It is projected that in this year alone, DIY artists will earn a whopping $1 Billion. With a vast consumption of music by various streaming platforms, including Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music, independent artists are today not as hopeless as they once were. In fact, major labels are begging for their business as performance indicators show that self-releasing indies are gobbling a major percentage of the global market share. If you are a DIY musician eager to make it in the highly competitive industry, this blog is for you. We will share some fool-proof tips to help you distribute your homespun tracks and reach your audience with remarkable ease.
Before you dive in, note that we have derived our information from a range of credible sources. We took the time to study commendable music industry survivors to learn what they did and how they did it. First, we will discuss some proven tips to make it as a DIY musician. At the tail end of the blog, we will sample the success stories of some of the most prominent DIY artists. These are artists with more than just their heads in the game, and they are currently enjoying fame and great fortunes.
Let’s get started!
- 10 Basic Tips to Make It as A DIY Musician
- 3 Successful DIY Musician Examples
10 Basic Tips to Make It as A DIY Musician
If you want to survive in the music industry and as an independent musician, you must be optimistic. This is easier said than done, especially when you spend so much time making great music and getting very little in return. Even so, one trait shared by thriving DIY artists is their undying optimism.
Let’s go straight to discussing the top 10 tips to make it as an indie:
Don’t Be A Mediocre DIY Musician
It’s a brutal world out there, and mediocrity is simply unacceptable. With everyone struggling to reach the peak for a clean break, excellence must be at your fingertips at all times. This includes choosing what to listen to, the lyrics to write, and ultimately, the songs to sing. Do yourself the favor of setting your standards high and learning to appreciate music from the viewpoints of successful artists.
The beauty in refusing to be mediocre is that you give yourself a chance to create something new. Excellence is often achieved by striving to be a little better than the best artist you know. Making “great music” is a thorny road that involves learning, failing, learning some more, and finally becoming successful!
Know Your Strengths
Another tip that will come in handy for the DIY musician is that you must learn to appreciate your strengths—and your weaknesses too! Not even the best artists of all time excel at everything. The trick in thriving is to know what you excel at. For instance, Cardi B is a powerhouse loved for being a raw and unfiltered feminist. On the other hand, Snoop Dogg is one of the greatest music legends of all time for possessing an unmatched talent for self-expression and creativity. See, it’s all about finding your unique path from a host of ways you can earn money and grow as an indie.
That said, if you have a killer voice and super tracks, you are likely to make it big-time distributing your music on major streaming platforms. On the other hand, artists who have a good stage presence can make fortunes doing live performances. You also have your place in the industry if you are the creative type who’s really good at creating jaw-dropping videos. In this case, focus on incorporating mind-blowing videos into your music. You never know; this could be what will turn you into an overnight sensation.
Create Brand Awareness
So, you are making great music; congratulations! However, good music alone can only take you so far in your profession as an artist. This is merely one side of being a musician, and the other side involves making business-oriented decisions. It takes doing some serious heavy lifting to create a name for yourself, improve your brand awareness and visibility and attract followers by the millions.
Developing a solid brand identity involves a range of tasks. They include:
- Promote yourself on all social media platforms and create a following
- Don’t forget to create compelling non-musical content
- Get featured on music blogs, press outlets, and playlists
- Create an artist website and monetize it
- Sell branded merchandise
- Share your music on digital streaming platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.
- Take advantage of e-mail marketing.
Know About the Best Revenue Streams for the DIY Musician
Here’s the deal; there are more than a few ways to make real money in the music industry. Currently, there are three major money-making streams for the DIY musician. They include branding, publishing, and touring. Bear in mind that even a mere topic, such as publishing, is broad with numerous subtopics underneath. Generally, it involves creating original music and ensuring you safeguard your copyrights. This includes master rights, mechanical rights, and public performance rights.
Furthermore, touring is also a broad topic that mainly encompasses visiting various venues and festivals for live performances. Touring can make you fortunes if you ensure that promoters want you on their stage and your fans show up for gigs. Finally, we have branding, which primarily involves creating and maintaining a specific image. Through the brand you make, you can attract a following of fans and even sell your merch.
