by Steven Danner
With the advancement of technology and musicians being able to produce great sounding records from their home studios, the idea of being an independent musician is becoming more and more emergent. An independent musician is considered an artist who produces music independently of a major record label. However, there is a great deal more responsibility for independent musicians to make a living when it comes to publishing, composing, recording, and releasing their music. You could say this may seem a disadvantage compared to the resources of a major record label, but with determination, perseverance, and the ability to go viral; it’s actually pushing major labels to find innovative ways to keep up.
Let’s start with publishing. Publishing houses are in charge of licensing material, exploiting your songs, and dispensing the royalty checks. In essence, making sure the artist gets paid. When you sign a deal with a publishing company as an independent musician, the royalties are generally split down the middle, half to the publishing company and half to the artist. This is to pay the publishing company for the work they do to exploit your music in a plethora of different avenues. Some include film, television, and radio. There are a few licenses to be aware of when making a deal with a publisher or choosing to do it on your own. As an independent musician, it’s your job to get the correct licensing and to seek people or companies who would be interested in using your music. There’s a lot of self-promoting that goes into exploiting your own material, but hard work does pay off.
I’d say the most important thing as an independent musician is composing. Without music to release, what need is there to record and publish? Even if you’re not composing your own music, it doesn’t hurt to have some knowledge of composing.
I’m going to shed some light on my personal experiences here. If you’re wanting to start composing and you’re thinking “Where do I start?” I would suggest studying the kind of music you like first and figuring out WHY you like it. Then, study different kinds of music and study the chords in relationship to each other. Once you’ve done this, think about taking some theory lessons to get a grasp on the different keys in music and chordal progressions.
Another big thing is to expose yourself to other musicians and composers. For me, this has been the changing factor. It has helped me understand WHY different types of music work the way they do, why the melody catches my attention in relationship to the chords being played, and why a particular genre sound the way it does.
Attend open mic nights, get yourself in front of people to perform, and craft your songs. T When you listen and study different genres or talk with different musicians, you gain the building blocks;, the pieces to a great song, the pieces to how to make music work, and even the ideas to create music that’s innovative, music that may not fit into any category.
Once your revised, polished composition is complete, you’re ready to record. There are a couple ways to achieve this. You can record it yourself, given you have the equipment and resources to do so, or you find a studio and set up a time to track your music. Either way, make sure your songs have been played and perfected the way you want them to sound before recording. The last thing you want to end up doing is wasting time and money trying to finish a song in the studio.
Today, home studios are very up and coming. Musicians are turning to the DIY approach. But if you choose not to do it yourself, there are many companies out there, including Candid Brilliance Music, that offer services to have your music recorded and even published.
Two pieces of advice in closing: network and diversify yourself. It’s something you hear all the time in the music world. “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” Getting yourself out there and letting people know what you can do as a musician will mean a higher possibility of the phone ringing for your next paid opportunity. Candid Brilliance does a great job helping you gain exposure in the world of music by putting you in touch with people for gigging opportunities and even studio work. While it may seem that the biggest avenue for new opportunities is finding a major label, with a good personal network, determination, and perseverance, an independent musician can do all the same and more