10 Best Success Tips for Indie Musicians
The music industry thrives on digital content and distribution. Indie musicians around the world are thriving, and big labels are slowly being diminished. Independent labels, like indie musicians, are also seeing an impressive influx in business and success. These successes don’t come easily, though. It takes perseverance, hard work, dedication, and a few other tricks to wedge yourself in the arms of success. Here are Jamvana’s top ten tips for indie musicians.
Quality over quantity. Always.
Pick your favorite artist and compare your music to theirs. Your music will never (and shouldn’t) sound like theirs, but it should have similar sonic qualities, such as a solid mix and master. Get some feedback from friends and family. What do they think? Don’t take their criticism personally – take it as advice to make you even better. You want to succeed, right? Then release quality, not quantity!
Patience is key in music and success.
You’re not going to become Beyoncé overnight. We’ve all tried, and it’s just not going to happen that way… unfortunately. You must stay positive and not let yourself down. Be patient in everything that you’re doing. From that idea in your head to the final master, print, and distribution, keeping yourself reserved and patient will ensure that you have a clear mind when working on something you want to pursue full-time.
You don’t need the most expensive gear.
If you think you need $10,000 gear to produce quality music then you’re in the wrong field. One of the biggest mistakes that independent musicians make when they first start is thinking that they need thousands and thousands of dollars worth of gear for their music to sound “good.” There are different levels of good, and $10,000+ in gear is not one of them. You can get really high quality gear for really, really cheap. In fact, we gave some examples in our article about the various sample rates and bitrates you should use for music distribution. Make the best quality music you can with the gear that you have.
Learn something new each and every day.
Regardless of your industry, you should be learning something new everyday. That knowledge is only going to come around and apply to what you’re doing within your industry. Find some role models and follow them closely. What’re they doing within their respective industry that you admire? How can you apply one or a few of the concepts to your industry? For example, if you’re a songwriter, why not learn about microphones and their frequency responses? Knowledge is power.
Underselling yourself is shooting yourself in the foot.
It’s far too often that we hear something really good and the artist comes back and says, “Ahh. It’s not that good. I’ve heard better.” Not only is it somewhat of a shocker for us, but it makes us question if that artist is taking their career seriously. Many artists and musicians produce quality work and are willing to sacrifice anything to launch their careers. So, when an artist comes through and says that they’re not that good, it draws more questions for us. Is it going to be a risky client, meaning will they work with us or against us? Furthermore, this is going to turn potential clients away which, in turn, will be missed opportunities for you. You’re a unique individual and have talents that many don’t have. Leverage that and put them to use. Never undersell yourself because your talents are worth something!
Collaborate with other artists and industry professionals.
Working with people who are smarter than you will allow you to learn things you probably wouldn’t learn freely on the web. Within each industry there are trade secrets that many people won’t spill; however, if you can get in a one-on-one session with an industry expert, then you’re bound to learn something that you haven’t read online. When working with another musician, an artist can often realize errors within their production workflow, such as improper “warm-up” technique. It may even be something as simple as not utilizing a shortcut in Logic or Ableton Live. Work with other industry professionals who know more and then utilize that knowledge to further your career.
You have to take breaks or you’ll get burned out.
Some musicians think that they need to work and write music 24/7, but that is far from the truth. You must take breaks even when you’re working on music to give your ears a break. Ear fatigue is not a laughing matter and can cause you to produce yourself into a hole. Continuously writing will burn you out very quickly. You can’t force yourself to write music; it must come when you’re feeling inspired, which often comes and goes when it wants. Find inspiration in other hobbies, such as reading, walking, listening to new music, and even another form of art. If you’re in school or work remotely, head to a different coffee shop and study/work. A new atmosphere can do wonders for inspiration. Don’t force creativity; allow it to flow naturally.
Connect with industry professionals, such as label reps, music journalists, and other musicians.
Connecting with like-minded people will allow you to not only learn from them but also open up a world of opportunities. You may not think that you’ll ever get your music placed in a movie, but that connection on Facebook or gig you just performed is loaded with connections. We’d be willing to bet that that person knows somebody who knows somebody that can assist you in getting your music placed in a movie (note: synch licensing can earn you a lot of money). When you connect with, say, a label representative, they have connections that you’d never think of. If you’re not a fit for their label, then they’d probably be more than happy to help you head in the right direction. Music journalists can also be an extremely resourceful avenue of connections, as they’re often working with publicists, labels, and other musicians on a daily basis. It is so imperative that you’re working any and all connections that you can, especially in the music industry. You never know who and where your next gig is going to come from.
Learn how to market and promote your music.
Marketing is hard, and it can often be an extremely boring process. Often times musicians will outsource this to a public relations firm, but that can be pretty expensive. Besides, if you have the connections from the aforementioned point, then you can basically act as your own PR person. If you do decide to outsource your music to a public relations firm, then make sure that you’re learning what they’re doing. Understand how they’re going about shipping your music out to get it some traffic and streams. A track, EP, or album often does much better when the public relations firm and the artist(s) work together to get the release(s) some traffic. You can leverage your connections, and the PR firm can leverage theirs. It’s a win-win for the both of you!
Work with a quality music distributor.
Perhaps one of the most important tips we can give is make sure that you’re working with a quality music distributor like Jamvana. We strive on quality over quantity, and it’s why a lot of businesses, entrepreneurs, and musicians are successful. If you can solidify a rock solid team, especially with a distributor, then it’s going to make your creative process much more fluent and easier. Jamvana prides itself on our top-notch customer service and incredible artists that we work with, and we want you to have the same experience we have day in and day out.