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7 Things Indie Artists Should Say “No” To

Navigating the Music Business: 7 Things Indie Artists Should Say “No” To

build your skills music career Oct 13, 2021

What should an artist say no to?

As an indie artist, the idea of taking any and every gig or opportunity might seem extremely tempting. Oftentimes, you might forget that you do not have the time and energy to participate in everything that comes your way. If you put your focus and energy on the wrong things, you might not have enough time or space to utilize the opportunities that can change the trajectory of your music career when it arises. Here are some common things that you should say no to as an indie artist, even if they sound incredibly appealing. 


1. Doing gigs for free or in the name of ‘Exposure’

A lot of venues will tell musicians that they can’t afford to pay them with money. But since there is going to be a significant crowd, musicians are sure to get their money’s worth with new fans. Now, this can seem very tempting, but this is a widely used tactic in which major venues exploit musicians for free. If the venue has a large number of people paying for food, that also means they have enough cash inflow that night to pay artists who will be performing. 

At the end of the day, it boils down to the value of art in the music business. By doing shows for free, you are not only hurting yourself but are also setting a bad precedent for others. 


2. Collaborations That You’re Not Interested In

Sometimes you will be asked to work on projects alongside other musicians. This can include writing and composing a song, starting a band together, or performing a song together. These can prove to be great ways to expand your artistic expression. 

But keep in mind, you should only indulge in such collaborations if you are passionate about them. Collaborations take a lot of effort, time, and creative energy. Don’t shy away from saying no if you don’t think you can work with the people for the long term or that you will not grow from the experience. Here’s 10 Music Industry terms you should know about.


3. Touring Without Preparation

Touring can seem a glamorous experience, especially for indie artists. But it can also be very hard and tiring. In the music business, it’s really difficult to land big gigs if you aren’t an established artist. And a large number of these gigs will have a small audience. 

Doing this might seem like a great idea, but in reality, you will probably be better off in the early stages of your musical career staying at home or the studio and working on your music. You will also have access to a stable income, which can be a problem while touring. But when you finally do feel established enough to do a sustainable tour, here’s everything you will need to know.


4. Taking a Loan

Taking a loan can feel like an easy way to fund and promote your new album. It is also an easy way to financial ruin. Several artists end up taking loans that they can’t pay back and fall into debt cycles. Debt can harm your future career, making you unable to focus on music altogether. This also includes taking bad deals from labels that might end up making you owe more money than you earn.

As an indie artist, you might not be able to earn a reliable income that will help you sustain yourself as well as pay back your debt. In current times with the help of streaming platforms and social media, it is extremely easy and affordable to produce and advertise your music. And as far as money is concerned, here’s a few ways you can make passive income as a musician.


5. Releasing Unfinished Songs 

Try not to release old unfinished snippets of songs or recording demos on Spotify, especially when you’re still trying to establish yourself in the scene. 

This can seem like a good idea later on when you have dedicated fans who’d like to dig deeper, but for now, these bad recordings can be the first thing a new listener hears from you and form a solid opinion on you and your music. 


6. Getting Distracted From Your Work

 Decide what your goals are, and then, prioritise them. This advice works for musicians in all stages of their career. Sometimes as an indie artist, you will get offers to perform gigs at places that could provide you valuable experience, but taking multiple gigs might hinder the progress on the EP you’ve been working on. 

The logic is simple, you should not be ignoring any bigger personal projects to focus on side projects. The key is to maintain a healthy balance, but if you’re confused at any point, your focus and priority should be on your dream projects.


7. Equating Your Worth As An Artist To The Number of Views or Streams

It is pretty easy to fall into the cycle of constantly checking your views and stream counts. This habit can turn toxic exceptionally quickly. In the music business, you will often find music measured with the help of metrics. It’s essential to keep in mind that higher streaming numbers don’t equate to talent. 

A song of yours that has gotten the most views might not be your best song, and that doesn’t make the value of other songs any less. Neither Radiohead nor Nirvana were big fans of Creep or Smells Like Teen Spirit. Stream counts are a testament to the musical taste of others, and not your talent.

Do not fall into the trap of algorithms assigning value to your art. These metrics can help you know what the audience prefers but not what your inherent worth is. 

You might come across several different things during your journey as an artist, and you will want to say yes to all of them. It might look fun and give you experience, but it can also be tiring and cause you to shift your focus and even burn out. Saying no to things that you are not passionate about or are bad for you is an ability that all musicians should have. Here’s Top 4 mistakes most artists make.

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