10 Key Points on How to Manage Your Career as an Independent Artist and Become Successful

If the world is a stage, the music industry is a platform, and the independent music artist is the audience for which I have to pass a message, my very first line on the speech sheet will be this: “Bro, you are a victim, and you are only the victim of your own ego”.

This might probably sound confusing and could be regarded as a brutal truth with a sarcastic undertone depending on whether, you are an insider, or an outsider in the music business or alternatively, you a music industry player born with the opportunities placed on your laps by lineage or by heritage.

The birth of this honest truth about the music artist was conceived by a combination of factors which I shall highlight and touch on below.

Not that this article is purposed to site some of the vices that may hinder the success of your music career. If you take time to understand this and correct, then your chance of success as an independent artist is higher. Good luck…

The Untold Characteristics of the Independent Artists

These are just a few of the many factors that might just be a definitive characteristic of many independent music artists as it relates to their conducts in the music industry.

  1. Greed for instantaneous gratuity
  2. Question of Respect for Industry norms
  3. Clouting chasing
  4. Self-aggrandizement
  5. Reluctance to collaborate.
  6. Focus shift (out of contents and out of context)
  7. Looking high above the ceiling
  8. Inept attitude towards the business of music
  9. Greed for instant reward
  10. Jealousy over working relationship
  11. Additionally, the absolute lack of support for fellow indie artists.

While the above is nothing but a few of the negative posture of majority of the independent artists who are the principal actors in the indie music industry; the truth is that there could be hundreds of such reasons why the music industry will only rely on the few mainstream players worldwide. Now lets have a brief sense of what each of the above items really means; but again this will also depend on your own definition or perception as well.

1. Lost for Instantaneous gratuity

The only thing that makes music business or music profession stand out from all other professions is the fact that it is vastly based on creativity driven by natural talent. But as times flies-by, the indie artists almost forgot this crucial fact. The appetite for instantaneous gratuity is a great temptation in the music industry.

This has taken over the mind set of the artist that, in some cases, we see artists fight over rights of credits not be accorded to fellow creatives whom they have worked with on a project. This often times cause a huge rift within a group or solo artists who had worked on a project. Hence independent artists would find themselves a tight corner most times not finding the right talents to work with for fear of inadequate recognitions and rewards..

     2. Disrespect and Disregard for Indie Artists

So many argue that, its all about the Benjamin’s (all about the money). But it is also true that without a formidable creative structure, since your business is built upon creativity, then, the Benjamin’s, won’t even surface in the first place I guess?  Lack of respect for fellow music artists especially if they are indie as well, is a crucial attribute that jeopardizes progress within the indie music industry.

The point here, is that if you are an artist, when you come across other artists or other creatives within the music industry or any industry for that matter, it is very crucial that you do not judge people by the kind of wheels they rolls by, or the diamond on their necks. Instead, focus on their creative abilities. This will enable you to get closer to people before categorizing them and in-turn, allows people to get to know you and appreciate you deeply for who you are.

      3. Clouting Chasing

This is the most common attribute of the independent music artists these days. Driven by the life of social media, the creative element that has being the backbone of the music artists has being eroded to a degree that is, now, almost unacceptable.

The indie artists has almost forgot who they are, where they are, by mimicking their idol mainstream artists to the extent that posting fake cars, fake jewelries, nude pictures of women has become some form of marketing gimmicks. The crave for instant fame on social media has left a creative vacuum which in return produces mediocrity in musical productions and you know what would surely be the result of musical works laced with mediocrity.

        4. Self Aggrandizement

It would be fair to say accumulating everything good to yourself is a good idea if you are living in a fairy-tale world. If you are living in a world outside of the music industry where creativity does not exist, then its okay.

But in this world of music industry, your talent in one area has to depend on the talent and efforts of other creative minds in other areas. Hence the zeal for the indie music artists to be famous alone, get-rich quick alone will always have negative impact on his career in the long-run.

        5. Reluctance to collaborate with fellow indie artist.

This is one very big surprise moves by the indie artist that is detrimental to the survival and growth of the independent music industry. The artists themselves, would not easily and willingly collaborate with each-other in a song, music videos and other related projects.

They are hell-bent on seeking collaboration with mainstream artists which often times would seem like chasing a pipe dream.

So many independent artists, believe that their only gateway to success is to only work with main-stream artists. This, in itself is a daunting task because the mainstream artists you are looking up to, would hardly wanna recognize your talent in the first place, not to talk of working with you. So, it would always be nice to keep working together as independent artists. That’s my opinion!

