5 tricks to become a successful indie artist

July 12, 2019

In the era of socials and Internet, indie artists/bands have no excuses for not trying to succeed in tomorrow's music industry. Clearly, you have to know that "direct-to-fans" is the royal way to break through!

But what do you really need to stand out and put all the chances on your side?

We're often asked which pieces of advice we would give to an indie artist who just began and wants to become professional.

Some even ask us if it is possible to succeed if we have no time, no money, and no network.

Even though there's not only one way to become a successful musician in this specific industry, we listed here for you the 5 major pillars in our opinion that every musician should capitalize on to make sure to boost its performances and chances to succeed in music.

1. Your work

In a world as saturated as music, talent is not a rare commodity. So, please don't be surprised if no one knocks on your door to offer you the contract you dreamed of, and above all, if no one wants to work on your project for you.

Starting a career is the hardest thing to do, so managers and labels prefer to wait until they see a mature and advanced project before proposing anything.

Therefore, at first, your have to focus on your musical business (yeah, we're really talking about a "business") and, please, for God's sake : forget, at least for now, labels, or even managers.

It means at the same time that you have to invest (and for sure, lose) time and money to start your project, if you think it will eventually lead to something great.

Like a lot of people are setting up their own business, in most professions, this implies significant initial and daily investments, both to professionalize your business and to develop partnerships.

If you can only give a couple hours, each week, to your project and if you don't want to train or invest, then understand that your project may be on the spot as long as you maintain this way of thinking.

Nothing is impossible, for sure. But, again, we are talking about starting a real business around your music, if your goal is to become a professional musician.

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2. Your way of thinking

Let's face it, you're not going to become Ed Sheeran overnight. You can try ... But we prefer to warn you in advance, that your impatience may make you lose your motivation.

Because loads of mainstream artists who seem to get out of nowhere actually have many years of hard work and failures behind them.

It isn't, for sure, what you see at first glance, or what you want, but that's the truth.

So, be patient in everything you do. By focusing on the long term, you will make sure you have a clear mind. And you're not going to skip essential steps of your artistic ascension.

3. Your audience

If we could sum up this third trick in only a few words, we would say that audience means career. Building a strong relationship with your fanbase is essential to become successful as an indie artist/band.

Nowadays, we're using a new word : "direct-to-fans". It means : managing your fanbase is like managing your career. Your audience can make your success. But also break it. Depending on the relationship you have with your audience.

And to maintain and make your fanbase grow, we advise you to connect as much as possible with your audience, online, of course, but also in real life.

Playing live as often as possible and in many different places, with a professional and engaging show is a great way to win new fans and keep your current fans. Make a good impression on stage and make sure the audience remembers you.

And of course, connecting with your online fans is also something you have to work on. Not only should you regularly post inspiring and maybe fun content on your socials, but you should also answer and interact with anyone who mentions you (in a post, or in comments).

If someone interacts with you, it's a golden occasion to create and build a relationship!

And a happy fan then becomes a faithful fan, and then... a buyer.

So, let's focus on your fanbase and you will always know where to lead your career.

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4. Your network

Establishing strong relationships with musicians who have the same goals, or sharing your way of thinking, won't only teach you about them, but it will also open your mind to many opportunities.

You may not realize it yet, but Facebook groups, professional events you attend, and gigs you play are just as likely to generate dozens of strong, win-win relationships.

This goal of bringing opportunities and contacts to you is to become, yourself, an opportunity for others.

Work on your network by offering collaborations, partnerships and tips, then you will see your network grow and you will become a magnet to opportunities.

In the meantime, it is essential that you work to grow your network on your scale. Don't be too ambitious from the start.

5. Your knowledge

Whatever the business model you're aiming for, you should learn something new every day, whether it's related to music (production, recording, live performance...) or managing your music business (marketing, communication, management, booking...)

This knowledge can only help you to make better decisions to develop your project within music industry. Investing in skills and knowledge is probably the best investment you can make to progress.

Indeed, at that point, you don't need to buy this extra guitar (ask yourself how many guitars do you already own?) or bundle of plugins that you won't use a single time, isn't it?

No, at this point, you need to know exactly how to move forward in your career by proceeding step by step. And that requires training and learning.

Knowledge is a weapon and your best friend in the music business world.

Of course, we're thinking of your marketing, communication and sales skills, among other things. Musicians often entrust these tasks to someone else, which can quickly become quite expensive and not necessarily justified.

That's why, with a good network (see part 4) and solid knowledge, indie artist can build a career without any problem.

And then, if you decide to still delegate some points of your career, you will still be able to understand and judge the work of your providers if you are trained for that, rather than being unable to separate good and bad.

Train each day through blogs, books, trainings, meetings, conferences or even coaching, and your project can only grow.

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To be short, your work, your way of thinking, your closeness to your fans, your network, and your knowledge are the essential tools you need, to build your career properly.

That's easy to say, but not so easy to do. For sure.

That's why, only the most determined artists, can hope to break through! And if you're not determined enough, maybe we could help you out! Don't hesitate to reach out!