Preparing Yourself For Success As An Indie Artist

jPaul© 2010 By jPaul Caianiello

Wasn’t it John Lennon who said, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans?” In my own life, I know that to be a true statement. While pursuing my music career there were a variety of forks in the road; some that I followed, others that I did not. Some led me closer to my dreams, while others distracted me and got me off course.

For those of you who are older, remember when you were a teenager and how the days seemed to last forever? The future seemed so far away, and the promise of your dreams becoming a reality held no doubts that it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time; and time began ticking away, ever so sneakedly, until one day you became aware that the road to success was paved with disappointments, false promises, and dead-ends.

While it is true that life will throw at us a variety of circumstances that are unrelated to our music careers, there are things that we can do to help us stay on course, navigate the waters of life, and plan for success. Preparing yourself for success includes having a career plan, following that plan, and staying motivated for the long run while implementing that plan.

From a business perspective, creating a plan for your career is one of the most important things you can do. Defining who are you, identifying the audiences you wish to target, and determining the products or services you will offer are just some of the questions you will need to answer. Establishing your vision and mission upfront gives you a focus on what you need to do to reach your goals and objectives. Participating in the various workshops, seminars, and networking gatherings provided by organizations like Indie Connect and Music Artists Network, can guide you in the writing of your career plan. It does not need to be complicated; however, it will require some genuine reflection on how you want to live your life.

You need to be disciplined and do something each and every day that brings you closer to achieving your goals. Even if you, like many of us who are independent artists, work a full-time “day job,” time must be set aside to execute your career plan. It could be something as simply as practicing your instrument, writing or refining a song, reading a book on the music industry, taking an online course, attending an open mic, or networking with local musicians. What you do will depend on what you are trying to accomplish, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

For example, one of the activities that I perform quite regularly is to take a motorcycle ride away from traffic and city lights. When riding, I let my mind wander. This allows ideas and melodies to flow freely through my mind. During my rides, I can usually come up with a complete melody and/or lyrics. Once I have it worked out in my head, I will pull off to the side of the road, take out my portable hand-held digital recorder, and sing the melody and lyrics and get it captured on disk. When I return home, I will revisit that moment of inspiration and continue the writing process from there. You can see how this activity helps me achieve one of my goals, which is to write new songs. While it might seem like an unorthodox approach, it works for me and helps me to execute my career plan.

One of the difficulties I face on a regular basis is how to motivate myself to implement my plan and to keep it moving forward. Each of us has our own unique personalities and dispositions. Some people are always in a good mood (You know who they are. Don’t you just hate it?). Some are quiet. Some are grumpy (especially in the morning before they’ve had a cup of coffee). I will leave it up to you to schedule your own Myers-Briggs assessment and discover what personality type you are, but believe me; we come in many different shapes, sizes, and personalities.

My motivation lasts about two weeks, after which I need to recharge and refocus. One way to stay motivated is to surround yourself with positive people and influences. Remove all negative influences from your life. Be around people that encourage you, inspire you, and believe in you. Above all else, believe in yourself. Let’s face it, the competition out there is fierce, and the market is saturated with music professionals of all types (e.g., artists, managers, agents, promoters, lawyers). Does my saying, “the competition is fierce and the market saturated” make me a negative influence? The answer is no. Welcome the competition and enjoy the challenge. How you react to negative influences and how you let it affect you is what matters. Turn it around with a positive response and build that positive attitude into your career plan strategy. That will make success ever so sweeter.

Celebrate your successes. Your celebration provides you with motivational fuel. A job well done and an accomplishment achieved is reason to celebrate! Remember however, that when you wake up the next day, it is a new day, and the process begins anew. What’s next on your plan for moving forward? Re-evaluate your plan to determine if your strategy is working or needs fine-tuning. Just because you’ve had successes does not mean that you should let things slide. What’s next on your to-do list? Keep moving forward. Before long, and after many years, you will look back and be surprised to see that a “good life happened while you were busy living your passion.”

jPaul is a songwriter, musician, and educator with over 25 years in the music business. He is the author of JC’s Video Guitar, Guitaring, and the Literate Guitarist. Formerly the director of the California School of Music and agent for A Band For All Occasions talent agency, jPaul is currently living in the Washington, DC Metro area and forming a music collaborative called Music Artists Network.[/private+freebie]

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.