How Do I Know If I’m Cut Out For The Life of an Independent Artist?

Guest Blogger Joy Ike is a full-time singer-songwriter based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This post was originally published at Joy’s music marketing blog, Grassrootsy.

Independent Artist/Musician - Pyragraph
Photo by Sean Savage.

So you’re about to do it! You’re about to jump into the life of music and you’re not really sure what you’re doing. Either you’ve been playing for a long time and just now deciding to jump into it full-time. OR you’ve been hiding in your closet and no one even knows you exist.

Well, we highly you suggest you check out any of the posts in Grassrootsy’s What Exactly Does A Full-time Artist Do All Day series. We interview artists from various cities and genres to see what their average day looks like. Very informative stuff! But here are some tips on how to know if you’ve got what it takes.

1. You can’t think of doing anything else.

When I was working my 9-5, my mind was always fixed on what I would be doing after I left work for the day. Maybe you feel like this. If you can’t imagine doing anything else with your time and the idea of living as a musician consumes your thoughts, then that’s half the battle.

2. You’re a self-starter.

Nobody is going to tell you what to do. Nobody. When you wake up in the morning, especially if you’re doing this full-time, you will need a game plan. Will you work on booking today? Will you work on lining up some interviews, writing a press release, plastering your city with flyers, or routing your upcoming tour? You’re the one making the calls. If you’re the type of person who needs someone looking over your shoulder in order for you to get the job done, then this is not the career for you.

3. You’re a chameleon.

I’ve found this to be especially true. As a musician, you play so many types of shows—different spaces, different demographics, different events. Things are always changing and you need to be a changer—someone who can roll with the punches, adapt, and go with the flow. You can’t be tightly wound and you need to know how to talk to people who are different than you.

4. You have a thick skin.

People will walk out on your set and say things about you and your music. You will play shows where you expect people to listen, but instead they will sit with their backs facing the stage and pretend you don’t exist. You will also leave a few too many shows with $10 when you had hoped to make $200. You need to be prepared for this. Hope for the best; be ready for the worst.

5. You know how to multi-task.

As someone who wears the hat of booking agent, web admin, graphic designer, publicist, customer support person (if you will), and manager, the work week can quickly get pretty exhausting and spastic. You don’t really have to love multi-tasking, but you do have to know how to do it. You just have to. See this Grassrootsy post: Who Do You Need The Most: Publicist, Booking Agent, Manager?

These are just few ways to decide if you’re cut out for the life of an independent artist. If you have additional suggestions, stick them in the comments section.

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