The Benefits Of Being An Indie Artist

© 2015 Vinny Ribas

The opportunities for indie artists have never been greater. And yes, the waters on how to be successful have never been murkier, but that’s only because there are so many wonderful options to pursue, avenues to follow, methods to use and results to achieve.

Here is a look at many of the things that are great about being an indie artist. It’s important to note that in many cases nothing has changed over the years accept your increased access to a worldwide consumer base. Your job is to study these scenarios and line your career path up with as many of these as possible. The result will be diversified and increased incomes, and long-term stability. [private_pro]

  • Labels control careers. As an indie, you have total control over your career. This means that you decide:
    • Where you want to play;
    • Which kinds of venues you want to play in;
    • How much time you want to spend on the road;
    • When and how often you want to play;
    • How much money you want to make;
    • What kinds of music and which songs to play;
    • What kinds of music and which songs to record;
    • Who is on your business team;
    • Who is in your band;
    • How you want to market yourself.

Write down your responses to these, present and future. Then you can start putting a plan in place to achieve them.

  • There are no unreasonable limitations due to:
    • Your age;
    • Your looks;
    • Your geographic location;
    • Your income level;
    • Your level of talent (must have some);
    • Your race;
    • Your religion;
    • Anything else.

You have access to the same people that almost everyone else has. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the stereotypes of a successful artist.

  • There are more income opportunities from recording music because:
    • You are your own record label, so you keep 100% of the profits;
    • You have the opportunity to sell almost any kind of recording (acoustic versions, full produced songs, CD, EP, rehearsal tapes, DVDs etc.)
    • You own the masters completel, not your record label;
    • You can sell your music to anyone, anywhere at any time online;
    • You make all of the profit from your live sales because you’re not buying them from your label;
    • You can license masters to film and TV, video games and products;
    • You can find places to shop your masters worldwide;
    • New laws enable you to get paid when your songs are played/streamed on the Internet;
    • You can record as often and as much as you’d like;
    • You can sell karaoke tracks of your songs;
    • You can have other artists record your songs over your tracks.

Are you taking advantage of the fact that you own your masters?

  • There are numerous income streams from songwriting, such as:
    • You can retain the publishing if you do your own licensing/pitching;
    • You can license your songs to other indie artists, film and TV, video games and products;
    • You can find opportunities to shop your songs worldwide;
    • You can write specifically for film TV, commercials, corporate videos etc.

How many ways are you deriving income from your writing?

  • You have unlimited co-writing opportunities:
    • You can find co-writers online.
    • You can produce demos with multiple contributors online.
    • There are prominent organizations where you can find co-writers, such as Indie Connect, NSAI, Songsalive!, Just Plain Folks, Songwriter’s Guild and West Coast Songwriters.

Are you writing with the best writers to compliment your strengths?

  • Your global reach is unprecedented.
    • You can get terrestrial radio airplay.
    • Some terrestrial radio stations also broadcast on the Internet.
    • There are thousands of Internet-only radio stations.
    • There are literally hundreds, and probably thousands of social networks worldwide.
    • You can promote your website worldwide.
    • You can use social networking tools like Twitter and Artist Data.
    • You can create and promote/sell podcasts.
    • You can post videos on You Tube, Google Video etc.
    • You can get your music into popular blogs.

How far-reaching is your promotion?

  • More venues are used to artists booking themselves.
    • Many venues that used to book exclusively through booking agents will hire self-booked acts.
    • EPKs make it easier for entertainment buyers to learn everything they need to know about a prospective artist.
    • Widgets make it easier and more accurate for artists to pinpoint where their fan base lives.
    • Online services like, etc. make it easy to find venues or promoters anywhere in the world.

Decide where you want to play, do some research and make it happen.

  • It can be inexpensive to record songs, an EP or a CD.
    • You can record some or all of your music at home.
    • Studio time has gotten less expensive due to the many home studios that have taken some of their business.
    • You can record individual parts online and have others add their parts from anywhere in the world.
    • You can record more music. Major labels often limit artists to 1 CD every 18 – 24 months.
    • You can create better quality recordings for less.
    • You can record any and all of your songs. There are no limits.
    • Selling downloads eliminates the need to duplicate as many CDs.
    • Software programs allow you to design the graphics for your CDs.

Are you taking advantage of recording technology, even if it is just to create your ‘free’ downloads?

  • You have direct access to talent buyers worldwide.
    •, Indie Venue Bible and other online databases make it easy to find venues and venue contact information.
    • You can see where artists similar to you are playing and follow in their footsteps.
    • You can attend conferences/conventions where talent buyers attend, such as NACA (colleges), IAFE (fairs and exhibitions), SXSW (mostly rock), MIDEM (international) and IEBA (talent buyers association).

Are you reaching out to buyers? Or are you just sitting around waiting for them to call you?

