Things To Love About Being an Indie Artist
This is a great thing to remember: In almost all interviews I have done with nationally-recognized artists who are signed by labels, I always get the same answer: They miss being an independent artist.
At first, I was too. We began to explore what they had missed and the limitations of being majors. We talked more, and I conducted more interviews about this topic. It became clear that despite all the negative aspects of being an indie artist, there is something special about this stage in your career. Artists often don’t realize this until it’s gone, and then they have to do new, more difficult tasks.
Are you curious about the unique aspects of being an independent artist that major labels miss?
It is well-known that signing to a label means committing to an agreement. This agreement states that you have some control over the music you create but that the label has a greater say than many artists would prefer. This is normal and expected. It’s not unusual for a start-up to gain investors and for those investors to have a say in how the company operates.
For signed bands, it is still a source of nostalgia to choose from the music, images, and branding that you like best to one required by a label.
Ability to set their release dates
You must follow the label’s rules when you sign up for a contract. It was interesting to see Taylor Swift talk about how things were planned over a year in advance. She wanted to go on a vacation or even spend a weekend with her family. This required a large team to approve it. You can’t just take a weekend off, drop a new song you love, or release a funny music video from the tour. This (usually) must be approved by a group of people before it is released. It may be rejected, and you don’t get to release the song.
If you are an indie, you can create anything you want. You can share your passion with your fans if you want. You don’t need approval.
The freedom to take chances
You don’t have to take chances when someone has spent a lot of money and time making sure you succeed. You won’t be able to take risks in the same way you did before. You cannot just take a tour around a new place to see if some merch resonates with you or even jump on TikTok and express your emotions. This, like the previous, usually requires a team to approve it before you can do it. It takes a lot more spontaneity.
Being an indie means you can take risks. You get to try new things, have lots of fun, and be scrappy. It’s easy to be present, enjoy the moment and not worry about how it will end. It doesn’t have to work. You can move on.
It all has a scrappiness to it.
It can be overwhelming to try and make it as an independent artist. You need someone to support you or tell you where you should go next. I was surprised at the most important thing major label artists forget to do: being scrappy. It’s all the chaos and every day we take for granted. This is why TV and movies are centered on the rise of entrepreneurs. Because even though it is sometimes difficult, this messiness IS what makes us unique and allows us to thrive.
A label can provide more help, but it also removes the ability to make your art and live your life as you imagined it.