In the age of social networks and the Internet, independent artists have no excuse for not positioning themselves in the music industry of tomorrow. No more intermediaries, direct-to-fans is the royal way to break through!
But in reality, what does it really take to stand out and put all the chances on your side?
I am very often asked what advice I would give to an indie artist who is starting out and wants to become a professional artist.
Some even ask me (very seriously) if it is possible to succeed if you don’t have time, budget AND network.
Even if there is not only one way to become a successful musician in this industry, in this article I list for you the 5 major pillars on which I think every developing musician should capitalize to ensure that their chances of success in music are boosted.
1. The vision
Aim for the long term and be patient.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to become the new Beyoncé or the new Bruno Mars overnight.
You can try… But I warn you in advance that your impatience may cost you your motivation.
Because the vast majority of mainstream artists who seem to you to come out of nowhere actually have years and years of hard work and failure behind them.
It is certainly not what you see or want, but it is the reality.
So be patient in everything you do. By focusing on the long term, you will ensure that you have a clear mind and do not overlook the crucial steps in your artistic development.
2. The work
Don’t wait for someone to “discover” you.
In a market as saturated as the music market, talent is not a rare commodity.
So don’t be surprised if no one knocks on your door to offer you the contract of your dreams, and above all, that no one wants to do the work of developing your project for you.
Launching a career is the most complicated thing to do in the industry, which is why managers and labels prefer to wait until they see a mature and advanced project before proposing anything.
Therefore, at first, focus on your music business and forget about managers and labels for the time being.
At the same time, this means that you must invest your time and budget at a loss to start your project, if you hope that it will eventually lead to something.
After all, we are talking about the profession of Musicpreneur here.
And as with setting up a business in most professions, this involves significant initial and daily investments, both to professionalize your business and to develop a clientele.
If you can only dedicate a handful of hours each week to your project and you don’t want to train or invest, then understand that your project may be on the ground as long as you maintain the status quo.
Nothing is impossible, but once again we are talking about starting a real business around your music, if your objective is to become a pro.
3. The public
Understand that your fan base = your career.
Building a strong relationship with your fanbase is crucial to your success as a freelance musician.
In the age of direct-to-fan, managing your fanbase is synonymous with managing your career. Your audience can make or break your success, depending on the relationship you have with them.
And to preserve and develop your fan base, I strongly encourage you to connect as much as possible with your audience online and in real life.
Playing live as often as possible and in many different locations, with a professional and engaging show is a great way to win new fans and build loyalty among your current fans. Make a good impression on stage and make sure the audience remembers you.
Afterwards, connecting with your online fans is also essential. Not only should you regularly post interesting, inspiring and perhaps even fun content on your Facebook, Youtube and Instagram accounts, but you should also respond and interact with anyone who mentions you.
If someone interacts with you, it’s a great opportunity to develop this relationship!
And a happy fan becomes an ambassador and a first-rate patron.
Focus on your fan community and you will always know where to go with your career.
4. The knowledge
Get trained and learn something new every day.
Whatever business model you are targeting, you should learn something new every day, whether it is related to music (production, recording, technique, live, etc.) or to the management of your music business (marketing, communication, management, booking, etc.).
This knowledge can only help you make better decisions over time to develop your project within the industry. In short, investing in skills and knowledge is probably the best investment you can make to progress.
Indeed, at this point, you don’t need to buy this extra guitar or bundle of plugins that you’re never going to use and that would cost you an arm, do you?
No, at this point, you need to know exactly how to move forward in your career in a step-by-step process. And that requires training and learning.
Knowledge is a weapon and your best ally in the music market.
Of course, I am thinking of your marketing, communication and sales skills, among others. It often happens that musicians entrust these tasks to a promotion agency, which can quickly be quite expensive and not necessarily justified.
That’s why with a good network and solid knowledge, the indie artist can manage without any problems.
And then, if you decide to delegate some aspects of your career anyway, you can still understand and judge the work of your providers if you are trained in this, rather than being unable to separate the good from the bad.
Train yourself every day through articles, books, training, meetings, conferences or even coaching, and your project will only progress.
5. The network
Don’t isolate yourself and networke constantly.
Establishing strong relationships with people with similar goals or mentality will not only allow you to learn from them, but also to open up to many opportunities.
You may not realize it yet, but the Facebook groups, the professional events you participate in and the concerts you play are all likely to generate dozens of strong, win-win relationships.
The key to attracting opportunities and contacts to you? Become yourself an opportunity for others.
If you become the driving force behind your network by offering collaborations, partnerships and good ideas, your network will grow and you will become a magnet for opportunity.
In the meantime, it is crucial that you work to grow your network to your scale.
In short, work, proximity to your fans, network, knowledge and vision are all you need to grow your career as a freelancer.
Easier said than done? That’s right. That’s right.
But that’s also why only the most determined can hope to break into today’s industry.