“Indie” has become quite the buzzword over the past decade, but it means a lot more than just a section in a music store (Wow, do we still have those? But, that’s for another conversation).
Independence in the music industry really comes from using the power of your mind to achieve your goals. Sounds scary, right? It doesn’t have to be. Let’s talk about what that means.
First step to being independent is… yes, declaring your independence; forget about record labels, big payouts, and excess. You may not have a million dollar advertising budget, but you don’t need it! Record labels have built walls around themselves that do one thing; keep the independent musician out. Why? Because independents think for themselves!
Here’s a fact – many great musicians have existed without “major label” representation, and continue to do so, successfully. They make the decision that their music and the art that they create is worth being heard and seen, no matter what anyone says. These musicians continue to do what they love, despite great adversity. Why? Because they focus on longevity.
#2- Go the distance
And speaking of that, onto step two; longevity. Longevity is important because it requires that you focus on the future, instead of one big boom. We all dream of our “big break,” but the fact is that musicians who continue to do what they love focus on the long tail – the many small things that make up the bigger final outcome. With less and less big payouts happening in the music industry, it has become more and more apparent that we need to focus our attentions on the many ways that we can find success through longevity in our careers.
It really is possible to get by without ONE big thing. It’s the many small things, whether they’re mp3 sales, merch sales, or royalty payouts (and especially the combination thereof), that make up the ability to stay alive and thriving five, ten, and fifteen years down the road.
# 3- Confidence is key
And the third step; confidence. I can’t say this enough: confidence, confidence, CONFIDENCE! Get up everyday, and tell yourself what it is you want to do. Do you want to play big festivals? Visualize doing it! Do you want to tour and play tons of shows? Focus on it! Tell yourself what it is you want to do, and don’t be afraid to dream big.
Remember, if everyone with big dreams gave up on them, we’d have none of the great things we have in today’s world. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to achieve your dreams, no matter what stigma exists around if an artist should “make a living” doing what they love. You can, you should, and you deserve it.
These aren’t all the steps – many of those will be governed by your own drive, focus, and belief in yourself – but think of some of these things I’ve mentioned as good building blocks toward being a thriving creative. Being independent means one thing; believing in yourself. Independence comes from what you build on your own! Nothing is handed out (especially not now), and working hard has more meaning now than ever. Embrace being an independent, creative person, and you’ll see it pay off.
Help yourself, help others, and be independent!