There is so much power in being an independent artist. Now more than ever, you have advantages that you’ve never had before. From complete creative control to the ability to make decisions for yourself, being an independent artist is no longer seen as simply a stepping stone on the way to signing to a label. Many artists—perhaps even you—have made a decision that indie is the way to go.
However, one of the things you’re bound to run into as you navigate the DIY waters is the inevitable feeling of wearing all the hats. You know what I mean—you’re the manager, you’re the publicist, you’re the marketer, and you’re the booker. You’re trying to learn, do, and get better at everything, and it’s exhausting.
You start to feel frustrated and a little resentful, as you wonder—how am I supposed to do this all alone?
Like no matter what you did you couldn’t seem to work your way out of the struggles you were having and into the thriving career you wanted for yourself?
You’re not alone. In fact, every artist I’ve spoken to over the last 10 years of my career has felt this way at one time or another. The frustration of feeling like there’s nowhere you can turn and that no one can help with your unique situation is enough to make you wonder what you’re doing.
But imagine if I could wave a magic wand and suddenly, you’d never have to feel that sense of overwhelm again. You’d know that as soon as you had a question, you could get it answered. As soon as you begin to feel that stress, you’d have someone to turn to.
The concept of a music fan purchasing an artist’s music might seem outdated in 2020, but it’s still a crucial part of making an income and leaving a legacy as an artist. Music has changed so much in recent years that it’s easy to dismiss long-standing cultural and industry traditions like selling music physically and digitally, but artists and audiences alike lose out when convenience ushers out things that are truly meaningful and enduring in music. Selling and owning music is something all musicians should be advocating for.
Digital streaming platforms are bringing both huge benefits and challenges to musicians. Today, the idea of an unknown artist distributing their music online and resonating with audiences instantly is very much a real thing. But while more music is being made and listened to than ever before, building real connections with listeners is a major challenge for musicians working in an unprecedented era of music saturation and competition. You might have loads of streams and followers in today’s digitally driven music industry, but making real fans is a whole other story.
Sharing new music for the first time is incredibly exciting for a songwriter. After months or sometimes years of working on a project, music takes on an entirely new meaning and purpose once it finally makes its way to audiences. Understandably, for many musicians, the money made or lost on something like an album or EP isn’t nearly as much of a concern as whether new music ends up striking a chord with fans or not. But the unavoidable truth here is that not caring about your relationship with money is something that can harm or even destroy your career. The good news is that you can plan realistic financial goals for your releases that support and prioritize things like connecting with audiences and not going into debt over your music.
I probably don’t need to tell you that we’re living in an unprecedented time not just for music, but just about every other facet of human life. We have more ways to instantaneously share and absorb information than ever before, and that’s not always a good thing. Whereas musicians working just a decade ago didn’t need to worry much about how they related to their fans online, it’s something that can absolutely make or break an artist’s career today. In theory, musicians being completely open and transparent about their personal lives is something that fans can and long to relate to, but the reality is a whole lot more complex than that. Some musical identities and genres of music are much better served through things like sharing political views and personal stories than others. Share too much or too little with your audience, and you risk alienating your fans or appearing cold and uninterested. How do you find the right balance? Asking these questions can help:
Lots of musicians make music with the intention of sharing their work with the world. The main function of being a serious musician is giving music with people, whether it’s through live performances, recorded songs, or both. But making music available for audiences is a serious choice with consequences we don’t often give much attention to as musicians.