An Inspiring Story of Indie Music Success

This guest post is by Bob Baker of the music marketing blog The Buzz Factor.

Capture22 Last week I received an email from a Canadian named John Ioannou. The message opened this way:

"Hi Bob. Here's a true story about a musician, his dream, and proof that opportunity knocks!"

I was on the verge of closing the email to read later, but something prompted me to continue. And I'm glad I did.

I've often reminded aspiring musicians over the years that there are many paths to success. There are no guarantees. What works well for one artist often will not work at all for another.

And some of the things that end up working seem so outlandish (and even foolish) at first glance. Such was the case with John's story.

The message continued …

"There's a really talented kid named Scotty James who attended high school in Canada and decided after graduation that music would be his full-time job.

"Armed with only a guitar and a dream, Scotty humbly has been going door to door to people's homes busking for cash – ten bucks a song to raise money for his first album."

(Watch this YouTube video clip of Scotty's door-to-door adventures.)

"He came to our house on August 27 late in the evening to play. I was a bit skeptical at first, but gave him a listen and paid the ten bucks. The kid honestly blew me away – unique voice and some of the catchiest songs. I was hooked. I told him I run a music company and admire his hard work."

John met with Scotty a few days later and told him he would be interested in working with him. But … Scotty had to take on three challenges:

Challenge 1 – Take Nelly's popular hip-hop song "Just a Dream," do an acoustic version of it, and give it the Scotty James sound. Here's what Scotty came up with:

Challenge 2 – Go up to random girls at universities/colleges, sing to them and record it on video. John wanted to see their reaction to Scotty and his music. Here's what happened that day:

Challenge 3 – Go up to random people and sing to them on a city bus.

John continues …

"On September 23, less than a month after Scotty James first knocked on my front door, we met with a record producer. Scotty is now in the studio recording his debut album, called 'Crazy.' He met all of my challenges and for that I am paying to record his album."

John ends by saying "That's proof that opportunity really does knock!"

What actions are you taking to create your own musical opportunities?

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  1. So…the lesson here is to go busking in Bob Baker’s neighborhood?
    Seriously, great find, great talent, and a love story to go with the adventure – it doesn’t get any better than that.

  2. These stories are great, as they continue providing more and more proof for upcoming artists that success doesn’t depend on being miraculously signed to a major record deal – there are many paths to the top of the hill.
    We recently had an unsigned artist (Skyrocket Love) sign up to Music180, and after 10 weeks of getting one-on-one help and feedback from top producers on our site, they got not one, but two development deals with top producer/songwriters. They are now in the studio recording their new album, and we are helping them build the rest of their team. We’re seeing other real, independent success stories like this every month.
    Opportunity does knock today, in many different ways. It’s a good time to be an independent artist.
    – Eric Galen

  3. Great promo, but the story is only half told, next will come sales and overall economic viability.
    please share that part of the story when you have it.

  4. cheese all over. great talent? debatable. great find? no! mediocre singing voice, absolutely no vocal experience, poor guitar playing, lame lyrics. you can find those guys all over any college campus.
    the idea is great and the effort admirable, but “John” definitely has zero taste.

  5. jesus christ, this is yr definition of success for an indie musician?? hypebot, you have jumped the shark.
    i love how musicians are now expected to do ANYTHING for anyone just to get some “exposure.” it’s like a goddamn fraternity prank, this story.
    hey lesson to all you wannabes: if you don’t have any respect for yourself or your music, do shit like this and then you’ll see how respected you will be by people. this is one step above hooking. seriously…

  6. As a musician, it’s brutally tough to stand out today when there’s millions of artists doing the same thing everywhere online and offline. I actually applaud Scotty for being brave enough to be different and do this using the tools available to all musicians today to showcase his talent, which in my opinion, he has a lot of. Refreshing story.

  7. I am entitled to my opinion jealous musician. I don’t recall this post today asking for your American Idol feedback about this artist. It’s a good life story about a young musician who works hard -I enjoyed it!! Love to hear and see what you’re doing if you’re a musician?! please share?! Different or not different, he got some pretty cool exposure and PR today, and at the end, he’s getting what he wanted, an album- that’s what counts. As for his talents, hard to tell on video and on a cover, but having read some of his fan comments on Youtube, he seems to have resonated quite well with his fans!

  8. If that kid was a girl, the guy would have told her to get naked and suck his balls. We know how the story goes already. Nothing new. Bravery? Yes. Success? No.

  9. Do you have nothing better to do but sit on the internet and insult people who work there but of to do what they love?
    I hope you feel good about that!
    Negitivity sucks dude!


  11. entertaining videos, but the hater is right: he’s a mush-mouth with pitch problems.

  12. Here’s the one year anniversary update on Scotty James…many wondered where he would be after knocking on a music manager’s door. On Friday Oct 1, Scotty James won Canada’s Bell Media/CHUM Emerging Artist Award which means national radio play across Canada on Hot AC and Top-40. Before winning this award, his first single hit 8 top-40 radio stations in Canada while his music video got picked up by MTV USA in September. Scotty James opened up for Sublime With Rome in June, He is We, and Andrew Allen. He was also featured on top A&R magazine and Opportunity does knock!

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