How to Break into the Entertainment Industry

Ariana Grande preforms at Billboard Women In Music 2018 on December 6, 2018 in New York City.
Ariana Grande | Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Billboard

If you’ve dreamed of becoming an entertainer, you’ve probably wondered how to get your start. It can be tough to get your big break. The Cheat Sheet reached out to Michael Stover, president of MTS Management Group, a publicity and promotions firm for music artists. Here’s what Stover had to say about breaking into entertainment.

The Cheat Sheet: What’s the first step you should take if you want to break into the entertainment industry?

Michael Stover: Just do it! Have a viable product and an online presence. If you’re a recording artist, have a CD or digital downloads for streaming/sale. You should have a dedicated website with your music, videos, social media links, bio, newsfeed, etc. You need these things to begin your journey. Start to do things for yourself before you look for anyone to help you. You will be your own best salesperson. Also, start immersing yourself in the local music scene. The more you support other local bands, the more support you’re likely to get from them and their fans. It’s very much a give-and-take industry.

CS: What are some do’s and don’ts?

MS: Do network, support other acts, record music, get a dedicated website, and participate in social media. Be kind and courteous to everyone you meet. Work harder than everyone else you know. Don’t act like you’re bigger than you are, don’t pretend to be something you aren’t, or ignore fan messages. Also, don’t keep your music off streaming sites or YouTube. Don’t be afraid of technology, and don’t expect everyone to owe you something because you’re talented.

CS: Are there any tools, such as IMDb Pro, that entertainers should purchase?

MS: Not necessarily tools, but I believe in joining industry associations like the Recording Academy, Country Music Association, Independent Music and Entertainment Association, and Josie Music Awards. These are great networking possibilities. I would also recommend purchasing some recording software, if not for recording your own albums, for doing demos.

CS: If you don’t have industry connections, how can you get connected?

MS: Hire a professional who already has the knowledge and connections you need. Again, joining some professional associations will point you in the right direction. Reach out to some people on social media. You’d be surprised how many people will be willing to give you a point in the right direction. Ask friends and family. Often, friends of friends may have some connections. Start performing everywhere you can. You never know who you might cross paths with.

Also, open for other, more established acts. There are also lots of resources available online, mostly for free. Don’t spam people with requests; develop relationships.

CS: How can you stay financially afloat while pursuing your dream?

MS: There’s an old saying: Don’t quit your day job. That’s as real as it gets. Keep a day job to help you finance your music career until it becomes a viable business.

CS: Anything to add?

MS: Just remember that there is so much competition out there. The little things you do that someone else may not do, can make all the difference. There’s no substitute for hard work. Talent will only get you so far. You also need drive, money, a little luck, and a lot of prayers.

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