How To Be An Independent Artist Today

A lady wearing a black and silver dress singing with two guitarist standing behind her - How to be an independent artist
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So, you are wondering how to be an independent artist. It’s simple. Make music, and don’t sign up with a major record label. Voila! You are as indie as they come. However, if you want to become a successful indie musician and make a career in music, you must do more than just focus on maintaining your independence. In this blog, we will share some invaluable success tips. Hopefully, this will set you up on your road to greatness.

What is true today is that independent artists are making more money than ever before. With the digital era bringing in some fool-proof revenue streams, greatness has never been easier to achieve. Don’t get me wrong; you still have to do some serious heavy lifting to ensure you enjoy a sizable piece of the musician revenue pie. If you want to learn how to grow past your hood and attract global audiences, read on!

  • How To Be An Independent Artist; The Benefits Of Self-releasing
  • Solid Tips On How To Be An Independent Artist And Succeed

How To Be An Independent Artist; The Benefits Of Self-releasing

The music industry has changed dramatically over recent years. Gone are the days when artists needed the backing of a record label to make it big and reach global audiences. Today, it is easier than ever before to release your music and enjoy massive revenue. The best part is that as an indie, you don’t have to share your royalties with a label.

Let’s have a look at some of the main perks of being an independent artist:

Maintain 100% Creative Control

If you are interested in being an independent artist, the chances are that you don’t want anyone to control your creativity. One of the main perks Indies enjoy is that they have complete control over the twists and turns their music takes. First, they are in charge of their messaging, artwork, and release deadlines. Secondly, they also call the shots when marketing and distributing their music. Generally, independent artists can make all the decisions allied with their creative visions.

How to Be an Independent Artist; Keep 100% of Your Revenue

As we have already mentioned in some of our blogs, the “music business” is just that—business. As such, even with a love for music, one of your core aims is to make money. Unfortunately, working with a record label can leave you with as little as 30% of all your revenue. On the other hand, indies get to keep 100% of profits generated from licensing deals, music sales, streams, and brand merchandise sales, just to mention a few.

Maintain 100% Ownership of Your Copyright

Here’s the deal; when you work with record labels, you have to trade some, if not all, of your copyrights. Therefore, it allows the label to negotiate publishing and music licensing deals on your behalf. As an indie, you can keep all your rights and royalties for both music and mastering.

How to Be an Independent Artist; Explore More Growth Opportunities

Currently, there are numerous music tools and services uniquely designed for independent artists. When you are your own boss, nothing stops you from exploring every available growth opportunity. Whether you are interested in music distribution, merchandise creation, streaming, or other services, you are in complete control of your career.

Solid Tips On How To Be An Independent Artist And Succeed

If you are just learning the ropes of being an independent artist, one of the primary things to do is to understand the cons of being an indie. First, you will have limited resources and budgets, not to mention that your network of fans and industry contacts may also be limited. Secondly, you may lack music business experience, making it imperative for you to seek professional help from music managers and other experts when need be.

Let’s now go straight to learning how to be an independent artist and succeed:

Make Great Music 

The secret behind some of the best indies of all time, such as Chance the Rapper, is that they make great music. You owe yourself the favor of putting your best foot forward when writing music. Additionally, practice playing your music so that you capture the crowd each time you plan a live performance. The easiest way to cripple your success chances is to perform poorly in front of your audience.

How to Be an Independent Artist; Establish Your Brand

Branding for independent artists is just as important as making great music. After all, your brand will attract your desired fan base and create a buzz on all socials when you release a new single or album. Without proper branding, you may cripple your chances of accelerating your career. Keep in mind that your fans follow you not just for your music but also because you are unique, relatable, and interesting. Once you establish your fan base, your listeners will keep coming back for more, irrespective of the kind of music you make.

Practice Stage Performance

Did you know that one of the major revenue streams for independent artists is live shows? Well, you have to step out of your studio sometime, meet your fans, reach new audiences, and spread word about your brand. Unfortunately, the fact that stage performance is not as easy as it seems comes as a complete surprise to most independent artists.

