Taking the Step from making music to being an Indie Musician

Everyone one is making music these day. Everyone has an app (or three) on their phone or computer that they can use to bang out a choon and lay down a lyric.

Everyone has access to publishing tools from Soundcloud & YouTube to Bandcamp & Spotifry.

Everyone is a musician.

It is in how people use those tools, especially in the way that they finish & publish their work that defines if they are just making a noise or are an Artist.

Love Needs No Disguise

In the last article I ran through the essential points for setting up your Bandcamp account and publishing an Album that matches the needs of the people you want to attract.

The most common responses I get to this sort of info is:

  • Oh but I am not a professional so I don’t need to do any of that stuff: Ok sure, it is your thing so you do as much or as little as you want. However success for an artist is like karma, you get out what you put in. If your Artwork is unfinished, the fan will have an unfinished relationship with it, i.e. they will walk away. Is that what you do with Pink Floyd, or Iron Maiden, or Garth Brooks, or…?
  • I know my stuff, I do it my way: Sure, that is right. It is your work so you must complete it as you see fit. However it must be complete or it is not a Work. It is scraps. Is “Dark Side Of the Moon” scraps?
  • Thiz is ruls man and U suk coz rule is 4 nazi asshole racists: Well I see you don’t conform to the rules of spelling (or manners) which either makes you ahead of the curve or simply another kid hiding under their delusions of grandeur that they never put into real practice because they are afraid. Unpracticed grandeur is an offence in the eyes of God in that if He gave you a gift and you decline to use it, you broke your contract with life. Get thee thine Satan behind thee, pull thine finger from thine rectum sniff it, and simply get on with it.

Most of these answers really cover one of two fears:

  • I don’t know how
  • I might suck.

Let’s Groove

To answer these paper tigers above:

Being professional has nothing to do with how much money you make. Being professional is all about attitude. There may be a difference in level of professionalism between The Ramones & Steely Dan but it in reality, that difference is relatively small. This is why once musicians have a bit of seasoning they can share the stage, even if they come from different forms (and I’d like to have seen that one lol).

Professionals of any craft don’t love hanging with un-professional people simply because they don’t do things the way they need to be done to guarantee a workable result. Here’s a speculative example:

Eric Clapton is playing a show but his second guitarist got COVID-19 and can’t come. Eric picks a kid from the audience to cover the gap in his band. Every few minutes the kid plays wrong notes, out of time & key. Kinda understandable seeing he hasn’t rehearsed. It is what happens next where it all goes horribly wrong. The kid has a hissy fit, stops playing, and runs from the stage screaming how he is not a professional so none of this is his fault.


Eric Clapton is playing a show but his second guitarist got COVID-19 and can’t come. Eric runs into Acker Bilk backstage and asks him to cover the gap in his band. Every few minutes Acker plays wrong notes, out of time & key. Kinda understandable seeing he hasn’t rehearsed (and plays clarinet). It is what happens next that is where it all works out. Acker, smiles and keeps going. Even better he plays the “mistake” twice more so the audience sees him as making a clever take on the Clapton song. Eric is delighted that Acker has saved his show and done something amazing that the crowd loved.

This is the difference. You do or not do. You make the most of playing the hand you have been dealt. Having a hissy fit is not getting it done.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Sure making cover art and all those things I said in the first article are a bit hard (and maybe dull even) but getting them done takes your project from scraps to a completed work.

ALL of those details immediately move your bits of music from being some tracks on Soundcloud to being an album that is sharing shelf-space (and hopefully fan collections) with Pink Floyd “Dark Side Of the Moon”, Meatloaf “Bat Out Of Hell”, Bruce Springsteen “Born To Run”…

Maybe your record isn’t quite as Classic Album Hour but it doesn’t have to be. How many records do you have that you love, yet they will never be on Classic Album Hour? Lots. Yes exactly. Those records speak to you so they are good records and well worth the money you spent on them. Your job is to make those records for the fans waiting for them.

If you are not sure how to do a task. That is fine. Did you design & build the car you drive, the instrument you play, the DAW you recorded in? Absolutely not. You paid someone else to do that for you seeing they are good at that. You are good at what you are good at. Focus on that.

If you can’t do a thing or need advice, bring in someone who has gone before you in this and can either give you advice (that you follow) or handles those tasks for you. Make sure you pay this person in some way.

While Sting could play every instrument on every record he ever made (and most likely 27 other acts at the same time), does he? No. he brings in specialists and lets them bring what they are great at so a Sting record is greater than little old Gordon himself.

The result is what matters, not your ego. This is why great records are great records; the act were able to put aside their egos to focus on the result. KISS did that with “Destroyer” and despite thinking Bob Ezrin was a dick at times, they pulled up their socks and got on with it. As a result they crossed over from being just another R&R touring act to a Top 40 band who went on to become legends. This was the moment KISS stopped being casual about their music and fully stepped into their God-given greatness.

Yes, God gave Rock & Roll to them, to give to us. They just had to get out of their way to let it happen.

This is tomorrow calling, are you brave enough to answer?

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