Back in the day, it wasn’t easy for independent musicians to build a career in the music industry. The major labels had the market locked down, and the only way to break in was to beat them at their own multi-million-dollar game — which was borderline impossible.
Today, however, things have changed. Independent musicians are a powerful force to be reckoned with. In fact, independent musicians currently make up about 31% of the global music publishing market, with numbers growing every year. Here are some of the reasons why now is the best time to be an independent musician.
The Internet Is a Powerful (and Cost-Effective) Distribution Tool
Most of the reason why now is such a good time to be an independent musician is because of technology — specifically, the internet.
Prior to the internet, the only way to distribute your music (and actually make money) was to release your work through a major label or, even harder, score a distribution-only deal. Either way, musicians had their work cut out for them if they wanted to make a dime in this cutthroat industry.
Now, it’s much, much, much easier to distribute your own music. You no longer need a major label. The digital age has removed many of the barriers to entry by creating countless cost-effective online streaming and distribution services to promote and release your music independently, including:
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music
- CD Baby
- Ditto Music (our favorite)
All you need to release and distribute your music today is a login to your distribution website of choice and perhaps a small subscription fee (depending on the platform). No major label negotiations or auditions required.
In fact, Chance the Rapper made history in 2017 being the first artist to ever win a Grammy without selling a single copy of a CD — physical or digital. As an independent musician, he distributed his own music exclusively through streaming services and strategic collaborations. That’s right, you don’t need to sell a single CD to make it as an independent musician today!
There Are More Revenue Streams than Ever
In the days of old, the only way to make money in the music industry was to play a show or sell CDs and merchandise (in a real brick-and-mortar store nonetheless). And it took a ton of work to book venues or even get your music and merch in stores.
Independent musicians today have many more options than they did back then. Because of the internet, social media, and streaming services, there are more than 42 different revenue streams for musicians who work sans-label, including:
- Touring and live shows
- Merchandise (online and in-store)
- Music publishing
- Sync deals
- Brand partnerships
- Physical music sales
Even better, because musicians can easily build their own websites, they can even sell merch, CDs, and digital music downloads themselves without additional fees from distributors or labels — helping them keep more money in their pockets.
Maintain Creative Control
Perhaps the best part of being an independent musician today is that you can maintain 100% of your creative freedom. You don’t have to worry about label big-wigs or marketing teams telling you what kind of music to produce or the type of clothes to wear. You’re completely in charge of your own musical career!
As if that wasn’t good enough, you also get to keep all the profits and maintain full control over details like distribution, marketing, artwork, messaging, deadlines, and more. You’ll also own 100% of the rights to your music. You can negotiate deals for yourself without confusing label contracts or expensive lawyers. It’s really the ideal scenario for any musicians!
More and More People Are Consuming Music
You never want to jump into a career that doesn’t offer some sort of longevity, and music is a notoriously short-lived industry. Unless you’re Paul McCartney or the Rolling Stones, there aren’t many artists who can boast 65+ yearlong careers! Luckily, it seems like independent musicians are here to stay.
With the ever-rising popularity of streaming services, more and more people are consuming music every year. From 2014 on, music streaming services have grown at an impressive 43.9% rate year after year with absolutely no signs of slowing down. For independent musicians, that means there are always going to be more people looking for your music. As long as your music is good (and we know it is!), it’s easier than ever for you to find people who love it.
Build a Career as an Independent Musician
Long gone are the days where you had to fight tooth and nail with record companies to build an effective career in the music industry. Mostly because of the internet and streaming services, now is a great time to start a fulfilling career as an independent musician.
Especially during COVID when many musicians had time to focus on their careers, independent musicians have actually outpaced major labels! If you’re ready to build an exciting career as an independent musician, now might be the time.
Any comments? Please leave your comments below, we would like to hear from you.
Enter the 19th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards), see: https://www.inacoustic.com