Certain aspects of an independent artist’s career are alien to the artist until after he’s been through them. Things that mainstream media is not talking about and things that only the truly curious get to discover if not directly involved in the business. Proceed with caution, take notes, reevaluate what you’ve known until today and forward the article to someone thinking to start a music career. It just might save their life and future.
10. Your Social Media Presence is Equally As Important As Your Music.
If you think you will only make it thanks to your awesome tunes, you’ll soon discover that is a myth. In today’s world, even second-hand songwriters have Instagram accounts and fight for attention by paying to promote their posts and always strive to increase their engagement rates. Social proof has become as important, if not MORE important than a University Degree. You’re almost guaranteed to make money once you cross a certain following threshold whereas a degree does not guarantee much. If anything!
9. A Sustainability Plan Is Essential.
You have to think of your music career as a business you’re trying to lift off the ground. You can’t go into music hoping that once you release a 4-song EP then stuff will just figure itself out. It usually doesn’t. Sometimes not even after 20 EPs. So don’t pour all your savings into an album then just hope for the best. You need to plan out your releases a minimum of 2 years in advance WHILE having a stable source of income, and preferably elevating it too so that you can pay for your recording sessions and sound engineers. No one has a fail-proof plan to make it. But you can definitely come up with a plan for being consistent with your releases without risking the roof above your head and the clothes on your back.
8. Knowing Important People Is A Guarantee Of NOTHING.
Unless you’ve helped them FIRST or did something exceptional for these key people who can change your career for the better, no one will lift a finger to help you. Human reasoning is very selfish. You will get help under one of the two conditions: they feel in debt with you or they see you as a guaranteed success and they want a cut. There’s a catch in both situations.
7. Only About 10% Of Everything Discussed Ever Comes To Fruition.
You will encounter a ridiculous amount of undelivered promises and unfinished collaborations. In music, just like in any other business, many talk, few walk. Learn to expect ZERO from everybody. You read that right. Have no expectations whatsoever of anyone and keep in mind to rely at all times exclusively and solely on your efforts alone. Someone tells you they think it would change both your lives going on tour together? You should not think any more than “That’d be cool!” No jumping up and down, no telling anyone about it, no posting any official announcement, nothing! As you should know by now, in this business you should only talk about things that have ALREADY happened. In the past tense!
6. Life Happens.
No matter how good of a shape you’re in, how much or little money you got, how strong you mentally are, life simply happens. Someone you love could very unexpectedly get into a serious car accident and you have to drop out of your tour to be with that family member. Funerals, pregnancies, sicknesses, layoffs, depressions happen without your input but definitely involve you in the aftermath. Learn to appreciate the days and months when things go mostly right because sh*tting on your plans is life’s specialty. Heck, look at Lady Gaga who had to pull down her collab song with R.Kelly overnight due to his allegations related to sexual abuse and pedophilia.
5. You Need To Have More Than Just Singing Skills.
And it’s not just the pandemic that proved it. It’s the world we live in. The internet has made information so easy to access that phenomenal voices and talents lost from their je-ne-sais-quoi. Just when you were getting happy that you can now hit the higher notes as you’ve always wanted to, an Asian kid gets recommended on the YT homepage and you sound like a complete simpleton when compared to him. Accordingly, one has to compensate for his lack of excellence and be dashingly good at something else… Knowing how to do post-production, photography, video and photo editing, will only help you and save you serious money.
4. Having A Routine Is An Unwritten Rule.
Being an independent musician is the exact same as being an entrepreneur. You make your own schedule, decide how much money and effort goes in, when to take breaks, when to partner up with another artist, etc. Besides the logistics, you also need to take great care of your health, your vocal runs, your mental health, your emotional support system. Subsequently, you need to really step up to the plate and be your own ruthless boss. That starts with having a routine regardless of whether you’re employed or freelancing multiple gigs at home on your computer. Know when you wake up, when you are done with breakfast, when and how much time goes into online networking, when you rehearse your scales, when you work out, when you take a break, when you write songs, etc.
3. Your Life and Love Partner Better Be Supportive Or You’ll Fail Miserably.
Artists feel every emotion tenfold when compared to the average person as their emotions unlock that precious creativity. If your partner is someone who’s generally a toxic person, your emotions will be dragged down along with their attitude and your creativity and efficiency will hurt big time. Think of how much time you need to get over an insult, a fight, a passive-aggressive jab. If you truly prioritize making it in this business, you need to cut off all people who are a negative influence in your life.
2. Excellency Requires Constant Updating.
A great pianist does not stop playing the piano when he masterfully aces the most complicated piece he’s ever studied. He keeps at it. He challenges himself and trains dutifully every single day. A great English teacher does not stop studying and consulting dictionaries just because he/she got the official degree. He keeps reading, researching, updating his knowledge. Welp… When it comes to musicians, the same principle applies. You have to be happy and willing to constantly revise your technical skills and marketing approach. If you don’t evolve, you will regress.
1. Your Music Might Be Fit For Another Age, Genre, Country, Or Even Culture.
You have to take an honest assessment of who you are both as a person and as a musician then recognize and pinpoint your influences. If you grew up in one country but during summers when you were actually socially active, were spending your time interacting with another culture from another country, speaking an entire other language, chances are my friend… Subconsciously you carried all that into your present-day self. No wonder your local people can’t click with your music. It’s not made for them as it is not inspired by them. Know who artistically influenced you the most and cater to the crowd that inspired you.
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