The Life of An Artist

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After eighteen years of being an artist and traveling across the country, the US, and a fair bit of the Caribbean, I realized that I have accomplished and done so much and failed at so many things that I should start sharing and help the next generation of artists, as well as help readers to understand the life of artists. Most people think that for artists it’s an easy walk into stardom, record a song in the studio, put up a video on YouTube and ‘Success’. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

The life of an independent artist has many ups and downs, mainly more downs. While the music industry has changed, it has not necessarily created more opportunities for independent artists, but it does look like it from the outside. To most the playing field looks more level, but in reality, you still have to grind and put in work. From my observation, I have noticed a few key things that artists in the city of Toronto are not capitalizing on. These observations are: building a solid brand, creating merchandise, networking, traveling and budget.

Let me break these down now. In terms of branding, wherever you go you should look like an artist, your brand is what is going to have other companies say “Your brand fits the ideals of our brand” and then they give you money and stuff (maybe not that simple, but you get my point). Your brand is what introduces you to people and other brands. Your brand encompasses your image (how you look, your style) the colors you use, your logo, your business practice.

Having merchandise means you have something to sell, be it CD’s, T-shirts or even fridge magnets. When people support you they want to take a piece of you home with them, don’t take away their opportunity to do that. Nowadays you can even sell experiences. I have seen bands that have been paid to perform in people’s houses as a customized experience.

Networking is the life blood for an artist. How will you know the right people if you never go out and meet the right people. Doing things such as going to music festivals, workshops, music conferences and producer events. The places to meet all the right people, are where the right people are. These events are put together so that you can meet people, take advantage.

Traveling. Do not wait around thinking that someone is magically going to scoop you out of your house and pay you millions of dollars to go on tour. It doesn’t work that way. You have to put in the work, travel, call promoters, visit other cities and countries, set up shows, build your audience worldwide by going worldwide.

Lastly, the most important one. As an independent artist, you have to have a budget. That means start saving money, making money, or find a rich uncle. In this business nothing gets done without money. You have to invest in studio time, beat production, mixing and mastering, wardrobe, marketing and promotion, traveling, music conferences and equipment, just to name a few.

To bring it all together, in order to be a successful artist, you have to be a multi-dimensional artist. This means start to bring in a team around you that understands their roles and allows you to start moving in one direction towards your goals. Now in saying that, you should also have some goals, write them down somewhere and then put them on your wall, so that every morning you wake up you are reminded of your goals, daily. I know it seems like a lot to do, but it’s not work if you’re having fun doing it. As I always say to artists “Do what you have to do, to do what you want to do.”


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