When it comes to the music business it’s a constantly changing industry that requires performers to continually move with the times.

However, some things never change and if you want to get it right it’s important to follow a few simple rules.

Colin Magee, director of Panarts the organisers of the annual Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival (belfastnashville.com, back March 2-6, 2016) shares his top tips:

1. Music Business
When a person is confident they have the potential to make money from their songs and want to turn their music hobby into a business, the first step is to focus on the fundamentals of their craft and business skills.

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2. Learning Your Craft
Writing great memorable songs is essential and that means writing quality lyrics and melodies that people want to buy.
Getting advice from other artists and perhaps trying to co-write can enhance your skills.
The most successful writers I have encountered say they are learning every day.

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3. Protect Yourself
Protecting your intellectual property is essential.
You should join a performance rights organisation such as PRS or IMRO to collect any royalty payments due to you.

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4. Plan Ahead
Initially, focus on one song and ask yourself ‘is there a market for this song and who would want to record it or work with me to release it?’ There are lots of different approaches and listening to other artists is a good idea. If you want to perform your songs there is no substitute for getting out there and playing to audiences to gauge reaction to your music.

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5. Samples
A quality demo of your song is essential and sitting down to plan ahead is important.
Learn the skills required to make full use of social media, radio stations, the media in general and if you start to have commercial success you might need a publisher to chase after royalties and to place your songs in TV, film and with other artists.

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6. Stay Updated
Exposure for original music is much easier with the internet and websites like YouTube and Facebook. However the downside of that is many people download songs for free. Still, if people have quality songs to sell, there are ways to make money through crowd funding sites and building a loyal fan base who will come out to hear your music.

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