Independent Artist Tips for 2019

Kolade Davies

The new year is fast approaching, and as an independent artist you need to be prepared to take your career to the next level. Don’t be in the mindset that you need to start afresh next year, that only means you’re behind the artists that started now. For example, the time it took you to write one song, another independent artist wrote 3 songs and recorded 2 of them the same day.

Every time you take a step forward always remember someone else took 5.  Now, I have failed a lot over the past 4 years but the experience and knowledge I’ve gained makes me push harder. The least I can do is help those who are where I was 4 years ago, not make the same mistakes I did. In this guide I’m giving you four important things you need in 2019 to start seeing gains in your career. Be sure to comment, share and subscribe for new updates.

  1.      BRAND

I’m sure some of you already know branding is key to take your music career to the next level. How does an independent artist establish a successful brand? You need to look at yourself in the mirror and point out your most known quality. Are you a loner? Do you love fashion? Are you a hustler? Personally, I’m an introvert and extrovert. My friends, family, co workers all know this about me.  You can see it in my pictures, visuals and music. However, I am available but still distant on social media. I own it and amplify it to the highest degree.

Lil Baby, a rapper from QC the label who also has Migos on its roster, is a hustler who came from the streets. In his videos and on his IG, he’s always with money, jewelry and expensive things. Why? Because that’s his personality, he’s a flashy guy who’s about his money and has no problem flexing it. It is how he markets himself as a rapper. If I see him in an ’02 Honda Civic, I’ll be confused, which affects my perception of him and his artist brand.

You need to identify this and be CONSISTENT as an independent artist. If you are into fashion, post different outfits you put together, be a trendsetter but don’t mess that up by posting random memes because they are funny. Leave that to later in your career when you have solid fanbase. Comment if you want me to dive deeper into artist and how they brand themselves.

  1.       ENGINEER

You want to enter the new year with consistent sounding vocals. Most independent artists have limited access to resources and an engineer on standby is essential for you. There’s nothing worse than fans hearing songs you’ve made with your vocals sounding different. This isn’t easy especially if you are a studio hopper like I was. Fortunately, it was worth it. I now have two engineers that I can go to on the regular and I know they will give me a consistent mix and master every single time. Now how was I able to find them? Well, you need to go out and test other studios and engineers.

I know,  you may like the guy who’s been engineering for you but if the quality does not get better as you get better, then you’ll never improve if you stay stagnant.  Go to other studios, book a short session and once the engineer works on your vocals, you’ll know if that’s the guy. I was amazed that I could sound so fire and fans told me they loved the quality of my new music. TDE engineer, Derek “MixedByAli” has been consistently crafting the sound design you hear among the TDE artists. He engineered Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore studio album, so he’s been apart of the team for years.

If you record in your room, that’s cool, the formula still applies to you. Go out and build relationships with engineers. Sending your vocals to an engineer versus actually sitting in a session while the engineer works on your vocals are two completely different concepts.  You can set it up for an hour session where the engineer mixes and masters your vocals.

“Are you a loner? Do you love fashion? Are you a hustler? Personally, I’m an introvert and extrovert….”

  1.       PRODUCER

This is probably the most difficult thing to achieve. With type beats running a rampage over at YouTube, many independent artists have blown from type beats while others struggle. I for one used to thrive on type beats, then I met a friend in school who produces. We built a relationship and decided to grow together. He made beats that fit my style free of charge. This boosted my creative senses because I wasn’t always following the flow of a type beat artist. I made my own flow! Well, how do you find these guys and build a relationship with a producer.

The easiest way is through the Internet! Instagram is the easiest place to find producers. They are everywhere, in the comments of popular Instagram rap pages like “Rap” or “Rap stuff”. They are most likely upcoming producers with less of a fan base than those on You tube. Listen to their beats and if you think it fits your style,  DM them and build a relationship, buy a beat or two at first, send it over and explain how you want to grow together. They are more inclined to give you big discounts on beats and custom-made beats too.  Start Now!

  1.      A MARKETING PLAN

This can be very confusing for an independent artist but is a necessary part to your career especially in today’s era of rap. You need some sort of music marketing plan to bring awareness to your music. I’ll dig deep in later articles or videos but as of now, ask yourself what piece of content can you deliver on a consistent basis. Music, pictures, music videos, memes with your music in the background, vlogs, etc.

Once you figure this out, for the next month I need you to drop content every week. Let your current followers know what to expect from you. Gone are the days of dropping a song and hoping it blows for instance, if a rapper said that happened to them, they are lying, and they don’t want to tell their secret marketing plan. I know some and I believed them at first.

The hard part is now done, and you can focus on finding where to place your content to bring awareness. Promote through influencers on IG or YouTube, hire a digital marketer like myself or learn about FB ads on your own and test. Build off what you know about your audience and find more people like them.

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I’d love to go more in depth on how to build a relationship with producers and engineers. I love talking about! Comment and let me know if you want it. 

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