Your Music Career - 6 Great Tips for Independent Artists
July 14, 2014
Now is a great time for you as independent artists to position yourselves for success in today’s music market. Here at Ditto we like to bring you tips to help your hard work pay off!
Here’s an article from musicthinktank.com, where Founder (Dave Kusek) of online music course “New Artist Model”, gets 6 key tips to success from Jack Conte. Although some of them may seem like common sense to some. It can be easy to forget these simple tips when you’re music brain is switched on to ‘creative mode’.
(Original Article: Dave Kusek, musicthinktank.com)
The new music industry is really about finding your own path – one that is unique to your music and career. That’s exactly what Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn did with Pomplamoose and it is the foundation on which Jack’s new endeavour, Patreon, is built. Jack Conte has built a sustainable music career, and that is something all musicians strive for.
1. Know What You’re Good At
“For me, I figured out what I was good at. That was music and video. I found a platform that could help me do both of those things. Find out what you’re good at and what you like and enjoy and then find the platform to do that.” – Jack Conte (Check out the full interview here)
The first step to creating a truly great business is really knowing what you have to offer. Of course you have great music, but I want you to take some time to think beyond that. Today, there are so many ways to make a living off music, from music videos to gigs, and from traditional recordings to cover songs, remixes, and arrangements.
Do a little soul searching and ask yourself what you are really good at and what you love doing. Maybe you’re a performer at heart with a flare for organizing people and tasks. Maybe you, like Jack Conte, love making music and videos. The key is to know your skills and then focus on building a career around them. From here, you’ll be able to identify tools that will help you accomplish your goals. Jack loved making music and videos, so it was obvious to focus his efforts on YouTube instead of Facebook or Myspace.
In the end, you’ll have a career built around things you actually love doing. As you’ll see in the next section, loving what you do will make all the hard work fun and enjoyable.
2. Work Hard
To Jack Conte, this is the best time in history to be working as a musician, and he’s right! Musicians today have more opportunities at their fingertips every day than some past musicians had in years. You don’t need to wait for a label to throw money at you to start recording. You can connect with millions of people online to sell your products, collaborate, and perform. It is, however, a lot more work. Gone are the days of the partying rockstar. They are replaced with serious musical entrepreneurs who hardly have enough time to sleep let alone party.
That’s not to say that having a career in music isn’t fun! If you’re truly doing something you love, you’ll enjoy the work no matter how long the hours. Most of the musicians like Jack and Nataly who have built their own careers from the ground up, love music so much that they are perfectly okay with the hard work. In fact, many of them wouldn’t give it up for the world!
“It’s a lot of hard work. We work 24/7. It’s just lots of toil and labor. It’s fun though! I mean we love making music, we love recording, but it’s not parties and drinking on a bus. It’s like cranking at one in the morning, being absolutely exhausted, looking at a 90-fame shot list, and having covered 45 of those shots and realizing we have 45 left to do, and we have to be done in an hour because the hotel is closing. And that’s like everyday of our lives. If you want to be a working musician, make a living from music, and be in control of your own career, then you have to run your own music business, label, and promotions. You’re the CEO of a company. It’s so hard, but so rewarding.” – Jack Conte (Check out the full interview here)
3. Start With What You Have
“You can start making music in your bedroom for next to nothing and hang some blankets on the walls and reach millions of people nowadays. And I find that particularly inspiring.” – Jack Conte (Check out the full interview here)
The barriers of entry that once prevented musicians from entering the music industry have been blown down. You can start with almost nothing – some cheap instruments, lower-end recording software, and the internet – and build a career. That’s exactly how Jack and Nataly started. The duo were both living with their parents and recording with gear that found on Craigslist for next to nothing.
The fact is, if you wait until you can afford time in a studio or a regional tour, you’re never going to start. Start with what you have, create the highest quality music you can with the tools available, find some fans, make some money, get better gear, and start the process over again. It’s a slow endeavour, but you’ll be a lot further along than if you never started.
4. Hire Where You Need
“Ask yourself what do you need, and then hire that person.” – Jack Conte (Check out the full interview here)
This really builds off the previous point. When you first start out, you won’t be able to afford a manager, booking agent, and publisher. More likely than not, you won’t even be able to attract their attention until you get your career moving forward and get some traction in the market.
Like everything else in your career, it’s really a building process. When some money starts flowing in you don’t need to jump in and hire a full team. Instead look at what you have going. What do you have under control and what’s working well? What do you need help understanding? What barriers are in your way? What tasks are becoming too large and overwhelming for you to handle? If you’re doing really great at keeping up with your finances but are having a hard time getting gigs in the bigger venues you know you can fill, just hire a booking agent. Of course, the people you hire and the order you hire them in really depends on you, and your skills, so it will be different for everyone.
5. Balance Music and Business
The musician today needs to play the creator and the business executive, and they need to do both of those full-time jobs in a short 24-hour day. It can be really overwhelming, but with a little time management, it’s totally possible!
The first task is really figuring out how you work best. Some people do their best work first thing in the morning while others prefer to work at night. Some people are pro multitaskers while other would rather focus all their energies on one task at a time and get it done.
“I need unobstructed creating time. That’s just how I work. Everybody works differently and everybody has a different balancing act. I take that time that I need, and I don’t really do much business in those times.” – Jack Conte (Check out the full interview here)
If you look at Jack’s calendar, he sets off a few days a week as just studio days. He doesn’t take meetings or calls on those days – it’s time for him to just focus in on creating. Try using whatever calendar tool you have available to block out your time – it doesn’t have to be fancy. Set a half hour each day to respond to email, 20 minutes to schedule out your social media with an additional hour to respond to your fans over your lunch break. You could set out a few hours one day of the week to brainstorm marketing strategies for your upcoming release, and a day to record and mix your cover song.
6. Build Your Own Model
“One thing that I can’t stress enough is whatever works for you is the right way to do it. Just do what you need to do. It’s funny, I think there’s a tendency to want to be the “real thing.” We wanted to be a “real band.” We felt like, “Oh, we’re just a YouTube band, it’s not real,” despite the fact that we had real fans, we were selling songs on iTunes, and we were making a living off of album sales. There is just this pressure to do it like everyone else is doing it. I think the truth is, if you’re an entrepreneur or an innovator, you do it your own way and make it work your own way.” - Jack Conte (Check out the full interview here)
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