It’s been 7 months since I quit my day job to work as a full-time artist. And I have not regretted this step for a single minute! The level of fulfillment from knowing that I’m working on developing my talents is the highest I could wish for!
There are challenges though, and that’s what I want to share with you. Not because I want to wine but because this stage of anyone’s journey of following their bliss is often not visible, communicated or celebrated! Yes, celebrated because, without this stage, you can’t pass onto the next one! It is one of the building blocks, and it’s an inevitable part of the foundations.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
Mainly, the feeling that I do all of this for nothing… Wait, what? You just said you found the work fulfilling! And yes, I did say it and yes, I do find it fulfilling! What is hard to overcome is seeing that many of the activities I did over the last months are rather a long-term return on investment! Something I didn’t foresee when I set out to do them.
So if I can share something with another indie artist out there, when you set out on an indie artist journey, work on your craft, your brand, build your audience and determine your short term and long term goals and income streams! And don’t be shy to put dates next to them. It might look disappointing at first but it will also give you a better handle on things.
SHORTLIST OF THE THINGS I’VE DONE OVER THE LAST 7 MONTHS
So here’s a short list of things I’ve done over the last 7 months, most of which haven’t added much income to my wallet, mostly, but not only, because they tend to have a long-term return on investment character:
- I’ve studied and got a certificate from a songwriting course with Berklee online – http://bit.ly/2niOwZ4
- I’ve written my first custom song for a lady who won it as a prize in the Xmas House Concert I gave in December 2016. This was a gift since I wanted to gain experience of writing for someone else. The result is she LOVES IT – calling it my best song 😉 Yesterday (22 April), I recorded the vocals and the song is in its final production stage (mixing/mastering/release) and it will be released as a single soon! I want to offer writing custom songs for others, too! And I thought I would have been done with it earlier but I set no deadline for myself and so here I am…
- I’ve developed an initiative of a donation based Private Concert Tour in support of the Rainforest Fund (all info here – http://bit.ly/2niKzU2) and offered it to my audience via social media and the mailing list. I got a few likes and replies but that’s it… Why? I have yet to find out, but it probably needs more campaigning and a bigger audience than I have at the moment.
- I’ve created a cover song program called “Pop gone Jazz” ( http://bit.ly/2oakNW2 ), which meant learning circa 20 new songs. I’ve called about 50 – 60 hotels and event companies to offer them this program, often hearing ‘we like your music and we’ll get back to you when an opportunity arises” – well, so far no one got back to me… Why? It might need more following up, maybe my brand is not well ‘groomed’ yet, maybe something else…
- I’ve had one of my songs remixed for “Ibiza Beats Volume 10” Compilation CD – (for a very modest flat fee). Nice to know my voice will be floating somewhere in Ibiza beach clubs… yet it probably won’t pay my bills. But hey, it’s a small success to celebrate!
- I’ve played a number of open mics with a very positive response from the audience, often asking me to come back. It’s great to be wanted but these are all free gigs or they pay you tips only. In addition to small payment, the challenge I often face is that I’m a piano/keyboard player and if no piano is provided, I would have to rent a car to bring mine… which costs money, while the gig pay won’t cover it. Hmmm, not a good investment strategy. Therefore, you don’t see me performing as often as guitar players do…
- I’ve approached beach clubs/bars/cafes/restaurants to play gigs… but so far got no replies…
- I played 1 event that which was well paid – yet this had been arranged before I quit my day job…
- I’ve updated my website and have kept my social media up to date… While this is fun, it does take up a significant amount of time. And I’ve learned that I have a lot of tweaking ahead of me yet!
- I’ve spent a good amount of time learning about and researching legal questions concerning copyright/songwriting etc. – which I needed for the contracts for the remix and the custom song. This has been very helpful and revealing! Definitely a good investment of time and money! But it’s still an investment, not a return on it..
- I’ve done Facebook Live performances where you as listeners have a chance to support my music by contributing into a virtual tip jar. This is a great way to perform for you guys and give you a chance to support my music… this needs consistency and development on my part. I pledge to work on it!
- I’ve attended a couple more songwriting workshops and a Musicfair where I’ve made new contacts in the industry… This has proven a great step, especially because I work on the new single with a producer I met at the Musicfair!
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
WORKING WITH THE AR-MANAGEMENT, LONDON, UK
Having looked back, I’ve realized I needed help with determining how to go forward. So I started working with Anna Russel, the owner of the AR Management in London, UK (former clients include e.g. Groove Armada!).
This is a very exciting step with quite a few learnings and realizations in place already! As I found out, it takes about 3 years to ‘break an artist’ – i.e. to get them to a point of a sustainable music career. And that’s provided that things go well if you develop a right strategy and are consistent and disciplined in applying it!
This knowing is liberating and challenging at the same time! Liberating because I don’t create unrealistic expectations for myself to get it all done within like 6 months, and challenging because I realize I somehow need to support myself financially while working on the long-term goals, in parallel with short term goals. And that will probably including doing work that is not directly related to my music… which often makes me sad. But giving up is not an option, as the alternative would mean becoming a bitter and disappointed person, and that’s not good for this world. And so I continue to look into my heart when making decisions on each intersection, while the beat goes on…