Indie Birds – Keys to Success For Indie Artists
Although music sales are down and people continue to wait for a reasonable business model to emerge, I am confident that now is a great time to be an indie artist. There are more resources available to help you grow in your music career than ever before. The next phase is inevitable, as organization and funding are the only missing elements in all of the new development. So, what should you do as the pieces of the puzzle continue to fall into place? I suggest that you prepare, participate and build your arsenal. Only you can do the work necessary to prepare yourself, but I can possibly offer my own list of suggested keys to success.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If you are a performer, then it is necessary to practice and practice often. I have struggled to develop my skills as a guitarist but after 35 years, I can now see what worked and what did not work for me. Understand yourself and what motivates you. If you are motivated by Stevie Ray Vaughan, then aspire to play like Stevie Ray Vaughan, but not too much. Mix it up a little. That is, develop an appreciation for different artists and styles. If you are learning the more traditional sight reading approach, the same should be true. Play different pieces that may be difficult at first, but always challenge yourself to play the next level. Playing songs regularly can make them very easy, but it can also lock you into various bad habits. Develop a list of songs or techniques that you wish to learn and work on them. Always strive to improve.
Build Music Collateral
You should write songs and you should write a lot of them. I do not mean that you should sit down and try to write a song a day. However, I believe that practice can help you to develop as a songwriter. In the meantime, you are building a nice catalog of songs. I think the songwriting process is very personal. But, for me, it is writing songs as I go. I keep a notebook handy for writing down ideas as I receive them. That is, our lives are composed of a series of observations which we can record in the way of songs. Do you have all of these observations at once? I do not know about you, but I do not. I have observations that sometimes occurs to me in great abundance, and then I have observations that may occur to me more infrequently. I consider them all valuable, nonetheless. They are sometimes enough to inspire an entire song. Others are sometimes combined together to create nice lines within another song. It is my own process, but I do believe that we can all develop the habit of recording our observations that may be used at a later date.
Write Great Songs
OK, it is a good start to develop a habit of recording your observations and writing a lot of songs. However, it is also necessary to write great songs. This comes with time, I believe, so the practice of writing songs is a prerequisite for writing great songs for most of us. Of course, Bob Dylan may have written great songs from the start, but I believe that he devoted a lot of time studying his hero, Woody Guthrie. Studying the work of others is a great way to grow, and I would encourage anyone to spend some time dissecting the lyrics of those you admire most. Read as much as you can about the process of songwriting and also develop an understanding of what makes a song great. This, of course, is relative, as different people have different ideas of what makes a great song. However, you should have your own idea of what makes a great song, and let that become the standard to which you aspire.
Offer a Great Product
OK, you have now started writing songs on a regular basis and you have actually written a few great songs. So what? If you can not present the song in it’s best form, you may never be recognized for the genius that you are. Therefore, it is necessary to produce a great product. By that, I mean you should record a professional quality demo. If you need help, then try to find help. It is possible to learn the technology and record very high quality demos at home. However, this takes time to learn and you may not have the patience to learn software. Also, you may not have the skill level as a songwriter to sing or to play all of the instruments on your own song. That is fine, because there are other people who can help you. Sometimes, you can offer to pay them but you can also offer them an acknowledgment that will help them to boost their own careers.
Be Willing To Work With Others
This element should be second nature. Unfortunately, it is not. I would encourage everyone to find value in your fellow man, which I believe, is the largest hurdle that we face when trying to work with others. If you can appreciate a person and their level of skill, this should not be too difficult. Also, learn to respect others in conversation and take some time to understand people. Sometimes we fail to understand the motivations of potential friends and collections, which is a fundamental problem when looking to build lasting relationships.
Develop Personal Networking Skills
Personal networking skills are perhaps your greatest asset. You should always maintain good relations with people, even when you can not agree on everything. It is just good sense to have a solid circle of influence.