower count has surpassed one million, the video did much more for PinkPantheress than the 21-year-old gives credit.
Which is even more amazing given the fact that her TikTok videos initially hid her face. She also avoided video interviews and refused to give much away. We still don’t know her name, and it’s all part of the appeal.
As she told NME, “I wanted this to be more about the music than how I presented myself.” It’s a sense of privacy you wouldn’t associate with most new-gen artists looking to get their name out there, but it has only made people more interested in PinkPantheress.
Given the success of her debut album to hell with it, virality and mystery have proven the ultimate formula for PinkPantheress.
Jake Hirst is a freelance writer living in Bristol, UK, who has previously been published in UKF, DJ Mag, Data Transmission and Ticket Arena. A certified drum & bass head, you can keep up to date with his writing on Instagram.