  • You have access to amazing marketing tools
    • You can develop a large fan base through social networks.
    • You can create a street team through social networks.
    • There are countless marketing widgets to put on your websites/social networks, and for your fans to have on theirs.
    • You can get an inexpensive, template-based website with amazing marketing and tracking tools behind it.
    • You can have your own email newsletter, saving thousands of dollars over postage.
    • You can post your gig calendar all over the Internet,
    • You can use free (and paid) download cards and free download services to generate traffic and interest.

Are you using the most effective tools for your particular situation?

  • Indie music is accepted as an alternative to major label music
    • Indie music accounts for 30% of all record sales in the U.S.
    • There is no longer a stigma associated with not being on a major label.
    • There are still ways for independent artists to get physical distribution.
    • Your music can be played alongside major label artists on Internet radio and services like
    • More large non-reporting radio stations welcome good indie music.
    • The public buys music they like regardless of the record label (or lack of a record label) behind it.

Are your aggressively pursuing avenues once locked up by the major labels?

  • You can start your own record label
    • The costs for recording and promotion are much less now.
    • You can create your own deals with the artists you sign. Be creative.
    • You can create a co-op label with other artists (sharing all expenses and profits equally).
    • You can be the only artist on your label, but give the impression of it being a larger label.
    • You can hire a label management service like Indie Extreme to run the day-to-day operations of your label.
    • You can work from anywhere you are in the world.

Have you looked into the benefits and viability of forming a label for your music and that of others?

  • You have the ability to organize and mobilize a team
    • You can choose your own management team instead of having a record label assign them to you (booking agent, manager etc.).
    • You can organize street teams to help with marketing and promotion in every city you visit.
    • You can have your own paid or un-paid college interns.
    • You can outsource much of your marketing and promotion to experts.

Don’t take being a ‘do-it-yourself’ musician literally. Build a team! Start with friends, family, fans and interns if necessary.

  • You can manage your fan base in ways unheard of just 5 years ago.
    • You can track all kinds of information about your fans (age, location, gender, profession etc.)
    • You can know who buys your products and who comes to your shows and target market them.
    • There are online tools that streamline this process tremendously.
    • You have access to experts in this facet of the industry.
    • There are SASE programs that enable you to have your own social network for almost nothing!

Do you know what demographic makes up the largest segment of your fanbase? What are you doing to cater to them?

  • Trade secrets’ about the music industry are now common knowledge.
    • There are countless articles and videos online on sites ranging from You Tube to Indie Connect.
    • There are valuable books and e-books that teach how the industry works.
    • You can make wiser career choices by knowing how the industry works.

Are you a student of the industry?

  • You have access to experts and expert advice on every aspect of the industry.
    • Former major label experts and contacts now work with independent artists.
    • There are independent artist development companies like that can effectively move your career forward.
    • You can network online to find industry experts on sites like, etc.
    • You can attend music industry networking events (Indie Connect), conferences, seminars etc. and meet dozens of people who can be influential to your career.

Don’t let your lack of knowledge and/or contacts stop you. Reach out and find the answers or the people who have the answers.

  • You can control your radio promotion
    • There are online services like that help you reach stations worldwide,.
    • You can hire the same radio promoters that the major labels use(d).
    • Major labels seldom send artists on radio tours anymore due to the cost. However, it can be financially viable for you to do a radio tour.
    • There are radio stations that play all kinds of music instead of just one genre/format, giving you more opportunities.
    • Internet radio is getting more popular every day.

Have you found the radio markets for your music? Are you pursuing them?

  • You are in control of your business. You are the CEO.
    • You can manage yourself or hire a manager.
    • You can book yourself or align with a booking agency.
    • You have complete access to your books and money.
    • You choose the right marketing methods for your act and music.
    • You can get your own sponsors.
    • You can raise capital to finance your career.

Are you managing your career like any other business owner would?

  • You control your merchandise and merchandise sales.
    • Sell whatever you want to.
    • There are services like that let you create one-offs.
    • You keep all of the profits.
    • You can have anything made with your logo on it.
    • You can create your own line of products.

Are you taking advantage of selling merchandise to increase your income?

  • Being a musician is quickly becoming a more legitimate career path
    • It’s no longer ‘sign with a major label or go broke’
    • There are programs like Indie Connect that teach you the industry and help you move your career forward every inch of the way.
    • There are more independent artists making substantial incomes than ever before.
    • You can create multiple streams of income from all of the sources we’ve mentioned here, as well as many others.
    • It is no longer the youngest, best looking acts that make the most money.

The purpose of this article is to encourage you to celebrate and embrace your indie-pendence! The future is bright, and it’s getting brighter every day!

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, a global business club for serious independent artists, songwriters, musicians and music professionals. Indie Connect helps its members increase their chances of success by providing practical career direction and education, combined with live and online industry networking opportunities. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, an artist manager, a booking agent, songwriter and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He is a published author and popular speaker at music industry conferences.


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.