Jul. 4th, 2017
The Power and Pitfalls of Being an Independent Artist
So you want to make music and do it without a record label pulling your strings. Follow our series on what it takes to be an independent artist.
Imagine being an aspiring artist, trying to make a name for yourself in today’s music industry. Most likely you’re finding different ways to promote your music–whether it’s on social media or handing out physical copies of your projects. Regardless, the path you take will ultimately reflect the goals you have for your music career. The perception is that if you want to make money and be famous, you’ll work hard every day so that you can eventually get signed to one of the major labels in your genre. But more and more artists in today’s world are taking the independent route.
What exactly does it mean to be an independent artist?
Basically, independent artists are not signed to a label and they have more freedom to do what they want with their music. They can create the exact sound they want and they have the freedom to collaborate with anyone–even those outside their genre. They don’t have to worry about a record label giving them deadlines for a project or trying to determine the direction they want them to go in their career.
So being an independent artist is a piece of cake, right? Well, not exactly.
Something important to keep in mind is that independent artists have to do all of the work of an entire record label on their own.
Yes, there are many benefits to being an artist not signed to a record label. But artists shouldn’t underestimate the daily grind it takes to become a successful independent artist–not to mention the amount of talent you need in order to get people listening to you in the first place.
Something important to keep in mind is that independent artists have to do all of the work of an entire record label on their own (or find team members to help them). That means they don’t have a promotion department to help them promote their new project. They don’t have a business department to deal with the business side of their music (such as contracts, negotiations, and payment). They also don’t have their own A&R to work with them hands-on with their music. Because they don’t have these team members in place, networking is a very important part of being independent. On your own, you need to meet other people to collaborate with or meet people that can get you to where you want to be in your career.
Most independent artists start off by uploading their music to streaming websites such as SoundCloud, DatPiff, Bandcamp, etc. Or they put music videos on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook with hopes of them going viral. Take Chancellor Bennett, or “Chance the Rapper,” for example. He has always been known by his peers to be a hard worker and determined to be successful. His first mixtape, 10 Day, initially got over 100,000 downloads on Datpiff. His next mixtape, Acid Rap, caught the attention of hip hop fans worldwide. It helps that Chance is an exceptionally talented rapper, but the fact that he is also an extremely hard worker is what got him to where he is today.