Take the Time to Understand Your Copyrights
Again, part of being business savvy as a DIY musician is to ensure you get the worth for your work. This is only possible when you protect your music copyrights. Music copyright provides that the legal ownership of your musical sound recordings and compositions is designated to you. This ensures that you receive a payment if someone else does the following:
- Reproduces your work
- Performs your music
- Distributes displays or sells copies of your music
- Incorporates your work into visual images (sync deals)
The copyright of your music is formed as you create your piece. However, you can avoid legal disputes by also registering your work with the US Copyright Office. Once you legally own your copyright, you can prevent others from profiting or using your work with your consent. However, you can always share your copyrights by licensing other companies or establishments to perform certain errands for you. For instance, you can choose to work with a music manager to help you publish your work. Additionally, you can sign a pact with a digital music distribution company to share your work with music streaming platforms.
Register Your Work
If your music is out there and people love it, it will highly likely find its way into the libraries in leading radio stations, TV stations, and performance venues. Because you cannot keep track of every platform where your music is played, you must register with Performing Rights Societies such as ASCAP and BMI. They will help you monitor the performances of your music and ensure you receive your dues.
Performing Rights Societies collect performance royalties and share them based on the information on your copyright. This means that you will receive all the royalties if you are the songwriter and sole publisher of your work. On the other hand, if you have other people with copyrights to your music, such as composers, administrators, or record labels, they will receive their fair share of the pie.
Last but not least, remember that patience is a virtue. Unfortunately, the path to success is always bumpy with sudden twists and turns. It may take a while for you to attract the masses from across the globe. Often, every DIY musician who breaks through and achieves success has a juicy story to tell about their journey.
Unfortunately, nobody will recognize you as you strive to transform into the best version of yourself. In most cases, the general public and even your fans will perceive that you wore the fame pants overnight. As you struggle to make it, don’t let setbacks drive you up the wall.
3 Successful DIY Musician Examples
You’ll be lucky to find a music manager, publisher, or record label willing to touch you with a ten-foot pole before you create some level of fame for yourself. Fortunately, finding no record publishing deal doesn’t necessarily doom your fate as a DIY musician. There are plenty of success stories of independent artists who have made it while remaining in complete control of their career paths.
Here are 3 perfect examples:
Chance The Rapper
Chancellor Bennet, popularly known as Chance The Rapper, has one of the most moving DIY musician success stories. It all began after Chance’s suspension from high school during his senior year. With 10 free days in his hands, he decided to record his debut mixtape, labeled 10Day”. Shortly after, in 2013, he released a second mixtape labeled “Acid Rap,” and this is what struck the beginning of his fame. With the mixtape crowned 2013’s best album by Complex Magazine, this was the start of Chance getting booked for a nationwide tour.
Chance does plenty of freebies and mainly generates profits from live shows. However, his music is available on every major streaming service. This ensures his royalties find him with ease, irrespective of whether he’s making music or touring the world to give back to the people. Chance is expected to knock us off our socks now that he’s co-signed with renowned artists such as Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and James Blake. Even though fans love him for his wild performance, unequaled lyrics, and mind-blowing dance moves, Chance claims he owes his success to his distribution methods and ability to maintain a reputable brand name.
Clairo, Singer and Songwriter
Bedroom pop has taken over the music scene by storm. With the popularization of home studios and the DIY musician, this genre of music is today a trademark to reckon with. Clairo began writing, recording, and producing her songs from her home. All she had was the internet—no producers, sound engineers, or record labels. Clairo is by far the best budget songwriter, singer, and producer who bumped into fame while simply trying to share her music with the world.
Clairo’s first YouTube original that went viral was her song “Pretty Girl.” She created it using a complete do-it-yourself approach and amazingly hit the charts with over 95 million streams on Spotify. Even with cheesy drum beats and poorly recorded vocals, Clairo’s clever lyrics are something the world couldn’t deny.
GROUPLOVE is a rock band formed in 2019. The band released its first album independently after recording it from a home studio. The band went on the summer tour right after the release to reach out to its growing fan base and enhance its exposure. All the hurdles in between are history as GROUPLOVE stands as one of today’s most successful independent rock bands. The band has even performed at various festivals worldwide, including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and Outsidelands.
Naturally, the general public assumes that the band turned into an overnight sensation out of nowhere. The truth, though, is that too much took place between the formation of the band and their success. Perhaps the band enjoyed a lucky composition of the best songwriters, singers, and entrepreneurs.
Stay the Course!
The road to success as a DIY musician may not be an easy one. However, success is around the corner if you keep the faith and desist from deviating from the course. A lot of independent artists who are dominating the industry today didn’t wear the fame pants overnight. Usually, most artists make it sooner or later once they define their paths, work hard and remain true to their goals. Also, don’t fool yourself into adopting an egotistical view of your music and persona once you make it. If you aim to achieve long-term fame and success, stay humble and remember to mentor and give back.