The Starting Points:
If you follow our blog you’ll see that one of our more recent pieces was about labels and what they do. This is important information to know, so we suggest that you have a look at that before you dive into the independent world.
So you’ve decided that labels aren’t for you, you’re off the book, you’ve gone rogue. This means you’re going to be getting all the recognition and all of the cash at the end of the day right? Well, yes, but what most artists don’t know is that to get there you need to put in hours, and we’re talking about serious hours.
This blog is going to be an overview of the kinds of things we’ll be talking a bit
What labels did, and why they don’t do it anymore
Labels used to be the big players in terms of making sure an artist got the exposure they needed, and as an artist, this is what you need the most of. (More on this later)
Labels used to be the connecting force between studios, managers and artists. This was good for them because they could take a cut and make deals, but the digital revolution has changed all of that. Labels also got money to develop artists and the success of the artists and the label went hand in hand.
All of this died when modern computing, streaming and net 2.0 became a thing.
Streaming and platforms like YouTube and Napster allowed people to have a place to share music for free, essentially removing the power that the label had to direct the artist because they could reach acclaim by simply being a good and getting community sharing (Bieber being the best example of this). The music labels didn’t see this coming, and they’re still trying to catch up to it.
Add to this the fact that there are more music and content makers today than ever before because programs that allow you to make amazing music are abundant, and you can quickly realise why the traditional labels are having a really hard time.
But exposure is really hard to come by right?
There’s actually a middle ground here, and your job as a newly self-sufficient artist is to find it. See, there are a ton of people who will offer you jobs for “exposure”, which is great because your rent will be exactly 300 exposures. Okay, sure that’s sarcastic, but in reality, there comes a time when the ‘free gigs’ have to come to an end. You have to decide when that is, and honestly, the sooner the better.
Jokes aside, there are times when going the pure exposure route can work out, but you have to be careful to choose those gigs only when the time and exposure will be worth it.
There’s nothing wrong with holding down a waitering job or bartenders position to make ends meet while you pursue the dream of a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Find the Platform You Need
So you have a product, and you have confidence that it’s going to do well. Now what? Well, now you have a choice to make – where and how to share it.
Firstly you have to research your audience and find out what kinds of people will listen to your music. Whilst sharing is caring, posting a hip-hop track to a site which focuses onfolk-rock isn’t going to help you. You have to know your audience and find out where they hang out first.
Once you have this, you need to leverage the power of the internet to your advantage, use the hashtags, create hype around our music, and make sure that your music is available.
Look into an Indie Label
Not having a label and going solo might be what you’re looking for, but sometimes it can help to have someone on your side who isn’t attached to the big players but knows the industry either online or in the city you live in. Looking into the choices of indie labels in your town or city could give you a slight hand up above the rest.
Remember this – there are thousands of artists out there, and no one is waiting for your music. If no one knows about you, then no one is going to take time to find you. It’s up to you to push yourself out there. This is where the real hours start to rack up, but once you start to get good at it, the results will start coming back.
Never Stop Never Stopping
Whatever you do, keep creating more music. This is not only because you need more material, but also because as you progress as an artist you’ll see how your music evolves and becomes better. It also allows you to refine your own unique sound, which means you become better at being your own artist.
In the next blog in this series, we’re going to touch on what to do in order to turn your music from a sideline hustle into a full-time career by looking at music as a business and not just a passion.