Surviving as an independent artist is never easy. Unsigned bands have to work extra hard to put out high quality recorded material and be able to promote themselves. While going independent gives musicians greater control over their work and how they wish to market their music, they also don’t get to enjoy the benefits of being signed with a major label, like management, a recording studio, and distribution. This doesn’t mean that independent artists will never succeed like signed musicians – a lot of bands have proven that it can be done. However, it would take a lot of heart and endless hours of hard work to be able to make things happen. With talent and determination, it will all work out.
To be able to make going independent work, musicians need to hook themselves up with some of these tools that will allow them to do things their way and get their music out there properly as well. If you are planning to do things yourself, you might as well stock up on some of these essentials that will give you the means to do what you love and help make things possible for you. Going independent does not mean compromising the quality of your music or selling yourself short out there. Remember that you always have to put your best foot forward and never take shortcuts, because success will never come easy. With these tools, you can start working towards releasing your own material, distributing it, marketing yourself, and showing the world what you’re made of.
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1. Get your own recording equipment.
You don’t have to buy state of the art rigs or set-ups to start your own home recording studio. Get some microphones for different uses within your budget range and set up a recording area in your room or anywhere you can find a quiet space to work. Don’t compromise on the quality of your equipment, but make sure it’s something you can afford.
2.Download some mixing softwares.
If you can’t find a friend or a sound engineer who will work for you for a cheap cost, you can try to learn to mix and produce your material yourself. Just download some audio applications that will let you do it on your own computer. Not to worry, most of these softwares don’t require a high-powered unit, so you can work even without having to spend much for upgrading your system.
3. Put your music up on digital music stores.
Once you have recorded and mastered your own material, it’s time to put it out there by simply uploading them on some music selling sites. Platforms like iTunes and Amazon MP3 charge a small amount for you to put up your music, and also take cuts every time you sell a single or a whole album. If you are planning to release free material, Bandcamp allows people to download your music even without having to pay.
4. Upload your songs on streaming sites.
If you want people to hear some of your stuff, put them up on streaming sites like Spotify, Deezer, SoundCloud, or Viinyl that will give people a chance to listen to your music and even share it with their connections on the platform. Find other sites that can help you link your music to your contacts, so they can easily give it a listen and also allow them to spread your work online. Spotify even pays some money for every listen, albeit only a small amount.
5. Sell physical copies of your recordings.
Once you’ve pooled enough funds, come out with a physical copy of your release. Some clubs have merchandise tables that can sell your releases, so make sure you take advantage of it. At shows, tell people you have copies of your recordings with you if they are inclined to buy one. They can simply approach you, and you will even get to meet some of your listeners.
6. Find possible distributors.
It can be tricky to find a distributor for your work, but finding the right places to stock with your releases is a good start. Make sure you get to know whoever will be selling your stuff. Approach the manager of the clubs you play at and ask if they can sell your merchandise for you. You can also try local bookstores or specialty shops and ask if you can consign your material.
7. Sign up for various social networking sites.
This is the easiest way you can reach potential listeners and interact with your current ones. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great sites through which you can engage people, while Tumblr can give you a chance to share your experiences with them and give them a glimpse of what goes into your work. These are also excellent ways to promote your music and your shows.
8. Make videos.
YouTube is one of the most popular platforms today, and people can easily share content from the site to other social networking platforms, so take advantage of it. Upload videos of your shows, record some sessions or demos, and start sharing. It would help spread your music and attract listeners to your stuff, too.
9. Try crowdsourcing.
If you need to augment your budget for recording and producing an EP or LP, you can try soliciting funds from prospective buyers while guaranteeing to send them your material and some other treats when it’s finished. Platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo will give you the chance to find financiers who can fund your projects while you work on them.
10. Forge relationships in the scene.
This is one of the most valuable tools that your band will ever have. Get to know promoters, show producers, radio DJs, and music journalists. Maintain good ties with them, because they can be influential in helping you succeed. Make it a point to be gracious to them, especially if they have been supporting you since you were starting out. They will help you get to where you want to be.
11. Land yourself some reviews.
If you know of any music writers or bloggers, send over some of your songs, or inform them if you are releasing anything new. They would probably need material to write about, so it would be a win-win situation for both of you. This will help get your music out there and reach more people, which could turn into avid fans.
12. Go on the radio.
If you get to know anyone from local radio stations, give them copies of your material. You might get some airtime that will help with promoting your work. Also, don’t be shy in pitching that you can visit their show and play live sometime. If they can’t do it, maybe some other DJ with the said show format can get you on the radio.
13. Hire a manager.
If keeping tabs on your show schedules, practices, or recording sessions seems mundane, you can ask a friend to do it for you. They can be the one to talk to those who are trying to book you for a gig, or those who need your services for other music material. They can also be the one to book rehearsal studios if you need to practice before shows. This is not much work, so get someone who would love to do it out of support for you.
Once you’ve gotten yourself these tools, you are on your way to achieving what you have always wanted. While it will not be easy, you will be well-equipped and ready to take on the challenge of making it in the music industry. Being an independent artist doesn’t mean you don’t have a shot at enjoying commercial success. As long as you work hard and have these tools with you, you will get what you want out of your career.