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4 Key Traits Of Successful Independent Musicians

This article is brought to you by Shaun of Music Industry How To.

Hi guys. Today, I want to share with you my views on some of the traits that makes an independent musician successful. While this isn’t a complete list of the things that they generally have in common, all of these things do tend to be defining characteristics outside of the fact that they have talent.

So read on, and see if you can incorporate any of the below points into your music career.

1. They Realize That Marketing Is A Key Factor In The Music Career

This is something many musicians learn the hard way. It’s easy to think that all you need to do to have a successful release is make a great song that everyone will like. In reality however, that won’t matter at all if you don’t know how to properly market your music.

Marketing is the process of raising awareness of you music or release. If you don’t raise awareness of it however, how are people going to know that you’ve even released a song?

It’s not simply enough to announce you’ve released a CD on Facebook and Tweet about it a few times, real marketing is often required if you want to make back the money you have invested into that project. That can mean live shows, interview, guest appearances, and much more.

Successful musicians know this, and put just as much time into promoting their music as they do making it (And often a lot more).

2. They Have A Good Online Base

The internet is one of the best places to both build up relationships with existing fans, and gain new ones. Because of this, it’s important you have your online presence strategically set up, and make yourself stand out from the crowd.

While online properties such as Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts are important for your online presence, they really aren’t a substitute for having your own website.

Your own website should be the base of your operations. All other account such as Facebook and Twitter should link to your site, drive traffic to your site, and in turn direct people to sign up to your mailing list. Once on your mailing list, you can build up stronger relationships with your fans, and communicate with them directly and effectively.

Your website should be your online base for many reasons. One of these such reasons is for conversion rates. With your own website, you can structure your pages and page features in a way that can guide your visitor to doing exactly what you want them to do. If your main aim is to gain new people on your list, you can make your opt in form prominent. If you want to make song sales, you can divert them to a page with your best audio samples, videos, and buy now buttons.

With your own site, it’s also easier to brand things with your own style in terms of colors and background pictures etc. Can you do this on Facebook?

There are a lot more reasons you should have your own website as your online base, although I won’t go into all of them here. Check out Create A Music Website for more information on why you need a .com, website and how to easily set one up even if you’re not a techy.

3. They Don’t Burn Bridges Out Of Frustration

As you may know, the music industry largely relies on having good contacts. These are people that aren’t your official partners, but ones that you can work with in order to mutually benefit you. This could benefit them in terms of getting paid by you or being associated with you, while you’ll usually benefit by using their skill set or name to further your career.

Often with contacts however, things can go wrong. They may not live up to their end of the bargain, or they may lead you on (When they have no intention of doing what they say) only to let you down.

It’s very easy to get frustrated by these people and lose the contact all together, but this isn’t always the best idea. You see, just because things didn’t work out this time, it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t benefit you in future.

They may go onto bigger and better things, and if you’re still on talking terms with them (Not that you have to talk to them regularly), they may have more time on their hands or be in a better position to help you then. I’ve seen this happen before, so even if things don’t work out with a contact today, don’t fully lock them off or insult them. Simply keep your distance for the time being, and in future who knows what could happen.

4. They Aren’t Afraid To Invest In The Music Career

One thing that all successful independent musicians have in common, is that they have at some point invested in their music career. This could be by buying studio time, paying to press up their CDs, paying to get their website made, buying musical instruments, paying for a course to learn how to market their music properly, or by buying advertising of some sort. These are all things that cost you money, but can help you make more money in the long run.

A good works man needs their tools, and they shouldn’t be afraid to spend to get them.

Having said that, throwing money at your music career and expecting to make a profit back won’t work. You could spend grands on the best instrument you can find, but why do that when you could buy one that will work just as well for under $100?

It’s not about spending the most money, it’s about spending wisely.

Invest in things that could move your music career forward, but have a good idea of how this purchase can benefit you.


So that’s it, four traits of the successful independent musician. While not every successful independent musician will have all of these things in place, there are a lot who do, and for good reason. As with anything in life, there are certain things you can do as a musician that can increase the likely hood of getting where you want to be. You just need to know what these things are.

If you want to increase your music industry knowledge and learn the skills it takes to become a successful independent, you should check out the IMA Music Business Academy course. This is an online music business course brought to you by Music Industry How To, a leading advice website for musicians of all levels.

Thank you for reading this article, I hope you found it useful. If you can think of any other traits you’ll find in independent musicians who do well, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Reader Comments (12)

Great Info, may thanks

No problems Vinny, glad you enjoyed it. :)

The lesson was great.Especially the part that says a musician needs to spend on his or her music career.Alot of people I had known as upcoming musician did not believed they needed to spend their money on their music projects.They had only hoped and waited for a sponsor to come their way.And at the end they waited in vain and failed because they did not do the little they could do on their own.So thanks alot for this your article.

Thanks Teezedrop. I agree, at some point in your music carer you will have to invest money to take things to the next step. While you can get so far without doing so, if you want to reach higher levels and get there faster you need to spend money. Thanks for your comment.

I agree that marketing is important and that posting on facebook and twitter is not enough. But if your starting out and unknown, how do you get those other opportunities like live shows, interviews and guest appearances?

June 12 | Unregistered Commenterreyshizz

It can sometimes be very difficult to convince an artist to fully embrace marketing. They see it as selling out, they don't like how it makes them look, it is against the organic nature of art etc. Some musicians just won't devote the time to marketing because it takes away from music creation. Unfortunately many artists put this on the back burner if they can't afford to hire someone to handle it for them. Great tips and great article.

June 12 | Unregistered CommenterKerry Sherman

Number 4 is the most important because all up and coming musicians need to take the time to invest in their careers. For some reason, a lot of them don't want to invest in themselves and this is what stops a lot of them from fully realizing their goals and dreams. There are many affordable ways to invest in yourself without breaking the bank and once musicians realize this, more of them will be more successful.

June 13 | Unregistered CommenterPF

Fantastic, thank's!

June 14 | Unregistered CommenterValutazione

I love this type of info!! my big brother & mentor from the west coast by the name of Jazzy from Jazzy Management schools us up and coming artist about the business side of this crazy music game,, He schools us on BDS, Publishing, Copyrights, ASCAP & BMI, The Job Of Real Management and I just feel we need more people like Jazzy in this business. I'm from the ATL and all of my friends respect that man. If your in this music business and don't know this man PLEASE get to know him @JazzyMgt or a true leader to us up and coming artist!

June 15 | Unregistered CommenterKim Anderson

Having good content - professionally written, well recorded music is the most important thing in terms of being a successful musician. Successful means its widely liked and purchased, all the marketing in the world cannot sell amateur garbage. Lots of "X" factor in this, but there's a lot to be said for learning professional songwriting (yes there is such a thing) as well as recording.

June 19 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Evans

Good Stuff! If I can add a comment please? The musicians of today are of a totally different background of us that are what you might call old school. I am one of the best sax players their is, and though I have played for years in the secular world, rock, jazz, etc., I have returned to my home, contemporary praise and worship. All I know how to do is play, I know nothing about electronics, have no desire or care about FB and have no tapes! However, if I wanted to pursue playing for the Glory of our Lord, outside of my church, can we continue the conversation here on where one might start in order to become, "Known"? Regards.

July 11 | Unregistered CommenterDan

The album is beautiful and easily much better than her first album in my opinion. I agree the songs that are joyous are quite joyous as the others that are sad, are quite sad. Yet the whole album is moving either way, the sounds are just so beautiful. I cant stop listening to “Anything Could Happen”
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