Every musician starts off as an independent artist whether they care to admit this or not. Unless they have a truckload of cash behind them, independent musicians have had very limited control over the release of their material and any balanced financial playing field.
Keen to have their music made available to the widest possible audience they ‘climb aboard’ the major distributors without giving much thought to alternative options.
Before we knew it & without realizing it, independent musicians were (& still are) giving away of unfathomable amounts of music at the request of various parties who would profit from this. As if this wasn’t enough, the very same musicians were (& again, still are) having to pay outrageous amounts to have their music distributed.
To go even one step further, the independent artist has virtually NO say in the way their material is promoted. Why is this? Because an independent artist won’t make the large corporations money. You pay your subscription & your latest work virtually vanishes.
When the internet began, the floodgates were open to all and sundry as people have access to so much music and are willing to pay through the teeth for it in droves. Music marketing became so ‘in your face’ and one-sided that it made me feel ill. It still does.Seeing the same names, images and song titles at every turn has, to a large extent, numbed people to it all.
As you read on you will slowly piece together your very own formula to making your music a more than viable financial commodity.
You have all the equipment, you have the ability, so name me one thing that can stop you? Nothing.
Many independent musicians, particularly newcomers, feel that they’re not up to the challenge. Perhaps it’s because they don’t feel that their singing voice is so good or that they could be better on a particular instrument. Okay, let’s say they’re right! Bet you haven’t heard that before.
Let’s say you’re singing voice doesn’t have a wide range. It doesn’t HAVE to. Find the range that suits your voice & stick to it. THAT is you brand. You’re not as competent as you’d like to be on a particular instrument. Okay, play what you are comfortable with & what sounds good….that is your brand. Get the picture? If you apply this philosophy to your music in general you will soon find people commenting that they ‘recognise’ your music. Take this as a HUGE compliment.
The thought of having your music listened to by all & sundry has been known to overwhelm some musicians, sometimes to the point of inaction. Whilst this is a perfectly normal & understandable response, it is at EXACTLY this time when your best work can come to the fore. It’s such a basic mindset that you’ll kick yourself when I tell you. ALL that you read on the internet is how daunting it is. With no-one saying otherwise, why should you think any different?
• They don’t WANT you to be confident from the outset! What various organizations want is a pliable & submissive musician. A musician who will pay for upgrades on their site when they are ‘kindly offered.’ If a musician appears to be confident enough in themselves to go it alone, they are of no use to the organization.
• Sick of being told how better you ‘could’ sound? When you first enter the realm of online music, even the most competent musicians can be somewhat awestruck by what’s on offer. I know I was. The key element here is the “what’s on offer” part. There are CD duplication services, cover design services, CD cases, mastering services, new software, songwriting competitions, song competitions and so forth. ALL of these items, which are plugged as being necessary come at grossly over inflated prices & with the exception of mastering services, NOT ONE of them improve your music. The only thing that will improve your music is YOU. Whether it be in the form of a new set of guitar strings, singing lessons, being more patient at the mixing desk.
- Do your thing! Be ever vigilant not to fall into the trap of being over critical of your work. By doing this, you are falling into the traps laid by the online music organizations who want to make money from you & WANT you to think that you need their paid services. When you’re in the studio or wherever it is you record always bare in mind that this is YOUR domain. If you make a mistake (& you WILL make countless), you are the only one to know. You now have the ULTIMATE OPPORTUNITY to experiment & be creative, discovering sounds, combinations & techniques that you never thought possible.
- THIS IS ALL FREE!!! I haven’t told you anything in this chapter that you isn’t already taking place with regard to the relaxed intimacy & creative freedom involved in the creation of music for online distribution. Stage-fright doesn’t exist in the studio. Neither does cost. Of the online music sites that you have dealt with, how many have said what I have just said WITHOUT mentioning the cost that THEY seek from you time after time?
- You don’t need them! With careful & ENJOYABLE planning at YOUR OWN PACE it is possible to create a highly marketable online presence with your music. I deliberately capitalized ‘ENJOYABLE’ & ‘YOUR OWN PACE’ as you rarely see these words on the pages of major sites. They tend to focus on ‘buy now’ & ‘hard work,’ etc. I don’t care what anyone says, but NOTHING has to be ‘bought now,’ in fact this book will show you that nothing has to be bought AT ALL. If you are ever feeling that creating & promoting your music is ‘hard work,’ you can take a break at ANY TIME. The big-guns don’t tell you that either. It’s no crime to take a break, in fact I think it’s an art-form in itself knowing WHEN to. It’s natural that you will be keen to ‘socialize’ when you first enter the online music industry….& you should. It is important, however, to bare in mind that you are only going to get BUSIER. Make the most of this time. It is an EXCELLENT opportunity to set your own benchmark.
- Create your own stamp. They say first impressions go along way. This is never more true than in the online music industry. Generally speaking the first image, song & bio. line of an artist will remain with you for years. Following on from this mail will soon be coming & going between you & fellow musicians. This initial flurry of activity WILL stay with you for many years. The impression that you leave on THEM as a newcomer will last likewise.
- You can’t be everywhere. Between writing, recording, performing & our personal lives, we can’t possibly be expected to give fully-fledged & credible support to EVERY fellow musician. We all know this.
- Keep your music & your personal life SEPARATE! Rarely can an independent musician maintain close regular contact with followers as time on both sides doesn’t allow. Our personal lives are a ‘no go’ area with our supporters even though THEY occasionally divulge things that are definitely best left alone. I find this somewhat worrying, particularly when questions not relating to music are constantly raised.