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Music Mentors - How They Can Help Your Career and How To Find One

December 14, 2023
3 min read

Looking to land an artist management deal as soon as possible? It might be worth following the lead of many other independent artists and looking elsewhere if you want to make your first moves in the music industry. Music mentorship programs are becoming increasingly popular with aspiring musicians, offering the tools and resources you need to launch a successful career. 

Mentors come from a variety of different backgrounds, but all of them will have experience working within the industry. With no direct control over their mentees, they offer their opinion and insight based on the lessons they’ve learned. If their vision and values align with your own, you’re off to a great start.  

With a little commitment on your part, music mentorship programs can ignite artistic development and engage you creatively, resulting in one of the most important relationships you’ll ever have as an artist. Ready to kickstart your career? Read on to find out what a music mentor does, how they can help you, and where you can find one.  

The Role of Music Mentorship   

If you’re ready to start a career in music, it’s tempting to put too much stock in an artist manager. Yes, a good manager will open some doors for you, but they rarely offer the mentorship that emerging artists need. If you want to learn more about the inner workings of the industry and make the right connections, music mentors for independent musicians are the way to go.   

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to music mentorship. Your objectives are going to look a lot different to another up-and-coming musician, so mentors have to adapt. Generally speaking, they’ll offer you guidance on specific industry topics, like how you can secure more gigs as an independent artist or make smarter networking decisions.  

Music mentors also understand the importance of artist development and can encourage creativity. A mentor will provide you with the constructive criticism you need to hear and continuously encourage artist development.   

What Background Do Music Mentors Come From?   

Mentors come from a variety of different backgrounds in the industry. Some mentors have enjoyed successful careers as musicians themselves, while others have worked in A&R or focused on artist development. You’ll also come across songwriters, PR specialists, managers, and more.   

Does Music Mentorship Deliver Results?   

Is mentorship in music effective? The statistics say yes. 92% of respondents surveyed by Berklee College of Music said that mentorship had been a positive factor in their music careers. They also reported being happier in their jobs, satisfied with career trajectory, and earning more than those who hadn’t benefited from music mentorship programs.  

Benefits of Music Mentorship   

The music industry can feel like a minefield. For emerging musicians struggling to create a compelling artist bio or make connections, landing the right mentor is a godsend and brings many benefits.     

  • Find Your Strengths: A mentor will tell you what you’re good at and what needs work. This means you can fine-tune your strongest assets and not waste time on things you’ll never excel at.   
  • Tailored Guidance: Mentors help you identify goals and plan on how to achieve them. Honest and urgent feedback also means nobody is sugarcoating the bad news.   
  • Unbeatable Expertise: Need help putting out a press release or creating an EPK? With their extensive experience, mentors can provide insights into all aspects of the music industry.  
  • Industry Connections: Mentors connect you with the rest of the industry, helping you expand your professional network.  
  • Always Prepared: With the support and advice of a mentor, you’ll be ready to navigate stumbling blocks as you pursue a career in music.   


Finding the Right Music Mentor  

 As far as the mentee-mentor relationship goes, compatibility is key. A mentor comes highly recommended, but you can’t guarantee they’re a good fit with you creatively. What should you be looking for in a music mentor? Some crossover in terms of style and vision is ideal, with a mentor who shares your values more able to give you the creative guidance you need.  

If you can, find a mentor who you admire. You’re more likely to take criticism well from someone who’s inspired you. Just be prepared to be challenged with feedback and suggestions that are going to take you out of your comfort zone.  

Where to Find a Music Mentor?   

 Looking to land the perfect music mentor? Below are just a few ways you can find one who works for you.    

  • Networking: An easy way to make connections is through networking events. Look for music conferences and industry events nearby where potential mentors might be hanging out.   
  • Workshops: Music workshops are a great way of developing your skills and sound. They’re typically run by established musicians with extensive experience. If they’re hosting workshops, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in providing mentorship services.   
  • Reach Out Online: If you’re having no luck finding a mentor nearby, turn to the internet to broaden your search. Start the ball rolling by reaching out to potential mentors via email and you can take it from there.   
  • Ask Other Musicians: The artists who you meet on the live circuit will be familiar with the idea of music mentorship. Ask them about who they might have used in the past and if they can recommend anyone.   
  • Mentorship Programs: These programs are designed to make it easier for musicians to connect with industry experts, with closely aligned goals and expertise that can help with the creative development of emerging artists.   

