It’s not easy to make a living as an independent musician. If it was easy, every musician would do it, but you’ve got to spend a lot of time promoting, booking shows, and organizing your expenditures to make music profitable. Here are a few habits that can help all independent musicians make more money and have more success in their careers.
1. Apply for a certain number of shows every week. Use websites like Sonicbids and Onlinegigs.com to find venues that can give your band shows, and work on sending press kits, emails, and calling venues for a certain number of shows per week. For instance, my band asks for gigs at 3 venues per week–if you’re starting out, you may ask as many as 10. You can then easily track how often you’re getting turned down, and you’ll find a lot of venues that you’ll want to go back to again and again.
2. Play one show in an area per month. Given the last tip, it’s also important that when you do actually play the shows, you’re bringing people in and making it profitable for the venue to book you. You can do this much more easily by booking no more than one or two shows in a venue per month, and never going over that–promote the shows that you’ve got hard, and book shows around your area rather than always in your band’s area.
3. Put money from each show aside for big purchases. We call it the “band fund”. Put a bit of money, maybe 10% of each show, into your band’s band fund, and then when you need to buy t-shirts, CDs, stickers, or anything else, or if you have a big emergency while you’re on the road, you’ll be well prepared. Since you’re only putting a bit of money aside at each gig, each band member will barely feel the money growing until the purchase, and it’s much better than putting all of the money for five or six shows towards CD production.
4. Get your mailing list out there. Last but certainly not least, all bands need to have a mailing list, and it’s your responsibility to get it out and circulating at every show. Your mailing list is how you’ll keep in contact with fans and get them to show out at your next gig at a certain venue, so be sure to use it–if you don’t have one set up, you can use a site like Hostbaby or search Google for free mailing lists at places like Fanbridge to get one started right away. It’s an absolutely essential habit for an independent band to get into.
What habits does your independent band have? Post in our comments section below.