        6. Focus-shift out of relevance in content and out of context

Every legendary musician (Bob Marley, Tupac, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Michael Jackson and others) that has graced this planet, are a great example of creative excellence. This creative excellence that can only be articulated through the contextual materials he produces that embodies his entire catalog as creative masterpiece.

Bearing in mind that these creative masterpieces serves as evidence of super-contents created within relevant context that has the ability to withstand the test of times. This is what legendary is all about.

Legendary is not about your quick-one-hit-single or album that sounds like everybody else in the same musical genre. Most artists has since lost the bid for solid creative contents production that can take his musical journey to the future. Original contents positioned within context need to be looked at seriously.

       7. Looking high above the ceiling

This point in the character of the indie music artist defines his urge to “sell-out”. Some would say: “sold his soul”. This can be interpreted in very many ways but the simplest way to put this is, that, the music artist is ready to abandon his creative imaginations and work pieces for measly compensation advancements from the so-called mainstream record labels.

He would not want to work with indie record labels to figure out a proper ways of turning his talent into an income generating work-in-progress but will opt for instant record deals that will see him compromising his God-given talent.

indie artist characteristics

         8. Inept attitude towards the business of music

We have seen music artists engulfing in legal battles with record labels over music contracts. We have seen music artists entangling themselves in unsolvable conflicts with personal managers, booking agents and other professionals in the music industry that tends to work with them. In most cases, most of these battles, are as a result of the music artists not fully understanding the terms of the contracts they had earlier signed with these firms or individuals.

This is not like calling on the music artists to abandon his creative focus on quality music production to focus on business of music, “no”. Don’t get me wrong, this is about the music artist’s ability to spare some time to understand the basics of music business. To understand how the music business really works in general knowledge terms so that they have ideas on how the various segments of the music industry works since they are the original source of the product. Very important. #knowledgeispower

          9. Committing to Long-Term Projects

Some call it greed for instant rewards, others call it lack of vision. However, I call it lack of commitment to a project or any project that will build from ground up. This is the situation where the indie artist refuses to engage in collaborative efforts of projects that might not yield instant profit but requires some serious commitment over a certain period of time to yield desired results.

Just like in every business, especially successful businesses, just don’t start generating profit immediately. One has to invest some time and even greater degree of capital for it to start generating any kind of positive outcome. But in most cases, the indie artist does not see things that way.

Truth is that, if the independent artist, hope to have some form of “authority” or “say” on how their projects will pan out, they also have to be the investor as well. Because at the end of the day, is he who invest money and other valuables in a project that actually have the greater “say” in the scheme of things.

10. Build an Open and Honest Relationships

Everyone knows what jealousy can breed. It is quite important to touch on the issue of jealousy in this article due to the degree of retrogression it causes in the indie music industry.

We have see artists pushing way beyond their means to get that attention just because they wants to beat their pears and be on top of the “game”. People hating on each other therefore avoiding to work with one another just for the sake of ego driven by jealousy. I think it is quite obvious to each and every adult what the adverse effects of jealousy are in every spheres of human endeavors.

It only takes positive minds to think alike and work together to create magic. But in most cases, the independent artists is jealous of everything from his friend owning a smaller record label to his co artists being a better songwriter and so on and so forth. Not to over rule the few with good attitude, but the majority needs to have a re-evaluation of their overall antics and replace it with positivism.

Conclusion

Inasmuch as the aim of this article is to point out the very crucial vices in the indie music industry in general, it is at the same-time, a clarion call for the music artist to make adjustment and self-regulate in order for a second tier level-playing field can successfully emerge apart from the so-called mainstream.

This kind of second-tier music industry which seemingly would be an industry where the independent artists play successfully even at a global stage might just be the only hope of a thriving music business. This is a crucial topic dear to the development and advancement of the indie music industry.

Your suggestions through comments is highly respected. Let’s have a logical conversation on this topic to find a lasting solution that can improve some of the conducts as it relates to the indie artists and the music industry. For general inquiry and if there’s any topic or issue you want us to write about, feel free to contact us

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Christopher Odiley

Christopher Odiley is a music industry expert with a special focus on talent development, music consulting, music production, and music publishing. Christopher Odiley is also a talent manager infusing mentoring into his artist management duties. The Founder and Executive Producer of Morgeez Meia Agency trading as Morgeez Records based in South Africa and Nigeria respectively

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