Introducing IndieFlow’s Music Mentorship Program  

Feeling adrift in a competitive industry without the tools, knowledge, and resources you need to thrive? IndieFlow’s mentorship program delivers the input you need to take the next steps toward your goals.  

Our mentors come from all corners of the music industry, granting you access to the expertise you’ll need to build a successful career. You can also count on guidance that’s tailored to you. Our mentorship team will identify where you’re at in your career, putting together a plan of action to help you achieve your ambitions.     

Along with much-needed advice, our mentors will make a welcome addition to your network. The more connections you make, the more opportunities you’ll encounter. The music industry is fiercely competitive, even for established artists with years of experience behind them. Under the tutelage of a mentor, you don’t have to worry about any obstacle getting in between you and your dreams.   

Real-Life Success Stories   

In hip-hop circles, Dr. Dre is a living legend, helping shape the careers of many artists. Eminen is one of his most famous proteges, who Dre discovered in the 1990s. Emimen’s first album had sold barely a thousand copies, but his luck would change when Dre signed him to Aftermath in 1998. 

With Dre’s approval, Eminen got the credibility he needed in a genre he looked out of place in. Dre helped Eminen develop his Slim Shady persona and develop his freestyle rap skills, and was hands-on during recording. His efforts paid off, with The Slim Shady LP becoming a critical and commercial success.  

Sometimes, even established artists need help staying relevant. David Bowie played mentor to many household names, with Lou Reed just one example. In the 1970s, Reed was struggling to launch a solo career after leaving the Velvet Underground.   

His first album was a disappointment, but Bowie’s creative direction helped turn his next one, Transformer, into a hit, with Bowie encouraging Reed to embrace the glam rock sound that was popular at the time. Transform proved to be Reed’s solo breakthrough, with the album remaining a favorite with critics.  

Overcoming Challenges  

You can get a lot out of a mentor-mentee relationship, but you need to be braced for the odd bump along the way. Below are just some of the hurdles you might have to deal with.  

  • Commitment: Make an effort to attend every meeting you have scheduled with your mentor. Unexpected emergencies can happen, but don’t let poor timekeeping keep you away from your sessions.  
  • Be Business-Minded: Mentorship programs are an investment in your career, so treat them with a business mindset. Be meticulous with your scheduling and utilize every opportunity and resource your mentor provides you with. 
  • Overdependence: A great mentor can be a fount of knowledge, with plenty of relevant advice you can put into practice. Just don’t become too dependent on their insights and approval. A little autonomy goes a long way in  this business. 
  • Accepting Criticism: Struggle to accept criticism? Get over it. Mentors can only help you if you’re prepared to listen to constructive criticism and suggestions. You’re going to have to deal with rejection and compromise later on in your career, so get a stomach for it now.   
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Mentors aren’t a shortcut to success. A mentor can help season your sound and suggest potential avenues you could explore. However, don’t expect them to use their influence to get you in front of all the right people.  
  • Personality Clashes: Sometimes, mentees and mentors just don’t click. If you find yourself in a no-start situation, step back and consider what’s not working. Are things dead in the water thanks to a clash of personalities? Rather than stick around and let mistrust and missed sessions become the norm, bite the bullet and look elsewhere for a better match-up. 

Take the Next Steps with a Music Mentor  

If you want the tools and resources you need to succeed in the music industry, mentorship programs are a must. You can’t put a price on the first-hand experience and insights you’ll get from a mentor, with the best ones being able to give you the constructive criticism you need to hear as an artist. They’ll help you identify and accept your key weaknesses, work on what you can, and capitalize on your strengths.   

Struggling to find your voice? Feeling lost? Now’s the time to find out what music mentorship can do for you. IndieFlow’s music mentorship program is designed for independent artists looking for tailored guidance from experts with industry experience.  

Life as an independent musician can seem like an uphill battle, but you don’t have to face it alone. IndieFlow’s mentors come from every corner of the business, bringing their unparalleled expertise and offering an insider’s view of the industry. Our mentors will work closely with you to establish your career goals and help you hammer out a framework for achieving your objectives.   

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