Image credit: Nick Karvounis

A new study has found what musicians have the most difficulty with – here are some tips on overcoming them.

Any musician, of any size, will know that being in the industry isn’t easy. Making a career out of music is hard and whilst each person’s challenges are different, there are difficulties that many artists have in common.

A recent study by MIDiA Research looked to discover the problems that musicians have in common. By gathering responses from music creators operating in the industry at the moment, they were able to gauge what the biggest problems facing modern musicians are.

MIDiA asked artists: “What are the biggest challenges you are currently experiencing regarding your music?”

Image credit; MIDiA Research

1. Breaking through the noise

The most common issue by far was the difficulty in getting heard. 70% of respondents listed this as a challenge. Whilst the industry has changed hugely with streaming platforms, opening up the opportunity for all artists to reach a global audience, that also means more competition.

MIDia found that this was a challenge even for established artists, writing: “For most artists across history, achieving their first breakthrough moment has always been the biggest hurdle. But two important things have changed: not only has breaking through become that much harder; it is difficult for artists across all career stages. Even established artists are finding it harder to make a splash with their new releases, and harder still to retain consumers’ attention.”

The playing field has levelled in terms of available tools for artists of all sizes in both releasing music and promoting music. But with an abundance of content and short attention spans, it’s difficult to retain attention from audiences.

How to manage this:

Getting discovered will always be difficult. Focus on doing as much as you can; making content on social media, speaking to publications and promoters, trying to play live, and doing anything that might put your music in front of more people.

Once you find something that is building a bit of traction, focus on doing more of that to see if it multiplies.

For retaining audiences, artist-fan interaction is huge in this day and age. With social media and interactive platforms, there are loads of ways in which you can directly interact with fans with ease. This builds connections and creates a loyal fanbase who feel a dedication to you and your music.

2. Joining the dots between social activity and streaming

Social media is a fantastic place to broaden your reach. It’s easily accessible, free, and has a huge audience. Hopping on to TikTok with a fun, easy video is a simple way to potentially increase your exposure.

However, a viral video doesn’t necessarily translate to a boost in streams on Spotify. With the proliferation of social media, many artists now try to build an audience there as a sideline of promotion towards their music career.

Clearly, artists are struggling to marry the two. 40% of the artists asked listed this in their top three issues as a music creator.

How to manage this:

Social Media is a fantastic way to reach people and there are huge opportunities for musicians on social media. However, it’s important to keep your focus on your music. If you start going viral for skits, it doesn’t necessarily translate to listens because the content isn’t related. Try to make content that is directly related to your music.

Also, make use of other creators. You can upload your music to TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels through RouteNote. This allows other creators to use your music, and potentially get your songs going viral or trending whilst making money at the same time.

3. Lack of time to create

It’s a busy world, and stressful to boot. Not many people are in the lucky position to dedicate their full time to music. Most musicians are working other jobs, and many musicians who are doing music full time are stressfully attempting to make ends meet.

All this means that time left to actually write, refine, and record music is diminished. Not to mention the stresses and tiredness of the modern world impacting the energy and inspiration of creatives. 33% of respondents said a lack of time to create was among their biggest challenges.

How to manage this:

You can’t quit your day job and you can’t force creativity. Try to carve some time each week when you know you’ll be free to spend on music and nothing else. It may be hard if you’re tired and you want to spend this time relaxing and recuperating, but don’t put stress on it. Just allow yourself to do something musical.

Music should be a pleasure first, so prioritise the joy of it and hopefully – even if slowly – more will come from those little pockets of time.

4. Lack of financial resources

The sad truth is that music is rarely a very profitable business for creatives. Of course, it is a passion and something that is rewarding in many other ways. A career in music is unlikely to be wealth-making unless you’re a huge artist, but it can be enough to get by.

This issue can mar with the last one somewhat. Many musicians will work another job for money, leaving little time to create. But prioritising creation over work leaves little money to work with.

30% of respondents picked this as a top three issue for them. Unfortunately, we don’t have more specific responses as to where artists are feeling their lack of finances is having an impact.

How to manage this:

It’s 2024, and we’re lucky enough to live in a world with an abundance of free resources. Whilst it can be tempting to simply pay some money in the hopes it will have returns in audience numbers and sales, there’s a lot you can do organically and investment doesn’t necessarily equal returns.

RouteNote offers free music distribution to all of the world’s top music services, so that you can reach a global audience and earn streaming revenues without spending a penny. is a promotional platform that is accessible for free, offering marketing tools to expand your reach and grow your audiences.

Many amazing tools for empowering artists are now available for free. Make use of them as much as possible to save for investment where it really matters.

5. Lack of industry know-how

Entering the music industry is scary, we know that. It’s not as simple as pushing your music out there and seeing what happens. There are copyright laws, label structuring, income taxes and returns, and so much more to think about.

Whilst not one of the biggest problems, 12% still listed a lack of knowledge about the industry as one of their three primary concerns.

How to manage this:

Make use of the publicly available information online. There are blogs, news articles, YouTube videos, and more on every topic you can imagine. If you have concerns about any topics then simply look them online and inform yourself. Be wary of misleading information and ensure you source your information from a range of sources.

If you don’t know where to start, regularly checking music blogs and channels that cover the industry to see what their latest content is can be a good start. At the RouteNote blog, we publish music industry news, artists advice, and more most days, every week.

6. Lack of clear, actionable song data from DSPs

We live in a data-driven world and the performance of our content can go a long way in informing our future actions for a better strategy. However, 9% of respondents listed a lack of clear and actionable data from digital service providers (DSPs) as one of their primary issues.

Music analytics are empowering: With data on your audience you can make smarter decisions about who and where you promote. Geographics of your listeners provide valuable inspiration for tour dates that are guaranteed to sale.

How to manage this:

Ensure you’re getting all the data you can. When your music is on platforms like Spotify for Artists and Apple Music for Artists you can see detailed analytics. View our piece on claiming your artist profile across all the major services here.

When you upload your music with RouteNote you’ll receive regular reports with a full breakdown of your streaming data and where your revenue is coming from.

7. Lack of a cross-platform view of fanbase

Digital platforms are largely individual. All the major streaming services are in competition with each other, so it makes sense that they keep their data in-house.

Whilst it wasn’t one of the major concerns for artists, 7% said they found this to be a problem for them.

How to manage this:

As with the last point, we can gather your data across all services you’ve distributed your music to through RouteNote to present you with an overall analysis and in-depth performance insights each month.

The music industry isn’t easy, but with RouteNote you can make it easier. Gain access to unlimited, free distribution, streaming revenues, and regular analytics at