[This article was written by Keith Coston, a music producer and head of Keef Keyz Productions. It was originally published on KeefKeyz.com.]

I can’t believe how many artists are unaware of the mistakes they make on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes. But there are some mistakes that independent artists cannot afford to make. In this article I will discuss three of those major, costly mistakes.

1. What’s your motive? Are you passionate about music or fame?

The first and biggest mistake artists make is not understanding their MOTIVE. In other words, I mean DO IT FOR THE MUSIC!

Just like any other craft that we can learn in life, the better we get at it, the more we sometimes lose the purpose in why we decided to do it in the first place.  Music is one of the only forms of expression that enters our mind and our subconscious without permission. At some point it did just that for us. It took over our minds and we started to apply logic and action, then started creating what we could hear and feel on the inside. The feeling that music gives is remarkable and the persuasion it has is uncharted. We sometimes lose the love for those remarkable feelings, and start basing things off of sales, listeners, downloads, website traffic, etc.

A lot of times our motive changes and then we put our first love on the back burner. Sooner or later the actual sound of our music takes a hit. Not being passionate about the music we create shows and sticks out like a sore thumb. A lot of music that was created back in the day, like Michael Jackson, is considered timeless, and why? In that era, people created music off of feeling and the love of it. Nowadays it’s harder to hear anything all that unique because hit producers, writers, and artists are trying to compete with the same sounds and same content.

Whatever made us fall in love with music should be the same thing that pushes our creative/logical senses to keep the LOVE of the music as the primary reason to create and innovate.

2. What’s the quality of your audio?

Since technology has put the power of reaching audiences at the fingertips of any individual, it is important to understand that you are in the same ocean with every other artist in the industry. Nowadays anybody can put an album on iTunes, Google Play, CD Baby, or Amazon Music. YouTube, Noisetrade, and Bandcamp have made it ridiculously simple for an independent artist to be heard and found.

The quality of your music is imperative and may just be the one key to your success or failure.  We are now in the era of DIY and home studios. Like most things, these studios have their pros and cons. On the one hand they allow for us to create music we love without having to hire a bunch of other musicians, singers, producers, and engineers. The downside is that a lot of us don’t try to be as professional as we can be with our DIY sound quality. In other words, before there was a ProTools…there were professionals who had worked their entire lives getting great sounds.

But the Internet has made it easier to learn the ins and outs of capturing better audio.

If we cannot create the music quality we desire ourselves then we should look to work with other musicians, engineers, and producers. The Internet has also made it possible to work with online engineers and producers if you cannot find one locally that suits your style of music.

3. Is your online branding working for or against you?

This is a very broad topic, but I want to touch base on the issues I see a lot. First, the website! Think of your online presence like a physical mall — and your website is a store. If you are in the same mall as one of your favorite artists, your store would have to look presentable and be able to compete with the other store. Well the same goes for online branding. Too many artists just use the links to a music site (Bandcamp, SoundCloud, etc.) or their social networks to represent their brand.

I’ve recorded a video on thinking like a business vs. thinking like an individual which helps breaks down this mindset we need to have. It goes into the steps for effective branding. With Bandzoogle’s simple website-building tools,, it’s so easy to create a site to represent your brand. You don’t need a designer! You can DO IT YOURSELF!

Usually all you need is:

  • A “Music” page to post your music.
  • A “Contact” page for people to contact you.
  • An “About” page that has a biography of you and your brand.
  • A “Gallery” page that shows high-quality photos and videos of you in your element.

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There are so many different areas of improvement that we all can take advantage of and the list that I gave doesn’t even cover a fraction of them.  I hope that you find the information useful and if you have any other mistakes or tips that could help us artists and producers, contact me so we can talk about it.