This week, we explore the essential steps for aspiring independent musicians to take on the journey toward professional achievement. Learn about the importance of artist development, how to get started as an independent artist, which aspects of your music career require ongoing fine-tuning, and collect some helpful tips and tricks to get you moving. Building your brand, persona, and public appearance can be challenging. If you have the right team behind you and an appreciation for learning, artist development can be exceptionally rewarding.
Why Independent Artist Development Matters
Independent artist development offers numerous benefits for aspiring musicians. By controlling your music and career as a whole, independent artists maintain their freedom to make creative decisions and maintain artistic integrity. Independent artists are not bound by the constraints of traditional record labels, which allows them to experiment and explore their musical boundaries. Conversely, without a major label behind them, independent artists may be overwhelmed or entirely unaware of the professional development required to fine-tune a brand, a persona, and an artist as a business.
Given the power to build their brand, independent artists have the opportunity to rise to levels of success they may not have previously imagined possible. With a unique identity and the ability to connect with the audience, independent artists have the opportunity to create a loyal fan base that resonates with their music and values.
What is Artist Development?
How do we get to that magical place with adoring fans who connect with us on a personal level, public appearances, paid shows, publicity… living the dream? Artist development.
Artist development is a blanket term. It covers everything applied in educating and developing an artist, honing their skills, technical abilities, and overall presence to the public. Arguably, there are innumerable areas of artist development, but in this article, we will tackle some of those facets most critical to overall success.
Finding Your Unique Sound
Every artist has a unique sound. Exploring different music genres and experimenting with various instruments and techniques can help artists find their distinct musical styles. By immersing themselves in different types of music, artists can draw inspiration and create a signature sound that is truly their own. The goal is to be able to be recognized by name from just a few bars or a few instrumental moments. If you can accomplish this, you’ve found your sound.
Creating a Compelling Visual Brand
In the competitive music industry, having a compelling image is crucial for standing out. Artists should define their style, create a memorable logo that reflects their identity, and be consistent with brand fonts and colors. Independent artists should also consider their stage name as part of their brand and identity and be consistent in that name and the formatting of the name across all platforms and streaming services. Developing a consistent visual identity helps establish a powerful and recognizable brand.
Building a Strong Online Presence
In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is essential for independent artists. Setting up an engaging website that showcases your music, biography, and upcoming events is the first step. It will take some time and energy but is well worth the effort. Leverage this when reaching out to media outlets for promotion and write-ups!
Secondly, utilizing social media platforms effectively allows artists to reach a wider audience and engage with fans directly. Providing content that is entertaining, engaging, and intentional should be a goal in this regard because your social media presence should always be growing.
Email newsletters provide an opportunity to connect with fans on a more personal level and keep them updated on new releases and upcoming shows. Find a way to offer something for free or creatively collect those email addresses so you can get in those email inboxes when you have announcements or *gasp* an event where you are selling tickets and merch!
Networking and Collaborating
Networking and collaborating with other artists can open doors to new opportunities and expand the artist’s reach. Connecting with other independent artists allows creative collaboration and learning from each other’s experiences. Joining music communities and forums provides a platform to connect with like-minded individuals and exchange ideas. Participating in collaborative projects exposes artists to new audiences and fosters growth and inspiration. Independent artists should consider various ways of networking, both in person and online, to maximize their reach, brand awareness, and trust in new audiences.
Promoting Your Music
Music marketing plays a crucial role in the success of independent artists. Understanding the importance of marketing and creating a strategic release plan is essential. Yes, you need to do more than release your project and post once on Instagram! Work on a thoughtful, intentional release plan that starts as far out as 12 weeks BEFORE your release and goes through the first 90 days after your release.
Utilizing online platforms for music distribution, such as streaming services and digital music stores, allows artists to reach a global audience and monetize their music. Independent artists often focus on social media as a means of shopping their music around so that they forget the tools and resources available to them on all of the streaming platforms and through their distribution services. Make sure you max out all the tools and services available everywhere your music can be heard.
Managing Your Career Independently
Managing a music career requires setting realistic goals and timelines. Artists should track their progress and adjust strategies accordingly. Data says so much about your career and provides more than benchmarks for future releases and their success. It can also motivate improvements and guide an independent artist in the direction of successful activities instead of wasting time or energy on less fruitful efforts. Track your social media content, your streams, and how effective strategies are, and use that information to improve over time.
Seeking professional advice when needed, such as from music industry experts or career coaches, can provide valuable insights and guidance. While you may be a one-man or one-woman show right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t accept help or advice or build a team as needed.
Artist Development: TLDR
Unleashing your musical potential as an independent artist is an exciting journey filled with self-discovery, creativity, and growth. By finding your unique sound, building an impressive online presence, using every resource available to you in your favor, and networking with fellow artists, you can unlock your full potential and create a successful and fulfilling music career on your terms.