This is an extended preview of The Independent Musician’s Survival Guide; an essential handbook for the independent musician. I won’t go too much into what the book is about, as you can see for yourself in the chapters list and preview below. That said, if you’re not where you want to be in your music career, this is a must read guide. Not only can it help you identify where you’re going wrong, but it will also help you with what you can do to get things heading in the right direction.
So, please read on to the bottom of this page to see if this book can help you.
- The Music BUSINESS.
- Do You Need A Record Deal To Do Well?
- Why Signing A Record Deal Shouldn’t Be Your Main Aim.
- How Much Money Should You Aim To Make From Music? And How Much CAN You Make?
- Why Many Musicians Fail.
- Making Yourself Stand Out From The Crowd (Creating A USP).
- Setting S.M.A.R.T Goals For Your Music Career.
- Why Laziness Is A Career Killer.
- The Importance Of Marketing Your Music.
- Setting Up Your Online Base.
- Offline Activities, And Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Them.
- The Power Of Leveraging Established Platforms.
- When To Be Cheap, And When Not To Be.
- Keeping Records And Files.
- Paying Your Taxes And Making Things Official.
- Getting Fans To Become Part Of Your Journey.
- Bonus: ‘My Best Advice For The Independent Musician Is’:
By Christine Infanger at Thirty Roses.
By Chris Rockett at Music Marketing Classroom.
- Want More?
So, let’s have a look at the actual book (Now also available on Nook):
A musician is successful when they reach any goal they have set for themselves – big or small!”
Ann Marie Landry.
Welcome to the Independent Musician’s Survival Guide, the number one resource for the modern day independent musician. In this guide you will learn what is needed to survive in the music industry, and how to approach it for the best chance of success.
My name is Shaun Letang. For those that don’t know, I’m the owner of Music Industry How To, a website full of guides and resources aimed at helping musicians and music industry figures alike. Through this website (And through my other music websites, more details on those later), I do everything I can to make the life of the independent musician simpler. Whether this is in the form of one of the many guides I’ve written, whether they need help with creating a band or rap name with my band and rap name generators, or whether they need to find a music industry job on my job board. This website provides all of those things and more.
Despite all of this, I wanted to create this separate Survival Guide for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I wanted to reach a new audience. While through my websites I reach hundreds or thousands of musicians and music industry figures per day, I know there are a lot more people that could do with the advice I give. I hope this book helps achieve that, and gives more musicians the knowledge they need to start doing more with their music.
Secondly, I wanted to give off a specific type of advice all located in one place. This is the type of advice I feel could make or break a person’s music career, as in without it, your chances of success are a lot lower then they could be.
You see, during my years as a music business adviser, I’ve seen a lot of talented musicians. I’ve seen singers that can hit notes many of the mainstream artists can’t, rappers with more witty wordplay then a series of Family Guy, and guitarists that both create and play some of the most emotional pieces I’ve heard in a while. Despite this however, there’s been a common theme I’ve seen regardless of many musician’s talent level:
Not knowing how to navigate the music industry.
The thing is, many of us start doing music for the fun of it. It’s a art-form that is started through a passion rather then a necessity, and therefore most of us go in without a proper business plan of any sort. This leads to unrealistic goal setting when you do start aiming to push your music, which in turn can lead to frustration and ending your dream prematurely.
With the correct guidance though, it doesn’t have to be like that.
In this guide, I aim to share with your some of my biggest tips to getting your music career on the right track. I will be doing this in the form of conversation, and touch on some key areas I think all independent musicians need to think about in order to do well. I won’t be talking about how to market your music (Although this is vitally important as we’ll look at below), and I won’t be showing your how to play any musical instruments. What I will be showing you however, are a few things:
- What To Expect From Your Music Career.
As I mentioned, a lot of people go into the music business with unrealistic goals and aims. While it’s not a bad thing to aim high, it’s also important to realize what level of success you could realistically reach in terms of the money that’s out there and how the market is going.
I will tell you now that there IS money to be made from music, so don’t get all demotivated or anything. Having said that, many independent musicians fail to get to that stage. We’ll look at why this is later, and look at what you need to do to overcome these common pitfalls.
