If you’re interested in making and releasing your own music, there really is no time like the present.
Even if I just look back the ten or so years I’ve been doing it, the difference between then and now is astonishing. To get studio-quality sounds in my bedroom used to mean saving up thousands of dollars to buy equipment; now it barely costs hundreds.
I can’t even imagine what it would’ve been like to get a band together, rehearse for months, cross your fingers someone from a record label will come to your show and like the music enough to pay for a recording studio, and then cross your toes that whoever hears it might like it enough that you sell enough CDs to pay back the record label and maybe, eventually, see some royalties. These days, it’s cheaper than a pack of guitar strings to independently distribute your music to literally billions of people.
(It probably goes without saying, but while the internet and new music tech is making it exponentially easier to be an independent artist, there is still no substitute for putting in the work – you will want to be excited and willing to pour hours into practising your instrument, tweaking your songs, designing your artwork, making your music videos, etc.).
Stream Plini, Impulse Voices:
On that note, here are three things that have helped keep me inspired and motivated in my musical journey so far:
(1) Figure out what aspects of making music bring you the most joy, and make them the driving force behind everything you do.
For me, making music is about exploration and experimentation. This means that the most fruitful way for me to spend time is to avoid daydreaming about commercial success and just follow my imagination down whatever strange path it wants. For you, this could be the opposite – maybe your time will be most joyfully spent meticulously analysing what makes a band commercially successful and then doing your best to replicate it.
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There is no right answer, but I believe that the more you can ensure that your time spent on music is as well-intentioned as possible, the less likely you are to ever have your relationship with music affected or spoiled by externalities like streaming numbers and Instagram likes – they’re just the icing on the cake.
(2) Ask all of the questions.
Whether it’s friends, family, fellow artists, music/non-music industry professionals or just your browser search bar, if there’s something you are curious about, ask. In my experience, most people are kind and willing to answer. I had no idea what I was doing when I first started, but asking the right people things like “how did you get a US performance visa?”, “where do you make your merch?”, “what are your favourite tour life hacks?”, “what do you do to get inspiration?” – and a million other questions – has made my label- and management-free existence immeasurably easier than if I tried to figure it all out myself. The more varied the advice and insights are that you collect, the easier it will be to make an informed decision about any question or challenge that arises throughout your career.
(3) Work with good people.
I consider it a great luxury and privilege to be able to make music for a living. This could lead me to conclude that I should graciously accept any “big” career opportunity I am offered (e.g. recording/management deals, tour offers and other collaborations) in order to “make the most” of it, but I think, if anything, it’s made me extremely selective with who I involve in my musical world.
If I look back on my career so far, it appears to be almost entirely made up of sunshine and rainbows. This isn’t because I’m immune to getting sick on tour, being overtired, losing money or playing wrong notes to an already-unimpressed crowd, but because I have great friendships with the bandmates I share flus with, the agents I email when the ceiling of the venue they’ve booked is leaking onto the stage, and the marketing team I constantly hassle to “make me famous”.
At the end of the day, I think that’s what life is all about: doing things you love with people you love – and it’s only becoming easier and easier to achieve, as music technology and industry knowledge become more and more widely accessible to all.