10 Steps For Establishing Yourself As An Indie Artist

© 2009 Vinny Ribassinger

 It is not uncommon for artists at all levels to feel ‘stuck’, wondering what to do next. The number of tasks that seemingly need to be done simultaneously can be overwhelming. The thought of trying to do everything yourself can be literally disabling. If only there was a formula to follow.

 Unfortunately, since every artist has different wants, needs and desires, each artist is on their own career path. However, there are some basic tasks that are necessary to everyone, and they should be done in a specific order. And once they are completed, they need to be repeated over and over, each time on a larger scale. Here is one 10-step process for a singer to advance his or her career. Find where you are in the cycle and start from there.[private-member]

For any singer or band:

  1. Get better at your singing and stage performances. In other words, up you game.
  2. Choose your image and musical style(s). This is your brand! Build your brand with a presence on social networks and with your on website. Make sure that they are all consistent in their look and feel.If you;re a singer, decide whether you want to perform solo or with a band. Put a band together if you need to, or join an established one.
  3. Pick or write great songs that reinforce your image and musical style. No ‘fillers’. Be sure they will be appropriate for the kinds of gigs you wan to play.
  4. Begin marketing yourself or your act. Use the Internet to start building your fan base.  Tap into personal friends, relatives etc to establish a base. Put a demo and an EPK together and post them online.
  5. Book yourself – especially where you’ve developed a local fan base (or hire someone to book you if you’re making adequate income).
  6. Perform live in multiple places within one region, and then move onto another. After you’ve developed 4 regions, repeat the cycle. Each time you return to a region, entice your fans there to bring their friends to see you perform. This will enable you to command more money. Enlarge the regions each time you return.
  7. Collect fan emails everywhere you go. Ask your fans to recommend you to their friends, thus building your list quickly.
  8. Record the songs that get the best response in your performances. Have CD release party and publicize it to garner some press.
  9. Sell your music to your fans. Offer merchandise as well.
  10. Thank your fans. Keep your name and image in from of them via a newsletter, contests on your website, offering free downloads etc. Constant 2-sided communications is key.

The way this looks on your 2nd pass is this:

  1. Improve your game, giving people something new and exciting to hear and talk about.
  2. Reinforce your brand. Be sure to promote your act to the press. Send your single to local radio, and be sure to book time with local DJs to play it and to conduct an on-air interviews.
  3. By now you’ve put together a dynamic set list. You know what your audiences want. You can play the songs that you’ve released on your CD, but also try out new material. You might want to surprise them a little to keep them wondering what’s next. However, it’s important not to stray away from your brand with theses surprises.
  4. By increasing your Internet presence, you’ve now established a strong fan base. Recruit and mobilize some of them as your street team.
  5. Book yourself into venues that you played in before. This time you should be packing the place because of your increased fan base, your press and radio interviews, and the efforts of your street team. You may be able to ask for multiple dates instead of one-nighters.
  6. Your show should be much better as you return to perform your gigs. Use these gigs to increase your fan base, sell more CDs and merchandise. Invite the entertainment buyers from bigger venues to come see you perform. It’s time to move up a rung in the ladder of success.
  7. Add to your fan base, collecting more newsletter subscribers. Again, ask your fans to recommend you to their friends. The bigger your mailing list, the more music and merchandise you’ll sell, more fans will come to your shows, and more viral marketing will be spreading the word about you around the world. Track where these new fans are, and use that information to start developing larger regions.
  8. Record your new CD, choosing the songs that got the best responses when you played them live. Record bonus tracks to use as an enticement for people to buy both CDs together. Record some unplugged versions of your songs to give away as free downloads. Get new merchandise to sell as well. Have a CD release party and publicize it extensively.
  9. Sell your music and merchandise via your newsletter, website, social networks and live performances. Market your music to TV and film.
  10. Thank your fans. Offer free downloads. Do some free shows for the fans on your mailing list. Find something special that you can do for your fans. Write a fan appreciation song. More than anything, get them anticipating your next move!

Repeat often, each time increasing your marketing efforts, enlarging your fan base, expanding your geographical reach and creating greater demand for your music and performances!

Note: Your first pass through this process will be filled with hits and misses as you narrow down your image, the right venues to play at, the right marketing to reach your fans etc.[/private-member]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.