Ari Herstand interviewed 10 full-time indie musicians and got the lowdown on not only how they earn a living but what "Words of Wisdom" they can pass along. Each benefits from a different mix of revenue streams and approaches based on their skills and interests. Some share practical details while others step back and look at the bigger picture. Keeping track of both might be one of the more important secrets of success.
7 Tips for Making A Living In Music
"Your best bet early in your career is to learn how to be self sufficient. Produce your own records, write your own songs, have a clear cut vision of who you are and what you want to become. Also, run your business. Don’t be afraid to step out and represent yourself. Be willing to work hard and grow your project; some people get lucky and find talented, hard working advocates who want to assist them. That doesn’t happen for everyone, so often, it’ll be up to you to handle what needs to be handled."
Gabriel Douglas - The 4onthefloor
"MAKE QUALITY MERCH. Nobody will wear a Hanes Heavy T. Nobody wants a jewel case that is easily broken. Let people be your billboards & your champions. Pay for quality. A shirt that you made money on that sits on the bottom of a closet is a waste to both you & the consumer. The profit margins are less on quality shirts but you sell more."
"I think the single most important thing to do is to just try to be a nice person. It sounds cheesy, but if you treat people well, you’re going to be rewarded with a lot more opportunities than if you treat people like crap, and more importantly, you’re going to be happy with yourself as a person."
"Everyone has his own unique path that must be forged out of hard work and perseverance. Only a few get crazy lucky breaks. The rest of us have to work at it. ANY of us can look at someone else and make excuses saying “oh well she had this help” or whatever advantage. We all have advantages and disadvantages. We all have to leverage our advantages and make up for our shortcomings."
"Doing workshops (songwriting, guitar, etc.) are a really great way to make money on the road, too. I’ve led a few songwriting workshops at Michigan festivals, and I’m considering finding more opportunities for that in 2014."
Dan Collins - Nonpronto
"Become multifaceted! I think being a jack-of-all-trades and master of one or two is entirely possible and a great route today. I’ve prospered big time from going to school for jazz and learning how to sing on my own. Also, I’ve never relied on graphic designers, recording engineers, booking managers, etc. to get all of that essential work done because I’ve invested my time to learn each of those things."
"Practice and study. Know how to read and improvise. Be as versatile as possible. Stay humble and positive. Be of service to others who can pay you everyday. Don’t get into the habit of working for free."
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.