- Where You Should Be Focusing Your Efforts.
There are two ways to progress your music career: The fast way, and the slow way. Most musicians do things that will make them progress the slow way, and focus their efforts in the completely wrong places.
In this guide I will show you where your efforts should be focused, so you can get to where you want to be sooner rather then later.
- How Your Should Approach Your Music Career.
These days, being a talented musician isn’t enough to do well in the music business. I’m sure you know a lot of talented musicians that aren’t getting anywhere. Or furthermore, maybe you’re that talented musician that still isn’t getting the recognition you feel you deserve.
Due to the levels of competition that is currently out there, there are a lot of other factors you need to work on in order to be successful. In this guide we will show you what those factors are, and give you tips on building yourself up in all of these necessary areas.
- Why Many Musicians Fail, And What You Can Do To Avoid The Same Fate.
This title pretty much speak for it’s self. I don’t want you to go down the path of failure like many have unintentionally done before, so will be informing you or what pitfalls you should be avoiding during the independent stage of your journey.
- The Mentality Needed To Succeed In The Music Business.
Your mentality as a musician plays a big part in how far your take your music career. I’ve seen many talented people fall short of where they could be due to laziness, or reacting to a situation in the wrong way.
The thing is, we’re not generally taught how to handle things in the music business. Did you have lessons at school telling you what is and isn’t acceptable in the music industry? Has anyone ever told you some of the things you can do to speed up your music career a lot quicker? No, we’re generally not taught these things, and most of us learn them through trail and error.
In this book though, I aim to give you a big head start in terms of knowing how to handle things. I will help give you the correct mentality needed for success, a mentality that is free of laziness and is 100% professional. As long as you take what you learn on board and put them into practice, you will be ahead of the majority of musicians in terms of knowing what you should be doing. You will also be a lot more positive and able to tackle the journey ahead of you.
- Where To Invest In Your Music Career, And Where You Can Save Money.
Regardless of what anyone says or thinks, if you want to do well, at some stage you will need to invest in your music career. This could be in terms of studio costs, buying equipment, paying to travel to gigs, paying for musical education, or for any of the other things that cost money but could help take your music to the next level.
Now I know not everyone has a load of money to spend, and sometimes it’s hard to get the funds together to invest in your music career. It’s because of this, that I’m going to share with you some of the best places you can cut costs without sacrificing the final quality of your music. I will show you where you should be spending (When you’ve got the money of course), where you can get usually expensive things for FREE, and letting you know the places it’s not really possible for you to cut costs. Knowing this is just as important as knowing where you can save money, as cutting too many corners will give you a shoddy sounding music product. Put together a poor musical package, and no one will want to listen to you ever again.
- And Much More.
You will have to read on to see all of the cool things you will learn in this book. 🙂
Everything you read in this guide will help you navigate the music industry in a way that will give you the best chance of success. While some of the things I mention may sound obvious to you, I can almost guarantee you will pick up a load of good tips that you don’t currently implement. After all, knowing something should be done and actually doing them are two completely different things. This could be, and often is, the difference between failure and success.
This guide will serve as a good reference to what you should be doing as an independent musician, and should be referred to any time you need a lift or want to be reminded what you should be doing. Keep it in reach at all times, and never let go. 🙂
But anyway, I think it’s time we get into it. The music business can be a brutal one, but with the help of this survival guide, you have the tools needed to make a success of your music career. Good luck.
Music Industry How To.
The Music BUSINESS
Ok, so I think it’s important to mention this from the beginning. As you’ve read this far into the guide, my guess is that you want to do something with your music. You may still be playing your music in your bedroom, or you may already be past that stage and have played for other people at some point. Either way, you want to make something out of your music career…
This could either be in terms of making money from it, or in terms of playing to much bigger crowds and getting yourself known. Recognition or money; whatever your final goal, there is one thing you will need to remember:
The music business is a BUSINESS!!
Hence why it has the word ‘business’ in it.
While you may have started off making music for the love of it, if you want to take things to the next level and do more then just play to your friends and family, you need to realize this important but often overlooked fact.
