Let’s review the three common mistakes done by an independent artist.
1. Don’t Monetize Your Live Shows.
I do not know why it falls, but many artists feel sorry to present themselves as taking themselves too seriously. And so it happens; When you’re a new artist, it’s easy to put on your casual musician hat: Always playing for free and with nothing to offer other than half an hour of music.
But music as such requires work, effort, dedication, and investment, so not charging at least one incentive for that half-hour of the show says a lot about you.
Of course, there is a huge debate about charging or not charging. But you must also implement other sources of income. If you managed to put on an excellent show, the people who liked you would buy you merchandise, so make sure you set up a table with shirts, hats, lighters, CDs, etc., and offer business cards with your website, contact, and details about how to hire you.
2. Focus All Your Attention on Getting a Record Label or Management.
This point is self-explanatory. And of course! The idea of an A&R coming and offering you a contract is very sexy, but it shouldn’t be your primary goal, especially in these turbulent times for the music industry.
Your work as an independent artist is reduced to two main activities:
- Create the best possible music, and
- Grow your base with the largest number of fans possible.
And these two activities, preferably you should do them yourself. Any other goal you have will derive from these two activities.
I have seen one and a thousand independent artists, and singers give up even in the middle of their careers simply because they started with the premise that their work should be produced, distributed, and sold by a multinational company. And history does not stop repeating itself.
What happens when your main goal is to get signed by a label?
There are two main effects derived from this thought:
- You are going to shoot the wrong people. Instead of interacting with fans, DJs, and people who can promote your music on a larger scale than yourself, you are trying to put yourself on record labels. This situation presents two uncomfortable problems:
- I am a firm follower of the Pareto principle, the famous 20/80 ratio, which means that 20% of our efforts account for 80% of our results. When I see an Independent artist focusing his efforts on getting signed, he is channeling 90% of his efforts into an activity that will give him 10% of his success. Why would an artist do that? Simple; nobody has told you that there is a better alternative that offers more results and satisfaction for your music.
- Record companies have their formula for musical success, combining certain elements prohibitive for ordinary and average artists and into which not even 1% of the world’s population of musicians would enter. I call it the Madison Avenue Formula, and it is not even a formula that ensures success for an artist.
Do you need to know how to bring the attention of a record company? Easy; you have to be successful BY YOUR OWN MEANS. If you’ve already created great music and a huge fan base, then those record labels will come to you.
- You will lose motivation if you do not achieve this task. And believe me, I have seen it in countless artists; They say they have a huge passion for music, and after three years, when they finally gave up, they are not as creative as before.
Trust me, developing an artist’s brand can take 10-15 years. If you can endure, and not only that but also enjoy it, at the same time you earn fans and money to continue your career. Then you will not need any entertainment company to do things for you. Although it costs work to accept it; It is not the responsibility of any entertainment company to promote you and put you on stage; that is YOUR responsibility.
I’m not saying don’t take advantage of the moments when something is offered to you. Of course! Take advantage as long as it does not detract from your work, but please, for the good of your career, that it is not the sole purpose of your music to seek to be signed.
3. Don’t Treat Your Music Like A Business.
Contrary to what might be believed; Art and Commerce DO go hand in hand. Music should be a fun activity and, at the same time, treat it as a business, even if you are not living off it full time.
But if you want to make a career with your music, you need to recognize precisely that: THAT MUSIC IS YOUR CAREER (or at least one of many).
You need to maintain your relationships professionally, have your records so that you know what is happening with your music, your legal part, get up early even when you do not want it, and strategically invest your money and time to generate more money in the long-term. Your level of success is not going to depend entirely on how talented you are. Believe me; musical talent is left over in this world.