I started releasing albums in 2000, as a way to share music with my friends and family. At that time, I had no idea this would lead into a full time career. But here I am, almost seventeen years later, a full time musician who tours regularly, owns my own business, and runs an in-home concert series. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make it in this industry as an independent musician and how to be successful at doing so.
It might seem scary to put yourself out there and open yourself up to criticism, but I say, just do it! You’re not going to make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time, but the people you do make happy will be touched and moved by you, and that alone is worth everything. Don’t let the criticism knock you down. Instead, learn from it and grow. If you can touch just one life, and make an impact on just one person, you’ve done something wonderful!
Success doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a lot of work and effort to get there. There will be many ups and many downs, and it will be rewarding at times, and frustrating at times too. It may seem like you’re not accomplishing your goals, but then a couple of years later, your album will be selling well and playing all over streaming radio, and it’ll suddenly be your most popular album. There are no secret formulas, and there are no right and wrong ways of doing things. It’s literally all trial and error and a lot of patience and waiting to see what will happen.
You have to be willing to put in the work, spend money to make money, and experiment. If you plan to just release your album and then sit back hoping the money will roll in, and the fans will just flock to you, it’s likely not going to happen. You have to be willing to work hard, put in an incredible amount of hours and time, and try things that may seem crazy or out of reach. You have to advertise. You have to promote and market. You have to give away freebies and have big sales and offer incentives. You have to stay relevant and continue to offer content. And you have to be willing to nurture and grow your music and your projects for years after you release them.
Be active on social media. Keep your fans updated via newsletters and mailings. Release videos, post snippets of sneak peeks, new music you’re working on, new projects you’re planning to release, etc. Keep your fans engaged by keeping an open dialogue with them all the time. If you just release your project, promote it for a little while, and then go dormant and silent until your next release, you’ll get lost in the mix. Promoting yourself, your music, your brand, and your projects are a full time job unto itself.
Don’t give up.
If all of this seems overwhelming, or not worth the effort, it might be easy to decide not to go for it. I say no! I say don’t give up. It’s a long road, and it is a lot of effort, but in my experience, it’s completely worth it. Being able to follow your dream, be creative, manage your own business and schedule, and release music that will touch people in ways you have no way of knowing… is incredibly rewarding and special. If you have something to offer, put it out there!