Playing your music in front of a crowd of people can be intimidating. An easy way out is to invent fun things and tricks that you can perform while playing your music. Consider coordinating great dance moves with your band members. Generally, ensure you have a little theatrics going on even as you sing your hearts out.

Always Bring Your ”A” Game

It is an “eat or be eaten” kind of world out there. This makes it imperative to play better and harder than you have ever played before each time you get the chance to do a live performance. The hard truth is that in this case, no one is waiting for your music, and succeeding is a very personal (read-independent) quest. Therefore, you must make it impossible for your audience not to keep talking about you months after your show. Blow their minds, their eyes, and their ears too!

Maximize On Each Gig

Another trick on being an independent artist and succeeding is making the most of each show. For instance, you want to leave with more than just your performance money. It means you should also carry your branded merchandise and make as much music sales as you can. Take it from me; your debut LP album will likely bring more money than singles and EPs. If you can help it, shelve live performances until you have a solid performance calendar and at least one album to sell. Most importantly, don’t go selling branding Tee’s if you don’t have music. That will only hurt your brand because it’s like advertising yourself as a car dealership only to sell neckties.

How to Be an Independent Artist; Keep Networking

Like most “businesses,” you can only thrive in the music business if you develop and maintain relationships. For instance, you want to appreciate other independent artists and treat them like the masterminds they are. You also need to dish out your business cards to people you meet in clubs and other performance venues. You never know when you’ll need someone you have met to help you grasp an opportunity that can change your career prospects.

Seek Professional Help When Necessary

Simply because you are strict on mastering being an independent artist doesn’t mean you can survive as an island. Sometimes, the best investment you can make is to hire other professionals. For example, working with an independent artist manager can make a big difference in your career direction. Such an expert can take charge of the business side of your career as you focus on making great music.

Most importantly, don’t forget to be selective when choosing your team. This includes your band members, lawyer, sound and lighting engineers, and even your booking agents. You’ve heard that a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, right? Well, choosing teammates who are wiser than you will highly likely help you to reach new levels. On the other hand, if someone in your team drags you down with a drug possession arrest, this could hurt your brand as a whole. After all, the public will assume you also do drugs, busting your reputation overnight.

How to Be an Independent Artist; Maximize on Independent Artist Revenue Streams

You can achieve significant success even without signing up with a major record label. While it is perfectly okay to sign up with a label once you are out of the woods and people know your name, you can still make ends meet as an indie. Technology advancements have changed how artists reach their fans, release music, and make money. Today, hawking CDs are unnecessary, and you can still make a fortune from digital music distribution, merch sales, and streaming platforms.

Be Easy To Find

Another sure way to be an independent artist and make it big is to ensure that you are easy to find. The last thing you want is for radio hosts and music blogs to find you virtually impossible to find. Moreover, ensure that your fans can find you and your music with remarkable ease. You want to set up your website and create a fool-proof way for your fans to contact you and buy your music. Likewise, make sure that people who want to book you can do so without going through hell. Making yourself easy to find is a sure way of ensuring you enjoy each opportunity that comes knocking. 

It’s Never That Serious

Lastly, our tip on how to be an independent artist is that you must learn to relax. It’s never that serious! Be easy and develop a sense of humor. Laugh when people joke and laugh at yourself too, whenever you can. As long as you are an artist, you are bound to make mistakes, and the people around you are also not perfect. If you let success and perfection get to your head, you are likely to miss out on all the fun, glamor, and adventure that comes with being an independent artist. Therefore, keep it light!

Rise To The Top!

There you have it; solid tips on how to be an independent artist and succeed. If you follow the above guide, it won’t be long before you start having gigs several times each week until you can no longer keep your “normal job.” With some hard work, things are bound to get intense over time, allowing you to live your best life as an independent artist. Once you start shaking hands with people who introduce themselves as music managers and record label representatives, your ultimate breakthrough is not far around the corner!

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Thomas Brownlees

Thomas Brownlees

Ever since I can remember, music has always been my passion.

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