Last Updated on 7th October 2021

Being an independent artist can be difficult even if it comes with many advantages. Although you get to keep more of your money, you’ll also have more responsibilities. You also won’t have the same resources as a label and might be faced with some roadblocks as a result. This is why you need to know what life is truly like as an independent artist so you can prepare for the challenges that lay ahead. Here are some of the top challenges of being an independent artist.

Getting Recognition

One of the most difficult parts about being an independent artist is getting people to take you seriously. Trying to book venues as a new artist with not much of a following will be tough and lots of people will turn you down. This is why you will need to start looking for a good booking agent at the beginning and also make sure that you have an act people actually want to pay for.

Studio Fees

Having to pay for your own studio time can also be very tough. You can end up spending hundreds per hour for studio time in many cases, and this is a lot of money to spend if you’re a new artist. Know, however, that you shouldn’t have to pay that much if you’re just getting started. There are many studios out there that will allow you to get professional quality sound for a reasonable price. Look for self-serve studios that supply equipment and give you easy access. Compare as many studios as you can and don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions and second-hand opinions about any studio you are thinking of booking.

You Will Need to Learn the Business Side of Music

If you want to have maximum control over your career, then you will need to start looking at how you can start your own label. You will need to start looking at things like accounting, how to plan tours, legal issues, promotion, etc. You need to approach the music business like you would any other. You will have to know how to build a business plan. You will also need to start building a brand and label culture and make sure that it’s consistent.

If you want to know the ins and outs of starting a music label, you should check out the article by Pirate Studios on how to start a music label. As detailed in this guide, you’ll learn about things like branding and how music is only one part of the equation. You’ll also be able to tell if going independent is truly the right choice for you, and there are a few pieces of advice that will increase your chances of being successful.

Not everyone is ready to handle both the administrative and creative parts of running a record company. You might fall in love with the idea of owning a label, but you also have to be real with yourself and see if you have the business sense to operate one.

You can always team up with a partner that knows more about the business than you, but you might end up at their mercy. Not only that, but they could use their better knowledge of the business to take advantage of you and squeeze you out of deals. This is a very dangerous game to play, and if you’re going to partner up with someone, make sure that it’s someone you trust and who has a good reputation.

Going Mainstream

Going mainstream can be very difficult as an independent artist. A lot about going mainstream has to do with access, and as an indie act, you will never be able to have the same access as Universal or Sony. This is why you will need to revise your expectations if your goal is to become a big star. You will need to have an incredible act, a story, and a solid core audience if you want to get a chance. Your talent has to be good enough to get the attention of people on voting committees. You might also have to go above and beyond to get your name out there. This might mean doing things you don’t necessarily want to for attention.

Another thing that could allow you to stand out is if you have outstanding live performances. This is the type of thing that travels well over social media and transposes itself well to platforms like YouTube. This could allow you to land spots on famous festivals around the world and start building our brand as well.

You might want to invest in a publicist too. Publicists will allow you to get some leverage over major companies and help you get a few spots on important TV shows or outlets. You will need to work twice as hard to get noticed and it might never happen, so you’ll have to satisfy yourself with knowing that you have full control over your career and get to keep most of the profits.

Not Having Any Contacts

The music industry is far from being a meritocracy. It’s very much about who you know, and even if you have all the talent in the world, you’ll have trouble getting into rooms with important people if you don’t have contacts. Contacts are what will allow you to book important venues. They are also what will get you sponsorship opportunities, which are extremely important for indie artists. This is why you should look for a mentor as soon as possible when you get into the business. They will be able to guide you through the industry, but they could also introduce you to people who could help. Having someone who’ll be able to teach you a few things and help you build your network will help get your career off the ground and avoid serious mistakes. 

Work-Life Balance

Artists often forget that they will still need to have a life outside of their art, and this can be tough when you’re both the musical act and the person in charge of the business side. This is why you need to see where you could delegate and look at the responsibilities you currently have. Being an independent artist as a parent can be very difficult. You will have to deal with hectic schedules and won’t have as much time to dedicate to your family. This is something that pushes many artists away from the industry and you will need to evaluate if this is something you’ll be able to cope with.

Not Getting the People You Want

If you want to work with a particular producer, don’t assume that you can just walk up to them and give them a check. Many of these producers will only work with proven acts, and in most cases, proven means being signed by a label. You will have to be ready to get turned down by many people in the industry simply because you’re independent.

Being an independent artist comes with some perks, but it’s far from easy. So, before you decide to make the jump, look at whether it’s truly the best option for you and start learning about the industry in-depth.

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