Does that mean you can’t enjoy making music any more? Of course not, you never want to make it so you lose your passion for the music industry! If you don’t enjoy making music but carry on being a musician, this is nothing but a chore, and for most people won’t be worth pursuing any more.
Having said that though, if you want to reach new audiences or you want to start making an income from your audio, you will need to do more then just play songs to your teddy bears.
But what exactly does success in the music business require from you? Well, it could involve:
- Promoting Your Music.
- Interacting With Fans On A Personal Level.
- Finding Gigs For You To Perform At.
- Setting Up Websites And Other Promotional Platforms.
- Networking And Building Links.
- And Much More.
Now I know that some of you may not want to do more then write songs and perform your music. You may not know how to effectively promote yourself, and you may not want to learn. If that’s the case, know that most likely you won’t ever form any type of music ‘career’. You’ll simply be a musician. With no real audience.
If you’re making music for yourself an don’t really care about recognition or a financial reward, there is nothing wrong with this. Keep doing what you’re doing, and building on your musical talent for your own personal reasons. If however you do want either of those two things, this is of course a problem.
So what do you do if you want to take your music out of the bedroom but aren’t good at working on the business side of things? Well, you have a few options:
- Learn It.
Probably the best thing you could do is learn how to handle the business side of the music industry. After all, this ‘barrier’ to doing well is not going to go away. There’s no way around it; if you want to get your music out there, you are going to need to know how to market yourself.
While there are ways around learning the business side of things yourself (As we’ll look at in a minute), some of these other methods have some serious pitfalls.
Regardless of whether or not you always plan to be promoting your own music, it’s important that all musicians know the way the music industry works, and can do what they need to do without relying excessively on other people.
- Get A Record Label To Handle This Side Of Thing For You.
The next option is to let a record label handle the business side of things for you. This is what most musician’s used to do, although with the rise of the internet and a changing music scene, things have changed a lot.
Regardless of whether or not you want to sign to a record label, it’s still important you learn how to navigate the music business yourself. We’ll look at why this is in the below ‘Do You Need A Record Deal To Do Well?’ section.
- Get Friends Or Other People To Help.
If you need help but aren’t at the stage where a record label will come and sign you up, you can always try and get alternative people to help you out. This could be friends of yours that you already know, professionals you hire for a fee, or people you find by other means that want to help your music do well.
While this can be helpful, it isn’t a substitute for you personally knowing what needs to be done to progress your music career. At the end of the day you need to know what direction you want to head in, and how you can go about getting there. If you can’t clearly direct people in terms of the steps needed to hit certain targets, people will usually end up going in different directions. They may start doing things you don’t want to be done, or working on things that won’t really help you in the long run.
If however you know exactly what needs to be done and what results you want to achieve, you will be able to more easily communicate your ideas, and essentially build a stronger team around you.
So let’s say you’ve decided to take things into your own hands and learn the business of music. How do you go about learning the music business? Well, there are two options.
First of all, you can learn everything yourself through trial and error. While this method doesn’t always work (A lot of people get stuck doing things they think are benefiting them, but don’t really help them anywhere near as much as doing something else would), if you’re in the music industry for long enough, you will naturally pick up on certain things. You will realize some of the things that do and don’t work, and it’s possible to make a success of yourself using this method.
The thing with this though is it can be a timely process, and not ideal considering you’d want to get your career moving sooner rather then later. This slow moving nature can lead to demotivation, putting in less effort, and eventually quitting. On top of that, you won’t always learn enough to get you where you want to be.
The second option is to learn from people that have been through it all before, and that knows exactly what works and doesn’t work already.
Learning from other people’s mistakes and successes is one of the best ways we as humans learn. This doesn’t just apply to the music industry, but in anything we do. Our parents and the people around us teach us a lot about ourselves as we grow up. We are the people they’ve made us to be, and we’ve learned from the things we’ve seen them do.
Want to read the rest of this book? Then get it from Amazon. You can also search ‘The Independent Musician’s Survival Guide’ in your local Amazon and it will be there. Enjoy, and be sure to leave a comment on the above pages if you find the book useful. 🙂
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