Choose The Right Career Level As An Indie Artist


© 2009 Vinny Ribasguitarist

 There are superstars who sell out stadiums and make the ‘big bucks’. On the complete other end of the spectrum are aspiring singers, musicians and songwriters. Your music career doesn’t have to exist on either one side or the other. That’s because in between those endpoints are dozens of levels of working entertainers. There are those who play music just for fun and those who play weekend weddings or nightclubs for extra money while holding down a straight 9-5 job. Some play full time on the road, while some have found house gigs in which they play the same place every night or weekend. There are singers who only sing at wedding ceremonies, or in the opera, or for TV and radio commercials. There are musicians who only do studio work, write and record film scores and those who only teach. There are singers who have their own band, singers who are part of someone else’s band, singers who accompany themselves and singers who sing in ‘shows’ in which orchestras back them.

 I can obviously go on and on. My reason for stating these obvious scenarios is to make sure that you know that it is OK if you don’t get that major label contract you’ve been dreaming of. I would never tell you not to pursue it. On the contrary, if it’s what you really want (not what someone else wants for you!), you need to give it everything you’ve got! But until that actually happens, or if that never happens, you can still make a very good, steady full-time income playing music. It is respectable and honest. 

 And if you’re thinking that you don’t really want to chase superstardom, then you have some serious decision making to do. You need to decide just what level within the music industry you feel comfortable in. Ask yourself if you want to travel or work close to home. Could you live on a bus or out of motels? Do you want to perform full-time or part time? How much money do you need to make from music? Are you OK with singing 4-6 hrs. a night, or are you better off singing 1-2 hrs or less? Is your strength in performing live or recording in the studio (or both)? Do you need to be the leader and have things your way, or are you willing to do what another bandleader asks or needs you to do?

 All of these factors and more come into play when you’re planning your next few years in the industry. If you’re not sure of the answers, then experiment a little. Nothing needs to be set in stone. Ask people who have ‘been there, done that’ what they liked and disliked about their careers. Make a list of your own likes, dislikes, dreams and priorities. Then find a path that aligns all of them perfectly so that you are totally content with your choices. Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying it all. Just don’t lock yourself into long-term commitments until you’re certain you’re on a path that you are completely comfortable with. Once you’ve sorted through all of the various choices and make these critical decisions, you can begin to establish yourself for the long term on the path you’ve chosen.


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.