How To Be a Successful Musician: 6 Tips for Independent Artists
January 15, 2017
Right now is a great time for independent artists to positions themselves for success in today’s music industry. But how can you give yourself a better chance of standing out from the crowd?
We’re often asked what advice we'd give to unsigned acts, so here are 6 basic tips to make sure your hard work pays off.
How to be a successful independent musician
Connect with fans
Building a strong relationship with your fans is crucial to your success as an independent musician. To sustain and grow your fan base you'll need to connect with your listeners both online and in person.
Playing live as often as possible and in plenty of different venues and locations. A killer live show is a great way to win over new fans and keep your current ones happy. Make an great impression on stage and make sure the audience remember you.
Connecting with your fans online is also key. Not only should you regularly post interesting, exciting or maybe even funny content to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, but also reply to and interact with anyone who mentions you in their Tweets and post. If someone compliments your track – thank them!
Alternatively, have you ever thought about vlogging? A popular YouTube series is a great platform from which to launch a successful independent music career. All you need is a camera, internet connection and an irresistible personality!
Major independent grime artist Stormzy often retweets and replies to his fans on Twitter
Play to your strengths
Know your strengths and focus on them. It’s all well and good being able to write a great song and release your it online via Ditto Music, but there are plenty of other ways to boost your music career – and earn money doing it.
If stage presence is your strong suit, you could try and secure a residency at a local venue. A regular gig slot puts your music in front of new people every week, and earns you extra cash to fund your career.
If you've got a creative mind and know your way around a camera and editing software, why not focus on making original music videos? If they’re awesome enough, they could go viral!
OK GO are the masters of viral music videos, which helped their rise to fame
Brand identity & awareness
Get yourself some eye-catching graphics that you can use across all your promotional materials, from your website and social media accounts, to your posters, flyers, business cards, t-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse mats and more! Creating amazing graphics is easier if you’re a Photoshop or Illustrator pro, but if you don’t know your crop from your clone stamp, you’ll be better off hiring an experienced graphic designer.
A strong brand identity can help to develop a strong brand awareness. You want your logos and branding to become instantly recognizable, and if they look cool, people will be more willing buy your band’s t-shirt when they’re browsing your merch.
A cool, eye-catching band logo can help increase brand identity & awareness
Stop waiting for a record label
No one is going to knock on your door with a golden ticket, and no one is going to do the hard work for you. Don’t assume that major labels know the secrets of the industry, or that signing a record deal is even a good idea.
Many musicians who sign to a major record label never actually end up releasing music, and labels can drop an artist as quickly as they signed them. Nowadays, major labels hardly ever sign an artist without a successful independent career behind them, so concentrate on doing your own thing and don’t worry about chasing a big-money deal.
Do not ignore streaming
This year is going to be one of the most successful years for the music industry, thanks to streaming. Major labels are earning huge amounts per day just from streaming sites, so make sure you’re getting a piece of the action.
Some artists have reservations about putting their music on streaming platforms, but as an unsigned musician trying to raise your profile and reach new fans, getting playlisted on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music is an invaluable (and free) way to put your music in front of new listeners.
Getting featured on popular playlists is a great way to reach new listeners
Work hard & stay focussed
This might sound controversial, but you shouldn't have a Plan B. Having a Plan B can distract from your Plan A, and if you start doubting that your plan is going to work, then it probably won’t!
Do you want to spend your life working on something you’re not truly passionate about? Successful people take risks. You may get to a point in your life where your friends have lots of money or a new car, which can tempt you into taking a job you don’t really want. But don't give up on your dream! Keep focussed and follow your passion.
Got any questions about your independent music career? Or any tips for all the other unsigned artists out there? Let us know in the comments below and share this advice with your friends.
- Is It Worth Playing Open Mic Nights?
- 10 Must-Have Apps for Musicians and Bands
- How to Make Beats: The Basics
- How to reach more fans with your Facebook band page
- How to Record Drums on a Budget
- Making a Music Video: How to Commission a Director
- A Beginners Guide To Mixing & Mastering Music
- Meet the Band Managers: A Guide to Music Management