January 18, 2023

Which Music Career Stage Do You Fit Into?

One of the main drivers for music business success is how long you’re willing to hang in there. It’s obviously a lot easier to struggle through times of no money when you’re in your twenties than when you get older and have a family to worry about, but some lifers put that aside and continue on anyway. It’s instructive to know the music career stage that you fit into though, as it at least tells you the breadth of the competition that you’re up against.

Which career stage are you at?

Chartmetric tracks artist career growth, and the way they measure it starts with the career stage that you’re in. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Undiscovered: Top 1M-8.5M+ artists
  2. Developing: Top 30K-1M artists
  3. Mid-Level: Top 8K-30K artists
  4. Established: Top 2K-8K artists
  5. Superstar: Top 1.2K artists who started releasing music in the last 30 years
  6. Heritage: Top 1.2K artists who started releasing music more than 30 years ago

Here’s what qualifies an artist or band for each stage, according to a 2019 academic study called An Artist Management Practicum: Teaching Artist Management in the Twenty-First Century) by music educator Terry R. Tompkins:

Stage 1: Undiscovered Act

  • Little or no previous track record of success
  • No tour history
  • Performing local shows and garnering local press
  • Low streaming and social numbers
  • Little to no branded messaging
  • Members of artist professional team (manager, agent, attorney) not in place
  • No record label or publishing company

Stage 2: Developing Act

  • Recently signed to a label
  • Regional touring base established
  • Playing 300-500 capacity rooms
  • Booking agent on team
  • Social or viral presence
  • Self-managed or could have manager on team
  • Business manager not needed yet

Stage 3: Mid-Level Act

  • One largely successful release or multiple consistent sellers
  • Sales, radio, touring, and/or sync licensing stories
  • Touring venues with 500-3.5K capacity
  • Next release is anticipated by fans, press, and industry

Stage 4: Established Act

  • Fully developed core fanbase
  • Multiple successful releases
  • Tour base in several territories
  • Playing 5K-10K capacity rooms
  • Household name, but not a superstar

Stage 5: Superstar Act

  • Artist established in many worldwide territories
  • Released several platinum records and worldwide tours
  • Huge grossing tours in arenas and stadiums (10K-100K capacity)
  • Merchandising and branding are large sources of income

Stage 6: Heritage Act

  • Long established fanbase
  • No need for label (self-releasing/distribution deal)
  • Self-administer publishing
  • Streaming and social media challenges (older demographic)
  • Touring large arenas

The description noted above will give you an indication of what career stage you’re at and where you need to go to jump to the next stage. You can find further Chartmetric measurements here.


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