No matter what business you’re in, there is usually a formula for success. Although it isn’t always a linear line, there are always key metrics that generate positive outcomes. This calculation has been especially tricky in the business of music, because the industry has evolved drastically, and in a myriad of ways over the past 50 years. In the following post, we will outline how to become a successful indie artist.
The Business of Branding
A musician’s platform starts with branding and possibly rebranding. Up and coming artists are a business just like anything else, and the reality is that with the pandemic, many people went out of business—the music industry or not.
Sometimes it is important to know when to cut your losses and start over. The good news is that as a creator, no one can replace you—so a new title or label isn’t as significant. Pick right back up where you left off, and be persistent with chasing things down. Some places can’t be back at full capacity, so you need to be upfront with your communications when it comes to getting back out there. Ask questions like: What’s your Covid protocol? Or, how many people is your maximum capacity now? Factor these answers into your rates and the business agreement.
Once you have determined your foundational branding, the next step is to start thinking bigger—or how you can branch out into different mediums and expand your horizons as an artist.
Work on your craft, constantly and remember to keep your head up. Your first song is definitely not your last, and the more you work on your craft, the better you get. All of the downtime during the pandemic opened up huge opportunities for education, and many people took the initiative to learn things they might’ve not otherwise had the time for. If you have a new skill or talent to advance your life and career, find ways to take what you learned and apply it to your craft.
Ultimately, this comes down to what is known as the 10,000 hours rule, which is the time required to master something. Be the best person in your craft, work on content, sound, and style. The pandemic might have been a bit of a distraction, but use the hope in sight to motivate and inspire yourself to start producing again.
As you constantly continue to create, find at least three swimlanes to which that content applies and take action on putting your stuff into them. These lanes could come in the form of (but are not limited to) virtual or socially distanced events, merch, mixtapes, podcasts, or a literary piece of sorts.
In learning how to become a successful indie artist, you need to prioritize finance. Once you have established your alternatives lanes of content, monetize them into multiple streams of revenue. This is the third, final, and most important step—as anyone in business knows that a sale isn’t a sale until the transaction is complete.
Everything has been subsidized and doing business is even cheaper than before, so find ways to utilize these economic prices. Bounce back and flex your content with sales, discounts, and marketing. You are a small business—treat yourself as such.
By using the “Starbucks” method, you can take advantage of the business you have to offer as a whole. Don’t just sell the product, sell the additives that go along with it. If you have a great album, do the work to get some great album art and sell posters, t-shirts, and various other types of merchandise commemorating the album. Outsource into different media sectors and create a podcast about the making of the album. Network and see if you can get other artists to collaborate with you on performing the album—thereby widening your exposure and gaining more engaged participants.
Lastly, there were a lot of programs that were created to support the arts at the onset of the pandemic. If you need a financial boost to put an idea into action or even just finish what you started—look into local, state, and international grants, programs, and subsidiaries. There are places where an artist can seek help from investors, you just have to remember to take what you can get, and move accordingly.
How to Become a Successful Indie Artist: The New Sound of Music
Only you can be the one to get yourself started on achieving your goals in music. Who knows, once you have laid down a successful foundation maybe you can get all the way to the high rungs like selling out at Madison Square Gardens. The moral of the story here is that building a successful music career takes persistence and time, so an artist must always keep at it. Find the ways to take what you have learned over the past year, maybe even employing some of the advice we have subscribed to above, and apply it to your craft. It could just strike the right cord for you and your musical career.