Finding success as an independent artist is not nearly as complicated as most of us want it to be.
Much like any other business, there are some primary truths that are required to turn the dream of being an independent artist into a reality.
First, the fundamentals: have a great product that people want and tell them about it.
Everything else is secondary.
For us, this means making great music and making sure people know about that great music so they can enjoy it.
At its core, it really is that simple.
But simple doesn’t mean easy. In fact, I would argue succeeding in music is far more difficult than many other industries.
When everyone and their brother wants to be an artist, it’s tough to fight through the noise and be heard.
But no one is going to be heard by overcomplicating the process. If anything, overcomplicating it is simply going to serve to make the journey that much more difficult.
Let’s simplify it so we can win.
Release more music
None of us are releasing enough music.
The most successful independent artists of today are releasing a new song around every two weeks.
That’s a lot of output, no doubt, but it works.
If you can drop a new track every other Friday and do that for an extended period of time, you’ll win. If you can’t churn out music that fast, aim for once per month or once every six weeks.
Consistency is everything here.
The more music we release, the more opportunities we have to find a winning song, and a winning song lifts the whole catalog.
It’s been said a thousand different ways, but all it takes is one song to change your life, and the fastest way to get there is to release a lot of music.
And what’s more, with every song you release, the better you get at making music in the first place, so the quality of your art will improve as a natural byproduct of simply doing the work.
Release more music.
Create more content
Succeeding as an independent artist is about building a loyal fanbase of people who love what you do and want to enjoy the work you create.
But you have to find them first.
Creating content, especially short-form videos on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, is the surest way to find and build that fanbase.
Nothing else accomplishes this like creating and sharing authentic content online, not even ads and certainly not playlists (more on that later).
Content is king right now. It hasn’t always been this way, and it may not always be this way, but it is right now, and to win, you have to play the game du jour.
Just like with music, the more content you create and post, the better you’ll get at it as a natural byproduct of simply doing the work.
Create more content.
Pitching to playlists is so bad y’all.
Seriously, please stop pitching your music to playlists, especially the user-generated ones.
All they do is destroy your data on Spotify and make it impossible for your music to find the people who would actually like it.
I can’t tell you how many artists I’ve worked with who started by pitching their music to playlists only to have their entire account on Spotify absolutely wrecked in the process.
And it is a long, slow slog of a process to undo that damage.
No one is finding lifelong fans from playlists, and no one is hacking their way to an actual career in music by pitching to playlist curators.
The whole system is payola and should be avoided like the plague.
*Pauses to catch breath before continuing rant
I’ve danced around this subject for years now and have always tried to take a middle-of-the-road approach to the idea that there are some obvious exceptions to this conclusion, but with each passing day and with every artist I help, I am faced with more and more evidence that playlisting is an absolute waste of time and money.
The only playlists that are even marginally worth considering are those created by Spotify, whether algorithmically or editorially (read: also algorithmically).
But even those aren’t worth planning your whole release strategy around.
Release music on a Friday to capture Release Radar for your followers, push hard to reach Discover Weekly, and let the rest take care of itself.
Seriously, if you only take one thing from this, please don’t ever pitch your music to playlist curators ever again.
Run paid ads… sometimes
If you’re ever gonna pay to market your music, run ads, but don’t spend your money anywhere else.
Having said that, ads should always serve as a supplement to a highly effective content strategy, not a replacement for it.
I’m a prime example of this. I was going hard on all fronts with my content until a few months ago, but, like many others (and like myself in the past), I hit a bit of burnout and took a step back, notably on short-form content.
But my ad strategy has remained consistent, both alongside regular content and without it, so I have a great dataset of what both sides of this coin can look like in 2023.
And, surprise, surprise, my growth has fallen off without a regular content strategy as an artist, despite my ads constantly running in the background.
Also, it's worth mentioning that I haven't released new music since February of this year (a testament to point #1).
So ads aren’t the whole game, but they are definitely the only paid game worth playing.
Ads are an effective way to supplement your time by spending a little money (a great reason for this is if you have a full-time job, family, etc., and can’t live on the internet), but the reality is that creating great content is just so much more effective.
So run ads, but try not to make ads the only game you play.
That’s it for this one.
Whenever you’re ready, here are three ways we can help you:
- Learn to market your music for free by exploring our entire backlog of Articles here.
- Quickly and easily automate your growth on Spotify inside the DuPree X Academy here.
- Hire our team to market your music for you by applying to become a DuPree X Agency client here.
Have a fantastic week,