Make Money as a Musician — The Indie Survival Kit

February 28th, 2011

Why do you want to learn the guitar?

If you were to ask that question most people would say that they want to learn the guitar because they want to master the instrument, write songs, meet band members who share the same passion and take over the world as a famous rockstar!

Becoming a famous musician is still extremely competitive and challenging but thanks to the World Wide Web more options exist for small, independent (or indie) artists. Which means that it is possible to actually get paid for doing the thing you love most — make and play music.

We spend the majority of our time on GLC examining the guitar but today’s post is about surviving as an indie artist. Check out some of needed steps below to make music, promote your name (or band) and actually earn a little money!

It all begins with the Web…

If you have made it this far then we are guessing that you’re a proficient musician with a love of the art that borderlines on insanity. You could make a living being an accountant but you would just as well prefer to play the guitar. If that’s true then that’s the first step because you need an intense desire and passion to make it as an indie musician. Still, for most, you’ll have to work an alternative job to fully support your means.

MySpace is not quite as popular as it was before Facebook became the “network of 500 million friends” but it still remains a viable web site largely because millions of musicians around the world use it as a totally free platform to promote their music. You need to make sure that you, the artist, utilizes Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and even Twitter to advance your music.

Promote your ‘brand’

Your brand is, of course, you the solo musician or the band. Back in the day it used to be that self-promotion meant you were “selling out” but oh how the times have changed. For one, “selling out” back in the day was not the same because those bands were signed to a major record label that invested millions of dollars to do the promoting behind-the-scenes with a skilled team of marketing and promoting staff members as well as PR contacts.

You, the indie artist, do not have the same “team” (your three member street team does not count). In addition to making great music you also have to be the marketing genius behind the sound. As an indie musician you’re not only the artist but also the label executive.

Get Creative

Easy enough, right? You’re an artist after all. The reality is that the Internet is a great tool for indie artists but it’s also a curse because anyone can share their music. So in order for potential fans to surf through all the garbage to finally discover you — the next superstar — you must get creative. Indie artists who make a living solely through music are great stories but they are few and far between. What is your gameplan?

Getting creative as an indie musician means everything from faking your CD (that was recorded in your apartment’s makeshift studio) as something that appears to be from a professional studio, to taking advantage of local college stations, to other unique ways of marketing.

Play live religiously

Never forget the old-fashion, always important aspect of playing live and playing locally often. Sure, it’s not Woodstock but local gigs will secure a foundation with your hometown. It’s grueling, hard work but playing a ton of gigs is the only way you’re going to pay the bills until you can land a record deal (or at least secure enough funds to record in the studio).

Over time playing live religiously should open up additional doors with bigger and better opportunities. In the mean time, appreciate the opportunity and appreciate that these “small” shows are slowly building up your performance skills. Who could possibly entertain 10,000 when they have not even moved a couple hundred first?

It’s got to be digital

Old-school music lovers (such as myself) will testify that nothing compares to buying an actual album, CD, cassette tape, vinyl or whatever was popular during your era. Unfortunately, the times in the music industry have changed and everything is going digital.

This means that you are going to save a lot of money (and earn more fans) by going digital with your music. Instead of full albums the mentality of the music industry (especially with new artists) is “one song at a time”. Singles rule when compared to full albums. Put out a few tracks and build your fanbase from there.

Use the ‘indie’ card

Even on the tightest of budget, an indie artist will need some equipment that is not necessary cheap. Consequently, you have to find a way to address your needs without paying full price. Everyone loves a great underdog story, right?

Indie artists are the underdogs. You will find that a lot of people in your community love to support the local arts and may be surprised to what you can get away with for simply saying — “I’m only an indie musician, how can you help me?”

One Response to “Make Money as a Musician — The Indie Survival Kit”

  1. twittenator says:

    Thanks for the suggestions you reveal through this website.

Leave a Reply