How Independent Should A Independent Musician Be?

How independent should a independent musician beOne thing I’ve noticed, is that a lot of people take the term being independent too literally. They think that just because they don’t have to rely on a record label, they don’t need help from anyone other then themselves and their group members. But with the truth is, everyone will need help sooner or later. Unless you’re very lucky, there’s a lot of work you’ll need to be doing as an independent musician, often too much for one person.

My stance has always been the same: You need to learn to do everything by yourself, but understand you can’t do it all on your own.

What I mean by that is this; while it’s important to learn the music business inside out, you need to realise it isn’t possible to put together all the factors needed for success by yourself. You need to learn how the music industry works and what needs to be done to progress in it, but no one person would have the time to implement all the needed components without help.

While being in a group can often make the job easier (More hands make lighter work), sometimes it’s not enough. Often group or band members still won’t have the means to do everything by themselves, they are after all musicians like you.

Who’s Help Do You Need

During your journey, you may need help from the following:

  • Promoters / Your Fans:
    If you’ve done any promotion before, you’ll know promoting can be a full time job. Promoting entails constant website updating, website promotion, finding shows, getting DJ songs, building new contacts, and much more! The job is never ending, there’s always some way to help you further get out there. If you were to rely only on your promotional efforts, you wouldn’t get anywhere near as much work done as you could with a team of promoters around you.
    A good idea is to get either specialist promoters and / or fans to help you in this area. Many musicians get fans to help with promotions by encouraging them to share things with their friends. Social networking websites have made this even easier then ever before, as even by contacting just one fan with some influential friends your material can get all around the net.
  • Video Makers:
    As with most of these things, this is something you could do if you had the right resources. But in reality, it wouldn’t be practical to make all your own music videos. While you can use consumer level camcorders for promotional efforts, they can only take you so far. As you get more well known, people will be expecting a higher level of product from you and you will need to provide. Unless video making is something you want to taker seriously and have the budget / time to learn the craft, you may want to leave it to someone who already knows what they’re doing.
  • Designers:
    Along with promoting, designing has low barriers to entry. Good quality free image editing software has meant that anyone wanting a go at designing can do so for freely. So why would you want to get someone to do designs for you? Well, mainly because not everyone has a good eye for art. We can often see when someone else’s work looks good or bad, but going through the process step by step it’s hard to tell how yours is turning out. It’s like the saying “Bad singers don’t know that they can’t sing” (X Factor anyone?). It’s often hard to judge your own voice or acting skills unless you record it and watch it back, so unless you’ve got a proven eye for art (In other words you’ve been working on perfecting your artistic flair for a while), it may be best to leave this to the professionals.
  • Studio Engineers:
    While most musicians don’t realistically think they’re going to make a studio to record all their own material in, some people do. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, you need to ask yourself if you want to be a musician or an engineer. Being an engineer is very time consuming if you’re allowing other people in your studio, and the studio can be very costly to start up in the first place. Often it’s much easier (And cheaper) to hire studio time and let a professional engineer take the session. Then, if you really want to be able to record your own music, do so when you’ve established your name. Then with the money you make set up shop.
  • Record Labels:
    Even when you’re an independent musician, you can’t count out the possibility of signing if the right deal came along. At times in your career, record labels may come along and be willing to help you. They may have heard a single you released that didn’t go very far, but may be willing to do a single deal with you. If they have the resources to push this single as far as it can go, this may be a good opportunity for you. Remember, although record labels can be a liability, they can also be helpful if you’ve proven you can sell the amount of records needed to make the deal a profitable one. When it comes to finances, they can push you further then you probably could by yourself.

There are many other people you may need to rely on during your music career, but these are the main ones. While these are all things you can do yourself with the right amount of time and money, considering the amount of time it’ll take you to learn all these things (And then implement them) it won’t most likely be worth it. So how independent an independent musician are you? And what other types of link do you think you may need? Let me know in the comments section below.